Surprisingly cool weather graced Indio on Friday, as the second weekend of the heavily anticipated Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival began. After a star-studded first weekend, with artists including Beyoncé and Slash making guest appearances, I ventured into the desert for Part 2 of Coachella with Daily Bruin photo editor Neil Bedi in tow to bring back highlights from the weekend. Anticipation was high and crowds were not disappointed, as acts from electronic to classic rock and everywhere in between composed three melodious days of Coachella.

Coachella 2014 By Aalhad Patankar / Photos by Neil Bedi

ZZ Ward

The set started out with a bang, literally, as two blasts from the drums shook the crowd out of its Friday afternoon lull. Singer-songwriter ZZ Ward walked on stage in the Mojave Tent to a trance-like beat from her opener, a cover of Nina Simone's "Be My Husband."

A few minutes later, the Oregon-based musician had the crowd on its feet, grooving to her blend of hard rhythms and folksy blues. Her drummer and guitarist provided terrifically strong backing to her gritty, grass-roots vocals.

Some highlights were Ward’s performance of the catchy single “365 Days,” as well as a cover of Drake’s “Hold On, We’re Going Home” stylized to her folksy, homegrown style, complete with a harmonica solo.

“We have only one rule,” she told the early Coachella crowd. “The more you give us, the more we give you.”

And the crowd gave her plenty.

The de facto symbol of Coachella 2014, "Escape Velocity" by art studio Poetic Kinetics, a 36-foot-tall astronaut is a highly functional piece of artwork. Festivalgoers had their faces projected on its visor, while radio-controlled fingers curled into a thumbs-up. Moving around on site, the popular astronaut served as a backdrop to thousands of Instagram posts and Facebook profile pictures.

Girl Talk

The Coachella main stage, decorated with a pair of Jordan sneakers and hands reaching out from the ground, was rushed by a mob of fans as DJ Girl Talk took the stage Friday night. If the continuous streamers, confetti and general onstage chaos didn’t make it clear, Girl Talk’s mix of hip-hop mash-ups and club hits got the message across: The set was a giant dance party. Girl Talk and his surprise guests, which included rappers Busta Rhymes and Waka Flocka Flame, were the life of the party.

It was large, it was fun and it was what can only be described as the perfect turnup before the night’s headliner, OutKast.

Snuck in between the mix was also an interesting blend of rock and pop classics, including Blur’s “Girls and Boys,” Lorde’s “Royals” and M.I.A.’s “Paper Planes.”

"SmartBird," by German technology company Festo, was an early hit among festivalgoers as both an artistic and an engineering marvel. Aimed to display the efficiency of nature through technology, the remote-controlled mechanical bird soared above the crowds, mirroring the movements of a real animal.

Aloe Blacc

True to the name of his latest album, “Lift Your Spirit,” Aloe Blacc aimed to do just that, with the help of a large brass live band. The revivalist soul singer brought what he promised: a bit of soul, a bit of funk and a lot of positive energy.

As a vocalist, Blacc was almost a time machine to another era, with a James Brown-esque energy mixed in with a Motown-like pop catchiness and enough onstage charisma to complete the comparison.

“Wake Me Up,”Blacc's collaboration with EDM artist Avicii, was a good sampling of this; catchy, yet vocally emotive enough to make the live experience worthwhile. Blacc kept up his barrage of feel-good soul with several crowd favorites, such as “The Man.”

But it didn’t always land. Several lesser-known songs failed to resonate, and the lack of variety in the set made it a bit difficult to steadily follow, despite an animated Blacc.

When it did land, though, Blacc’s set was a celebration, a party, and he wanted you in on it. With the power of a live band and Blacc’s own lively dancing inviting you to join in, it was hard, if not impossible to not stay on your feet.

Broken Bells

Charming and composed, Broken Bells, the union of the Shins frontman James Mercer and producer Brian Burton (Danger Mouse), won over Friday.

Opening with “Perfect World,” the duo and its backing band delivered a controlled wave of energy that resonated through the crowd. It wasn’t loud, it wasn’t in-your-face, but it was powerful. And it was consuming.

It was a beautiful marriage of sound between the cool, soothing vocals of Mercer and relentlessly dynamic instrumentation, provided by the backing band and most of all, led by multi-instrumentalist Danger Mouse.

Mercer’s vocals never lost a step as his singing range was on full display, just as immaculately controlled as in the duo's recorded work.

Most entertaining, perhaps, was the musical chairs the group played with the instruments. Mercer took up the acoustic as well as the bass guitar, while multi-instrumentalist Danger Mouse did it all, moving from the synth to bass to drums and even playing a special xylophone.

“The Ghost Inside” was the perfect sampling of this sound, with Danger Mouse taking up the bass to carry the song’s evocative riff.

Friday belonged to Broken Bells; Danger Mouse made sure of that.

Glowing artwork by night and a set of giant selfie mirrors by day, Phillip K. Smith III's "Reflection Field" attracted crowds throughout the weekend. The set of two-story-tall mirrors were arranged in a circle to create interesting patterns of reflection, loaded with LEDs to glow in vibrant color after sunset.


It was dusk, and a cool breeze set upon the Outdoor Theatre. The atmosphere was perfect for anti-pop, pop idol Lorde to take the stage and deliver to one of the largest crowds of the day thus far. And deliver she did – the 17-year-old singer-songwriter entered a rhythmic trance, as each dynamic convulsion of her body perfectly complemented the bass drops and haunting vocals characteristic of her songs, choosing to give the crowd her energy her own way.

Keeping her words short and sweet, Lorde had the crowd sufficiently pumped leading into her mega-hit “Royals,” followed by “Team.”

