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Our 5 favorite moments from Coachella 2018

Coachella 2018 - EthereaPhotos courtesy of Coachella & Goldenvoice // Written by Josh Herwitt //

Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival //
Empire Polo Club – Indio, CA
April 13th-15th, 2018 //

When Coachella dropped its 2018 lineup in the first week of January as it usually does every year now, there was a common perception among many veteran attendees that the Southern California music and arts festival’s latest roster was further proof of it trending in what some might call a more “mainstream” direction.

But signs of such really began more than a year ago, when Coachella revealed its 2017 lineup that saw Radiohead, Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar atop the bill. It was the first time in nearly two decades that Goldenvoice had booked a pop star to headline the three-day, two-weekend event, and the renowned concert promoter’s commitment to the genre was cemented when it replaced Beyoncé with Lady Gaga just a few days after Queen Bey announced her pregnancy, forcing the 22-time Grammy winner to postpone her appearance until this April and marking the only instance to date when Coachella has confirmed a headliner in advance of its annual lineup announcement. Because when Beyoncé agrees to play your fest, you make exceptions for the Beyhive of course.

For longtime Coachellans such as ourselves though, the inclusion of a pop star for a second consecutive year wasn’t the only indicator that the festival’s curation process has started to evolve. In particular, a noticeable move away from EDM and an added emphasis placed on popular hip-hop acts like Post Malone, Migos, Cardi B and French Montana also signaled a change from past editions. That kind of music certainly isn’t the reason why we drive out to the desert each spring, but as is always the case, there are plenty of other artists and bands for us to discover and enjoy over three days in Indio.

In returning to Coachella for its first weekend, our ninth straight year at the Empire Polo Club was chock full of highlights. While we don’t have time to revisit all of them in this space, here are our five favorite moments — ordered chronologically — from 2018 (and no, Beyoncé, for as “inspiring” and “spectacular” as her performance was for many, didn’t make the cut).


Coachella 2018 - The War on Drugs

The War on Drugs

Weeks before The War on Drugs released their fourth LP A Deeper Understanding last year, we were fortunate enough to hear Adam Granduciel and company perform a handful of cuts from the new album in an intimate setting for KCRW. It was then and there that we knew the follow-up to 2014’s Lost in a Dream was another masterpiece, and that impression was only validated when A Deeper Understanding won the Grammy for “Best Rock Album” just a few months ago. On Day 1 of Coachella, the Philadelphia band brought some of those same songs we witnessed at Apogee Studio to life, though sadly, this time “Holding On” wasn’t part of the setlist. But we did get to experience “An Ocean in Between the Waves” in all of its glory, and we still have yet to come across another piece of music in more recent years that will make you want to play air guitar as much as the seven-minute track from Lost in a Dream does. Who said rock was dead?


Coachella 2018 - Soulwax

Soulwax

David Dewaele and Stephen Dewaele have drawn quite a bit of fanfare from the dance music community thanks to their successful side project 2manydjs, but the two brothers first broke ground when they put out Soulwax’s sophomore LP Much Against Everyone’s Advice back in 1998. The Belgian electronic outfit returned last March with its first album in nearly 12 years, and since 2016, it has been touring all over the world as the “Soulwax Transient Program for Drums and Machinery” with a lineup that consists of three drummers: Victoria Smith, Blake Davies and Igor Cavalera (formerly of Brazilian heavy metal group Sepultura). And while we remember being captivated by Soulwax’s performance at the 2010 version of HARD Summer, their Friday night set in the Mojave Tent was one for the ages. Showcasing tracks from 2017’s From Deewee and the rest of their catalog, Soulwax had the crowd pogoing up and down for the entire hour they were onstage. If one thing’s for sure, these guys still know how to bring the heat.


Coachella 2018 - Jamiroquai

Jamiroquai

Thirteen years. That’s how long it has been since Jamiroquai last performed in the U.S. With that in mind, there was no way we were going to miss Jay Kay and the rest of his sidekicks in favor of The Weeknd’s headlining performance (sorry, Abel), and after what ended up being close to a 90-minute set from the London nu-funk/acid jazz group, we had no regrets about our decision. The only regret we have is that they ran out of time and didn’t get to play their smash hit “Virtual Insanity” in its entirety, and you could tell Jay Kay felt bad about it as he jumped down from the stage to greet some overjoyed fans after wrapping the show up with “Love Foolosophy” from 2001’s A Funk Odyssey. But while Weekend 2 attendees got the full version of the Travelling Without Moving single, we were treated to a massive surprise when Snoop Dogg came out to rap on “Dr. Buzz” with a huge blunt in his hand. It was the kind of collaboration you never expect to see, except at Coachella of all places.


Coachella 2018 - David Byrne

David Byrne

One of the biggest eye-openers when Coachella’s 2018 lineup first hit the internet was seeing David Byrne listed on the festival’s iconic poster. The legendary Talking Heads frontman has been touring in support of his recently released solo album American Utopia, but at an event that’s made up of mostly 20-somethings, the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer almost seemed out of place with younger artists like MØ, Alina Baraz and BROCKHAMPTON performing around the same time on Day 2. In fact, with this being my first time watching the 65-year-old do his thing, the whole experience felt somewhat surreal. After all, I still remember a friend putting on “Stop Making Sense” in high school and wondering what the hell I was watching. Byrne’s set at Coachella may not have been as bizarre as Jonathan Demme’s 1984 concert film, but it definitely had its moments, like when he walked out with a prosthetic brain at the onset and proceeded to call us “people of the desert.” Frankly, I’m still giddy that I actually got to hear “Slippery People”, “This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)”, “Once in a Lifetime” and lastly “Burning Down the House” all in an hour’s worth of time.


Coachella 2018 - Eminem

Eminem

While we can’t say that we were completely thrilled with Goldenvoice’s choices for this year’s headliners, we were excited to see Eminem finally play Coachella (he had never performed in an official capacity before) and close out the festival on Sunday night. Sure, his newest album Revival didn’t exactly receive rave reviews from critics when it dropped at the end of 2017, but watching one of hip-hop’s most talented emcees run through his hits all while bringing out 50 Cent and Dr. Dre was undoubtedly THE highlight from Day 3. For this “stan,” just crossing Em off my concert bucket list would have been enough to send me home with a smile. Fortunately for those of us who were there though, the real Slim Shady lived up to the hype and more.


Coachella 2018 - SUPERNOVA

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