Best band you (probably) didn’t see: Grinderman My ears may still be ringing from this Friday night set, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Being in a deplorably small crowd made seeing Nick Cave’s side project all the more thrilling. In both his Grinderman set and his show with the Bad Seeds on Sunday, Cave proved to be the ultimate frontman, howling and writhing across the stage in performances that managed to be at once terrifying and seductive. Guitarist Warren Ellis, meanwhile, performed the equivalent of sonic voodoo on his guitar. Weekend 2 might be your last chance to see Grinderman, which reunited solely for the festival; don’t pass it up.
Worst excuse for canceling: Richie Hawtin In the DJ equivalent of “the dog ate my homework,” EDM legend Richie Hawtin canceled his Saturday night headlining set at the Yuma Tent because—wait for it—his hard drive broke. Kudos to both him and festival organizers for fitting him back in for a Sunday-night set (after he magically got his hands on three back-up drives), but the divide between the Coachella of EDM and the Coachella of live music has never been more clear.
Best comeback: Franz Ferdinand After a four-year hiatus, the Scottish quartet’s triumphant return to the stage in the Mojave Tent Saturday night served as a reminder that it never actually left. Like The Hives last year, Franz proved it was more than a post-punk flash in the pan from the early 2000s, reviving otherwise played-out singles like “Take Me Out” and “Do You Want To” with rhythm and swagger that can’t be captured on a recording. The band also debuted some promising new tunes from its upcoming record.
Worst fake-out: The closest thing Coachella got to a hologram-level surprise this year (and no, R. Kelly’s head-scratching cameo during Phoenix’s Saturday set doesn’t count) was the teaser trailer for new Daft Punk record Random Access Memories. In a move as brilliant as it was obnoxious, fest organizers played a cleverly crafted promo video on the main-stage screens just before the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Friday-night set. Just as you shouldn’t cry “fire” in a crowded theater, never cry “Daft Punk” at Coachella.
Best fashion trend: fanny packs I’m all about being stylish at festivals, but there’s nothing more annoying than having a purse smacking against your hips as you dance or worrying about someone pick-pocketing your backpack in a thick crowd. That’s why I was thrilled to see the fanny pack make a return this year, strapped to hips of the fest’s coolest ladies in bright neon vinyls and dark worn leathers. The ’90s are back, guys; go big or go home.
Worst cover: Johnny Marr The former Smiths guitar god delivered some electrifying renditions from new solo album The Messenger, but his three Smiths songs felt completely phoned in. Marr couldn’t even be bothered to play the lead guitar lines he made so iconic on “How Soon Is Now,” relegating those duties to his backing band’s guitarist. Hey Johnny, you know we can see you, right?
Best power meal: the $8 burrito Imagine a Venn diagram of cost, efficiency and tastiness: At its center, you’ll find the burrito stand in the main-stage beer garden. One of these plump puppies will sate you for the whole day, filled with fresh, if simple ingredients (a music festival is no place for oozing guac and sour cream, anyway). The vendors make sure to have the burritos wrapped and ready to go, so unlike the overrated Spicy Pie pizza next door, there’s never a line or a wait. While your friends juggle their greasy slices, you’ll be back at the show, fist-pumping with your burrito in hand.