What's better than turning 20 years old?
Turning 20 on your way to see some the best acts in the nation perform in Indio! As one of the most notorious music festivals in the world (among Tomorrowland, Lollapalooza, and Burning Man), I had to see what all the hype was about. For the Record, I love electronic music, but I'm not all about the PLUR-Electric Forest-Ultra lifestyle; It's too intense for me and I personally would rather attend a festival where there is variety of genres rather than a variety of electronic sub-genre's. Besides, I was excited to see what fashion-festival trends I would spot over my 3 days in the valley.
Like any experienced festival-goer and music lover, I always have my essential items. For Coachella, staying hydrated is absolutely essential and extremely easy if you have a camelback! Sunscreen, chapstick, a bandana to protect yourself from the dust (Avoid the "Coachella Cough" at all costs, trust me), Advil or Tylenol, wet wipes, earplugs, facial mist, an extra battery pack to charge your phone, and your favorite pair of sun shades to top it all off. After about the first day of Weekend 1, the grass of the festival space turns to dust due to all the foot traffic. I made sure to pack my custom iridescent Huaraches and classic navy Doc Marten's to be as comfortable as I could be.
Before I go on any further, there's once thing I must address..Whenever we talk about fashion, especially festival fashion, there's always some controversy. For the record, I'm talking about cultural appropriation and how when a cultural symbol is taken out of it's relative setting the meaning behind that symbol is lost or denigrated. I came into the experience thinking that because I was in one of the more liberal states in America, that I wouldn't encounter these things-Boy, was I wrong. The first day, I saw countless red, glittery bindi's adorned on girls foreheads with matching crop tops and white shorts. The second day, I observed a full grown woman prancing around in a Native American costume, headers and all *cringe*. So when it comes to this folks, just don't do it. Not only is it tacky but ignorant and disrespectful to those whose cultural heritage has been ridiculed, colonized, and actively made into a joke or even oppressed today (See Standing Rock, or any Aziz Ansari's Master of None for more).
First thing's first....what did I wear?
-Hair in braids so that I could move (and later mosh) comfortably while also getting a base tan.
-Tank Top from Boomboomthelabel Long Weekend Contrast Two Piece- (that has unfortunately been discontinued).
-Vintage Harley Davidson patch shorts from my mom (Thanks, Ginger!).
The first time I heard Alaina Moore's 50's-esque, sun-washed voice was off the track "Marathon" that I had downloaded from an Urban Outfitters monthly playlist (I was in 8th grade, so bear with me). I like to imagine that if Vampire Weekend had gone with a female vocalist instead of Ezra Koenig, whose existence and style I am wholly living for, their sound would've turned out much like Tennis'.
This is a pretty early assertion, but I have to say that the members of Tennis as individuals and as a band had the best outfit selections of my Weekend 1 experience. I'm a sucker for silk and I was obsessing over Alaina's yellow and emerald green pairing. The neutral winged eye was a subtle but completing touch for this look. And how can you not love Patricks Gucci bengal tiger print polo?
When I heard Mac Miller's first album, I was NOT a fan. I think that Blue Slide Park was very infantile and targeted at college age/high school kids with minimal taste. Once Mac Miller dropped Watching Movies With the Sound Off, I did a double take. Anyone with Tyler, the Creator, Earl Sweatshirt,Action Bronson, and Schoolboy Q has my attention. Additionally, the candor of his lyrics focused on dealing with his substance abuse problems made me gain a lot of respect for Mac.Since then, every song off of GO:OD AM & The Divine Feminine have a home somewhere in the depths of my playlists. As for his performance-soulful, energetic, authentic, and just plain fun. Everyone around me felt the music inside them as much as I did.
Alice Glass has/will always be one of my biggest fashion inspirations among Cherie Curie and a younger Liv Tyler. Naturally I was deeply saddened by her departure from the group in 2014. Despite that, I still staked out for a front row spot see how the new front woman Edith Frances would match up.
