By Ramon Gonzales
The running theme of Saturday felt like a gigantic game of Can You Top This. Fans ultimately benefited from the collaborative spirit that so many artists brought to the Coachella stage for night 2. Among the unannounced guests that hit the various stages included heavyweight names like The Weeknd (Performing with NAV), Charli XCX (Performing with Masa Mura), mini sets from Migos and Drake, and even an appearance from Ms. Lauryn Hill. However, the coolest appearance is also the least likely one. Eccentric genius Thundercat brought out Michael McDonald during his set. One of the most genuine crowd reactions of the day happened when the duo started The Doobie Brothers classic, “What A Fool Believes.” During a day that included a roster of guests, a yacht rock song from the 70’s managed to steal some headlines…Only at Coachella.
Surprises aside, night 2 went down as one for the books. It shouldn’t be glazed over that the evening’s main attraction, Lady Gaga, was the first female headliner in a decade. Coachella hasn’t had a female anchor the mainstage since 2007’s appearance by Bjork. The resulting performance did not fail to meet the lofty expectations. But before the evening culminated, there was a full day of gems worthy of the highlight reel.
Two Door Cinema Club
The band’s stage time was well into the afternoon and could’ve run the risk of falling on deaf ears to a crowd that was already sunburnt, hungover, and road weary. The Irish indie rock outfit however earned the exact opposite response. Singer Alex Trimble proved especially charismatic as he quipped with the crowd, “finally the sun is going away. I’m too Irish for this s**t,” before charging into high-paced jams like “Undercover Martyr” and “Are We Ready (Wreck).” In what worked as the quintessential festival landscape shot, the band’s performance of “Something Good Can Work” saw thousands dancing, clapping their hands, and riding high on shoulders in the sunshine.
The fans filed in early in anticipation of Dan Smith and the guys of Bastille. Cracking jokes about the just how pale and susceptible to the sun the band was, Smith was in fine form as his soulful croon accented the favorites like “Bad Blood” and “Good Grief.” On some of the band’s newer material, particularly “The Currents” and “Fake It,” there is an arena quality to the melodies that Smith is able to communicate through the microphone. The songs feel strangely somber and empowering at the same time. Bastille had one of the biggest draws of the afternoon and watching Dan Smith empty his lungs with sincerity made it crystal clear why.
It’s odd referring to Davey Havok and the core of No Doubt as newcomers, but Saturday evening the collaboration known as Dreamcar made it’s Coachella debut. Sharply dressed and showcasing a bit of a swanky, glittery lounge act motif, the quartet was playing much smaller digs then they are used to and yet seemed right at home. It’s easy to tell when an artist is working and for Dreamcar, taking to the stage wasn’t a chore. Tom Dumont, Tony Kanal, Adrian Young, and Mr. Havok all made it very apparent that these songs were fun to write and their excitement to play them live translated throughout the set. “Slip On the Moon,” “Born to Lie” and “All The Dead Girls” were among the prime cuts of the nearly hour long set. Channeling bands like The Police and The Cars, songs like “Do Nothing” really emphasized the chemistry of the band as each serve as a compliment to one another. Rounding out the set with the new wave tinged “Kill For Candy” the Gobi tent went into a collective bounce proved this little project is going to be a big thing.
For those that have been familiar with the name, the momentum L.A.’s Chicano Batman is building has been a long time coming. A fluid combination of Cumbia music and slow and low soul, the band is shining example how diversity resonates in art. To put into context the range of the band, in the same set the foursome delivered a traditional rendition of “La Manzanita” and a stylish cover of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land.” Between the name and the ruffled tuxedo shirts, the casual observer might misconstrue the esthetic as a gimmick. However, tunes like “Friendship (Is A Small Boat In A Storm)”, “Angel Child,” and “Lisandreando” are so loaded and layered, they could only result from musicians that are both meticulous students and passionate fans themselves. The magic of Chicano Batman is their seamless ability to combine a wealth of influences in a way that is both fashionable and articulate. Chicano Batman is effortlessly cool and the audience dancing on the lawn in 90-degree heat only proved that.
Considering the army of back up dancers, LED walls that felt like skyscrapers, and a pair of thigh high glittery boots that could be seen from the Ferris Wheel, the best moments of Lady Gaga’s set were the candid ones. Well into her set, Gaga slowed things down ballad version of her empowering tune “The Edge of Glory.” During a poignant moment where some 90-thousand fans were fixed on what was happening onstage, Gaga struggled to get her sweater shirt off and the crowd cheered. It was those moments were Gaga was especially endearing, all without compromising her pop star persona. Just before dropping “Born This Way,” Gaga confided that she loved how much trouble the song stirred up trouble. She acknowledged that her fans leave her speechless before playing “Speechless,” only it never felt like choreographed stage banter. In a set that showcased the hits like “Poker Face,” a hot to trot version of “Sexxx Dreams,” the Beyonce collaboration “Telephone,” and the debut of a new tune, “The Cure,” the unrehearsed stuff made the planned spectacle that much better.