The best and worst of Coachella 2011

Coachella has come and gone, and the thousands of music fans in attendance have left Indio’s desert and returned to reality. As expected with such a large and diverse festival, some bands connected with the crowd, while others, like the highly criticized Ariel Pink, failed. Here’s a recap of some of the festival’s highs and lows.

Miles Howard | Daily Trojan


Arcade Fire

Ever since Arcade Fire’s formation, the band has been hailed as a great live act. After three albums and a huge increase in popularity, the band hasn’t lost its signature energy.

The indie outfit worked its way through diverse selections from its catalogue, culminating in a goose bump-inducing “Wake Up,” during which dozens of giant white balls were dropped on the crowd. During the encore, those balls lit up with different colors in sync with the music, providing an incredible visual display. Many of the audience members left the festival with those glowing balls as souvenirs, and the rest left simply with the memory of a great headlining set.



Odd Future’s Coachella debut was one of the most buzzed about performances of the festival. So much so that the anxious crowd forcefully pushed its way into the hot tent before electronic DJ Skrillex even finished.

Many speculated the performance would mark the return of mysteriously missing member Earl Sweatshirt.

Others just expected the show to live up to the group’s previous energetic performances.

Only the latter expectation was fulfilled, but the first didn’t go unmentioned.

The group led the crowd in its signature chants of “Free Earl,” and a few members donned “Earl” t-shirts. OFWGKTA leader Tyler, The Creator was vocal about those that have investigated Earl’s whereabouts, saying “there’s a difference between entertainment and family” before harshly berating Complex magazine for trying to track down the young and talented rapper.

Drama aside, Odd Future put on an entertaining show.

The rappers dove into the audience several times as they tore through songs. There was even a guest appearance from one of Tyler, The Creator’s biggest heroes, the Neptunes’ Pharrell.

It was exciting to see such energy from the young group.



The Aquabats

While many were being entertained by dark electronic group Crystal Castles across the polo field, The Aquabats were delivering a more lighthearted, yet still extremely awesome, set to a smaller crowd of dedicated fans.

The Aquabats’ live show is something like the musical version of bizarre comedy duo Tim & Eric as a band of costumed superheroes with an oddball sense of humor. Their performances aim for both laughs and confused looks. Both of those were present Friday night, along with some moshing and skanking to the ska-punk songs.

At one point the group “brought out the Kings of Leon,” which were actually two actors humorously dressed as the band’s members that appeared for only about 10 seconds.


The Felice Brothers

New York country rockers The Felice Brothers catered to a small but rowdy crowd in one of the  more cramped tents.

Those who weren’t in attendance missed out, as Bright Eyes singer Conor Oberst joined the band onstage for a song and then watched the remainder of the set from the side of the stage. It’s collaborations like this that make festivals great.


Animal Collective

Animal Collective often confuses fans with its live shows. The band doesn’t normally play its own hits like the insanely catchy “My Girls.” Instead, they jam on more recent songs and sprinkle in hints of more recognizable tunes, like some sort of futuristic jam band.

That’s exactly what the group did Saturday night, and it was highly entertaining for anyone who’s a true fan of the band.

To the casual listener, however, the band’s unusual set list and reliance on psychedelic images and lights were a bit of a let-down.