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Saturday, April 14, 2012

Best of Coachella Weekend One: Friday, April 13

Posted By on Sat, Apr 14, 2012 at 3:28 PM

Andrew Youssef/OC Weekly
Coachella! Yeah!

Day one of The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival brought something more unusual than ironic outfits or that poor guy who couldn't get his flip flops on for the life of him: rain. Usually, the desert festival is known for scorching, sometimes three-digit heat. But rain and wind be damned -- the first day of Coachella was still a blast. We put together a list of our favorite moments from Friday and offer them for you here. Tell us your best moments of the day in the comments section!

Choking up During Jimmy Cliff's Set
I choked up during Jimmy Cliff's performance. It happened, of course, during "Many Rivers to Cross" which played at my father's funeral. For most of the day, it seemed that Coachella had been upended -- nothing was familiar about the festival I'd attended for the past eight years. I'd been accustomed to a music lover's paradise: 90+ degree weather, incredible bands, beautiful bodies laid out enjoying the vibe. Instead, the later part of the day was miserable. It started off well enough; at around 1 p.m., what was usually a time of oppressive heat made walking through the field bearable. Later, however, it got cold. Really cold. It was drizzling, the skies were gray, and nothing seemed fun anymore. I wanted to watch less than half of the bands today. Girls were wearing ludicrous chain-mail headpieces and wellies. The bathrooms were so far away, and I kept needing to pee. But as the first few opening notes of Cliff's song about love and loss wafted through the crowd, the festival finally jelled for me. I was at Coachella, and I was watching fantastic bands in one of the most beautiful venues in the world. The past few hours had been a chaotic mess, marked by bands I just wasn't that impressed by (Yuck); a state of denial regarding the weather (Overheard: "It doesn't mean anything if you can't feel your toes. It won't get gangrene or anything from the cold." !) and the general feeling of distate for those fucking hipsters (stupid chain-mail headband-wearing girls, I'm looking at you). Jimmy Cliff, with his populist set of standards, was a perfect antidote to the feeling that everything was just meh. "Many Rivers to Cross" reminded me why I was here in the first place, bad weather be damned. Sometimes all it takes is a really direct song to get to you, and "Many Rivers to Cross" brought that connection -- between my emotions and the music I loved -- back to the forefront of Coachella and its raison d'être. -Lilledeshan Bose

gary clark jr
Ben Westhoff/LA Weekly

Gary Clark Jr.
Shadowed, beneath a fedora, sunglasses, and thick beard, Austin guitarist Gary Clark Jr. obscured himself at his performance Friday afternoon. From a distance, he could have been 70 years old. His music, too, hearkens back to another era. God knows there aren't a lot of freaking blues players who can win over a crowd of thousands of young white kids with slight attention spans. Who knows, they may have come in to escape from the rain, but they were quickly and completely won over; Clark's sound is practically a windstorm itself, possessing a swirling, driving quality, wrapping you up and kicking your ass just a bit. Exhilarating. -Ben Westhoff

Weather to Cuddle by
As storm clouds collected overhead, casting a foreboding shadow over the day's festivities, the Friday Coachella crowd thinned to a manageable size, making bathroom use downright luxurious (by festival standards of course). Though cool temperatures may have led to some shivers, the weather created an environment conducive to cuddling within the crowds -- always a nice vacation from simply being sandwiched between sweaty-shouldered strangers. Plus, the rainy day set the mood, complete with dimmed lighting, and inspired concert-goers to get closer, to dance harder, and find creative ways to keep warm. -Gabrielle Canon

Frank Ocean, Gobi Stage
If you want to be a dick about it, you could say Frank Ocean's voice isn't great. From a technical standpoint, he's not in the same ballpark as, say, R. Kelly. Nonetheless, today at the Coachella Gobi Stage, Frank Ocean impressed the shit out of me. Mostly, it was his stylishly arranged renditions from last year's Nostalgia Ultra mixtape, executed by a brilliant four-piece band consisting of synth, drums, sequencer, and post-rock guitar texturing. Ocean gave the band space to improvise and build up tension, welcoming jams that peaked, bobbed, and weaved through his compositions. Energy swelled beneath the canopy and billowed into the cold Coachella sunset. Average voice, sure. Unrivaled swagger, definitely. -Adam Lovinus

Hipsters Christen Kendrick Lamar with a Native American Headband
After his solid set last afternoon, where he played hits like ADHD, Kendrick Lamar was chilling and eating with his crew when two blonde girls came up to him bearing a gift. They quickly adorned the L.A. rapper with a yellow and green Native American-style headband. Lamar jokingly asked, "Do I look like a rockstar?" and posed for photos while the hip duo fawned over him. He looked like a Compton version of Kanye West at last year's festival -- keeping it gangsta in the desert. -Kai Flanders

Annually, teens and twentysomethings usher in Coachella's arrival by

decorating their hybrids with celebratory statements; "Coachella 2012!",

"Carpoolchella!" and even "dickchella" (which came accompanied with a

retina-searing, anatomically correct doodle). However, nothing better

displayed a culturally relevant understanding of hipster irony than

a white SUV artfully decorated with the KONY 2012 logo. The Invisible Children campaign collapsed in on itself after a few embarassingly public

displays of "stress," hamstringing the non-profit's efforts to spread

awareness of Joseph Kony's child army in Africa. Still, we can see why a

'chella goer would appreciate both the festival and the cause. -Neda Salamat

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