Over the last two years, Coachella booked headlining acts that did not produce epic performances. In 2015, many fans found Drake’s set to be underwhelming. Similarly, Calvin Harris’ performance, which was last year’s closing act, just didn’t feel like it was worthy of the coveted spot.
This year, Coachella changed that with all three main-stage closing acts exceeding expectations. Kendrick Lamar, Lady Gaga and Radiohead each exemplified what fans of the festival have come to expect from a closer at one of North America’s most popular music festival.
Lamar was the true star, concluding the three-day desert festival with a packed field during his provocative and artistic set.
“Is there anyone out there?” Kendrick Lamar repeatedly asked the packed crowd during his performance.
The crowd answered him with excited shouts and applause.
His performance featured “The Damn Legend of Kung Fu Kenny,” a three-part video, that included Lamar’s alter ego. It was shown on both sides of the stage.
Lamar played his classic songs along with new tracks from his newly released album “DAMN.” Rappers Future, Travis Scott and ScHoolboy Q all came out at different times during his set.
Lamar ended his performance promising the crowd he’d be back. People began to rush to the exit, but Lamar came out one last time to perform the song “LOVE.” from his new album to close out the night.
Lady Gaga was booked two months before the festival after Beyoncé was forced to drop out due to her pregnancy. Although Gaga had little time to prepare, her performance didn’t disappoint the crowd.
During her set, which lasted just over an hour, she debuted a new track “The Cure,” as well as some of her well-known hits including “Alejandro” and “Poker Face.”
Unfortunately, there were still hiccups with the headliners, most notably sound issues during Radiohead’s set. The sound cut off about four to five times before the band eventually left the stage.
“I’d love to tell you a joke, lighten the mood, something like that. But this is Radiohead, so f**k it,” said frontman Thom Yorke upon the band’s return to the stage.
After the initial sound issues, the band produced a spectacular performance that included songs like “Idioteque,” “Creep,” and closed out with “Karma Police.”
Coachella is much bigger than its three headliners though, and some of the best acts can be those with the smallest font on the festival’s poster.
Hans Zimmer treated audiences to full live orchestra performances of music from “The Lion King,” “Gladiator” and “The Dark Knight.”
Other great acts this weekend included Thundercat, Father John Misty, the XX, Röyksopp, Tycho, Future Islands, Lorde and Blossoms among many more. Of course, there is always some bad mixed in as well which includes the ever continuing Coachella bookings of mediocre acts like Empire of the Sun and Grouplove.
Coachella is about music, but it is also about community. It’s within the polo fields that fashion and music blur into one. Fans from all over the world come dressed in their best festival attire to enjoy the music, art and the hot Indio weather.
The culture is mixed with a diversity of fans of all types of music mingling with groups that they otherwise wouldn’t. It’s not rare to see fans of hip-hop, rock and EDM side by side at any given performance.
Although Coachella’s first weekend concluded Sunday, starting next Friday fans will have even more music to celebrate.