That tricky balancing acts signifies what could be a prolonged struggle for Goldenvoice in the years to come, as the promoter recently inked a 17-year deal with Indio to keep Coachella in the desert city through 2030. Perhaps that's why the moments that truly stood out felt more sporadic than ever, and, in the case of Blur and the Stone Roses, were witnessed by smaller crowds than Saturday's headliner, Phoenix.
Blur, in songs such as "Girls & Boys," dipped into rave culture, and then crafted something more akin to a hymn in "Sing." The Stone Roses turned songs such as "Fool's Gold" into live remixes, working in the Beatles' "Day Tripper" and concocting a groove that, like the DJs in the pimped-out electronic dance tent the Sahara, was meant to be felt and not watched.
On Saturday Parisian pop rockers Phoenix channeled the pre-punk disco-era with bright synths -- the ascending, descending notes of "Trying to be Cool" and the Far East inflections of "Entertainment" could be sing-alongs for years to come. Earlier in the dance tent, country mates Birdy Nam Nam's highly orchestrated beats made it seem as if the act were reenacting the soundtrack to a spy movie, at one point even turning the sound of dripping water into a groove.
Jehnny Beth, the ferocious lead singer in the venomous punk quartet Savages, let her arms do the talking and her voice do the hollering. At times she was seen gripping the microphone as if it were the only thing keeping her standing, and other times she was taking a step back as if she wanted to challenge the audience or anyone who would dare come in her way.
The day after her set, she said of Coachella, "I got to meet a lot of the artists I grew up with -- the artists whose vinyl I was buying when I was 14," noting she was pleased to meet Fugazi members Ian MacKaye and Brendan Canty, each here with separate bands.
Yet for the second weekend in a row, the biggest buzz was an artist not in attendance: Daft Punk. A rumor had been circulating that the Parisian dance act would drop into the otherwise set-in-stone lineup and guest with band Phoenix (R&B crooner R. Kelly had dropped in for Weekend 1). Daft Punk gave a Coachella performance for the ages in 2006 and fans have wanted it back since.
But it wasn't to be at Coachella 2013.
Pity poor Phoenix, which has a new album in "Bankrupt!" that could very well be the pop album of the summer, yet a small faction of the crowd began booing when Daft Punk failed to show for a second week in a row. Last week's attendees got R. Kelly, while this weekend's concertgoers were left wanting more.
The festival was fortunately tame in other ways. This year Indio police tallied 52 arrests for the first two days of Coachella, most of them alcohol- or drug-related, and one for someone trying to create counterfeit wristbands.
Despite the Boston attacks, Indio police did not change much of its security plan. "There's always been heightened security," said spokesman Ben Guitron, adding that recent events are just a reminder to be "vigilant."
In 2011, Goldenvoice began using microchip-embedded wristbands to avoid counterfeiters. While a move to protect its brand and business, Guitron said it has paid off for security as well. Guests, for instance, are scanned multiple times before entering the grounds. No one, either concertgoers or homeowners, can so much as get within a mile of the Empire Polo Field, where Coachella is held, without wearing one.
Fans who said they were worried Coachella would ramp up security were pleased. "It's a party," said Coachella attendee Jesus Llamosus, 23. "People have been expecting this for months. Getting in was easy. They asked if I had any guns. No. No. No. No. Just kept saying no."
As the 2013 edition of the festival wound down, one-man band Robert DeLong challenged Sunday's tired and the sun-scorched crowd with his current events song "Survival of the Fittest," which melds dance floor hysterics with a hip-hop soul. He referenced guns in elementary schools, corrupt politicians and a blind allegiance to religion and oil.
"Does this change how you feel," sang DeLong in the following song, who then paused and added, "about anything?"
DeLong had a sizable crowd, but it's telling, perhaps, that the crowd gave a more vocal response to a question from Brian Moen of old-timey rhythm & blues act Shouting Matches on Friday. "Anyone been on the Ferris Wheel, either psychedelically or metaphysically?"
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