Despite Day 1’s sobering temperatures, Coachella 2012 felt like it was in full swing Day 2 thanks to beautiful, clear skies and temperatures in the mid-70s that saw fans shedding the $55 hoodies purchased the day before from the merch booth.
Despite the serene weather, the day was not without its spectacles; musically, Saturday was packed with impressive sets that had many spending the day flitting between stages in an attempt to hear it all.
A rundown of the sights and sounds of note from Day 2:
Indecent exposure: It seems garage punks Black Lips will always be the class clowns of whatever festival they play. In February, when the band played Sport Illustrated’s Beauties and Beats festival at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, singer-guitarist Cole Alexander performed in a women’s swimsuit -- and eventually nothing at all. Saturday’s Coachella set was of the same spirit, as Alexander once again de-robed during their hit “Bad Kids” and strummed the final chords with some assistance from his downstairs bits.
Electric Daisy Coachella: Coachella appears to have become a living, pulsating advertisement for June’s Electric Daisy Carnival, although dance music fans aren’t complaining. The festival exit was flanked by promoters passing out fliers for EDC and popular DJs like Avicii and Tiesto; in the sky, small planes outfitted with LED displays advertised Encore Beach Club and XS, both at the Encore, and Rehab at the Hard Rock hotel. The entire east side of the festival grounds became a daylong cluster of mini raves as EDM heroes like David Guetta, Kaskade, Swedish House Mafia’s Sebastian Ingrosso and more kept crowds moving -- and kept Coachella segregated between bands and DJs.
French DJ Martin Solveig’s 6 p.m. set drew a crowd almost twice the size of the Sahara tent in which he played. A talented producer in his own right, it was disappointing to hear him dip heavily into the catalogues of Daft Punk and Skrillex and overlook original material. Still, the man knows his crowd: His choice of artists inspired glitter-covered fans to break out their glow sticks, despite the fact that the sun had barely begun to set.
Quote of the day: In response to a fan’s shouts of adulation, normally cynical Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke called out, “I love you, too!,” sending the hearts of the crowd aflutter -- until he followed up with “But not nearly as much as you’d probably like.” Ah, good ol’ Thom.
Set of the night: Acclaimed L.A. beat-maker Flying Lotus delivered what was arguably the night’s most engaging and creative set -- not to mention the most star-studded. Dr. Dre, Odd Future members Hodgy Beats and Earl Sweatshirt and fellow Coachella performer Thundercat were among the artists who at one point sauntered onstage.
Flying Lotus is a DJ from whom all others at Coachella (and in general) should take note -- he dipped enough into sampling to work the crowd into a frenzy, touching on favorites like Wu Tang’s “4th Chamber” and Tyler the Creator’s “Yonkers.” Then, with the crowd craving more, he weaved in improvised beats, as well as new material expected to appear on his new album “Until the Quiet Comes.”
The secret to Flying Lotus’ magnetic appeal, and what made his new tracks promising, is his ability to transcend genres, melding the sparse rhythmic aggression of hip-hop beats with subtle electronic embellishments -- it’s music that manages to be intellectually and emotionally challenging, suited as much for dancing with the sweaty masses as spending a reflective evening at home.
Buzz kill: Jeff Mangum’s subtle acoustic rendering of Neutral Milk Hotel’s iconic album “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” was, for many, supposed to be the most emotional and personally resonant set of the festival. And, in many ways, it was -- grown men throughout the crowd could be seen crying. Which is why it was all the worse that the soulless bass-thumping of David Guetta in the dance tent bled into Mangum’s set; whether it was bad timing or bad sound management on the part of the festival organizers, it’s decidedly one of the biggest faux pas of the festival thus far.