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20 Best Things We Saw at Coachella 2015’s Weekend Two

Old punks, new country stars and fresh wax: the greatest sets we didn’t catch during Weekend One

Coachella Concertgoer

20 Best Things We Saw at Coachella

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Coachella 2015’s first weekend featured an unexpected controversy care/of Madonna and Drake; Weekend Two included a surprise appearance by Kanye West (that was evidently far less salacious since ‘Ye didn’t make out with the Weeknd). Fans browsed vinyl in the scorching heat for Record Store Day, got pummeled by Swans and charmed by Sir Mix-A-Lot. Here’s the best of what we missed Weekend One, and don’t miss all of our superb Coachella photos here.

Greg Graffin

Bad Religion (Coachella Stage)

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Best Permanent Fixture: Vintage Punk

While Coachella is known for collecting a wide range of contemporary rock, hip-hop, soul and more for its roster every year, traditional punk maintains a special place. The bands raging during daylight hours Weekend Two included the Cribs, who appeared in the Gobi tent Sunday in frayed cutoffs and fused feedback to melody. Bad Religion hit the main stage, facing 91-degree heat as a large-scale moshpit erupted in front of the Los Angeles band, who began as teenagers in 1979. With anthemic punk rock songs dating from their beginnings up to 2013's True North album, frontman Greg Graffin wore black and raged through the hits "21st Century Digital Boy, " "Infected" and  "Sorrow" to some seriously jagged guitar lines. Before starting "Generator, " Graffin said, "We're feeling festive tonight," and described the song half-seriously as "a tearjerker, so girls lean on someone next to you. Some of you guys need it too."

Record Store

Record Release Day

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Best Escape from the Heat: Record Store Day

Record Store Day is an annual tradition at Coachella, as it is at indie record stores across the U.S., where rare and limited edition vinyl is offered for one day only. At the festival's on-site record shop, fans picked up newly pressed records from the 101ers (the first band of Joe Strummer of the Clash), Built to Spill's Untethered Moon, Noel Gallager's Highflying Birds remixes, reissued records from Grizzly Bear, Hawkwind, Ivy, Dolly Parton, AC/DC, Venom and much more. There are no CDs at this store, just a huge cache of new and used vinyl and a section for old cassette tapes. There was a still-sealed copy of Elton John's Caribou from 1974, with an ancient FedCo sticker still asking for $3.24. The store was a place for music lovers, with air-conditioning and Television's Marquee Moon blasting from the speakers. The previous weekend, Ringo Starr even dropped in, while hanging with Paul McCartney at the festival. (They were otherwise occupied this weekend.)

Chicano Batman

Chicano Batman (Outdoor Theatre)

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Best Rock en Español: Chicano Batman

Dressed in matching beige shirts with black bow ties, Los Angeles-based Chicano Batman have the look of a party band that hasn't gone to sleep from the night before, playing Latin soul fueled on their love for the La Fania Records label and flaming Jimi Hendrix electric guitar. At noon on Sunday, the quartet opened with an instrumental "La Tigresa" drenched in groovy organ played by singer Bardo Martinez. Bassist Edwardo Arenas switched to guitar and sang "La Manzanita," and there were a couple of English-language songs. It worked equally in any language. At this hour on the final day of Coachella 2015, the audience was small, but the soul ran deep.

Father John Misty

INDIO, CA - APRIL 18: Singer J. Tillman of Father John Misty performs onstage during day 2 of the Coachella Music Festival at The Empire Polo Club on April 18, 2015 in Indio, California. (Photo by Scott Dudelson/FilmMagic)

Scott Dudelson/FilmMagic

Best Musical Treats: Surprise Guests

Coachella isn't unique in drawing special unannounced guests to the stage, but the desert music festival traditionally attracts some interesting, even bizarre  collaborations (the Tupac "hologram," for one). This year during Weekend Two was no different. The most high-profile artist to materialize was Kanye West on the main stage during Weeknd's cover of "Heartless," followed by Yeezus cruising through four more songs, including the new "All Day." Florence and the Machine were joined Sunday by Father John Misty for a cover of the aching "Love Hurts." Later, Nicki Minaj joined David Guetta for his mix of Afrojack's "Hey Mama" (and she stopped by the main stage for a quick wave during Drake's headlining set). Some Coachella surprises last forever.

Swans

Swans (Gobi)

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Best Unforgiving Rock Band: Swans

Behind the Coachella Music and Arts Festival is the SoCal music promoter Goldenvoice Productions, originally founded to support punk rock and other raging, sometimes confrontational sounds. No act at this year's festival fit that description more than the band Swans, an ongoing project led by the uncompromising Boho hero Michael Gira. In faded black and long gray hair, the guitarist-vocalist was joined in a midnight Saturday performance by five others in a set filled with obliterating waves of relentless, abrasive melody, playing to a tent more than half empty beneath the chandeliers. The Swans gig played a similar role as a 2009 appearance at the fest by the experimental Throbbing Gristle in 2009, offering a different shade of music to any fans open to that. It was not for everyone.

