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Dispatches In The Desert: Coachella Day 2 – Jack White, Run The Jewels, Hozier, Royal Blood + Alt-J

By Ramon Gonzales

The heat in the Mojave inched up a bit for the second day on the grounds at the Empire Polo Fields and the performances followed suit.

With a full day of music on deck, it was tough to map out what to take in and how to navigate the stages to ensure nothing was missed.

The Saturday included some monumental guest appearances and the kind of performances that make a concert an experience.

Let’s get to it. Here are the highlights from night 2 of Coachella’s first weekend.

JACK WHITE

There really aren’t enough superlatives to pump up just how stellar this guy is. Presiding over Coachella’s mainstage in front of thousands of people, Jack White strapped on a hollow-bodied Gretsch and went to work. Performing selections from the White Stripes catalog including an “Icky Thump” opener and a raucous rendition of “Hello Operator” that incited a bounce on the grounds. White also pulled from the Raconteurs tunes as well, with “Steady As She Goes” working well as a familiar fan favorite.

[tweet https://twitter.com/thekevinryder/status/587351510956183553]

Masterfully working an ebb and flow of energy, White slowed things down a bit with “We’re Going To Be Friends” only to segue into an Otis Redding classic in “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” – an earnest homage to White’s deeply seeded musical roots. It’s during White solo work especially that an almost menacing side of his music becomes hypnotic. “Weep Themselves to Sleep”, “Love Interruption”, and the single, “That Black Bat Licorice” are just a few emphatic examples of just how intrinsic White’s relationship is with his music. Coachella for a second consecutive night established that rock, is certainly not dead.

RUN THE JEWELS

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Emerging triumphant onstage to Queen’s “We Are The Champions”, Run the Jewels had one of the festival’s most anticipated performances. Not only did the duo fail to disappoint, but also they earmarked their page in the Coachella history books. A third of the way through their power hour, El-P and Killer Mike welcomed Zack De La Rocha of Rage Against the Machine, as the now trio ripped through “Close Your Eyes (and Count to F**k)”. The Mojave tent nearly shook from its foundation. The tag team didn’t stop there. RTD would later bring out Travis Barker for their track “All Due Respect”. Naturally, the guys gave Travis the stage to beat the skins for a drum solo that again, laid waste to the jam-packed floor. With a heap of critical accolades and top album honors, the success story of Killer Mike and El-P becomes even sweeter when watching the tandem onstage. They LOVE their jobs. They refer to each other as best friends. They trade word play and wax poetic effortlessly. Everything about the team’s delivery is fluid and stylish. “Banana Clipper”, “Lie, Cheat, Steal” and of course, “Oh My Darling (Don’t Cry)” were nothing short of flammable. But for as epic as the set was, the sincerity was the hook. El-P took a second between songs and confided with his few thousand friends, “Thank you all for making our dreams come true.”

ROYAL BLOOD

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Appropriately enough, the boys from Brighton took to the stage during peak heat in Indio. From the jump, Mike Kerr and Ben Thatcher went for the throat with a rendition of “Come On Over” that sliced through the festival field. Naturally, the band’s singles like “Little Monsters” and their closer, “Out of the Black” struck a chord with those familiar fans of the duo. However, throughout the band’s time, Mike Kerr’s ability to do such instrumental heavy-lifting via his bi-amp bass and guitar, all while managing true rock rasp on the microphone is nothing short of amazing. Thatcher on the beat is perfectly bombastic. These guys have been touted as a must see and Coachella 2015 was just another example of why.

HOZIER

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Ushering in the setting sun, of course the angelic voice of Hozier was the go to. But no one could’ve expected how this was going to wrap up. Inviting Este Haim of HAIM onstage, the two, along with a phenomenal rhythm section, nailed a two tons of funk version of Morris Day and The Time’s “Jungle Love”. The energetic tangent was a show of Hozier’s legitimacy as a bonafide star and consummate showman. Weaving a stylish patchwork of blues, soul, and indie rock, singles like “From Eden” are a refreshing interjection among the pop music ranks and live, Hozier’s translation from the record to the stage bulletproof.  Especially impressive was the sing-along “Take Me To Church” incited.

ALT-J

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Running with a 50/50 mix of tunes from An Awesome Wave and the band’s 2014 release This Is All Yours, the quartet lit up the night sky both in sight and sound. Tracks like “Every Other Freckle” and “Bloodflood pt.II” showered over the festival grounds and sent the hippies arms swaying. Banking a sharp left, the band performed their spacey take on the Bill Wither’s classic, “Lovely Day”, a version that qualified as especially baby-making. The down tempo slather of indie rock pop proved potent with cuts like “Tessellate” and the ominous “Breezeblocks” capped off a set that left those that witnessed it in a collective awe.

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