Despite its rock origins, hip hop — gangsta rap, to be specific — ruled the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. Although Ice Cube wasn’t one of the three headliners, his Saturday night set on the main stage was arguably the most buzzed-about performance of the Indio fest’s second weekend. A purple cloud also hung over Coachella as music icon Prince, who headlined the festival in 2008, died a day before Weekend Two kicked off, prompting tributes from a slew of artists. Surprise guests also stole the show at Coachella, which over the years has become associated with a who’s who of celebrity friends. “I know it’s all about who you bring out,” as rapper Anderson .Paak put it best before introducing Kendrick Lamar and Dr. Dre.
Below are some of the best moments from the second weekend:
Party Over Here
Compton took over Coachella as the surviving members of N.W.A — Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, MC Ren and DJ Yella — reunited, performing together for the first time in almost 30 years during Cube’s Saturday set. Ren, Yella and Cube rapped their 1988 anthems “Straight Outta Compton” and “F— the Police” together as the massive crowd sang in unison.
“Is there a doctor in the motherf—ing house?” Cube then asked before Dre appeared following his absence from the previous weekend’s incomplete N.W.A reunion. The mega group, who last performed together in 1989, joined forces for “Still D.R.E.” and “California Love.” Eazy-E’s memory was also kept alive as Lil Eazy-E rapped his dad’s famous song, “Boyz-n-the-Hood.”
Cube also brought out fellow Compton rapper Lamar, who was the MVP at several shows this weekend, including SZA and Anderson .Paak’s sets, to assure the crowd “we gon’ be alright.” Even when he wasn’t surrounded by surprise guests, Cube still captivated the audience all on his own, as they hung onto every word in “You Can Do It,” “Gangsta Rap Made Me Do It” and “Go to Church.” It’s safe to says “It Was a Good Day” for Cube.
The music industry was dealt a catastrophic loss on Thursday when Prince was found dead in his Minnesota home at the age 57. Coachella artists paid tribute to The Purple One throughout the weekend, covering his most memorable hits — from “Purple Rain” to “When Doves Cry” to “I Would Die 4 U.” Even the fest’s signature palm trees glowed purple.
LCD Soundsystem, Usher, Ellie Goulding, Jack Ü, Mavis Staples, Jhene Aiko, Joey Bada$$, Sufjan Stevens, Gallant and others honored the music legend. Headliner LCD Soundsystem dedicated a large portion of their set to Prince, belting out their version of his 1981 classic “Controversy” after the stage’s three large screens played footage from his 2008 Coachella gig. The quote “From now on, this is Prince’s House” appeared at the end of the video tribute.
This Is Acting
Not even the most vivid acid trip could come close to the visual frenzy of Sia’s Sunday night set. The songstress stood at the center of the stage, sporting a half-blonde-half-black wig with bangs that obscured her face, as her proxies acted out the struggles with mental health, addiction and fame chronicled in her songs. Sia’s set was a performance piece upon itself that challenged the art at the fest. The singer’s soaring vocals moved the crowd, as she remained motionless.
Her mini-me Maddie Zeigler and several other dancers emerged from Sia’s dress as the Australian singer-songwriter opened the set with her hit “Alive.” Other celebrities like Kristen Wiig, Paul Dano and Tig Notaro, who all sported similar hairpieces, performed to the songs live or in prerecorded segments, showing a range of raw emotions. Zeigler contorted, twitched, spasmed and convulsed throughout the night, closing the show with her now-trademark dance number to “Chandelier.” It was a vision to behold.
No Sleep Till Brooklyn
Dance-punk duo Matt and Kim arguably delivered the most energetic performance of the second weekend, turning 5 p.m. on the Coachella main stage into a happy hour in more ways than one. In between jumping up and down and crowd surfing, vocalist-keyboardist Matt Johnson and drummer Kim Schifino surprise-released a four-song EP from the stage.
The two began writing music after returning from their European tour — a week before their first Coachella set — and essentially finished recording the new EP “We Were the Weirdos” between weekend one and two.
“There’s something cool about not being able to overthink things,” Johnson told Variety the day before their performance. “We usually spend forever on our albums. But some of my favorite songs and albums of other people were made so quickly because sometimes that first thought is the best one and then you start going back against it or you start shaving off all the rough edges. Sometimes the rough edges are the parts that are the most engaging. This is a little bit more raw and real.”
Johnson said the Brooklyn duo goes back and forth between a less-produced-sounding album and more-produced-sounding one.
The two debuted the song “Please No More” during their politically-charged set during which they flung Donald Trump pinatas for the crowd to dismember.
“Lyrically, it’s a little bit more honest,” Johnson said about the EP. “Not that there’s dishonest songs. … Is there a way to be more honest without being dishonest? It’s coming from places of our feelings right there — what we’re thinking about, what we’re talking about.”
Matt and Kim last played at Coachella in 2010 at the Mojave tent. Despite it’s immense size, the two were just as interactive with the bigger main stage crowd as they asked the audience to blow up balloons, form a mosh pit, crowd surf and play with giant beach balls as images from pop culture (from Oprah to “Arrested Development’s” Lucille Bluth) appeared on the stage’s screens.
Other political statements at the fest included CHVRCHES’ Lauren Mayberry warning the women in the crowd that the Republicans are coming for their wombs. Several festival goers carried Bernie Sanders banners (Indio even had a “Berniechella” block party right before Coachella Weekend Two) and the Democratic presidential candidate introduced Run the Jewels at Coachella last weekend.
The Coachella main stage transformed into a massive club during Major Lazer’s Sunday night show hours before the fest wrapped with Calvin Harris.
✌️ COACHELLA pic.twitter.com/rYxxGMHzd5
— MAJOR LAZER (@MAJORLAZER) April 25, 2016
Harris may have brought the fireworks, but Diplo, Jillionaire and Walshy Fire dropped dance beats that bewitched the crowd, leaving them at the mercy of the group’s demands to jump, get low, move to the left and move to the right. A group of dancers led by example as they twerked and shimmied onstage. The DJs incorporated reggae, African hip-hop and Latin American rhythms for a truly intentional sound.
The group also brought out Usher to honor Prince with a rendition of “I Would Die 4 U.”
ZHU, RL Grime and The Chainsmokers were other EDM acts that drew vast crowds this weekend. Festival goers were packed like sardines in the Sahara tent, which overflowed into the lawn surrounding the stage. According to the latter’s publicity team, the DJ duo consisting of Andrew Taggart and Alex Pall drew a record crowd of 20,000-plus for the Sahara stage with their progressive house music, which included their new hit “Roses.”