Over the course of the past three days (April 16-18), Indio, CA played host to the eleventh annual Coachella Valley Music and Arts festival. Spurred on by Jay-Z’s headlining set to close out the festival’s first night, this year’s edition boasted a decidedly stronger hip-hop presence, despite there being only a handful of acts from the genre.
“The common denominator is music and regardless of what kind it is, you always have a chance to win over the crowd,” said Wale backstage, following his performance Friday afternoon to open up the Coachella’s main stage. Slotted to come out around 2 p.m., the DC rapper missed most of his set due to traffic getting into the venue. When he finally did make his way to the stage, Wale only had 15 minutes left of his allotted time, but he gave the patient audience their due by jumping down into the crowd for raucous renditions of “Pretty Girls” and “Chillin.”
Prior to Hov hitting the main stage later that evening, rumors circulated as to possible surprise guests, ranging from Dr. Dre to Pres. Obama. Beyoncé ended the speculation, walking out toward the end of Jay’s 80-minute set to sing the chorus on “Young Forever.” Hov offered up a varied affair, spanning the usual hits (“Izzo”), fitting festival fare (“Wonderwall”), as well as obscure bangers (“Jockin’ Jay-Z,” “Hovi Baby”).
With no rap acts on deck for Saturday, ATLien B.o.B. set the tone for Sunday by opening up the main stage with his unique brand of genre-blurring. It was a perfect segue for Native Tongue MCs De La Soul, who were flanked by a full ensemble as they moved through their classic catalog, including “Breakadawn” and “Me, Myself, and I.” After walking off around 5 p.m., the trio would return to the main stage for the final performance of the festival put on by Gorillaz, with whom they collaborated on the track “Superfast Jellyfish” from the cartoon band’s latest album, Plastic Beach. —Devin Chanda
Photography courtesy of Eric Swiecinski