Editor's Note: Check out the Las Vegas Sun version of this story for a Coachella 2012 photo gallery and more coverage.
By Don Chareunsy
Coachella went out with a bang Sunday (at least until next weekend) with spectacular weather and what was arguably the most solid day of performances of the three. Yes, there was a hologram (more on that below), but there was a lot more than that that made the day so memorable.
Here’s the breakdown of Day 3:
Guest performances: Fans at Calvin Harris’ set were treated to a surprise appearance by Rihanna, who joined the DJ for their smash hit “We Found Love.” The singer even interrupted her own set after spotting pal Katy Perry in the crowd, jumping off the stage to give her a hug.
Eminem and Wiz Khalifa dropped verses during Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg’s headlining set, giving an old-school performance that stuck largely to classics like “Gin and Juice” the right amount of freshness (even if Eminem’s collaboration with Dre is tedious, at best).
About that hologram: Rumors about guest appearances during Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg’s set abounded all weekend, so when I heard talk that late rapper Tupac Shakur’s hologram would appear, I thought it was a joke. Even still, when a rapper who looked and sounded exactly like Tupac joined Snoop onstage midway through the set, I thought it was a lookalike hired by Dr. Dre in bad taste.
But the apparition was indeed a hologram, eerily lifelike and debatably in bad taste, as well; the audience cheered but seemed more confused and off-put than enthusiastic. The reason fans still celebrate the life and legacy of Tupac (and other late artists) is because there are no others who can do quite what they did; to try to approximate that with a soulless projection is not only creepy, but also a little insulting to all parties involved.
Don’t call it a comeback: Performances from the Hives and At the Drive-In proved that despite their time out of the limelight, these bands’ passion for performing hasn’t gone anywhere -- and neither have their fans.
The Hives’ tongue-in-cheek, pretentious persona provided the right amount of humor and rock star swagger to revive a fading early evening crowd; frontman Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist lived up to his nickname as he marched about the stage in a tuxedo and top hat, accosting the crowd to scream and clap for them until everyone was hoarse.
The spastic energy of their garage rock songs was even more raw and maniacal on the live stage, and new songs like “Wait a Minute” and “Go Right Ahead” show great promise for their upcoming record “Lex Hives,” due out June 1. Spectacle of the day: Almqvist managed to compel the entire main stage crowd -- thousands of people -- to sit down and then simultaneously jump up together during the breakdown for “Tick Tick Boom.”
El Paso, Texas, band At the Drive-In screamed and howled their way through their set, delivering with gusto the unhinged emotion and complex instrumentation that earned them a devoted fan base in their heyday. If you’re on the fence about catching their reunion tour, you won’t be disappointed.
Rock star-flavored ice cream: The Coolhaus truck offered patrons a sweet Coachella-inspired treat with gourmet ice cream sandwiches named and styled for acts on the lineup. For example, Justice’s “D.A.N.C.E” sandwich featured fig, mascarpone and almond; Gary Clark Jr.’s “Austin Breakfast” was a delicious pairing of whiskey ice cream and Lucky Charms.
Dance party of the day: Most DJs at Coachella remix or mash up other artists. Justice remix themselves, hitting that sweet spot between enjoying your favorite tracks from their records and getting into the spontaneity of a show. The stomping, jumping and aerobic-workout sweat of the massive main-stage crowd made the set feel like one massive nightclub, lit by stars instead of strobe lights.