Sturgill Simpson

Sturgill Simpson (Gobi)

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Best Preview of Another Fest: Sturgill Simpson

Not every artist can fit onto the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival roster and then return to the same site a week later at the annual Stagecoach, which is dedicated to country music. This year's crossover artist was Kentucky singer-songwriter Sturgill Simpson, who ripped up the Gobi tent Sunday with songs of bad love and big dreams. His four-man band dove into the authentic country of "Railroad of Sin," as Simpson sang: "Looking back on my life now at some of the things I done/Makes me wanna hang my head in shame." The epic journey of "Sometimes Wine" ranged from high-speed plucking to dreamy slide guitar as Simpson sang of a romance that haunts him still: "Since you've been gone, this life's been more than I can stand/so sometimes whiskey and sometimes wine."

OFF!

Off! (Mojave)

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Best Hard Core: Off!

The songs of L.A. hardcore act Off! are quick and brutal, usually clocking in at well under two minutes, starting and stopping before the uninitiated know what hit them. At Week Two of Coachella, circle pit veterans mingled and stomped with new fans never before caught in a mosh, as the band pummeled and protested (in the sneering tone of singer Keith Morris) just as they did at their first Coachella two years ago – in fittingly unglamorous T-shirts and ripped jeans. The band was soaked with sweat within seconds, performing several tracks from last year's Wasted Years, including "Over Our Heads" (the subject of a Jack Black video), throttling the crowd with a prime example of hardcore rage and invention.

Philip Selway

INDIO, CA - APRIL 19: Singer/drummer Phil Selway of Radiohead performs onstage during day 2 of the Coachella Music Festival at The Empire Polo Club on April 19, 2015 in Indio, California. (Photo by Scott Dudelson/FilmMagic)

Scott Dudelson/Getty

Best Gracious Act: Philip Selway of Radiohead

Philip Selway is best known as the drummer for Radiohead, one of the most influential rock bands since the Nineties. In recent years, he's also begun a surprising solo career, and on Sunday brought his brooding, gentle music to the desert. It's not his first time, having landed in Indio twice before on the main stage with Radiohead – both especially memorable performances in the history of the festival. If Selway's set in the Gobi tent got less attention, if was at least a revealing look at the clattering beats and some other distinctive components he can claim as his own. During his nearly hour-long set, Selway was a polite and humble host, spending no time at the drums, instead singing and sitting at a keyboard. His understated delivery was worlds away from Thom Yorke's anxious presence, but the songs "Running Blind," "Around Again" and "A Simple Life" revealed a thoughtful, gifted musician at work.

Jamie XX

Jamie XX (Gobi)

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Best Forward-Looking DJ: Jamie xx

Jamie xx is the progressive sound scientist of few words behind the singer-songwriters of Britain's the xx. His work outside the trio is groundbreaking in a different way, and during his second weekend at Coachella, the DJ-producer unleashed a vibrant soundscape that transcended genre. The beats were endlessly danceable, but the ingredients ranged from rock to electronic, tossing in bits from his work with the late Gil Scott-Heron ("I'll Take Care of You") or spinning the xx's "Sunset." His audience was as engaged as any crowd for the weekend's superstar DJs, carried away by Jamie's endlessly forward motion and a fluency in all styles, all the time.

Glass Animals

Glass Animals (Gobi)

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Best Hip-Hop Dancing by a Rocker: Glass Animals

The young British rock quartet Glass Animals have only existed a few years, but they've made an impression, colliding dreamy electronics and guitar rock flash. Leader Dave Bayley is also known for his restless posture behind the mic, dancing in place, waving his arms to the rhythms, shimmying to the floor with his guitar to the beats like the Beastie Boys dancer Vin Diesel recently claimed to be. At Coachella, he did not disappoint in the stage moves. Just before the band began the fan favorite "Gooey," Bayley announced late in the set, "This is a good song to play before sunset," dancing a little bit longer as the festival's giant Butterfly sculpture rolled past the Gobi tent.

Vance Joy

Vance Joy (Mojave)

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Best Vulnerable Artist: Vance Joy

There was a significant selection of sensitive singer-songwriters this year, and no one had a certain segment of the crowd swooning more than Vance Joy (a.k.a. Australian-born James Keogh). The 27-year-old played to a full tent and performed songs from last year's Dream Our Life Away. From that album Sunday, he performed the heartbreak single "Georgia," sadly singing, "I never should have let you see inside." Revealing something of himself inside is exactly what got the tent filled this week.

DoLab

The Do Lab

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Best Culture Crashers: DoLab Artists and Performers

The DoLab stage at the southern tip of the vast Coachella field was more than just another DJ venue. Aside from beats and water-soaked dancers, the stage is also home to an annual gathering of visual and performance artists for an audience of about a thousand ticket-holders, some of them in costume. Muralists created bright new visuals, the air was filled with streaks of sunlight and bubbles floating upwards, while acrobats climbed and spun to the beats of the moment.

Chet Faker

Chet Faker (Outdoor Theatre)

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Best Modern Soul: Chet Faker and Jungle

Several acts tapped into some deeply emotional soul during the festival, and two of the best bringing new energy to the tradition were Chet Faker and the group Jungle. On the Outdoor stage, the Australian-born Faker was often alone with his keyboard and electronic gear Sunday afternoon, delivering the songs "Blush" and "Gold" with music that was often spare but deep, the sounds and vocals alluringly echoed and blurred. A little later the same day, Jungle from London took the energy in a different direction. Standing behinds keyboards and gadgets, Jungle founders Tom McFarland and Josh Lloyd-Watson bounced and raved, creating a scene like a nightclub on fire, even in the sweltering desert heat. 

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