What’s disconcerting about the people who attend Coachella is that they are all shockingly beautiful. Maybe this is just a California thing, or maybe it’s just an “I Can Afford to Attend a Very Expensive Festival so I Might as Well Look Nice Around Rich People” thing, or maybe it’s something different altogether.
Out of all the beautiful Bros/Bro-ettes, Scenesters, Teens, Celebritage, etc. at Coachella, there was one festival attendee to rule them all. One festival attendee to bind them: Lohan. It was widely reported that Lindsay Lohan was at Coachella, putting off rehab for a weekend in order to ferret around the grounds with her underage brother and watch Beach House while under the influence of mind-altering chemicals. Mean Girls is one of my favorite movies, and it pains me to think about Cady Heron having lost her way in the nightmarish wilderness that is American celebrity. I knew what I had to do. I had to find Lindsay Lohan, and save her. This is the backdrop for my Coachella 2013.
One of the main gripes with Coachella this year is that the fest didn’t exactly have its finger on the pulse of what The People were listening to, largely eschewing up-and-comer types and slotting in what have essentially become Indie’s legacy acts—think Day One players like Passion Pit, Modest Mouse, and Yeah Yeah Yeahs, bands guaranteed to draw large crowds but who could have just as easily played a similar fest in 2009. Still, there were packets of the new lurking around, as evidenced by Palma Violets, whose set at the Mojave tent was attended by a relatively thin but enthusiastic crowd, singing along to tunes from their merely weeks-old debut, the stellar 180. Literalists in both sound and vision—guitarist/vocalist Sam Fryer was wearing a shirt that actually had flowers on it, though to his credit I’m pretty sure they weren’t violets—it’s unlikely that the band will be the ones to save Rock N’ Roll, but I doubt they actually give a fuck about that or anything else other than having fun, which made their set all the more enjoyable.
It’s been rumored that the Coachella organizers have decided to follow up last year’s Tupac Hologram stunt with a surprise performance by Daft Punk, but despite the hopes of the optimistic Teen at Palma Violets holding a pool noodle with a Daft Punk head sticking out of the top of it, the French robot-humans didn’t show their helmets yesterday. Not that there wasn’t a pretty major DP tease. Before the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ set, yet another Daft Punk teaser trailer for Random Access Memories was released, this time a nearly-full song featuring guitar work from the legendary Nile Rodgers and vocals from the equally legendary Pharrell, as well as announcements of which guests would be featured on the record. Sadly, I didn’t see this firsthand, instead finding out about it via Twitter while milling around in the media area. This is one of the many reasons I suck.
Even if Daft Punk ended up just teasing us all last night, yesterday was still a banner day for powerful electronic duos. Playing at the Sahara Tent, the relatively new Dog Blood—comprised of Skrillex and Boys Noize—played a thunderous set to an absolutely ecstatic crowd. The union sounds essentially like what you’d expect coming in part from a dude who helped Americanize dubstep, loaded drops but fairly devoid of nuance, something that Skrillex is only now showing signs of developing. Between the all-consuming power of the drops and a light show bordering on overkill, I had to leave after ten minutes for fear of sensory overload. Still, I like Dog Blood, and so should you.
Slightly later in the evening I caught a generous portion of TNGHT, perhaps the hottest thing in EDM right now and a pair of dudes who might be able to truly bring balance to the Force, so to speak. A union between producers Hudson Mohawke and Lunice, they approach the heavy with a sense of lightness, displaying an almost prenatural sense of when to pull back and when to lay the hammer down on some motherfuckers. While Skrillex and Boys Noize hid behind a veritable wall of sound as well as an actual wall on top of a raised platform thingy, HudMo and Lunice were less totalitarian in developing their relationship with the audience, Lunice often leaving the DJ table to take to the front of the stage, dancing as if he were trying to dodge bullets in The Matrix while also doing that invisible pull-ups dance that you see at hip-hop shows these days. The beauty of TNGHT and those like them is that they work to find the common ground amongst hip-hop and EDM, letting a Kanye edit bleed into an original into Rick Ross’s “Box Chevy.” Essentially, they find a way to make Trap and “Trap” play nice together without it feeling gross, as such arrangements often can.
So, the big Day One question: Did I see LiLo? No (but a Twitter friend did manage to capture a picture of her watching the Stone Roses, so she was definitely there). However, I found something better than Lindsay Lohan.
I found Riff Raff.
Here’s what happened. I was standing with some friends in the VIP area after Blur’s (excellent) set, when my girlfriend came up to me and said the two sweetest words someone can hear: “Riff Raff.” She motioned to her left, and sure enough, about thirty feet from us was Jody Highroller in the flesh, rocking a Versace graphic t-shirt and some Versace khaki cargo shorts, standing around with a group of four dudes. My girlfriend and I went up and introduced ourselves to him. He immediately asked us for drugs. We said we didn’t have any. I asked to take a picture with him, he posed without saying anything, then he awkwardly ignored us until we went away. In other words, it was perfect.
My personal Coachella Day One closed by catching a generous chunk of Earl Sweatshirt’s set, which featured DJ work by Flying Lotus, as well as appearances by many of the usual Odd Future suspects.. Though it was beyond rewarding to see that Yung Sweatshirt come more and more into his own as a live performer, watching Tyler, the Creator climb a bunch of scaffolding reminded me that I was dead tired and needed to leave.
COACHELLA DAY ONE BY THE NUMBERS + MISCELLANEOUS OBSERVATIONS
Number of Acts who I Saw Perform at Least One Song: Nine
Best Act I Saw: Blur, but I didn’t write about them because it’d be boring
Most Overwhelming Act: Dog Blood
Best Shirt I Saw: “SWAG DON’T COME CHEAP” in block letters
Number of Times I Peed Onsite: Seven
Number of People Wearing Fedoras: Too many to count
Number of People Wearing Bucket Hats: Less than I’d expected, but still too many to count
Approximate Time I Saw a Dude Pause his Brisk Walk to Vomit and then Continue as if Nothing had Happened: 7:38 PM
Number of Dudes I Saw Awkwardly Orbiting around Sky Ferreira Taking Turns Hitting on Her: Five
Number of Boyfriends Sky Ferriera Has: One
Number of Things that Happened to Me that were Straight out of a Pop-Country Song: One
Number of Beer Brands being Sold: One (Heinekin)
Number of Minutes I Interviewed Johnny Marr For: Six
Lindsay Lohan Sightings: Zero
Drugs I Gave Riff Raff: Zero
Drew Millard’s Versace coverage of Coachella will continue throughout the weekend. He’s on Twitter - @drewmillard