It was nearly impossible for one attendee to catch every one of the 34 or so Coachella performers on Sunday, because as many of four acts could be performing at any given time. But the expansive, uncrowded facilities (a polo field designed to hold tens of thousands of people), as well as the arrangement of the four stages in a large circle, made it feasible to see at least a portion of most of the musicians.
The eclectic lineup ranged from the commercial rock of headliners Oasis and Foo Fighters to the underground efforts of DJ Sandra Collins; from the stoner-jam stylings of Galactic to the high-energy hard rock of the Mars Volta; from the lilting modern folk-pop of Belle & Sebastian to the fuzzed-out histrionics of the Strokes; and from the smooth, soulful sounds of Zero 7 to the frenetic house grooves of Pete Tong.
The U.K. hardcore-dance band Prodigy made its long-awaited U.S. return and thrilled a sea of screaming fans with an explosive set featuring hits “Firestarter” and “Smack My Bitch Up” as well as some new tracks. Foo Fighters also bowed a couple new songs, highlighted by the soul-searching rocker “All My Life.” Jokers Tenacious D made a surprise three-song appearance before the Foos.
Local Afro-Latin group Ozomatli made perhaps the most joyful music of the day, nicely blending hip-hop, rock and funk with Spanish and English lyrics. Gotham’s hype kings The Strokes looked somewhat out of place playing in the sun, and they did little more than replicate the simple and derivative music found on their RCA debut, but the crowd loved them for it.
For those not in the mood for Prodigy’s aggro-techno, Zero 7 offered smooth and soulful R&B, blues and reggae ballads, while in the two large tents, the three-man DJ crew Triple Threat worked a crowd of dancers with hip-hop and dancehall beats, and Pete Tong produced high-energy house music.
While Oasis was running through their past Brit-pop hits, Dilated Peoples was on the second stage talking about war and other political subjects. As Galactic jammed stoner rock in one tent, the always-enthusiastic BT gave an exciting DJ performance in the other as fans shouted encouragement.