For two weekends every year, there is an oasis in the California desert, when the Empire Polo Club in Indio transforms into the Coachella music festival. From Skrillex, Arcade Fire and Pharrell Williams to the artisanal ice cream, our team found the 50 best parts of the festival's first week. Now, join us for 20 things we got to catch up on for weekend two. By Steve Appleford
"What are you doing here?" Replacements leader Paul Westerberg had just sat on a couch onstage with his guitar, three songs into the band's second-weekend set, and now he was looking up at Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong, suddenly standing beside him, bearded and scruffy, and dressed in a ridiculous suit of Replacements plaid. Armstrong was ready to play with the band, declaring into the mic, "Sometimes dreams do come true."
Armstrong is a longtime fan of the Replacements, whose songs of melody, chaos and real vulnerability were a key influence on Green Day's music. And he dove into the panicked "I'm In Trouble" like the 'Mats devotee that he is, followed up by the urgent and yearning "Kiss Me On The Bus" and "Aching to Be." He slashed at his guitar, figuring out the songs as he went, and traded vocals with Westerberg, who reclined happily on the couch.
Westerberg explained that back trouble had led to Armstrong joining the band unannounced, and the Green Day leader remained for the whole set. "Billie, you'll fall right into it," joked bassist Tommy Stinson. "It's in E, like all the others."
Westerberg rose from the couch for the set-closing songs "Left of the Dial" and "Alex Chilton," both tributes to the making and sharing of music of real purpose and personal meaning, and shared a mic with Armstrong. The band then returned for a rare Coachella encore with "Can't Hardly Wait," and Armstrong waved his goodbyes.
Andrew Haagen remembers when the fields of Coachella were a place for horses and little else, when Empire Polo Field was surrounded by desert instead of shopping centers. His father owned the property and his family traveled there regularly from L.A. for family outings amid the stables and sand dunes. But these days, his role is much different as Coachella's official portrait photographer since its launch in 1999. A former photo assistant to Rolling Stone's Annie Leibovitz and Mark Seliger, Haagen builds a self-contained (and air-conditioned) studio backstage where artists and their famous guests can escape the desert heat and sit for a portrait.
In a gallery attached to the studio are a sampling of the faces he's captured through the years: vibrant Amy Winehouse in towering beehive, Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips, Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers having a burger, Ben Harper, Devo, Peter Tosh, Lily Allen, Questlove, Perry Farrell and Aerosmith's Steven Tyler. And when Clint Eastwood starting showing up backstage a couple of years ago, Haagen shot him too.
"Everyone has their own Coachella experience. For me, its the photo tent," said Haagen, 43, who hopes to publish a book of his years of festival portraits. "We do a year's worth of photography both weekends."
For years, artist-decorated recycling bins have been scattered across the polo fields, but these Outkast-themed cans we found baking in the afternoon sun may be the best ones yet.
A lot goes on within the sound of Rudimental: R&B, hip-hop, modern EDM and vintage jungle techno. But the most interesting tradition this British act has embraced goes back generations to the classic soul revue, and no band at Coachella had a deeper bench of talent. They recruit multiple singers and soloists, each of them ready to join in ecstatic choreography in the middle of "Baby." During "Not Giving In," the band jumped from inspirational hooks to excited dance beats and back again, sending a packed Mojave tent's grassy dance floor bouncing. It could have gone all night.
The Montreal electro-funk duo arrived on the Coachella mainstage on Friday ready to make a connection, standing behind keyboards and guitar, when Patrick Gemayal pulled out a familiar, talk-box-enhanced sound from nearly 20 years ago. The band played a few moments from "California Love," the 1995 single from 2Pac and Dr. Dre. This time the words were changed just enough to strike a local nerve with a new generation: "Coachella / knows how to party."
It was 93 degrees at 4 p.m. when the 1975 emerged on the Outdoor Theatre. Singer Matthew Healy swept to the stage, his shirt open to show tattoos on love and self-determination. He'd be soaked with sweat within a few tunes, but never lost his cool. When a fan tossed a rose to the stage, he put it between his teeth before dropping it again. Playing their first ever American festival, the 1975 create a modern rock and pop sound ("Heart Out") more 1985 than 1975, with synthy rhythms and saxophone right out of "Careless Whisper." But when it came time to rock out on several songs, Healy knew exactly what to do: He ripped open a guitar riff, bent over his instrument in ecstasy or agony, and yanked out some crazy sounds like a next-gen Jack White.
Last weekend, Chance the Rapper was one of Coachella's breakout stars, commanding the main stage like a veteran (with a surprise appearance by Justin Bieber). But when fans gathered for his scheduled 3:10 p.m. set for weekend two, there was a message on the big screen: "Chance the Rapper is unable to perform today. He loves you all and apologizes that he can't be here." Instead, the Chicago rapper was in a hospital for an undisclosed ailment. His management said he would make a full recovery.
Record Store Day has been a part of Coachella for a few years, with special edition vinyl and other releases for sale to desperate music fans lined up at the on-site record store. This year it landed during weekend two, and records by Childish Gambino, Motörhead, Katatonia, Joan Jett, Public Enemy and others flew out the door. But the record store offered other pleasures in the form of used vinyl "hand picked by Coachella staff," including Kenny Loggins, Gerry Rafferty, Huey Lewis and the soundtrack to the 1987 movie version of Dragnet.
