Seven highlights from Coachella 2014

PETER VINCENT
Last updated 05:00 15/04/2014
Beyonce

OUTSTANDING: A surprise appearance from Beyonce during sister Solange's set was one of the many highlights at this year's Coachella festival.

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The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival - aka Coachella - nearly had the same brilliant but brief life so many festivals suffer. It began in 1999 and wasn't held in 2000, nearly folding at that point. But has since grown into one of the world's best-known music festivals, famous for some iconic comeback performances such as Daft Punk's funk-filled 2006 set after several years in obscurity and none more surprising than Tupac's appearance as a hologram during Dr Dre's and Snoop Dogg's set in 2012.

Even the best take time to return to form - Outkast

The most anticipated show on the Coachella bill was the first major comeback gig for the celebrated Atlanta hip hop duo Outkast (Andrew 3000 and Big Boi) since 2002. But the show was marred by poor sound (high winds are the Achilles heel of outdoor gigs) and an eccentric setlist which saw the duo act like solo artists for much of the time, prompting The Guardian's Rebecca Nicholson to note: "At times it felt like two solo shows attempting awkwardly to become one." Outkast also oddly let local rapper Future, who was promoting his debut, sing three songs. Critics noted the duo's energy levels had sunk by the time their monster hit, Hey Ya!, came around.

Pharrell really is the man

Every month another music event with a global audience confirms the obvious: nobody is bigger right now than Pharrell Williams. Even if you don't agree, nobody is taller once he puts on that Vivienne Westwood hat. Pharrell's hour-long set might have been hampered by sandstorms but the star power on stage lit up the festival and made for one giant karaoke party. The set included guest appearances from urban music royals Gwen Stefani, Snoop Dogg, Puff Daddy, Tyler the Creator, Nelly, Busta Rhymes and uber producer Diplo.

The only person whose star is as high is ... Lorde

What an incredible ride the 17-year-old Kiwi is on. On Thursday she was part of Nirvana (it still feels incredibly to say it) and three days later she is wowing the second biggest outdoor crowd, effectively as a curtain-raiser for Pharrell. Billboard's Reggie Ugwu wrote that her set of "darkly buoyant, percussion heavy tracks" went down a treat with the crowd and Lorde herself looked like "a benevolent warrior princess, coiled and gracious in a white flowing dress and long brown hair blown back by the desert wind". We think it's time for some new material and more development in her performance (the odd guitar?) but what do we know?

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Beyonce doesn't even need to sing to prove she's a superstar

Beyonce didn't sing a note but just being in the crowd for several acts created a buzz around the festival site. Imagine the whoops of delight when she climbed on stage for a co-ordinated sister-act dance routine alongside her uber-talented younger sister, 27-year-old Solange, in the Gobi tent, even if it was just for one song, Losing You.

Queens of the Stone Age are Kings in the desert

Josh Homme's visceral five-piece band played Coachella for the first time since 2002 and they took it upon themselves to show the main stage crowd the power of rock'n'roll. Spin.com praised the way QotSA (formed in Palm Desert, California, in 1996) powered through a sandstorm and dubbed them the greatest living rock'n'roll band (still making records).

The Pixies still matter

The Pixies' spot in the Mojave tent, up against big name acts on the main stage (plus the fact 10 years have passed since their much-hyped reunion and a new album with mixed reviews) prompted Billboard's Jeff Miller to pose the question: Does anyone still care about the Pixies? His answer was yes: "Kids packed the Mojave [tent] to yelp through Wave Of Mutilation and Bone Machine, even if the new songs didn't feel like classics, while frontman Black Francis played "as if he had something to prove rather than some money to collect".

Justin Bieber really does think his future is in rap

The Bieb jumped on stage during Chance The Rapper's Sunday afternoon set, performing his song Confident, which topped the charts last year in, er, Denmark. Chance also performed his part of James Blake's Life Round Here, while Bieber practiced his moves, dressed in a white bucket hat, grey shorts and black T-shirt with black bandana. There's no doubting his teen-idol pop chops, but he seems to lack the presence to hold the stage in hip hop.

 

- FFX Aus

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