While I was unable to attend Coachella this year (a fact which continues to pain me), I was thankfully able to pretend I was there by moshing by myself, in the privacy of my bedroom, while watching the festival streamed on YouTube. Oh, the internets - you are so majestic!
While this isn't the first time Coachella has featured such a stream, this was easily the most popular it had ever been, with Twitter WORLDWIDE discussing what was happening on the Coachella Live stream. In this context, the 2011 stream has heralded a new age of live music interaction. 2 million people interacting with the tens of thousands in California, all discussing the same event at the same time. It made for some terribly enjoyable interaction.
Getting to witness the balls drop during Arcade Fire was possibly the musical highlight of 2011 for me - and I wasn't even there! The headlining set on the second day of the festival will no doubt go down in folklore as one of the best Coachella had ever seen.
Aussie had their representatives out in force: Tame Impala, Angus & Julia Stone and Empire of the Sun represented our home country well on YouTube, performing brilliant sets to packed out crowds. Tame seem to have quite a future overseas, while Angus & Julia continue to ride an underground North American following. But it was Empire who achieved the most acclaim, with a spectacular late night set.
Other highlights from the stream - which was spread over 3 channels and jumped between live and pre-recorded - included the epic Kanye West set, which featured one of the craziest backdrops I'd ever seen, though the set suffered from some sound issues (I received confirmation this wasn't a YouTube thing - it was the same on site). It did little to take away from the hit-makers jam packed set, however, with plenty citing it as "the perfect way to end my weekend!".
I LOVED The National's set as the sun set, and The Swell Season pulled out their usually enthralling performance. I for one will never tire of seeing and hearing that man sing. Freelance Whales were one of the lesser known artists to grace the lineup, but truly impressed in their early performance - as they should... their debut album is nothing short of terrific. But it was Mumford & Sons who I think have benefited the greatest from their appearance at Coachella. Much like at Splendour in the Grass, people continued to discuss the UK band for days after the festival had finished.
With a breathtaking performance, it was no wonder why. We can't wait to see how far they go in the USA following their outstanding successes in Australia. I'll now turn the tables over to a couple of our contributors, who give their takes on the Coachella LIVE Experience.
Highlights from what I saw were The Kills, Mumford & Sons, Foals, Tame Impala and Cee-Lo. So many I missed that I wish I'd seen though!
Not being a massive fan of Mumford & Sons, I thought I'd watch their performance to see why my girlfriend loved them so much live. They far exceeded my expectations. With gorgeous harmonies over lush instrumentation, they had a hold over the crowd who were seemingly hanging on their every word.
The Kills were solid but lacked a certain element that a live drummer would've provided (as opposed to using a drum machine). Alison and Jamie were both cool as shit (as usual) and the new album played out well in a live setting. Foals were crowd pleasers as always. They bring an intensity and a 'cool' to the live arena only a number of other bands can match. Opening with "Blue Blood" they had the audience in the palm of their hands from the word go.
Tame Impala sounded a bit off but got into the performance as it wore on. The crowd were up for it as I'm sure the band's reputation had spread among the hipsters in attendance. Finally, Cee-Lo was sublime. His voice can go from booming to tender in a single moment. Even though he looked disinterested at times, it was still a good show with "Fuck You" causing a mass sing-a-long to close.
Having recently seen Death From Above 1979 at their 'secret' SXSW show, the performance was fresh in my mind (not to mention the album being on repeat for at least two weeks afterwards), I couldn't wait to experience it again.
Being at home, away from prying eyes (and this time not loaded down with camera equipment) thrashing out to a concert from halfway across the world has never been so satisfying. The duo blew their way through the set, opening with "Turn It Out". I won't lie, I kind of got a bit internet-angry when I saw the Twitter feed exploding with people saying "omg dfa1979 jus sampled CRYSTAL CASTLES!!!!!!!" during the second song, "Dead Womb"; never mind that Jesse F Keeler and Sebastien Grainger have used the sample for the best part of ten years.
The set closed with a one-two punch of "Romantic Rights" (including a rare yet oh so magical moment where Sebastien walked away from the drum kit for a great build up to the climactic crashing of the final chorus) and "Do It!" The duo might have muttered about 10 words apiece to the audience, but proved to bring the best mosh out of a crowd that had been sitting around in temperatures exceeding 95 degrees faranheit for two and a half days prior, and that alone speaks volumes.
Arcade Fire Photo: Dave Bullock / Wired.com