Daft Punk had The Pyramid, Snoop & Dre had The Hologram, and last night Outkast brought The Cube. Performing for long stretches of their reunion show from within the confines of a sparsely appointed scrim box, Andre 3000 and Big Boi rapped circled around a table while various projections — flames, lions, the American flag — projected around them. It was a show that somehow looked better on the giant monitors, even from hundreds of feet away and above the heads of tens of thousands of assembled fans. The hour and a half marathon started with hits like "B.O.B" ("Bombs Over Baghdad") and then took its sweet time getting to a closing race-against-curfew medley of hits like "Ms. Jackson", "So Fresh, So Clean", "The Way You Move", and "Hey Ya!" Along the way, Janelle Monae showed up to do "Tightrope" and they handed over some prime setlist real estate to Future so that he could promote his new album. Although they claimed that Prince was hanging out backstage, he apparently wasn't up for a guest appearance. Watch the whole set online before it disappears.
Highlights from earlier in the day included an hour trying to get within fifty feet of the stage to see Grouplove, Aloe Blacc, or Bastille while my body came to realize that being outside in the peak midday 95-degree sun wasn't some sort of terrible accident. After acclimating a bit, we caught the always-amazing rock-and-roll faces from Haim and cough-syruped Shins from Broken Bells at the Outdoor Theater. In the lead-up to Outkast, the main Coachella Stage featured a pretty solid progression of crowd-friendly dance party pop with sets from Ellie Goulding, Chromeo, and Girl Talk (fresh off a new EP with Freeway, dropping tracks from fellow-Coachellans Lorde and Arcade Fire into the evening's hyper-kinetic musical collages). At some point during Girl Talk's set, the live feed on the monitors switched over to Bryan Ferry. It went on for so long and occasionally seemed so well synchronized that I couldn't tell whether it was a video art performance piece or a technical difficulty. My only major complaint, aside from what felt like a super oversold crowd, was that a last-minute schedule shift meant that I had to miss all of the Knife to get into the Outkast photo queue.
In all-important celeb news: I almost obliviously ran over Oscar Winner Jared Leto on some stairs in the VIP cage (sorry!); Evan Peters and Emma Roberts apparently canoodled a few feet from me (I was too consumed with finding shade and rehydrating to notice); and Aaron Paul might've found that elusive sponsorship since he was seen dancing and posing for photos with babies in one of the large pens at the front of each stage reserved for Truly Important People, Artists, Artists Guests, Friends of Sponsors, and/or People Who Pay $6500 to Glampchella during Ellie Goulding's set. Later, it finally felt like Coachella, when I spotted festival regular David Hasselhoff being ushered to a fancy spot up front for Outkast.
My sister's along for the ride this year and her first take on festival fashion is that the vibe seems to be "desert Dumpster dive" with a strong shades of #normcore. The Times characterized this as a prime occasion for shopping in your closet for effortless spring chic, but we might need to hit up an Indio Goodwill along the way if we truly want to make a splash.
Chromeo: Coachella Stage
- Chromeo: the guys keep getting older, the legs just stay the same age.
- Broken Bells: Danger Mouse
- Broken Bells: James Mercer
- Coachella 2014
- Coachella 2014
As a reminder for those playing along at home, the rest of the festivities are streaming all weekend on YouTube.