Bronson’s Day 3: Lorde, New Order, Real Estate, Tove Lo, Bishop Briggs, T.S.O.L., Future Islands, Grouplove, Elohim, Sofi Tukker, Hinds
Three years removed from her windswept debut at Coachella, 20-year-old New Zealander Lorde commanded the main stage on Sunday night with considerable poise — and introduced Kate Bush to thousands of people who’ve probably never heard the iconic British artist.
As the stage went dark at the beginning of her set, Lorde pressed play on Bush’s most well-known song, “Running Up That Hill.” Think of her one-song DJ set as a musical fist-bump with promoters Goldenvoice, who took heat last week when co-owner Paul Tollett was quoted (out of context) that the famously reclusive Bush wouldn’t work at the desert festival.
On that note, Lorde flitted into a set that included the four songs (including two premieres) from her hotly anticipated sophomore album “Melodrama” (out June 16), her mainstay “Royals,” a piece of Kanye West’s “Runaway” and an arty stage show that recalled Sia’s turn last year on the main stage. During two-thirds of her set, a group of about a dozen performance artists emoted from inside a glass box elevated behind Lorde on a scissor lift. The box eventually tilted and they tumbled out, leaving the 20-year-old singer inside the box herself.
The chatty Lorde, who ran down the corridors hand-slapping fans later in the set, explained that the new album was informed mostly by her evolution from teen to non-teen and everything that goes along with it, like the distractions of the party life. Or, “all the ups and downs of being twentysomething,” as she explained. The highlight among the new songs was “Homemade Dynamite,” an oozing electro number with a catchy, stutter-y chorus, “Blowing shit up / with homemade d-d-d-dynamite.”
Lorde’s set, which she gushed was “one of the greatest honors of my career,” set the stage for Kendrick Lamar’s own dynamite later. Along with New Order’s smashing turn in the Mojave Tent — which encored with two Joy Division songs and was unfortunately scheduled opposite Lamar — it made the Easter Sunday wrap-up of Coachella Weekend 1 something special.
Yes, seeking out those highlights was like hunting for eggs:
3:10 p.m. — Madrid quartet Hinds are in the Sonora Tent doing what they do — playing raw guitar pop that sounds like it’s at rehearsal for a band’s first show in 2019, chatting in their cute Spanish accents and bathing in the adulation of fans who don’t give a hoot how raw Hinds sounds. At the end, the realization hits that the Sonora Tent is the only Coachella stage without a barrier between the stage and the fans. It’s like the Echo, basically. And as undermanned and flummoxed security looked on, about 30 fans rushed the stage during the finale, joining the band in merry pogoing.
4:00 p.m. — Sofi Tukker are Sophie Hawley-Weld and Tucker Halpern, house music neophytes who turned the Gobi Tent into a late-afternoon bounce house. They performed their Grammy-nominated single “Drinkee,” along with the not-exactly-high-concept new song “Batshit” (call “batshit,” respond “I’m batshit crazy”). They introduced one song as a cappella — then sang it over a bass line. Points for their new song “Greed,” though, and not invoking anybody’s name when introducing it. “We wrote this one about somebody we hate,” Hawley-Weld said. “We released it on Presidents Day.”
4:25 p.m. — Sofi Tukker wrap things up in the Gobi Tent, absent a lot of the eye-popping visuals that most electronic artists have with their sets. … Remember the line from “Die Hard” when the bad guys roast all the FBI guys? Well, Coachella, we’re gonna need some more Sahara Tents, I guess.
5:10 p.m. — Cheeseburger, plain, $13 … or maybe it was $14. What’s a buck once you’re on the Coachella field?
5:30 p.m. — Mysterious and alluring and wearing dark glasses with her “XANAX” coat, Elohim kicks off her live set in the Do Lab. It’s not as easy sell with the rosy-cheeked crowd who, prior, had been subjected to some Disney Channel EDM. But over spine-tingling bass and trippy samples, she eventually wins. In the close quarters, “Love Is Alive” feels really alive.
6:10 p.m. — Playing their third Coachella, L.A.’s Grouplove is spreading love to a big group — the massive crowd assembled on the lawn in front of the main stage. The shout-along to “Tongue Tied” is the highest-decibel crowd participation we’ve heard all weekend. Lest everybody loses themselves in feel-goodness, though, late in the set they play their cover of Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage,” and it flat-out rocks.
6:20 p.m. — An ingenious person who found a loophole in the festival’s what-you-can’t-bring-in rules has strung a hammock between two trees in view of the Outdoor Theatre. Damn it looks comfy.
6:30 p.m. — Sam Herring remains the likable Everyman of dance music; in between Future Islands songs, he issues cautionary reminders about prevailing in these dark times. The band plays four songs from their new album “The Far Field,” ending with “Black Rose” but forgoing “Shadows,” a song that features Debbie Harry on the album and seemed ripe for one of those Coachella collabs.
7:20 p.m. — Bishop Briggs looks as if somebody just handed her a check for a million dollars. Originally scheduled to play early Saturday afternoon, she was bumped to a prime Sunday spot after French rap group PNL was forced to cancel their appearance because of visa issues. So Bishop Briggs followed a stellar turn from Jack Garratt with a coming-out party of her own, belting out her beats-’n’-soul singles one after the other to a crowd that apparently knew most of them. After a typically aerobic 40 minutes, she stretched out “River” at the end, positively beaming.
8:15 p.m. — After Allah-Las and Twin Peaks play to a crowded Sonora Tent, punk veterans T.S.O.L. wrap things up with a dollop of old-school. Their first album in eight years, “The Trigger Complex,” came out in January, and as relevant as they remain in the punk world, T.S.O.L., like most guitar bands, was an outlier at Coachella 2017. The set, however, does feature a father-and-son duo onstage at the same time, a rarity. Greg Kuehn is T.S.O.L. keyboardist, and his son Max (of FIDLAR) manned the drums.
8:35 p.m. — The crowd for Tove Lo not only packs the Mojave Tent but extends another tent-length to the east. Hans Zimmer’s orchestra plays in the distance.
8:45 p.m. — The Lorde love begins at the main stage.
9:55 p.m. — Not too long ago, Coachella was prime territory for artists like Real Estate, highly respected indie-rockers with a fine new album (“In Mind”) just out. With Justice playing at the Outdoor Theatre and Marshmello in the Sahara Tent, the Gobi was only a quarter full for the quintet, who jangled magnificently like there was no tomorrow. “Thanks for coming out on a Monday night,” bassist Alex Bleeker said good-naturedly.
10:20 p.m. — New Order don’t need no stinkin’ guests. Bernard Sumner and gang have their catalog, and what a treat it was to hear its highlights played in the packed Mojave Tent. This is Not Your Teenager’s Dance Music, although there were teenagers here. Backed by video footage from the Mark Reeder documentary “B-Movie: Lust & Sound in West-Berlin 1979-1989,” the band started with the doomy bass of “Singularity,” segueing into “Regret” and, two songs later, inspiring no small amount of middle-aged tears with “Bizarre Love Triangle.” Even more than four years ago, their set was missing “Age of Consent” (which has been in recent sets, so maybe Weekend 2?) and finished with the ascendant “Blue Monday” and “Temptation.” Or so most thought. In the rare tent encore, New Order returned to lead up to the midnight hour with two Joy Division songs, “Decades” and “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” both crushingly good.
12:05 a.m. — On the long, dusty slog to the parking lot, two dudes are talking about how Porter Robinson & Madeon changed their lives.