Although ending disappointingly early and devoid of any guest appearances, Lorde’s set may just be her next step to musical royalty.

Kid Cudi

Kid Cudi, whose fashion choices had the internet world buzzing recently, had perhaps the most disappointing set of the day. It’s not that his energy was lacking – it's that it was a surprisingly quiet set. Cudi was as radiant as could be as he sang, rapped, danced and even tried his hand at motivational speaking to really connect with the tremendously large crowd that had gathered. The flawed sound quality of the Coachella stage made for an underwhelming experience for anybody not in the very front. Without proper sound, Cudi just didn’t vocally deliver, despite being one of the weekend’s most animated performers.

A diamond in the rough was Haim’s guest collaboration with Cudi, and Cudi’s subsequent appearance on MGMT’s set.


Being a premier pop star for over a decade has its perks. For one, an hour seems almost too short when almost all your songs, spanning from hip-hop to electro-disco and funk, land as crowd favorites. For another, it gives you the industrial muscle power to pull off one of the most celebrity-studded sets of the weekend.

Donning his now-famous hat, which has grown its own ego, Pharrell had his wide array of talents on display, rapping some of his earlier hip-hop hits, and dancing and singing along to his lighter, recent material.

Pharrell's collective, the army of guests everyone had come to expect following the first weekend’s star fest, this time around consisted of the likes of Pusha T, Busta Rhymes, Usher and TI, who managed to get “Blurred Lines” stuck in everybody’s head again.

Oh, and also guest starring was a guy named Sean Carter, better known as Jay Z, who arrived about an hour before rapper Nas’ set, to drop a few bars with Pharrell. The pair’s combined delivery was probably the zenith of the performance, although it was hard to make out its sound sometimes over the continuous screaming for Hov.

Visually, the set was just as alive, with a vibrant animated cartoon video on the big screen, Broadway-like choreography throughout and a surprise appearance by dance group Jabbawockeez.

With a grand, over-the-top, showy set that satisfied a crowd hungry for star power, the future looks big for Pharrell.


Choosing to see only the first half of Muse's set followed by the second half of the Nas set had to be one of the toughest decisions, right up there with choosing a college, except, obviously more relevant. Maybe it would have been different if the orders were reversed, and Nas was first, but as I stood listening to Matthew Bellamy shred solo after solo on his guitar, I was frozen. There was no way I could leave.

The entire musical experience, the ethereal reverie of space rock instrumentation was other-worldly live, as has come to be expected from Muse.

But it was the unpredictability of it all that made the set worthwhile. Bellamy delved into his guitar solos and riffs, only to destroy his guitar in a theatrical display of anger a few minutes later. In the background were eerie, futuristic visuals set to complement the band’s space rock sound, along with an impressive show of lights and pyrotechnics. The set was a movie; as cinematic wordless videos played on the live screen, its actors, a money hungry CEO and ruthless businesswoman took the stage to throw money into the crowd and guzzle gasoline from a prop tank.

The theatrics of it all seemed at least partially intended to cover up one thing: Maybe it was the desert weather, or maybe something else, but Bellamy’s voice just wasn’t the same. It was disappointing to see him shy away from the falsettos and high notes that are integral to so many of Muse’s songs, such as “Starlight” and “Bliss,”choosing a lower scale or letting the crowd sing the problematic parts.

"Becoming Human," by Christian Ristow, was the most animated of this year's Coachella artwork. Conveniently located between the two most popular stages, the giant robot could be seen moving his hands up and down, sporting a flower in one. The robot's base also served as an elevated platform for the more zealous dancers in the crowd.


Despite a disappointing no-show from Jay Z, who performed earlier for Pharrell’s set, Nas celebrated the 20th anniversary of one of the most influential hip-hop debuts of all time, “Illmatic,” by delivering every single from the legendary album, and then some.

It was a celebration of history, and Nas knew it. He let his passion and raw emotions radiate as he took the crowd on a trip down memory lane.

In one of the weekend's best kept secrets, after a guest appearance by Damian Marley, R&B legend Lauryn Hill joined Nas on a collaboration of the Fugees’ “Ready or Not” and the duo’s hit single “If I Ruled the World.”

It wasn’t a large set – minimalistic compared to Muse next door – but it was driven by raw emotion. Nas proved once again that all he really needs is one mic to guide his audience back into history–or to make it.


Coachella 2014, and the talk surrounding it, was largely dominated by Friday’s headliner, OutKast. Whether the hype prefacing the group’s reunion, or the subsequent disappointment after the lackluster performance during the first weekend, I was particularly on edge before the set.

The OutKast I saw on Friday night fought hard to win back an apprehensive crowd, and despite some missteps and missed notes on André 3000’s part, it won the war.

“B.O.B.,” the group’s frenetic opening anthem, settled all talk of a lack of energy on the duo’s part. Back and forth, Big Boi and André 3000 unleashed a rapid fire of verses not just to the crowd, but also to each other, feeding off their collective energy.

André 3000 came smiling and Big Boi came ready to work. They were in their element doing what they do best: having fun. It was easy to enjoy hits such as “Ms. Jackson” and “Roses” with a tinge of nostalgia.

But the real highlight for me was one of OutKast’s lesser-known songs, “Da Art of Storytellin’.” In their signature story-rap style, the two spun the lyrical tale of Suzie Screw and Sasha Thumper for what was one of the few songs that carried its attitude almost seamlessly on stage.

And that’s really what Friday night’s performance was: A great story told in the best way possible. A story that began a little rocky, but had an ending so fresh and so clean, it can be best described as“SpottieOttieDopaliscious.”