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Coachella 2014: Top 15 Sets + Photos

on April 15, 2014, 10:16am
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Justin Bieber appeared during Chance the Rapper’s set at Coachella and didn’t get booed and bottled offstage. There’s now no denying that the festival has gone Top 40.

As a nine-time veteran of Coachella (plus one cruise), the festival is a completely different entity than the one I met back in 2004, forming a decade-long tumultuous relationship. People may not change, but festivals certainly can, and these instances have been the root of our darker moments together.

What was originally a getaway for music obsessives and an opportunity to let loose is today a place to spend a weekend #yoloing, and music is often just background noise to the experience. Is this a condemnation of Coachella? Not at all. Times change and Goldenvoice was savvy enough to get on board. If anyone’s at fault, it’s the previous generation of attendee for not elevating the festival to the status of being the center of the world of popular culture for one weekend a year.


Photo by Ted Maider

Revelers are now younger and prefer DJs, popular hip-hop, and synthpop bands with a catchy single to any and all forms of rock music, acclaimed experimentalists, and esoteric reunions or rarities. For their tastes, Coachella went above and beyond in delivering the biggest names around and still provided just enough options for even the most jaded rock-leaning veterans.

Logistically, Coachella was still conflicted between its past and present. Acts like The Replacements received top-tier billing, and grandiose arena rockers Muse headlined, even though hardly anybody watched, while recent sensations such as Lorde and Lana Del Rey played overcrowded side stages despite being the true stars. It’s only a matter of time before the traditional headliner gets phased out in favor of “that guy/gal with that song” or once-in-a-lifetime guest-filled sets. The tipping point could prove to be Pharrell Williams, who drew what felt like the largest crowd of the weekend.

Because some things never change, Coachella was a challenge to endure physically. Temperatures soared to the triple digits on Friday, and even after multiple showers, my skin and hair are still caked with dirt. Following a sensual, psychedelic voyage with Warpaint on Saturday afternoon, Mother Nature decided to call it quits with an apocalyptic dust storm. Apparently, the world no longer needed to exist after something so perfect, but thankfully she changed her mind. Until then, everyone channeled their inner Corey Hart and donned shades to protect their eyes, while masks and bandanas became a commodity prized even more than Molly or mushrooms.


Photo by Ted Maider

Despite the harsh weather, a handful of overcrowded performances, and frequency of “broments,” the 15th edition of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival was one of the most satisfying yet. Throughout the weekend, the festival felt truly special on account of the caliber of artists as well as the massive displays of stunning artwork. Coachella will continue to not only reflect the current state of festival culture but also shape it, because regardless of what people saw, everyone went back to the real world with the satisfaction of having witnessed some exceptional performances.

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September 2, 2014 at 12:16 pm

This is my first time pay a quick visit at here and i am genuinely happy to read everthing at alone place.

August 12, 2014 at 2:48 am

no darkside, cage the elephant, or future islands in the top 15?!?!?! cmonnnn. but agreed on arcade.

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June 9, 2014 at 6:24 pm

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Jordy Ribecco (@jordyribecco)
April 22, 2014 at 6:11 pm

Did you miss Future Islands??? That would/should be a top 5

April 20, 2014 at 2:26 pm

The Pixies lead singer sounded horrible! What the hell is this reviewer talking about. It’s almost like he wrote it all beforehand.

John Nesiba
April 17, 2014 at 3:19 pm

Your reporter went to the wrong sets. Why don’t you send someone with musical taste to report a musical festival. You guys love Lolla so much (it blows by the way, anywhere that shuts down by 10pm isn’t even in the running for festival of the year in anyone that likes to party’s books) and there lineup is complete trash this year. Coachella’s lineup was amazing this year. Friday had sets by GOAT, Jagwar Ma, The knife and Outkast. The knife was the closest thing I have seen to a perfect set in over 5 years. Jagwar Ma showed what trip hop can become, it truly was a coming out party for them. Their set was the most psychedelic of the weekend. Saturday night’s DARKSIDE set was the second best set of the weekend. The anticipation was palpable and the dance hooks infectious. The minimalistic styling of their stage set up kept the focus on the music, something a music blog should appreciate??? Sunday’s closing punch was incredible as well. Calvin Harris, who I have almost come to despise since he has left his I created disco roots to perform electro crap for the masses, put on a great main stage set that got the audience ready to close out the weekend in style. Beck came out with tons of energy and surprised most everyone I was standing near. Disclosure was of course magnificent with their groovy beats and infectious hooks, and what I can I say about Arcade Fire? They really are in their prime right now and it shows. They know how to make a festival feel special. Warpaint and Pet Shop Boys are also two sets that took me back, I wasn’t expecting how crisp these bands would sound. Sorry you guys wasted your time at rap shows, and top 40 shows.

Shockadow (@shockadow)
April 16, 2014 at 1:25 pm

Are you high? A bunch of Rappers, Diva Pop Starlets, & Geriatric nostalgia performers was the best Coachella could bring?
Coachella must have SUCKED BALLS. Or you, sir, have shitty taste in music!

April 16, 2014 at 12:45 pm

Coachella has turned into another corporate festival. Everyone should review it and let the producers know it’s not okay. write your review here:

April 16, 2014 at 1:11 am

What a bad pictures…

April 15, 2014 at 10:20 pm

Not hearing anything about that Capitol Cities set at sundown. Looked on the live stream like they completely destroyed it. A band on the way up, playing in one of the biggest crowds they ever had, during that beautiful sunset. That’s what Coachella is all about. And I don’t think that part will change too much ever. Going to Weekend 2, which is proving to be the hidden gem every year. The weather forecast always seems to be better. No wind. And the tech problems should be ironed out. Shhh… don’t tell anyone.

