Coachella 2015: Top 10 Best Performances

 Azealia Banks


The first installment of the 2015 Coachella Valley Arts & Music Festival was a weekend punctuated by spectacular performances and mind-blowing surprises, spread across the Empire Polo Field’s six stages. With so much going on on the grounds, it was impossible to see every one of the bands on the Coachella 2015 bill – but that didn’t stop us from trying. When all was said and done, these were the 10 sets burned into Billboard’s memory (and heart):


10. Alabama Shakes

How confident were Alabama Shakes in their powerful Coachella set? They didn’t even perform their signature hit “Hold On” — and no one seemed to mind. Leader Brittany Howard is always an electrifying stage presence, but she seemed particularly energized at the band’s Coachella coronation, shrieking, testifying, shouting, growling — whatever the moment needed to make every last hair on your body stand up.

9. Madeon – In the early evening of the festival’s final day, French DJ/producer Madeon fired up the turntables for one of the most surprising, effervescent sets at Coachella. Throughout the hour-long performance, the 20-year-old matched slick, arena-sized pop-EDM anthems from his recently released debut LP Adventure with a spectacular light show. The gig was more packed than with some of the bigger names that rocked the same tent this weekend, and rightfully so.

8. Marina & The Diamonds – Marina Diamandis celebrated the release of her third album Froot (Apr. 3) with a highly energized rendition of cuts from the LP as well as the best samples from previous releases. With a pair of oversized cherries affixed to her head and giant fruit items flanking the stage, the singer effortlessly carried the main stage show despite with tracks like “Primadonna” and “How to Be a Heartbreaker.” Marina & The Diamonds may not have any radio hits in the U.S., but the singer’s American presence grows with each captivating festival set.

7. Gesaffelstein – It has been widely rumored that Coachella 2015 will be Gesaffelstein’s last live festival performance , which is  a real bummer, considering he has perfected the fine art of DJ dramatics . Spinning from his signature marble-esque podium and accompanied by a precisely timed light show, the cutting-edge French producer dug through his biggest hits (“Pursuit,” “Hate or Glory”) but kept the audience patient, fading to near silence at times. The ‘wow’ moment came during “Hellifornia,” which was synched with a visual of a massive American flag that waved on the screen behind him. Gesaffelstein, obviously aware of the effect’s impact, abandoned his serious persona for a second to glance up at the crowd with a sly grin.

6. The Weeknd – Abel Tesfaye was always going to be one of Coachella’s big winners, but the elusive R&B star certainly did not mail in his main stage closeout on Saturday night. On the contrary, the Weeknd proved why he belongs with the big boys at the festival, showcasing his earnest hedonism with selections from his early mixtapes (“High For This,” “The Morning”) and recent Top 40 smashes (“Love Me Harder,” “Earned It”). And competing with the bombast of Axwell ^ Ingrosso on Saturday night, the Weeknd’s magnetic voice floated across the Coachella grounds and proved to be a sultry alternative to the dance madness. A few of Coachella’s performances were star-making, and this was one of them.

5. Azealia Banks

Since her much-heralded breakout in 2011, Azealia Banks has become more famous for mostly the wrong reasons: trolling on Twitter, popping off with fellow rappers and pop stars alike, posing nude in Playboy, offending “fat white Americans.” But her return to Coachella after three years was an important reminder: Banks can rap her ass off, sing impeccably and more or less kill a live show. Accompanied by a surprisingly tight band, DJ and a pair of dancers, Banks sang acapella, stepped along with the dancers and yelled into a megaphone. One thing she didn’t do? Say anything remotely controversial. In fact, she barely spoke between songs at all, which kept the focus on the performance. Banks may be polarizing when she’s tweeting or giving interviews, but as she showed at Coachella, when it comes her musical talent, the love is near-unanimous.

4. Jack White

Jack White is no stranger to the top of festival bills, but Saturday night at Coachella was no ordinary performance for the well-loved rock artist, who came out feverishly hoisting his left hand upward in an effort to pump up his band and audience. The technical craft of White and his band remain jaw-dropping — they tossed off mind-warping guitar solos and drum fills as if they were commonplace at every Coachella set — but White’s personal vitality and swagger really made the set special. “Seven Nation Army” is always a blast, but the 10-minute “Icky Thump” jam that opened the performance clued the large audience into the fact that they were about to witness something truly special.

3. Tame Impala – Scheduled to take the main stage on Friday night immediately before AC/DC, Australian psych-rock outfit Tame Impala were given a festival opportunity that a lot of other bands would kill for. Kevin Parker and co. didn’t waste it: unfurling an hour of knee-buckling rock tunes and trippy visuals, Tame Impala made a lot of other guitar-based bands at Coachella look unpolished by comparison. Lonerism gems like “Elephant” and “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” soared, but it was the new eight-minute jam “Let It Happen” that caused the most flower crowns in the audience to bop up and down. From the sound of their newest tunes, Tame Impala keep getting better — as a studio act and also as a legitimate festival draw.