Frances definitely tried to emulate the high energy and radical performances that Glass trademarked from the inception of Crystal Castles; complete with dousing herself in water, jumping offstage/thrashing about onstage, and smashing a bouquet of roses during her cover of Not in Love (feat. Robert Smith from The Cure) for dramatic effect. I'm going to be honest here-because it wasn't Alice Glass performing, the whole thing seemed...artificial to a degree. But on the contrary, the whole aesthetic and anarchy that is at core Witch House is embedded in their branding as an act. Ethan Kath (who wore black pantyhose over his face like a burglar, by the way) wasn't going to abandon their whole foundation as a group just because Alice left-afterall Edith Frances is an addition, not the founding member of a new group. Also, how can I complain? Amnesty (I) was a stellar album, her vocals are great, and she likes Slowdive.
After dropping acclaimed album Process earlier this year, I knew I had to see tracks like Plastic 100°, Blood on Me, and Incomplete Kisses live. Sampha didn't disappoint and is thankfully playing a variety of festivals this summer. With a powerful voice and soul, this is one artist you don't want to miss.
Let me preface that I have no photographic evidence for this artists due to the rowdy nature of the crowd. I've seen Denzel Curry once before at Riot Fest 2016 and it was pretty rough, but the mosh pit was not anywhere close to the one at Coachella. I'm not usually one for moshing, but because I had my hair braided and a sweatshirt on at that point, I jumped right in. Once I emerged I somehow was able to find my friend by a stroke of luck. Although, If I hadn't decided to recede in order to find him, I definitely would've been in the front. Ultimately the lesson I learned here is that if you're brave enough moshing can upgrade your viewing space and that Denzel Curry gets better with every performance.
This was definitely one of the more packed performances of Coachella. People were beginning to shove and push over other just to get a chance to advance, even if they were dead center. The atmosphere reminded me of when I saw Kanye West make his return to Bonnaroo in 2014-lit but hostile.
Drunk, his latest album, has been a crowdpleaser. Adorned with an exotic cat pelt, fangs and all perched atop his head, him and his band fostered a funky atmosphere for all. Songs such as "Them Changes", "Show You the Way", "Friend Zone" made the cut as well as guest performance by Michael McDonald.
I'll be honest here; I didn't know who Mura Masa was before Coachella. Day 2 of the lineup had some great performers but no one that I was dying to see besides Nicolaas Jar & Bon Ive. Although Mura Masa's dance tracks and a plethora or special guests for just about every song put me onto him as a fan and not just a one time spectator. Bringing A$AP Rocky (who was donning the Louis Vuitton X Supreme leather pants pre-released) out to close the set was the best way to win me over as well.
As one of the larger and more legendary artists (in my opinion) at Coachella, I wanted to fully enjoy the music and took to the great lawn surrounded by artists installations to enjoy Justin Vernon's melancholic and powerful words. He performed mostly numbers off of his most recent album, 22, A Million. Once thing I really loved about his performance was that he did not talk much, but when he did he advised the crowd to do one thing-to love each other and welcome each other as much as they can in life. With all the political turmoil in the U.S. at this time, artists music and presence has a big impact on not only the youth but the perception of others looking at our country and its' people. Hearing such peaceful melodies and musings paired together so naturally is just one of the reason Mr. Vernon's album is plastered upon my bedroom wall.
Since the release of Sirens, I have been especially excited to see Nicolaas Jar perform live. All the work that his does is completely live, meaning nothing is pre-recorded. The first 10-13 minutes consisted of harsh noise and screeching synthesizers, causing a good amount of people to leave. I'm personally curious as to whether that was his way of warming up or weeding people out of the crowd. Regardless, those that left REALLY missed out. With red lights, fog machines and a wave of fresh electronic sounds he blew the remaining audience away. You know when you go to a concert and your body just feels everything, like it just knows what's going to happen next and how to move? It was that kind of atmosphere only better. His droning voice, the way he moved to the beat and felt confident in his own decisions made him a must see performer for any lineup.