April 15, 2014 at 10:14 pm

Not hearing much at all about the Capitol Ciites set, but looking at the live stream, when the sun was going down, it looked like they blew everything else away. A band on the way up, moving a crowd like that for the first time. It’s what Coachella’s all about. Going to be there weekend 2, for better forecasted weather, and hopefully the technical kinks worked out. It should be the hidden gem.

Prince Andrew
April 15, 2014 at 10:08 pm

I was at Coachella 7 years ago when AF were touring Neon Bible and saw a certain frontman and his wife hang in out in the VIP area. Maybe now that they’re at the level that they are, he finds it necessary to try to relate to the common man, but I found him preachy and unnecessary. The show did have an energy, but I would disagree that new songs held their own with the older ones. The anticipation of these songs kept the set afloat and while there was a large amount of new material, there was no shortage of reminders. This honestly didn’t feel like anything I haven’t seen before from these guys and gals.

Also, great set from Blood Orange.

April 15, 2014 at 4:06 pm

Queens of the Stone Age only playing 12 songs is criminal. Coachella looks like a D fest where the best bands get the shaft and every asshole in North America migrates to yearly. Also, I don’t visit COS for Lorde and Lanna Del Ray show reviews. Everyone loves Lorde but she has one album and I really doubt her live show is any better in person than the average looking footage would suggest. But then again, no one pays me to drop her name in every headline so maybe that would make me enjoy her show to the point where it makes a top 15 run down of a major music festival.

April 15, 2014 at 3:20 pm

I really like Dum Dum Girls, but that set was shit.

April 15, 2014 at 2:24 pm

i just dont get why you would put outkast on your list when it seems like you didn’t actually enjoy it that much

April 15, 2014 at 1:58 pm

The forgiveness of the article is in itself a commentary on pop culture… Coachella has changed and that’s fine, but the reaction of “get with the times”… complete bs. Just because the “kids” like it doesn’t make less crap. There have been EDM and rap festivals, and none came close to making the massive impact that Coachella has over the years. Why? Well for one they didn’t fill the bill up with button pushing morons (Skrillex and the like), they instad booked EDm and rap that meant something past the current flavor of the day. Coachella became the place to be because originally it didn’t go with times, it did it’s own thing, and it trail blazed for many years on how a festival should look and sound. Coachella going pop is not good thing at all. Any sense of identity is stripped when its everyone’s identity.

I’m sure it will continue to sell out and be THE place of selfie obsessive scenesters with no interest in music past a couple of songs that they’ve heard on their favorite reality show. GV will continue to appease them for now with severely over-rated artists, that do little more than push the latest forgettable trends in fashion and music. All for a lot more profit and sponsorship dollars for sure. But don’t take my word for it, just go ask Bieber.

Mr Knowitall
April 15, 2014 at 1:32 pm

Epic fail on this list. Warpaint’s noodle-fest showed they can’t write songs any more. Having Chance the Rapper’s set that included Beiber. Lame. Outkast drove people back to their cars. Bryan Ferry as average, and oldies review. And overlooking the best set of the weekend, Jagwar Ma.

Adam Kopley
April 15, 2014 at 1:09 pm

I attended Coachella last year and I won’t ever do it again. The crowd (though beautiful) is the most unappreciative fans I have ever seen. Outside Lands is my west coast festival of choice from now on.

April 17, 2014 at 5:57 pm

Outside Lands sold out in 10 minutes this morning. Kanye on Friday, Tom Petty, Maclemore & Ryan, Death Cab on Saturday, Killers, Tiesto on Sunday.

April 17, 2014 at 6:01 pm

Best Festival for value on West Coast is Bumpershoot in Seattle. Cheaper for fans in NorCal and SoCal to fly up then pay only $60 a day…subdized by City of Seattle on public grounds.

April 15, 2014 at 12:02 pm

Did you go to the Yuma tent? Honestly that’s where some of the most interesting sets of the weekend were. Nina Kraviz was absolutely fantastic.

April 15, 2014 at 11:54 am

So you put Pharrell, Lorde, & Lana Del Whore in your top 15 sets at Coachella and don’t even bother mentioning Queens of the Stone Age, Mogwai, Ty Segall, Trombone Shorty, Future Islands, Temples, Jagwar Ma, Bonobo, Neko Case or others that were putting on great sets and playing fantastic music. Ask yourself, did the festival go top 40 or did this reviewers taste in music go top 40?

April 15, 2014 at 12:00 pm

My thoughts exactly. This reviewer and perhaps COS has gone top 40. How some of this stuff gets mentioned over some of the company that was at Coachella is a shame.

Michael Roffman
April 15, 2014 at 12:40 pm

Queens of the Stone Age, Mogwai, Ty Segall, Trombone Shorty, Future Islands, Temples, Jagwar Ma, Bonobo, Neko Case>>>

With the exception of Shorty, Temples, and Jagwar Ma, we’ve covered these acts exhaustively over the past year.

April 15, 2014 at 12:56 pm

So then is the list the “Top 15 sets” or the “Top 15 sets we haven’t given enough coverage too on this site and we should mention them because they are popular and help get us more traffic?” Just to clarify.

Michael Roffman
April 15, 2014 at 1:46 pm

Top 15 sets we haven’t given enough coverage too on this site and we should mention them because they are popular and help get us more traffic?>>>

The Top 15 Sets. Thanks for reading!

April 15, 2014 at 2:24 pm

Cool. So next time you guys give an album a glowing review or a horrible review, I’ll remember to take it with a huge grain of salt as these are the types of acts you guys praise. Good to know!

king of the beach
April 15, 2014 at 10:55 am

Im confused. Did the author love or hate the festival?


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