Top 10 Moments from Coachella 2013

posted by Laura Baker-Finch on April 23, 2013

Photo: Coachella Memorable Moment #3 by Laura Baker-Finch
Indio, California -- I've been a Coachella skeptic since the first time a Coachella edition passed and I knew more about who was there and what they wore than I did who played. After venturing out to the desert for the seminal fest this past weekend, I can admit my expectations were skewed.

Sure there were the usual festival suspects to detract from the atmosphere, but the grounds at Indio's Empire Polo Club weren't roaming with models in designer duds and fashion bloggers weren't snapping everyone in sight. Instead, I encountered a few tens of thousands just genuinely excited to be at the festival for the festival's sake. Whether they wanted to dance the molly out of their systems at the Sahara Tent or hug the barrier at the main Coachella Stage, we were all there for the same thing.

The bands alone would've ranked the weekend an A+ in my book but there were a few additional elements pushing this particular festival over the edge. Scroll down to see which top 10 moments aided in making Coachella 2013 a weekend to remember.

10. Foals

This UK quintet was a part of my 5 Top Picks for Coachella, so it's only fitting they made in on my Top 10 Moments. Each member individually took to the stage to gradually introduce "Prelude" off February's Holy Fire, an instrumental track that gradually grasps the audience's interest as it builds towards an epic conclusion - a better introduction than words, if you ask me. The rest of their set followed suit, culminating in frontman Yannis Philippakis crowd surfing off into the Gobi Tent still playing his guitar.

9. Sunday Sun at the Outdoor Theatre

The last day of a festival always sees more attendees lying on the grass than squeezing into a crowd, at least until the sun goes down. Late afternoon Sunday at Coachella was no different, but the three back-to-back bands playing the Outdoor Theatre were perfect fits for the tired temperaments of the festivalgoers.

Charming in his stoicism, Kurt Vile took to the stage at 3:55pm to a crowd of equal parts dedicated fans and those soaking up the rays to Kurt's guitar-driven tracks. Next up, the white-haired yet still hard-rocking Dinosaur Jr.. The trio who helped define alternative rock and influence many of the younger bands on the Coachella bill jammed through songs new and old, including The Cure's "Just Like Heaven" and a "slow" song off J Mascis and Lou Barlow's first mix tape before ending with a shout out to both Vile and the band on deck - Tame Impala. These Aussies drew the biggest crowd I had seen all weekend to the Outdoor Theatre for their psychedelic sunset set - delivering the perfect motivation to finally stand up, jam out, and prep for the night's headliners.

8. Tacos

Alright, this may not be musically relevant at all but I never said this was my Top 10 musical moments of Coachella, did I? Do yourself a favor and find a Kogi Korean BBQ Truck near you; their tofu tacos are finger-licking good.

7. My Coachella Crew

To briefly continue my non-music moments, it'd be an oversight not to mention the importance of company to festival experiences. Coachella provided the location for a Cultivora reunion with a past intern, a current coworker, and myself. Our Cultivora crew was joined by an LA-based friend known from East Coast dance parties - a welcomed change to my oftentimes lone-wolf act at festivals. The perfect group to mark my first festival in a year without a photo pass and a return to my days of pushing through the crowds and having to wear my glasses to see the stage. Sure the pit has great views and I'm severely lacking in photos to use, but the absence of a camera strapped over my shoulder and lenses weighing down my bag made me remember why I do this in the first place.

6. Franz Ferdinand

The last time Franz Ferdinand played Coachella they did so on the Main Stage, so I was a little surprised to have to venture to the Mojave Tent to see these Scottish rockers. Yet the more intimate (if you can consider 1000+ spilling out of the tent as intimate) setting proved ideal as everyone sang along to "Take me Out," bopped their heads to "Michael," and jammed out to set-closer "This Fire." As I danced along with the nameless faces around me, I couldn't help but be thankful I wasn't falling asleep to The xx on the main stage.

5. Gospel Choir & the Yeah Yeah Yeahs

I had high hopes for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, another band from my Top 5 Picks for Coachella, after seeing them charm a sold-out show at Webster Hall earlier this month. I wanted just as much energy but with a few surprises mixed in - a wish that was granted Saturday night at the main Coachella Stage. The trio not only mixed up their set list but recruited a lively gospel choir for "Sacrilege," the single off their recently released Mosquito.

4. The Postal Service Reunion

Ben Gibbard and Jimmy Tamborello's The Postal Service have been back in the news of late with a string of reunion shows and festival stops - of which Coachella was the first - in support of Give Up's 10th anniversary. Tamborello's on his laptop(s) and Gibbard on guitar, lead vocals, and drums were joined by long-time Postal Service collaborator Jenny Lewis as well as Laura Burhenn of Bright Eyes and Mynabirds. Now I'm just waiting for that Rilo Kiley reunion, come on Jenny!

3. Festivalgoer Inspiration

Amongst the barely dressed girls in flower crowns and the bros in neon chewing their face emerged a festivalgoer couple to inspire. This Coachella veteren and his "virgin" date (pictured above) may have had years on the festival's median, but that didn't stop them from enjoying some Yeah Yeah Yeahs (see top moment number 5), compare live sets to live streaming, and shame me from not staying for How to Destroy Angels the night before. This will be future me.

2. Father John Misty Shames Girls in Flower Crowns

Father John Misty, the post-Fleet Foxes project of Josh Tillman, brings the drummer front and center, where he so obviously belongs. In between songs he thanked the crowd for "coming down to this galactic martian landscape to see [him] play," admired his band's new backdrop in which he appears naked, and admonished a category of Coachella festivalgoer that no one quite understands - angry looking girls in fringed dresses in flower headpieces.

"Don't make this face," Tillman tells the girls as he demonstrates a bitchy expression of which no hippy who originated these styles would approve. It seemed the crowd agreed as laughter and cheers roared from the audience before Tillman ended his public service announcement in favor of more hip shaking, mic stand throwing, and singing of crowd-favorite "Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings" to bring his set to a close.

1. The Red Hot Chili Peppers

Unreal. The Red Hot Chili Peppers were the perfect choice to close out the festival's two weekends. The SoCal natives may have aged a little since the band formed back in 1983, but they didn't sound or act a day out of their twenties as a crowd full of festivalgoers half their age - myself included - jumped, danced, and sang along to every lyric of their near two-hour headlining set. Despite a set that consistently followed hit after hit - including Stevie Wonder's "Higher Ground," which the band originally covered in the early 90s - the crowd weren't ready to say goodbye as they awaited an encore. The Peppers obliged, returning to the stage in white jumpsuits accompanied by colored confetti for an encore trifecta of "Sir Psycho Sexy," "Soul to Squeeze," and "Give it Away."

I'll end this article the way the Red Hot Chili Peppers ended their set and Coachella 2013 as a whole - "Be kind, be gentle, spread love into the world and support live music whenever you can."

Follow @laurajbf on Twitter

See Also:

Surprise Collaborations from Coachella Weekend 1
Music Monday Playlist: Coachella 2013
New Music Video from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs