The first weekend of the festival saw some great performances that set the Colorado Desert on fire. Here’s a list of the best of the best!
1. Hans Zimmer
The Academy Award-winning German composer debuted at Coachella this weekend, and performed some of his most iconic masterpieces, alongside a live orchestra and backed by some breathtaking visuals. The set included scores from The Lion King, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Dark Night, Gladiator and even Inception, and moved the crowd in a way few have accomplished in the past. He even brought on Pharrell Williams as a special guest to perform “Freedom”, calling the pop star the “best friend and brother he could ever dream of having.”
About eight minutes into his set, the legendary composer paused to greet the enchanted crowd. “It takes a special kind of crazy person to bring an orchestra out into the desert… But, it had to be done, didn’t it?” he said. We could not agree more. Hosting a live orchestra at Coachella is quite a unique move in itself, but the grace and spirit with which Hanz Zimmer performed made this set incomparable to any other this weekend.
2. Lady Gaga
After Beyonće‘s unexpected announcement that she would not be performing at Coachella this year, the torch was passed on to the iconic, ever enigmatic Lady Gaga, and boy, she did not disappoint. The singer delivered a solo 90-minute set and played some of her greatest hits, including “LoveGame,” “John Wayne,” “Born This Way” and “Just Dance”. She even debuted a new dance song, titled “The Cure” to massive approval from her screaming fans. Gaga danced in the way that only Gaga could, accompanied by backup dancers, flames and the occasional fireworks.
This is definitely a set we are sorry to have missed.
3. Kendrick Lamar
2017 was the year for rap music at Coachella. Some of the biggest names in hip-hop dominated the Coachella stage, with Schoolboy Q, Travis Scott, and Future putting on some explosive shows. On Saturday night, Kendrick Lamar hit the stage with “DNA” and seamlessly shifted between his lively, vibrant sound and a slower, jazzier sound. He played some of his biggest hits including “Swimming Pools”, “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe” and “That Part”. The entire set was quite memorable, but the cherry on the top of the cake had to be his second-to-last song, “Humble”.
Halfway through his set, the rapper suddenly appeared amongst the crowd in what appeared to be a cage made entirely of LED lights. He performed “Lust” and even got onto the cage’s roof to perform “Money Trees”. He punctuated his performance by periodically crying “Is anybody out there?” to raucous approval from the public.
The 20-year-old pop artist performed her hit single “Royals” for an adoring crowd of fans, accompanied solely by a sole snapping beat and periodic background vocals. She also debuted a new song, titled “Homemade Dynamite” from her upcoming album Melodrama, which garnered a warm reception from the audience. She wrapped the set up with “Green Light”, the first single from her forthcoming album.
Amongst rumors that Goldenvoice founder Paul Tollett turned down the opportunity to book Kate Bush because the audience “wouldn’t understand” the iconic British singer, Lorde’s set was preceded by Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” playing over Coachella Stage’s massive sound system as a homage to the artist.
5. Travis Scott
Performing before a giant metal bird with red eyes and flapping mechanical wings, Travis Scott began his set with the declaration, “I wanna see you fucking rage, Coachella! I came for the chaos!”, and beyond delivered upon the promise. He played some of his greatest hits, including “Don’t Play”, “3500”, “90210” and “Upper Echelon” before segueing into “Antidote” and “Mamacita“. As the set went on, the artist appeared on top of the bird to perform “Goosebumps,” as the iron cage doors were opened wide to set the music free. The metaphor was not lost on the crowd, who voiced their appreciation in the form of manic screaming and celebration.
Clad in a white hoodie, bouncing around the stage in excitement, the Atlanta rapper performed hits like “Too Much” and “Draco” to vast approval. He also brought on fellow Atlanta superstars Migos and producer Zaytoven to perform, followed by Drake, who took the stage to perform “Jumpman”. The crowd absolutely exploded as the first notes to “Fake Love”, began to play over the speakers. Future wrapped up the legendary set with his hit song, “Mask Off”.
7. The xx
Childhood friends Romy Madley Croft, Oliver Sim and Jamie Smith, collaborating as The xx, took to the main stage on opening night. The three put on a passionate performance with Croft and Sim singing loving verses off of their first three albums, while Smith played his keyboards, percussions, and sequencers. Croft even did a solo performance of the song “Performance” from their album I See You, resulting in a moment of pure, raw emotion that had the crowd hooked. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Sim said “It’s one of my favorite hitting in the set, even though I’m not playing.”
8. DJ Snake
The French DJ and producer DJ Snake took to the Ultra Miami mainstage with a mind-blowing closing set.“Let’s get roughed up!”, the DJ declared to the audience as he began, accompanied by towers of flames and trippy visuals and graphics. Featuring special guest appearances from Migos and Lauren Hill, the set was one of the most iconic of the festival weekend.
In their first return since 2012, the U.K. band Radiohead came back with a stunning album titled A Moon Shaped Pool. They opened their set with “Daydreaming,” singing to the solemn tuned of lead singer Thom Yorke vocalizing to a piano melody. The set was going well until the sound cut out during “Ful Stop”, when the band played on, oblivious to the fact that the fans could not hear them. “Fucking aliens again,” Yorke joked when the sound returned. Soon after, during the band’s “15 Step,” the sound cut out again. The band ended up leaving the stage twice due to sound breakdowns, which were quickly fixed afterward. Despite the disappointing first weekend, Radiohead is all set to return next weekend and deliver the performance they feel the fans rightfully deserve.
10. Martin Garrix
The Dutch DJ and producer delivered a fantastic performance at Coachella’s Sahara Tent. He also revealed a massive new ID performance, following the release of his latest single “Byte”. The DJ also recently debuted new music at Ultra 2017.