Rounding out the first weekend of a three-day bender is no easy task. A even mix of inconsistent sleep, plenty of festive boozing, and the Indio heat finally making itself known Sunday, would’ve normally killed the party. However, in all their wisdom, the folks figuring out the chess game of Coachella, ensured that some of the best performances were saved for last. Here is a rundown of the performances that were worth battling the heat and hangover.
NATHANIEL RATELIFF & The NIGHT SWEATS
Though Rateliff himself has been cultivating an earnest following as a solo artist for some years now, the 2015 debut from Rateliff as the frontman of his rhythm and blues outfit the Night Sweats has catapulted him to new heights. Performing songs from the band’s self-titled Stax Records release, the band disregarded both the heat and the hour with a set that was feverishly soulful. Between Rateliff and his phenomenal rhythm section, songs like “I Need Never Get Old,” function as modern examples of a timeless sound. The band didn’t need lighting cues and guest features to both captivate and rejuvenate the Coachella crowd. Still very much a folk singer in his ability to wax poetic lyrically, “Trying So Hard,” and “Out On The Weekend,” were soulfully sublime with organ, brass, and that 60’s backbeat snapping steady. Rsteliff was no frills, rock ‘n’ roll soul, minus the cheese.
It’s been about five years since the last time Pete Yorn released new music. Currently hitting the pavement to support his Arranging Time record, fans got to sample solid singles like “Summer Was A Day,” and “Lost Weekend.” Yorn even managed to sneak in a cover of Morrissey’s “Suedehead” that prompted the Gobi tent to collective swoon. However, Yorn obliged his longtime fans and performed tons of tunes from his beloved debut, MusicForTheMorningAfter debut. “Life On A Chain,” “For Nancy,” and “Strange Condition” all provided a melodic break from the party pulse of the weekend. Yorn’s serenade couldn’t have worked better on a Sunday afternoon.
EDWARD SHARPE & THE MAGNETIC ZEROS
In much the same fashion Alabama Shakes hypnotized the Outdoor Theatre stage at sundown last year, Edward Sharpe and his Magnetic Zeros proved magical for the final sunset of weekend 1. Clutching a bottle of wine and commanding a singalong of the thousands fixated on the stage, Sharpe provided the musical equivalent to the free spirit that is arguably the ethos of the festival. In fact, Sharpe ditched the stage to spend some time singing on the barracade and connecting with the fans. He even managed to smoke a little something mid-song, to which the crowd responded enthusiastically. Cuts including “Up From Below” and the Zeros’ closer, “Home,” evoked a sort of celebratory adieu, a final toast of sorts to culminate a three-day stretch that proved memorable for those lucky enough to attend. Yet again, Coachella nailed the Sunset soundtrack.
Working well outside the confines of your standard pop-songstress set, Sia completed a production that genuinely felt like high culture at a rock show. With zero stage banter and profound visuals that included stars Kristen Wiig, Tig Notaro, and Paul Dano, the audience seemed to collective understand that what they were witnessing was truly unique. Performing cuts from her This Is Acting record, songs like “Bird Set Free” and “One Million Bullets” reaffirmed the singer/songwriter’s unparalleled ability to incite chills. Crafting otherwise somber songs into anthems that are eloquently empowering, the complete performance package was so mesmeric, there was a delay in applause when each song was done. Sia, not oblivious to the festival atmosphere, did include more danceable tracks going back-to-back with, “Move Your Body,” and her David Guetta smash, “Titanium.” However, sealing her time with the colossal “Chandelier” cemented a performance that was likely the most moving of the weekend.