I arrived a little later than expected to the festival site on the last day, so I immediately hightailed it over to the Sahara tent so that I could catch Skepta. Konnichiwa, the recipient of the Mercury Award, is one of those albums that I will never stop listening too. I missed my favorite track "Ladies Hit Squad", but was able to catch "Numbers", "Corn on the Curb", "Shutdown", "That's Not Me", "It Ain't Safe", and "Man" and I pushed through he crowd to the front. Aside from an enthusiastic performance with features from ASAP Bari and other grime rap stars, Skepta's visuals had my head spinning. Flashing sirens, a telephone booth, and tour footage danced on the monitors all around me. Although I missed Stormzy, Skepta was the right choice for me.
Lil Uzi Vert
The self proclaimed "rock star" was just that as he appeared on stage 10 minutes late with a whole posse of about 10 people (and 2 children?) and left about 10 minutes early. If there is one thing that I can compliment Lil Uzi on is his control of a crowd. He knows how to conduct an audience all based on hype. Even more so when flexing his new Marilyn Manson chain, brought out personally by his jeweler Baller Ben. Track such as "P's and Q's", "Money Longer", "You Was Right", "7 AM", "Do What I Want", "Top", "Erase Your Social", and the banger of the summer "XO TOUR Lif3" made up the bulk of Uzi's performance. The highlight of Uzi's anticipated performance for me personally was a guest performance by Playboi Carti. The duo performed "Lookin" and "Wokeuplikethis*".
99.9% reigned as the top album for WLUW's charts for a good chunk of time and has been revered by Consequence of Sounds & Pitchfork as one of the best Electronic albums. Kaytranada is no doubt on the best producers my generation has seen, but he also shows a very soulful, sweet, and sensual side when performing. I specifically was blown away by his extended mix of "All Night ft. Chance the Rapper" with a whole rendition of "Chicago" as well as his guest performer Shay Lia and his full synchronized dance routine.
I didn't stay long enough to really get invested in Hanz Zimmers set, but I can say WOW this guy is dedicated to his craft. Zimmer brought an entire orchestra-AN ENTIRE ORCHESTRA-to the coachella valley to perform soundtracks from Pirate of the Caribbean soundtrack, Inception, The Dark Knight, and Gladiator for which he brought out Pharrel Williams.
Lorde's show was not just a performance, but a choreographed live art performance complete with storyline and characters. She proclaimed herself that her upcoming album Melodrama was written around the storyline of a night out with ones friends; making more a riveting show and 10/10 pop music. Ella chose to perform highlights from Pure Heroine like "Royals", "400 Luxe", "Tennis Court", "Ribs", and "Buzzcut Season" alongside newer songs "Green Light" and "Liability". The young pop queen also gave us a special treat with a rendition of Kanye West's "Runaway" and a live debut of "Homemade Dynamite" for the first time-making for a magical night.
To give some context, DAMN had just been released the thursday night of Coachella week 1. Rumors had been buzzing around all weekend about what K Dot was going to do for this. As the headliner and closer of the whole festival, we knew it would be big. And honestly no pictures I or anyone else took could do it justice. Kung Fu Kenny took his title to a whole other level with pre-filmed shorts based around the journey of a kung fu warrior complete with outfit changes and choreographed fighting ninjas. While paying attention to his new album, he also payed homage to OG tracks like "m.A.A.d City", "Backseat Freestyle", and "Money Tree's". Kendrick also brought out Future to perform "Mask Off" and Travis Scott for "Goosebumps". As an extra special treat he also threw in "untitled 2/7" from Untitled Unmastered. In all, Kendrick threw not just a show but a 5 Star production. For the fans, he popped up on a lit up structure in the middle of the crowd halfway between the main stage and sound booth, then made his way through the middle and touched the front row's hands. I was fortunate enough to shake hands with the man; A festival finale I will most certainly not forget.