INDIO, California (Reuters) - British bands kicked off Southern California’s annual Coachella music festival on Friday, with Blur and The Stone Roses taking to the stage, while a surprise video from French duo Daft Punk had fans abuzz.
Blur, who led a new wave of rock-infused Britpop in the 1990s and recently reunited after a six-year hiatus, brought their trademark no-frills style to the Coachella main stage on Friday evening.
Lead singer Damon Albarn, who last performed at Coachella with animated music group Gorillaz in 2010, quipped about the sunny desert climate weather, saying: “A lot of our songs have been informed by our bad weather ... it’s very nice to enjoy your sunshine.”
The reunited band, formed by Albarn, Graham Coxon, Alex James and Dave Rowntree, performed some of their best known hits including “Girls & Boys”, “Beetlebum”, “Coffee & TV” and the rabble-rousing “Parklife” and “Song 2”. Albarn also slowed the tempo with tracks such as “Out of Time” and “Tender”.
Blur were followed by The Stone Roses - comprising Ian Brown, John Squire, Mani and Reni - who kept the show going until past midnight at the festival, with hits including “I Wanna Be Adored” and a long rendition of “Fools Gold”.
Known for springing surprises on the unsuspecting audience, Coachella has often produced moments in past festivals that captured media attention, such as a hologram of late rapper Tupac appearing on stage and performing last year.
Eager to keep the tradition of surprises alive, a teaser music video by Daft Punk shown prior to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ set on Friday had audiences excited for an appearance from the French duo, who were not on the Coachella line-up this year.
The two-minute video showed R&B artist Pharrell Williams singing a new song by Daft Punk called “Get Lucky”, from their highly anticipated upcoming album “Random Access Memories”.
Daft Punk, formed by French musicians Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, last performed at Coachella in 2006 and in the United States in 2010, as a surprise guest for French band Phoenix’s show at Madison Square Gardens in New York.
The teaser video on Friday suggested Daft Punk may once again join Phoenix, who will headline Coachella on Saturday.
The Yeah Yeah Yeahs were one of the most-talked about bands on Friday as lead singer Karen O fronted a lively, dynamic and electric set, featuring their hits “Sacrilege”, “Maps” and “Gold Lion”.
Earlier in the day, British artists such as James McCartney, son of former Beatle Paul McCartney, indie-rock quartet Alt-J, indie-folk singer-songwriter Jake Bugg and BBC Radio 1 DJ Pete Tong fronted Coachella’s many outdoor stages.
Other highlights included Modest Mouse, Passion Pit, Icelandic folk group Of Monsters and Men, Trent Reznor’s newest venture How to Destroy Angels and Canadian sister duo Tegan & Sara.
The Coachella Valley Arts and Music Festival is an annual three-day music event held in the desert of Southern California, and has become a launch pad for up-and-coming bands.
Newcomers The Neighbourhood, an indie-rock band from Newbury Park in Southern California, were one of the first bands to perform on Friday, and lead singer Jesse Rutherford told Reuters how important Coachella was as they prepare to launch their debut album “I Love You” on April 23.
“What I hope for it doing is really helping us launch our album and career ... I want it to be that people who didn’t see us are left wanting to see us,” Rutherford said.
Editing by Pravin Char