Coachella Week: Spencer’s Sunday festival notes

Windstorms attack but Nick Cave maintains his intensity

The Lumineers drew one of the biggest crowds at Coachella’s first weekend.
Photo: Alexandra Wyman/Invision/AP
Wu-Tang's RZA rallied a windstorm-swept crowd during Coachella's Sunday sets.

Wu-Tang's RZA rallied a windstorm-swept crowd during Coachella's Sunday sets.

5 takeaways from Day 3 in Indio:

1. For the second year in a row, Weekend 1 got hit by weird weather—this time a massive windstorm (turned dust storm) that blew in around sundown and sent a good chunk of the crowd rushing for the exit long before bands had stopped playing. No word on whether organizers ever considered shutting down the festival a la EDC 2012, but Coachella’s many impermanent structures—from giant stages to smaller food and beer tents—appeared to hold up well against the elements. (More unpleasant than the wind, especially for those of us dressed in shorts and T-shirts: the cold. Brrrr. #Windchillchella.)

2. Nick Cave owned Coachella 2013. Two days after lighting up the Mojave Tent with a blazing Grinderman set, the Aussie rock god turned in another massive performance on the main stage with longtime backing band The Bad Seeds. Playing to a wind-scattered crowd at 8:40 p.m., Cave seized control of the Empire Polo Club field with his opening number, a build-to-a-frenzy rendition of “Jubilee Street” featuring strings and a children’s choir. As Cave shouted “Look at me man!” again and again amid the crescendo of instruments and voices, bodies rose to their feet and began moving hypnotically to the music. (And you can try at home.)

3. From the moment the set times were announced last Tuesday night, Sunday’s 3:55-7:15 p.m. Outdoor Theatre block loomed as one of the weekend’s strongest stretches, and it mostly played out that way. Kurt Vile and the Violators' afternoon set, which I figured would be one of the festival’s best (see: Vile’s fantastic new album, Wakin on a Sunny Daze), fizzled. An atrocious sound mix that buried Vile’s voice and guitar was partially responsible, but the musicians also seemed to lack the spark that made past shows so memorable. Next up: Dinosaur Jr., which one-upped last fall’s powerful FYF Fest appearance with an even more fearsome performance. Well-mixed and full of energy, the trio—guitarist J Mascis, bassist Lou Barlow and drummer Murph—bashed away at a series of noisy catalog favorites, culminating with a monster version of “Sludgefeast” off 1987’s You’re Living All Over Me. And then, as the winds began coming on strong, Australia’s Tame Impala kept a large crowd from leaving with a set blending sunny psychedelia and dreamy space vibes. This is a band with future-headliner potential.

4. When did The Lumineers become the biggest band in the world? I wandered over during the Coloradans’ late-afternoon main stage slot and discovered what might have been the largest crowd of the weekend. Also, it turns out the Wu-Tang Clan really should have played the main stag, too. Going on at the height of the windstorm (9:15 p.m.), the longtime rap crew drew a dense throng that sprawled well beyond the normal boundaries of the Outdoor Theatre.

5. From my vantage point, Coachella ran extremely smoothly in terms of its logistics—traffic flow, parking, entry. As recently as two years ago, the fest, which was founded in 1999, still had significant issues when it came to getting people in and out of the area. Judging from the 2013 experience, organizers finally seem to have it all down to a science. Knock wood.

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Spencer Patterson

Spencer Patterson is the Editor of Las Vegas Weekly, having previously served as Managing Editor, Arts & Entertainment Editor and ...

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