7 outstanding Coachella performances

As festivals go, Coachella leads where others follow. When it comes to pioneering technology, the California-based music festival is ahead of the rest. Some of this year’s best performances relied on light displays and large-scale video footage to create some memorable sets. We were there to capture them. Here are our 2016 highlights...

18 May 2016


1. Ellie Goulding 

British singer-songwriter Ellie Goulding was the Coachella stage’s penultimate act on Day 1 of the dual-weekend festival and was a cracking opener for reformed headliners LCD Soundsystem. We loved her contagious pop, as did the rest of the crowd. She played hit after hit, and proved how versatile she is by killing it on guitar and drums.

She brought a heap of energy (she was tireless!) – and likeability – to bolster her strong vocal performance. Fierce and fabulous with a stunning video display to boot, she totally won us over.

2. Ice Cube 

Flying high off the success of Straight Outta Compton, the Hollywood movie about the rise and fall of hip hop outfit NWA (Cube, aka O’Shea Jackson, was a founding member), Ice Cube’s appearance fuelled rumours of a reunion: the members of the iconic gangsta rap group might show up. They did, and the crowd went loopy. Including us.

He even brought out actor son O’Shea Jackson Jr. (who played his dad in the film) to join him on “Dopeman”, fellow rapper Common for “Real People” and Snoop Dogg for their collaboration “Go to Church”.


3. Wolf Alice

British grunge-rock outfit Wolf Alice are fronted by charismatic frontwoman Ellie Roswell and produce shoegaze-inspired sounds that went down brilliantly in the California sunshine. Performing on the site’s Outdoor Theatre stage with palm trees and blue sky as a backdrop added feelgood vibes to the set. Watch out for Wolf Alice in 2016! 

4. Major Lazer

Coachella organisers got the closing acts on the main stage just right, with Major Lazer taking to the stage at 7.30pm just as the sun was going down. Kicking off stage one of the festival’s three-part crescendo, DJs Diplo and Walshy Fire whipped the crowd into party mood with their blend of dancehall, reggae and electronica. The light show was also amazing. So much so, we headed to the back of the arena to see it better, and dance on an impromptu dancefloor that had sprung up at the base of one of the giant art installations. Plus, Sean Paul.


5. Sia

The enigmatic Sia was next up on the Coachella stage, pulling out what we thought was the best performance of the whole festival. Mixing her own blend of pop with performance art, what happened on stage was a spectacle in the true sense of the word. She had guest turns from actors Kristen Wiig and Paul Dano via pre-recorded video footage plus regular collaborator, dancer Maddie Siegler, enthralling everybody with her fluid interpretive dance moves. A stunningly choreographed set.


6. Calvin Harris

If we were impressed with the Major Lazer light display, it didn’t hold a torch to what was to come during Calvin Harris’s set. The British DJ’s turn was all about the visual and if you weren’t standing at the back of the crowd, you might have missed the full effect of the immersive display. We started off towards the front for the atmosphere before moving back to take it all in. Drawing the biggest crowd of the entire weekend, Harris spun crowd-pleasing hits and presented special guests Big Sean, John Newman and Rihanna to screaming fans.


Best of the rest

A$AP Rocky – played the Outdoor Theatre on Friday and attracted a surge of festival goers when Kanye West joined him on stage

Death Grips – gave an unrelenting, high energy performance on the Gobi stage

Savages definitely one to watch this year, this British band were class

Run The Jewels – notable for their video introduction by US presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, the political hip-hop act played new material and brought out Nas and DJ Shadow for songs

Zedd – the popular German DJ brought Kesha on stage to perform True Colors for her most high-profile appearance of late

Guns N’Roses – Fans loved seeing original members Slash, Duff and Axl reunited

Disclosure – Infectious dance-pop tunes –oh, and Lorde and Sam Smith showed up

Check out the rest of our Coachella coverage and gear up for festival season by getting the tech to take on your travels.