Coachella: Always Worth It

By Alexandra Talleur ’12Staff Writer

Every year in Indio, California, music lovers unite for three days under the sweltering sun. Thousands of people, filled with the rush of music and creativity, come together to hear their favorite songs—and maybe discover new artists—against the stunning backdrop of mountains and palm trees. The incredible lineup for this year's Coachella Music and Arts Festival, featuring big names as well as new bands that are sure to be headliners in the years to come, made this past weekend one which will not soon be forgotten.

This was my second time attending Coachella, but once was enough to completely convert me. Despite the cost, the heat and all the interesting mishaps that are sure to happen along the way, Coachella is a priceless experience. Seeing your favorite artists back to back in such a surreal setting is incredible, amazing, overwhelming. This year, Arcade Fire swept the main stage with an incredible on-stage presence and set up, fulfilling every avid fan’s wildest dream with the quality of their music and their passion in their performance. The climax came with practically everyone in attendance surrounding main stage, singing along to "Wake Up" at the top of their lungs. Giant glowing orbs the size of beach balls cascaded over the face of the stage. I was right up front with one of my best friends and we completely lost it, dancing and bouncing under a blanket of the glowing lights.

Sunday night, Kanye West rivaled Arcade Fire’s performance with his incredible one man act. One man, that is, plus all of the ballerina dancers he brought with him. His entrance set the tone with its expectation-flouting delighting of the audience. While ballerinas danced on the stage, the audience was transfixed. Expectation built for Kanye to burst on stage, but instead he appeared over the crowd on a rotating crane, sweeping full circle over the crowd. Even if you don't think much of Kanye West as a person, you have to admit that he puts on a hell of a show. He blew the stage up with his presence.

But the presence of Crystal Castles’ lead singer Alice Glass earned both my admiration and my respect. She rocked. Hard. Glass—one badass chick—performed with a broken foot. Instead of letting her foot hold her back, Glass took advantage of the extra props with which to rock. She gyrated on amps, flaunting her protective boot and slinging a crutch. The broken foot didn't even stop her from crowd surfing, and she continued to wail her croon into the mic even when she fell into the divide between the stage and the crowd. Needless to say, I was extremely impressed with—and have a renewed love for—just how crazy Crystal Castles is.

Though their performances were less intense than the crutch-wielding Crystal Castles or the crane-riding Kanye West, The National and Mumford and Sons both managed to bring their songs to life onstage. It's refreshing to see they can just as good up onstage in front of their many fans as in studio.

The Black Keys disappointed on main stage. It wasn’t because they didn't sound good, but rather that they lacked the stage presence of the aforementioned performers. A two man band is just difficult to rock on that huge of a stage. The Strokes, however, had awesome stage presence. I would lop off an arm to hang out with Julian Casablanca at least once a week.

These were all the main acts, but there were performers there for every musical taste, popular, obscure, high-energy or relaxed. Mount Kimbie put on one of the most high quality sets I've ever seen, and Boys Noize made everyone go wild, per usual. Indie bands—if you care to classify them as such—like Best Coast, Delorean and Glasser all sounded great, as did The Morning Benders and Radio Dept.

Long story short, Coachella is an amazing experience because it's three days away from reality. It’s a world of music, art, liberation and friends! If you ever get the chance to go, the experience is sure to leave a lasting impression on you.