2. Run The Jewels – The defiantly underground duo of indie-rap old timers El-P and Killer Mike had the awesome surprise guests that Coachella-goers have come to expect: Zach De La Rocha, Travis Barker on drums, Beyonce producer/guitarist Boots and even Gangsta Boo. But they also had limitless energy and good vibes, between their signature syllable-twisting verses, Mike frequently breaking into celebratory dance steps and the normally cynical El-P expressing true awe at the moment. And who could blame him? After years of grinding out tiny shows, the packed-in, raucous crowd that greeted Run the Jewels at Coachella felt like a well-earned prize for the two MCs.

1. Florence & The Machine – Rock music had a main stage resurgence at Coachella this year, with guitar gods like Jack White and AC/DC’s Angus Young protecting their reputations and bands like the War on Drugs and Tame Impala improving their own. Yet at Weekend 1 of Coachella 2015, none of the boys could touch Florence Welch, who so deftly handled her mix of the band’s new material and well-worn live staples that the 50-minute set felt criminally short. Florence & The Machine presented the perfect combination of the expected (gorgeous arrangements, valley-sized hooks, a “Dog Days Are Over” finale) and the unexpected (Welch ripping off her shirt, sprinting into the crowd and advising everyone to “embrace each other”), all while the band’s leader remained impossible to stop watching. Why would anyone want to? Florence & The Machine dazzled without any seams showing on Sunday night, and captured the pole position of this list just hours before Weekend 1’s conclusion.

30 Songs To Listen To Before Coachella

Originally posted on Refinery29

It’s about that time. Music lovers and connoisseurs alike, not to mention fashion gurus and good vibe appreciators, are packing and counting down the hours until the three-day annual party that’s held over two consecutive weekends in the desert and filled with dancing, drinks, and dust. Lots and lots of dust.

Coachella is heading into its 15th year at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, California. After a decade and a half of bringing millions of people together through music and art, the festival gets bigger and better (depending on your musical tastes) each year. Tickets to the epic event sold out in less than 40 minutes this year, and the thrilling lineup explains why. Rockers AC/DC and Jack White, and rapper Drake, are headlining the fest. Florence + The Machine, whose new music has been long awaited — along with Interpol, Alabama Shakes, alt-J, and Ryan Adams — will also take the stage. The Weeknd will make an appearance for R&B fans, while Kaskade and David Guetta will get EDM lovers moving. Newcomer Hozier will also continue to make his mark at the festival known for exposing up-and-coming artists.

So many artists, so little time. But, don’t worry we’ve got you covered — except when it comes to figuring out how you’re going to see all your favorites each day. To help you prepare, we’ve gathered the best songs from this year’s artists. Take a listen and get ready for the big weekends. And, by get ready, we mean rest… You’ll need it.

Martin Garrix Drops Ed Sheeran Collabo At Ultra Music Festival

The Ultra Music Festival in Miami took place last weekend. During the festival, Ed Sheeran‘s new collaboration with Martin Garrix dropped.

The track, “Rewind, Repeat It,” which the two recorded it back in September, made its debut on Saturday night.

“Stay for the night / Call it what you want / And I’ll compromise to have you in my arms / Is this what you needed / Cause I’ll find the faith in anything/ Don’t fight the feeling … rewind repeat it,” sings Ed. “If the world ends tonight, you’ll be in my arms / Frozen in time underneath the stars / My love’s screaming, this heart is beating / I love this feeling … so, rewind repeat it.”

15 Essential Acts to Catch at SXSW 2015

Here it goes again.

Depending on how long and how deeply you’ve been mired in music culture, SXSW can feel like the party of the year or a week of boot camp in hell. Ideally, it’s a little bit of both. Yeah, you have to walk around a hot city catching sets by every band you’ve ever heard of, but on the other hand, you get to walk around a hot city seeing every band you’ve ever heard of. It’s exhausting and ridiculous, and if you do it right, it’ll make you feel alive in ways you rarely get to feel.

Like every year in Austin around this time, there’ll be way, way too many bands vying for attention along Sixth Street and Red River. You’re probably already set with the headliners and legacy acts, so we’d like to brush you up on the up-and-comers — the bands about to break through to those headlining tours around the rest of the country. Hopefully, this will help you narrow down that impossible schedule you’re staring at on your phone, or at least give you a few names to watch out for while you’re trawling the streets of Austin for something good.

It’s chaos in there, but amid the noise and branding and promos, sometimes you catch a glimpse of why we all trek down to Texas in the first place. Here’s the acts we wouldn’t dare miss this SXSW.

–Sasha Geffen
Associate Editor


Wand Promo 5

Of the countless garage bands playing SXSW, power trio Wand is the weirdest and heaviest. It’s like Sabbath on speed, more metal than Thee Oh Sees, and more psych than obvious comparisons Fuzz and Meatbodies, vocalist/guitarist Cory Hanson’s former band. Wand’s new record, Golem (out March 17th via In the Red), is a bombastic trip that will appeal to fans of the aforementioned bands as well as anyone who digs old-school heavy psych and stoner rock (hence why RidingEasy Records, cultish purveyors of all things Sabbath-esque, is handling a syndicated tape release of Golem).

