Like a lot of festivals, Coachella has gone from an intimate indie affair to musical mastodon, with artists like Kanye West, Madonna and Lady Gaga headlining the Californian festival. After Beyoncé pulled out of the festival due to her pregnancy, people are now speculating who will pull off the ultimate performance of the 2017 edition. There have been a lot of memorable moments at the Coachella festival, every year dozens of bands and artists set the Indio desert ablaze with nonstop music and entertainment. But here are 9 epic concerts that really turned Coachella into the boss of all US festivals.
9. M83 (2012)
At the end of the day, the oomph of a dancing crowd is a major factor when it comes to ranking performances (not that calm folk sets don’t deserve their place). But when you manage to get a crowd to dance themselves into a state of trance like this French synth-pop band did, you know you’ve delivered a transcendent performance.
In 2013, Phoenix were supposed to be joined onstage by Daft Punk for an ultimate French Touch bonanza. Alas, it was not to be. The helmet-wearing duo from Versailles didn’t turn up. But R. Kelly came to the rescue and joined Phoenix onstage to perform his ultimate banger “Ignition”. A near-perfect mashup was born. It really was the peak of the ‘Freakin’ Weekend’ at the freakin’ festival.
After a while, a warm beer and an overpriced hot dog just doesn’t cut it anymore. You’re sleep-deprived, you’re packed into overcrowded tents and you inevitably end up squashed behind the dude whose festival farts are so deadly, they bring tears to your eyes. Moments like these are when the magic needs to happen, for someone to come along and add a bit of sparkle to your scruffy festival life. Arcade Fire did just that by chucking thousands of LED-enhanced beach balls out into the crowd as they performed their amazing song “Wake Up”. A pure moment of genius that reminded the lucky attendees why festival hell is worth it in the end.
6. Snoop Dogg brings Tupac back from the grave (2012)
When Dr Dre and Snoop Dogg reunited to close both Sundays of the 2012 edition, hip hop fans around the world rejoiced. The set was particularly memorable with hip hop moguls like Eminem and 50 Cent joining the performance. But the crowd was truly bowled over when Tupac came back from the dead via a life-size hologram. It was the height of technology mixed with hip hop at its best.
If you’ve ever been to a Chemical Brothers set, you’ll know there are a lot of flashes, light effects and a lot of yelling. A Chemical Brothers concert is intense, there are no other words to describe it, it’s like going to space and back and not realizing where you’ve landed once the concert is over. Their performances get the crowd completely and utterly jacked up on music.
In 2007, Amy Winehouse played to a packed audience in the Gobi tent (a bit small considering her hit track “Rehab” was blowing up on the radio). She tottered around on stage, exchanging banter with the public whilst adjusting her beehive. She delivered a mesmerizing performance, one of the last before her life spiraled downwards.
The White Stripes only performed once at Coachella but it was memorable. Their stage presence literally obliterated Iggy Pop who was set to play just afterwards. The raw energy of the guitar/drum duo sent the crowd into a frenzy. This performance came less than a month after the release of Elephant that catapulted the band to superstardom and turned their “Seven Nation Army” into one of the biggest anthems of the 21st century.
The two-headed electro monster, basically turned up, switched on a massive LED pyramid, dropped some massive beats and delivered 80 minutes of non-stop bombshells. They bombarded the crowd with hit after hit after remix. With 40 000 people going wild in front of the set, dance fanatics have dubbed it the greatest show on Earth, and the performance has redefined how edm is marketed today. Needless to say that after such an unrivaled performance, the bar was set so high that producers around the world shi* their pants.