Coachella‘s experiment in cloning itself seems to have worked. As we headed down the home stretch on the third and final day of the California music festival’s second consecutive weekend (which featured the same lineup as the weekend prior), it was clear that there were more than enough fans to support multiple installments of the festival. It was next to impossible to get close up to see The Weeknd‘s soulful, seductive afternoon set. So many fans showed up for Gotye that hundreds were left outside the tent where he performed, and dozens just sat on the grass blocking a main festival thoroughfare. And since by Sunday most everyone had heard or seen images or news of the Tupac hologram, it seemed like the entire festival turned its attention to Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg‘s headline set. What’s next? Three weekends? Details delow.
The final — no, for real final — day of Coachella’s 2012 edition began on another blisteringly hot afternoon, where Santigold hit the main stage to kick out jams from her brand-new album Master Of My Make Believe. And her catalog of eccentric hits has earned her genuine respect. As the Los Angeles Times noted, Santigold was one of the few artists to play in the full sun and 104-degree heat and still draw a massive crowd.
That was much less a problem a few hours later for The Weekend (real name: Abel Tesfaye), who drew a huge throng to his performance as he worked out his falsetto amid sultry atmospherics. Abel, sporting an Oakland Raiders cap, drifted through “House Of Balloons / Glass Table Girls”, “Wicked Games” and assorted other boudoir-ready jams. Fans held up panties in the air (which, if we’re being honest, you could hardly see through all the, ahem, potent smoke). At least one young lady upfront was openly weeping. And rising-star rapper A$AP Rocky was in attendance. The Weeknd had good reason to feel victorious afterward, except that he tweeted: “i definitely cannot feel a damn thing…” Had to be the natural euphoria, right?
Elsewhere, Gotye also had fans in the palm of his hand as he sailed through the eclectic songs from his Making Mirrors album. With a crowd that extended well past the opening of the huge Mojave tent, Gotye didn’t need Kimbra to sing with him on “Somebody That I Used To Know” — instead it became a towering sing-along.
Though Sunday generally lacked the Hollywood star power of the first weekend (which included surprise appearances by Rihanna and Usher, along with a slew of celebrity attendees), Florence + The Machine‘s enchanting performance attracted two major stars: Twilight‘s Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart showed up to watch Flo knock out “Dog Days Are Over” and other hits. Introducing “Rabbit Heart”, Florence took extra effort to make sure the ladies in the crowd had a clear view. “This is for the ladies,” she said. “I want to see girls on shoulders. Be strong, boys.”
But there was really never any question about what the biggest moment of the night would be: the second appearance of the Tupac Shakur hologram, the highlight of Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg’s main stage performance. It had been a running joke all weekend, and Sunday was no different. (When reunited post-rock act At The Drive-In took the stage, singer Cedric introduced the band saying, “Hi, we’re Jem & the Holograms.”) In fact, despite the fact that music fans had seen the hologram once, Sunday’s night’s re-run was still must-see. Avant-pop artist Feist even helped coin a new nickname for the hologram in explaining her absence. “Bummed we have to miss FauxPac tonight with Snoop and Dre” she tweeted.
The real thing, however, didn’t disappoint. After (non-)surprise guest appeances by Wiz Khalifa and 50 Cent, a sequence of lightning and thunder sound effects ushered in the return of hologram Tupac, who (as with the previous weekend) “performed” “Hail Mary” and “2 Of Amerikaz Most Wanted” with Snoop to thunderous applause.