Wand isn’t another face in the diluted garage rock crowd. That they’ve traversed scenes is proof of their innovation. Also, they put on a crazy (loud) live show. Catch them at the official showcase on Friday night at Hotel Vegas or Saturday afternoon at Waterloo Records’ free day party. –Jon Hadusek



Sometimes the best music comes from the sudden confluence of disparate sources, and that’s exactly the case with San Francisco’s Cathedrals. Brodie Jenkins was the product of California wine country, raised on Americana and soul sounds; Johnny Hwin is the son of Vietnamese refugees who learned piano by ear and started out producing hip-hop beats. Together, they form a sort of electro R&B that dips its toe into a pool of trap, pop, and trip-hop. Though they only recently put out their first EP, they’ve been crafting their sound for over two years, and their careful work has turned many a head in the months since their debut. They’re sure to attract even more attention at their official showcases at Clive Bar on kick-off Tuesday and Empire Control Room on wind-down Saturday. – Ben Kaye


girlpool 15 Essential Acts to Catch at SXSW 2015

Photo by Alice Baxley

At the end of last year, a two-piece from LA called Girlpool released a seven-song, self-titled EP that oozed with wit and wisdom through its charming lo-fi scuzz. Harmony Tividad and Cleo Tucker both live in Philadelphia now, and the young guitar/bass duo is gearing up to release its full-length debut, Before the World Was Big, on June 2nd.

The women in Girlpool write smart pop songs with a political edge, but what makes their singles click is just how well they’re able to sync with each other. Any rock band with just two people has a lot of space to fill, and that space multiplies when neither musician plays drums. But Girlpool rhythmically locks in to the point where you’ll hardly notice there’s no percussion to bone up the songs. These two tackle stuff like misogyny, anxiety, and growing up in their lean guitar numbers, but mostly it’s a pleasure just to hear them talk to each other through the frets. See Girlpool Wednesday night at House of Vans or at the Portals day party on Friday. –Sasha Geffen


elder 15 Essential Acts to Catch at SXSW 2015

Photo by Ryan Boyd

Boston’s Elder are the metal band with the most breakout potential at SXSW. They just dropped their excellent sophomore LP, Lore — an early metal album-of-the-year candidate — and will ride that momentum into a full week of performances. They’re playing more sets than most any band in any genre, with one practically every night starting with American Icon’s Heavy Metal Cage Match show on Monday night at Beerland. You’ll have no excuse for missing Elder, and I intend to catch them a few times, because repeat listening is the only way to fully comprehend their stoner prog epics — 10-plus-minute songs that move through melodies and riffs with literary adroitness. The guitar interplay recalls Television’s Richard Lloyd and Tom Verlaine if they were clad in denim and stoned on the good shit, and while that might sound like a far-reaching comparison, it’s the truth. I can’t recommend this band enough. –Jon Hadusek


mitski 15 Essential Acts to Catch at SXSW 2015

Photo by Daniel Dorsa

New York’s Mitski might best be qualified as a singer-songwriter simply because her music stretches everywhere. Her first two records were full of orchestral, lush pop. OnBury Me at Makeout Creek, she’s taken a turn into the indie rock world, but brings along just about any noise she can muster. Although there are outbursts of distorted guitars and strained screams, she gets there through subtle pianos and country twangs. Lyrics crafted with wit and intelligence span an equally large gap on either side of love; “I want a love that falls as fast as a body from the balcony/ I want a kiss like my heart is hitting the ground,” she sings on “Townie”, while on “I Don’t Smoke” she promises, “If your hands need to break more than trinkets in your room/ You can lean on my arm as you break my heart.” You’ll want to see this folk-hearted talent at a solid early-evening showcase, like her set at The Liberty on Saturday. –Ben Kaye

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New Orleans Jazz Fest reveals 2015 lineup


The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival has revealed its 2015 lineup. Elton John, The Who, Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga, and No Doubt are among this year’s headlining acts. They’ll be joined by other notable artists including Wilco, Ryan Adams, Widespread Panic, Buddy Guy, Jimmy Cliff, and Steve Winwood.

Also playing at the festival are John Legend, Jimmy Buffett, Hozier, Trombone Shorty, Dr. John, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Alison Krauss & Union Station, Kacey Musgraves, Aaron Neville, Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk, Kermit Ruffins, The Blind Boys of Alabama, Jimmy Vaughn, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Galactic featuring Macy Gray, Allen Toussaint, Irma Thomas, The Meters featuring Art Neville, Leo Nocentelli, George Porter Jr., and Joseph “Zigaboo” Modeliste, Chicago, Ed Sheeran, Jerry Lee Lewis, The O’Jays, Estelle, Irvin Mayfield, The Word, Anders Osborne, and Shovels & Rope.

Jazz Fest takes place over the course of two weekends (April 24th – 26th and April 30th – May 3rd) at New Orleans’ City Park. Tickets to both weekends are available beginning Tuesday, January 13th through the festival’s website.

Originally Posted on Consequence of Sound