Best Reason to Show Up Before Noon: Mbongwana Star
Coachella's gates opened late on Day One to much grumbling, but for those who made a beeline to this Congolese outfit's tent, there was no quicker cure for bummer vibes than a joyously clanging mix of funk, rock, dub, psych, soul and soukous. The drummer was all fills, somehow never breaking a sweat or losing the pocket while the lone guitarist switched back and forth between rapid rhythmic runs and spacey pedal-powered yawps that blew all that grounding groove into the atmosphere. More to the point, the true stars of Mbongwana were the group's co-founders and primary vocalists, Coco Ngambali and Théo Ntsituvuidi. Both use wheelchairs due to polio, but the former's high, hoarse wail soared above the field, and the latter's hypnotic chant was almost otherworldly – an impression perhaps colored by the fact that he was wearing plush Yoda ears and wraparound Geordi La Forge-style shades. He'd also slap his wheels, shimmy the chair to the frenetic beats, and pop his body halfway into the air when not leading the fresh-faced crowd in call-and-response. "Is good?" Ntsituvuidi asked after half of the songs, and there was always only one possible answer: "IS GOOD!"