The second day of Coachella 2018 began much more pleasant and organized than the first. An armada of buses awaited festival goers at each of the myriad bus stops in contrast to a shortage of transportation the first day. A small of army of security personnel sorted through the personal belongings of the masses efficiently, getting people through the gates as quickly as possible.
By early afternoon temperatures hovered in the mid 80’s, and the dreaded dusty desert winds subsided. A large crowd gathered at the main stage for a well-received set by Nile Rodgers and Chic. From some of the most significant hits in the disco era to a recent hit with EDM masters Daft Punk, Rodgers and the band educated the Millennial crowd with a parade of historical greatest hits. The set brought on an infectious dance fever that spread through the crowd. The 65-year-old Rodgers is a national treasure. He began a professional music career with his former partner Bernard Edwards back in 1976 and together, they formed Chic, one of the most successful dance music bands of the disco era. But it was Rodgers work as a music producer, that has brought him the most significant success, producing hit after hit for over 40 years. The list of pop music stars that have worked with and revere him include, Sister Sledge, Diana Ross, Sheena Easton, David Bowie, Bryan Ferry, Madonna, INXS, Britney Spears, Spoons, and more recently, Daft Punk, Pharrell Williams, Avicii, Disclosure, Sam Smith, Pitbull, Lady Gaga, Kylie Minogue, Nervo, Laura Mvula, Keith Urban and Duran Duran.
Beaming widely from the minute he took the stage, Rodgers was living in the moment during his afternoon set at the Coachella main stage. He led the band straight into some Chic classics to begin his hour-long set and pranced around each member of the veteran group, making eye contact and leading them into a dance groove. The disco classics included Good Times; I Want Your Love, and Le Freak. Shortly into the set, Rodgers took the time to tell his story of discovering that he had life-threatening cancer, eight years ago. His doctor told him to get his affairs in order. For Rodgers, that translated into trying to write as many songs as he could. Five years later he finds himself in the California desert sunshine declaring himself cancer-free and happy to be playing Coachella and still producing hit songs. The set continued with some of Rodgers’ greatest songwriting and producing hits from Diana Ross’ I’m Coming Out and Upside Down and Madonna’s Like a Virgin to David Bowie’s Let’s Dance and Sister Sledge’s We Are Family. The music sent the crowd into a dancing frenzy. The biggest cheers came for his hit song Get Lucky with Daft Punk and the David Bowie classic Let’s Dance. But the real dance party broke out during the Chic, classic Good Times.
Over in the dark, air-conditioned Sonora tent, a small audience seeking refuge from the afternoon sun caught a rousing set by Cheery Glazer. The Los Angeles Indy rock band formed in 2012, features guitarist and lead vocalist Clementine Creevy, bassist Devin O'Brien and drummer Tabor Allen. The trio belted out some fresh rock tunes.
Innovative veteran new wave rocker David Byrne was another one of the surprise sets where fans could walk to the very front of the Outdoor Stage. The crowd of several hundred-people continued to grow as the master creator of the Talking Heads got into some of his more classic hits. The sunset show was up against a favorite EDM act Louis The Child, attracting the bulk of the crowd to the Sahara stage. Rapper Tyler The Creator stole the rest of the crowd over on the main stage as Byrne’s set drew to a close. His band featured a large contingent of dancing musicians, sounding much like a school marching band. In fact, much of his set sounded like one extended jam of the song Tusk by Fleetwood Mac. The reinterpretations of Talking Heads classics were the biggest audience pleasers.
Young singer-guitarist Benjamin Booker kept the Blues alive with an ear piercing early evening set in the Gobi tent. The master guiltiest who sights influences as diverse as Blind Willie Johnson and T. Rex. Unfortunately, only a minimal crowd witnessed his guitar magic as Tyler The Creator sucked the masses towards the main stage. At the same time the hardcore Los Angeles band, The Bronx, was keeping punk music alive for an even smaller crowd in the Sonora tent. A handful of happy slam dancers reveled in the band's intense music.
Over in the Mohave tent Canadian Indy rockers, Alvvays were also struggling to attract an audience while The Fleet Foxes and Haim were pulling the bulk of the crowd to the main stages. The small crowd seemed enamored by the bands ethereal sound. The band consists of eloquent vocalist Molly Rankin, keyboardist Kerri MacLellan, guitarist Alec O'Hanley, bassist Brian Murphy, and drummer Sheridan Riley. The music had a subtle retro rock feel. Their debut album, Alvvays, was released in 2014, peaking at number one on the US college charts. The band also played tunes from their latest album, Antisocialites.