When Rolling Stone first witnessed the Bots on the 2011 Warped tour, they were a couple of teenage garage rockers on a small side stage making a lot of excited noise. Now the two brothers from Glendale, California are at work on a new album with the help of Yeah Yeah Yeahs guitarist Nick Zinner and Justin Warfield. As the 11:30 a.m. opening act on Coachella's Outdoor Theatre, the Bots helped launch this weekend's desert gathering at maximum volume, with singer-guitarist Mikaiah Lei plugged into a trio of growling vintage amps and brother Anaiah pounding an anxious beat. Facing a morning crowd of a couple thousand early risers, the Bots ripped through seven songs from their upcoming album, ending on a thrashing "Ubiquitous." Mikaiah had scrawled "HAIM" across his white T-shirt, suggesting how the Bots would spend the rest of the day — watching the rest of Coachella unfold, still fans at heart.
The appearance of a Ramones tribute band at Coachella made a perverse kind of sense, recreating the sound of first-wave punk rock at its most joyful and weird, the sound that inspired so many of the punk and alternative bands at the fest — you could hear them in Ty Segall, AFI, and even the Replacements. It didn't hurt that the Gabba Gabba Heys have worked hard to resurrect not only the sound and black leather jackets of the Ramones, but the presence and posture — especially in the form of a long, skinny singer in shaggy wig as "Joey." Fans spun in a brotherly circle pit to "Rockaway Beach" and "Blitzkrieg Bop" and chanted the timeless battle cry: "Hey ho, let's go!'
At the same time that Jon Spencer was delivering his wildman blues to Coachella on Friday afternoon, another blues explosion erupted from L.A.'s HAIM sisters in the form of a "jam" on the early Fleetwood Mac tune "Oh Well." Facing the first huge crowd of the day, each sister took turns soloing and wailing the immortal lyrics ("Can't sing, I ain't pretty and my legs are thin…"). As teenage rock fanatics, Alana, Danielle and Este Haim used to sneak into this SoCal desert music fest, but quickly proved this week that they could crank up the amps and rip open a stage as well as anyone.
Mogwai is a band obsessed less with big hits than hitting hard, which the (mostly) instrumental did for for just under an hour on Saturday, making music that was staggeringly euphoric, loud, challenging and emotional. Mogwai unfurled its music in heavy doses at their own pace, offering an alternative brand of loudness from QOTSA on the main stage.
This project led by producer Danger Mouse and James Mercer of the Shins is a generous helping of sophisticated pop and post-modern folk-rock, rooted in the traditional with one foot deep into the sounds of the future. The same went for their appearance at Coachella. Both musicians were stationed at white cockpits that could have been lifted from the Starship Enterprise as they performed dreamy tunes from the recently released After the Disco. Between them sat a silver dome-shaped device of uncertain purpose, but it looked spacey and cool as the big screen behind them flashed with scattered lights and shapes, bringing the crowd along for their own space odyssey.
When the Cult stepped onstage Friday night, singer Ian Astbury immediately dedicated their set to Kimchi Truong, 24, a fan who died of a drug overdose while at the previous weekend's festival. "Take care of each other. Stay hydrated," Astbury insisted, wearing dark shades. "We're at the dawn of a new enlightenment."
At least since the band's hitmaking days in the Eighties, Astbury has been a believer in rock & roll as a messianic calling, and his warnings and proclamations on society and nature continue to fuel the band's music and attitude. It's the thread that connected the music of their second Coachella set, from "She Sells Sanctuary" to songs from 2012's Choice of Weapon. Guitarist and longtime musical partner Billy Duffy provided the grinding, swirling riffs, as they shared a stage blanketed in smoke and flashing lights.
Combine the crushing volume of metal with the brutal beats of the darkest electronic music, and you might land at something of the overwhelming, almost hypnotic loudness of ††† at Coachella. The project of Deftones singer Chino Moreno performed with all dials cranked up, with the singer running across the stage and doubling over in joy or pain.
From the dependably fierce vocals of singer Alexis Krauss to the flashing white panels of light behind the band, Sleigh Bells managed to be both experimental and human. "Minnie" from last year's Bitter Rivals was set to buzzing slashing guitar while "Tiger Kit" moved with sudden shifts in tempo and intensity, ending with an angry, dismissive shout of "Make like a banana and split!" The dancing never stopped.
While Coachella fans are in the trenches, pressing against the barricades and dancing past the midnight hour, things are a bit different backstage: air-conditioned trailers, icy tubs filled with water bottles and Heineken, motorized carts to putt you around. Most welcome and surprising has to be the small buckets filled with the same candy every kid brings home on Halloween night: lollipops, gummi bears, bubblegum, Smarties and peppermints.
Raging and infinitely tuneful, Superchunk rose from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, in time for the Nineties alternative explosion, and spawned the Merge Records label, which continues to release exciting new music. The band got active again late in the last decade (they played Coachella in 2009), and today are still fully engaged with delivering buzzing riffs of straight ahead alt-rock in the form of the self-explanatory "Slack Motherfucker" beneath the chandeliers of the Gobi tent.
In the past, large-scale sculptures at Coachella have involved a lot of fire and brimstone, from the Tesla coil's bolts of electricity in the early days to a metal flame-breathing dragon more recently. The furthest thing imaginable from that was this year's "Caterpillar" by Mike Grandaw, who built a huge insect-shaped sculpture using living plantlife – with palm trees for antennae and beds of flowers and other plants for its outter skin, much of it placed vertically. It was a living, breathing gathering spot for relaxing breaks away from the music stages.
When a major act stumbles in the spotlight, it's a shock to everyone involved, and opening weekend at Coachella 2014 didn't go well for the reunited Outkast. Their headlining set suffered from scattered pacing, weird staging choices and a general disconnect from the fans already excited to see them. That all changed on weekend two, and the distinctive hip-hop superstars many of us remember from a decade before were back in full, free from the restrictive onstage cube of last week, opening again with an excited "B.O.B." and this time fitting in "The Whole World" with guest Killer Mike to close it out. No disappointments for miles around.