With Coachella’s opening weekend now in our rear view, festival season 2017 has arrived alas.
Arguably the most influential North American music festival, there is no denying that Coachella sets the bar—and the trends—for the upcoming season of summer music festivals. And, with a plethora of new style statements already making their debut in 2017, we could not be more excited for the year ahead.
Nearly absent at Coachella week one were the flower child vibes that have defined festival goers for the past decade. Fringe garb can still be spotted among the stylite, but overall the festival fashion seems to be maturing from its 60s-inspired roots. The aesthetic is now more reminiscent of the 70s, perhaps a subconscious cultural reflection of the festival’s ascent in pop culture. Tight discotheque bodysuits were spotted in abundance, as well as metallic and mirrored apparel.
The most iconic metallic accessory of the festival, thus far, was worn by Lady Gaga (shocker!), who headlined Saturday night. Her knee-high multicoloured Adam Selman boots were the statement du jour—in a distinctly more subtle wardrobe than usually seen on the Mother Monster. The contrast between the glittering boots and her sleek black getup was a visual metaphor for her performance. Softer tunes from her new album Joanne blended seamlessly with the hits we all all love. She was heralded as the weekend’s must-see performance, boasting high energy from start to finish.
The same can not be said for Friday’s headliners, Radiohead. Their set was plagued by technical difficulties. The band was forced to leave the stage twice, and had to stop the show four times. With so many interruptions to the momentum of the show, it is a testament to the talent of the band that they managed to rally and re engage the crowd. Playing a set mainly comprised of their new material, and an encore of some favourites including Karma Police and Paranoid Android they enchanted diehard and casual fans alike. Their Moon Shaped Pool tour kicked off March 30th in Miami and is set to go all summer through Europe—with another headlining spot at Glastonbury in the United Kingdom.
Kendrick Lamar became the most talked about headliner of the festival when he dropped his surprise album DAMN. just days before his performance. The album is already acclaimed as a masterpiece of rap storytelling and the legions of his fans that purchased festival tickets received the unexpected bonus of seeing him perform many songs live for the first time. Kendrick kicked off his Coachella set with visual footage from a Fox News report in which anchor Geraldo Rivera criticizes the lyrics to his protest anthem, Alright. Throughout his performance he maintained a pattern of show, don’t tell, conveying his politically charged message without ever sermonizing the audience.
In fact, this year’s festival saw no true verbal political spiels. Most performers chose to not comment on current events, perhaps a welcome reprieve post-election craze. However, immigration politics did affect the lineup. PNL, a Parisian rap group, cancelled their set after Tarik (also known as Ademo), one half of the duo, was denied a visa. This loss does seem relatively minor in comparison to the seven artists that were forced to cancel SXSW in March. Still, how the laws will change to accommodate artists has yet to be seen and this confusion raises questions for upcoming American heavyweight festivals like Chicago’s Lollapalooza and Tennessee’s Bonnaroo.
Despite this minor immigration issue and the technical difficulties, Coachella 2017’s first weekend was once again a massive success. It is a festival that proves year after year that an eclectic lineup can generate mass appeal.
As the years pass, and the festival continues to expand there is one thing you can always expect at Coachella. The unexpected pop-in performances of major acts. This weekend Future brought out Drake, and The Weeknd joined Nav onstage. Some speculate that Dr.Dre, who produced Kendrick Lamar’s new album, may close the second weekend with him. Personally, I’d like to see Lady Gaga joined by a David Bowie hologram.
Katy Perry once put it best, saying, “”The lineup always introduces the best of the year for the rest of the year.”