Recently receiving international acclaim from the press, Coachella was host to a vast array of nationalities and personalities. A large proportion of Brits and Aussies flew in, while Hollywood actors Danny DeVito, Lindsay Lohan, Leonardo DiCaprio and Ashley Greene were all caught dancing along at some point. Sightings of Kelly Osbourne, Katy Perry and Paris Hilton were also recorded. R&B star, Rihanna, was in attendance, accompanied by a huge entourage of bodyguards and was quoted saying Arcade Fire "blew my fucking mind" after she saw them headline on the second day of the event.
This year, Coachella had promoted new security measures with The Times reporting that a new encoded wristband scanning system was to be enforced. In reality, the new wristband only created more problems; with some wristbands not registering with the scanning equipment and others having faulty fasteners, causing panic to ensue when they actually fell off.
Despite the security measures and an estimated thirty-six arrests over the course of the weekend (for attempted hedonistic activities), Coachella boasted a sterling line up and the general consensus was one of content in the caliber of performances over the three day stretch.
FRIDAY set the tone for the start of the festivities with 12th Planet performing on the Sahara stage - a large tent that housed an eclectic array of dance artists and DJs. Producer John Dadzie, who masterminds the act, commuted from nearby LA and got the crowd warmed up with some dubstep - a virginal concept in the US until fairly recently. Though some were not so impressed, the majority were taken in by the heavy bass, regardless of the early set time.
Indie-pop delight, The Drums, performed on the Mojave Stage for a 45 minute set. The Brooklyn based quartet played favorites from their self titled debut album, including "Let's Go Surfing" and "Me And The Moon" and also threw in a song from their upcoming album to be released later in the year.
Interpol was one of the most anticipated acts of the weekend and put on a spectacular performance. They showcased a selection of enhanced visuals on the big screens, with cameras picking out unsuspecting members of the crowd who were transfixed and displayed them in eerie black and white; at times for nearly the whole length of a song. Tracks such as "Slow Hands" and "Obstacle 1" were performed to an almost mastered quality. It was evident that the poignant lack of movement from the crowd was as powerful to the group as if they had instead been jumping around and going crazy. Director David Lynch also featured some of his animations during 'Lights', which placed them as the fore runners for one of the most creative acts of the festival.
Despite the hating that had been epically played out on message boards prior to the show, the second to last act of the evening, Kings of Leon, proved still to be the undisputed rulers of contemporary rock. Commenting that they had played the festival in 2007, Caleb Followhill mused that last time he had done so without his shirt on. He further added that there was no chance of going shirtless now, due to having gained a few pounds. Starting with some earlier tracks such as "Molly's Chambers", KOL proceeded to bust out with rock-pop favorites "Use Somebody" and "Sex on Fire" before ending with "Black Thumbnail".
SATURDAY saw some good performances by The Joy Formidable and the Freelance Whales in the smaller tents. In the former, the Welsh trio rocked out, providing some unconventional techniques for distorting their guitars, while the latter were far more laid back, supplying the audience an opportunity to kick their feet up and seek some much needed shade.
The Foals livened up the place dramatically with an outstanding performance in the Mojave tent. Playing to possibly the most packed out audience of the festival, the British alt rock troop got the crowd moving and clapping pretty much on demand. Nearing the end of their set, frontman Yannis Phillpakis did an incredible stage dive from some equipment, a feat that is becoming his signature piece at live shows.
The main stage experienced Erykah Baduh. Who, although very talented, became repetitive very quickly. She ended to a bemused audience - seated for the most part - when she would not get off the stage and eventually had her microphone turned off.
Providing a stark contrast and a completely different vibe were Bright Eyes, who put on a stunning show. Coner Oberst does his angsty rock performance with astounding fervor and managed to capture everyone's attention from the very first song, "Jejune Stars".
SUNDAY put everyone in the right mood early with Plan B performing in the Gobi tent. Starting off with some awesome beatboxing by Faith SFX, the band came out dressed in shirts and ties, despite the sweltering heat. Towards the end of their set they did covers of "Kiss From A Rose" and "My Girl", which accompanied by their outfits, were dangerously close to bordering on Wedding Singer territory.
Stoner obsessed Wiz Khalifa then took to the main stage in the middle of the glaring heat to rap out some tracks from his album Rolling Papers, which he plugged throughout his set. Ordering the audience to light up their joints, the previously fresh and airy space quickly developed a suspicious fragrant cloud that hovered above the heads of the crowd. The audience surprisingly still managed to sing and sway along to his closing rendition of "Black and Yellow".
Jimmy Eat World, now veterans in the pop-rock scene, have not gone stale in their old age. Their melodic riffs still managed to enchant a happy crowd at the Outdoor Theatre stage, with classic tracks such as "The Middle" and "Bleed American" being notable crowd pleasers.
Rocking up on stage in sunglasses - even though it was dark - The Strokes front man Julian Casablancas put on an staggering performance just by opening his mouth and speaking. He was truly hilarious. From mocking Duran Duran's Simon LeBon by saying; "Is that a flute solo I saw earlier?", to saying that he had a "diamond encrusted jet", and then feeling the need to follow this statement up with "I jest". He started off on form and remained there for the duration of the set. The band's performance was great too.
Going against the grain and avoiding the too-hyped-up-for-his-own-good Kanye West, it was evident that the real final party of Coachella 2011 was happening in the Mojave tent where Australian electro indie heroes, The Presets, were making dreams come true. Spectacular lights, heavy beats and vibrant synths had the audience raving like mad men. The duo played a collection of tracks both old and new and eventually annihilated the audience with "My People".
2011 is going to be a tough year to contend with, but we will just have to wait and see if anyone can handle the competition.