Meanwhile back in the Gobi tent, steamy British singer Jorja Smith was holding the torch for R&B music with some sultry numbers that were also going unnoticed by most festival goers.
As most of the Millennial crowd crammed into the Sahara Orb for well-known rapper Post Malones set, one of the best sets of Saturday night went almost unnoticed. Jungle, a modern English soul musical collective based in London performed a spellbinding set in the Mohave set to a tiny audience. They were followed in the same venue by X Japan, who also played one of the best sets of the night to a nearly nonexistent audience. This veteran group has been rocking their homeland since 1982. X Japan has released five studio albums, six live albums, and 21 singles and sold over 30 million albums. The band sings mostly in Japanese but is working on their first all English album, scheduled to be released shortly. Their show started with clips of the band playing worldwide to massive audiences, which made the tiny audience appear all the more astonishing. The show began with the band's originator Yoshi appearing above his drum kit, his arms raised in an X. Fans in the crowd responded emulating the gesture. Then with pyrotechnics exploding around them, the hard rock band broke into a series of tunes that sounded much like the heavy metal English rockers Iron Maiden. Yoshi later switched to classical piano and wowed the crowds with his skills.
There was, of course, a reason that most people missed this historic set and that was another historic set on the MainStage by pop superstar Beyonce. Critics are calling the hit-making sirens set possibly the best ever at Coachella. That moniker more precisely may go to one of the classic rock performers who played extended set for well over three hours, over the years at Coachella. That would include Prince’s set featuring Shiela E and The Time, Roger Waters two set spectacle of Pink Floyd songs and Paul McCartney 37 song list of Beatles classics.
But it is pointless to compare the different years of Coachella as each has its own place in the history of music festivals. Indeed Beyonce's two-hour set was the most impressive of Coachella 2018. The stage was organized to look like the bleachers at a school football stadium. Behind Beyonce, an army of cheerleader clad dancers swarmed the stands. Interspersed was a full marching band which provided the musical background for most of the night. Much like the David Byrne set earlier in the evening, the resulting music sounded again like one extended jam of the song Tusk by Fleetwood Mac. But the massive young crowd was mesmerized by the visual perforce including excessive dance moves that captured the crowd's rapt attention. Beyonce brought out a craven of special guests including, her sister Solange. The pair had a stylish dance-off during their duet. The most significant surprise of the night was a reunion of Destinys Child. Beyonce was joined by Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams for “Lose My Breath” “Say My Name” and“Soldier.” The reunion of the R&B supergroup was another historic moment for Coachella. By the time her husband, superstar rapper Jay Z made a not so surprise appearance, the moment felt almost anticlimactic. The pair gave a preview of the super tour they are about to embark on in stadiums across the country.
Day 3 of Coachella felt a bit lighter on crowds than the previous two days, but most of the masses did turn up for veteran Rapper Eminem’s closing set. There were some intense rock sets Sunday including A Perfect Circle, an American rock supergroup formed in 1999 by guitarist Billy Howerdel and reclusive Tool vocalist Maynard James Keenan. Their extraordinary set seemed to overwhelm exhausted festival goers. Earlier, Portugal The Man brought their brand of psychedelic rock to Coachella.
The bands set began with a mashup of Metallica’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2).” The band ended the set with “Hey Jude.” The band seemed to know their Coachella history, paying homage to past performances by Roger Waters and Paul McCartney. At the same time, Kendrick Lamar's masterful sax player Kamasi Washington brought his veteran jazz-rock band to play an intense set of intricate music to a lucky few.
As evening set in, one of the few EDM acts to play the main stage at this year’s Coachella appeared to a roaring crowd. The Washington based electronic duo Odesza wowed the crowd, turning the main stage into a giant rave complete with a swarm of drones lighting up the sky in the shape of the band's logo. The duo paraded a couple of guests on stage, including Naomi Wild for their recent single “Higher Ground” and Leon Bridges for “Across The Room.”
A very pregnant Cardi B played a short 30-minute set. But the set was full of crowd-pleasing hit songs. She was also joined by surprise guests G-Eazy for “No Limit,” Kehlani for “Ring” and Chance The Rapper for “Best Life” and other guest performances.
Veteran super rapper Eminem closed Coachella with an intense rock-tinged set of his biggest hits. He was joined in a rare appearance by Dr. Dre and 50 Cent, while Bebe Rexha took over for Rihanna — singing “The Monster,” a song that she originally wrote. The large crowd stayed on the field to the end, a testament to the powerful music of the hooded veteran hip-hop star.