As droves of festivalgoers arrived at Coachella in anticipation of Beyonce’s historic headlining set, artists throughout the day brought their A-game including a cache of special guests.
A highlight for only a fraction of the attendees was a private Busta Rhymes set at the Heineken House. As the only permanent enclosure on the festival grounds that can curate its own musical lineup, Heineken House featured hip-hop and electronic acts inside their air-conditioned space. A packed house crammed wall to wall with guests, some who had been waiting since 4:30pm, for the late arrival of the Tribe Called Quest-affiliated MC. Dressed in Supreme and Luis Vuitton, Busta rapped through hit after hit on the stage and showcased the furious speed of his spitting.
“Pull out your phones in case you want to watch it in slow motion at home,” Busta told the crowd. “We are enjoying our fucking selves.”
He added “We don’t deal with special effects. We are special effects” while lamenting some of today’s rappers. Then the MC brought out surprise guest Snoop Dogg who arrived on stage smoking a blunt and sang “Drop It Like Its Hot” and “Gin and Juice.”
The guests kept coming as Busta announced he had friends, bringing out Warren G, Mase, and finally P. Diddy.
“This is not a show. This is a fucking experience,” Busta said. “The realest truest form of hip hop is happening.”
Earlier in the day, another surprise hit was Nile Rodgers and Chic’s mid-day set. The decades-long hitmaker filled the field in front of the main stage even though attendees had been hiding out from the sun moments earlier. With a soul train styled backdrop including a digital disco ball, Rodgers and the band played a medley of songs he’s written over the years that reached from Diana Ross, Donna Summers, David Bowie, and Madonna’s “Like a Virgin.”
“I don’t want to kill the vibe, but eight years ago I was diagnosed with a very aggressive cancer,” Rodgers told the crowd. He explained that his doctor told him to get his affairs in order and Rodgers decided to spend his remaining time doing what he loved the most, making music.
The musician got emotional detailing how a year after he started to recover, he got a call from the members of Daft Punk and Pharrell and together they created the smash hit, “Get Lucky.”
“I am here today. I don’t know if the music has something to do with it, but I feel it in my heart,” Rodgers said before playing a funkier version of the song for the touched crowd.
After Rodgers, many fans flocked to ways to stay cool. Attendees devoured giant quarters of watermelons and lined up for boba tea from Milk Box in Indio Central Market. The covered market was also packed with fans grabbing bowls of Ramen Hood and directly outside, the heat didn’t prevent people from indulging in New York’s famous Shake Shack.
Coachella’ s enormous artwork no longer served as Instagram fodder, but structures that provided minimal shade. People gathered in and under the Etherea sculpture (seen above). The wire-mess sculpture created a translucent weave on the baroque style structure.
A calm collection of festivalgoers gathered around the Outdoor Theater to sit in slivers of shade provide from the looming palm trees as Swedish folk duo First Aid Kit harmonized with ease. Backed by a minimal white set, the sisters paid tribute to their country music heroes with song “Emmylou.”
As the sun began to fall, MØ took over the main stage. The Danish singer, songwriter, and producer was backlit by a pink stage and she kicked off the set with “Roots,” “Nights With You,” and “Pilgrim.” Half-way through the performance, MØ was joined by Charli XCX for a rendition of Charli’s song “Porsche.” The night wouldn’t have been complete without the appearance of Diplo who joined MØ for “Get It Right.” The rest of Major Lazer joined for “Cold Water” and “Lean On.”