INDIO, CALIFORNIA (Reuters) - Rain, strong winds and gloomy skies plagued the opening day of the Coachella music festival but failed to hamper the high spirits of festival-goers and bands such as Brit punkers James and headliners, The Black Keys.
“Howlin’ For You” opened The Black Keys set, and the rockers followed with a selection of older and newer hits including “I’ll Be Your Man,” “Tighten Up” and “Lonely Boy” that kept the crowd’s energy high throughout the cold Friday night.
On their set’s penultimate number, “Everlasting Light,” the pace slowed to highlight singer Dan Auerbach’s vocals while the closer, “I Got Mine,” took full advantage of drummer Patrick Carney’s pounding beat to end the show on a deafening high.
The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, three afternoons and evenings of live bands playing outdoors in the desert near Palm Springs, east of Los Angeles, is typically bathed in sunshine and warm spring weather in April. But this year’s opening day crowds, numbering in the tens of thousands, were caught off-guard by a Pacific storm that swept in.
Festival first-timer Ari Blos, 18, came unprepared for the chilly desert air that forced her to wrap up in a Snuggie blanket, but said the weather had little impact on the crowd.
“I don’t think they care, they’ll deal with it and have fun doing it,” said Blos, a student from Los Angeles.
Many festival-goers, typically in shorts and light shirts, layered up with jackets and draped blankets or sleeping bags around their shoulders. Campers on the festival’s grounds had to secure or take down tents against the strong desert winds.
“Most people would embrace it probably. If they signed up for camping, they should know the risks,” said festival attendee Sam Nachbar, 25, from Los Angeles.
The cool and damp weather was the topic of the day on the main stage, too, with Pulp front man Jarvis Cocker joking that it was brought by two Sheffield, England bands - his group and the Arctic Monkeys.
Brit-rock showed a strong presence when Coachella kicked off with ‘80s post-punkers James, from Manchester, preceding the Arctic Monkeys and Pulp.
Arctic Monkeys returned to this year’s festival after their debut here in 2007, and livened up the crowd with a selection of classics such as “I Bet You Look Good On The Dance Floor” and “The View From The Afternoon,” as well as newer songs including “Don’t Sit Down Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair.”
Alternative rockers Pulp made their Coachella debut with a raucous set of their best known singles like “Common People.”
Following The Black Keys, DJs Swedish House Mafia, took over to keep the festivities going late into the night.
Off the main stage, thousands gathered to see newcomer singer-songwriter Frank Ocean at the Gobi tent, a platform that has become a proving ground for emerging artists. The singer had the crowd chanting his name as he took the stage, riling them up with hits such as “Novacane” and “Swim Good.”
In the Sahara tent for dance music, Alesso kept the crowd dancing with a stream of top 40 dance hits such as Flo Rida’s “Good Feeling” and a remix of Gotye’s break-up song “Somebody That I Used To Know,” which had the crowd both inside and outside the tent singing along.
Reporting By Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte