1. Watching Ty Segall at the Outdoor Theatre to kick off my Saturday drove home a 2014 Coachella reality: the relative lack of noisy, guitar-driven bands. While the bill is loaded with synthy, electronic-leaning indie types, traditional rock acts are few and far between this year. As if to illustrate the point, late in his gloriously loud and raucous set, Segall covered “Mötörhead” by Mötörhead, one of a handful of truly heavy bands at the fest.
2. It seems there’s always a grueling weather-challenge aspect to Coachella. If it’s not triple-digit temperatures (basically every year), it’s rain (2012) or wind (2013). Saturday brought this year’s: dust. The palm trees ringing the festival grounds began blowing hard in the late afternoon, and by 6 p.m. the Polo Club fields were cloaked in a light-brown hue. Face-covering handkerchiefs and surgical masks became common sights for the rest of the night, and the overall attendance seemed to dip after dark, likely the result of the dusty conditions. Those of us used to enduring the far-dustier FYF Fest each fall stuck around without much complaint, however.
3. I’ve seen MGMT three times at Coachella, and this finally felt like the performance the band was meant to deliver. In 2008, the then-just-emerging indie popsters held the big hits from debut album Oracular Spectacular (“Time to Pretend,” “Electric Fell” and “Kids”) until far too late, squandering massive Mojave Tent energy and ending with a karaoke-fied version of “Kids” to boot. In 2010 at the Outdoor Stage, MGMT skipped “Kids” entirely at the Outdoor Theatre, focusing on material from second album Congratulations to again disappoint a giant crowd. But Saturday night on the main stage, the band embraced all sides of its persona, balancing the ’60s-flavored psych-pop of last year’s self-titled third album with the bouncy fun of its best-known tunes. And this time, MGMT got “Kids” right, playing it fifth among nine songs, and sending the Polo Club into momentary pandemonium.
4. After witnessing such low attendance for veteran acts on Friday, I’d been curious to see how the Pixies would fare on Saturday. The alt-rock icons performed just before Radiohead on the main stage in 2004, but as a late-Coachella add this time, they were placed in the Mojave Tent at 8:50 p.m., bringing to mind 2004’s Gobi Tent fiasco, when demand far exceeded supply, space-wise, for a badly misplaced Beck.
I arrived 20 minutes early Saturday night, just in case, but while the Mojave eventually filled and then some, things never got ugly. As for the set itself, I doubt I’ll ever adjust to seeing Black Francis, Joey Santiago and David Lovering on a stage without Kim Deal, but the new-look Pixies produced a quality set nonetheless, bashing out extra-ferocious versions of “Gouge Away,” “Nimrod’s Son,” “Crackity Jones” and more.
5. Word has it Gwen Stefani and Snoop Dogg popped in to play with Pharrell Williams Saturday night, and that Beyoncé danced a bit with sister Solange, but I caught Day 2’s biggest surprise guest appearance: Jay Z, who strolled onstage during Nas’ night-capping Outdoor Theatre performance. The two rappers, once engaged in a bitter feud, cleverly rhymed together on Jay’s “Dead Presidents II,” which originally sampled from “The World Is Yours”—a cut off Nas’ 1994 classic Illmatic, the album he performed in its entirety Saturday night to mark its 20th anniversary.