The first weekend of Coachella 2017 just passed, but the inland valley dust and dirt has yet to settle and one more three-day span of festivities still looms ahead. While the Goldenvoice crew and their fellow festival organizers have upped their technology game and invested into other ways to enhance their event, the main attraction of the Coachella Music and Arts Festival strongly remains the same: the performers. Following years of stacked lineups, the minds behind Coachella sought to keep connoisseurs and casual fans content with a bill that featured an intensely-eclectic variety (and justify some rather high ticket prices) of modern music’s most talented stars. From Kendrick Lamar and ScHoolboy Q to Radiohead and Bon Iver, there was something to fit all moods.
For those trying to relive the magic or the eager concertgoers waiting to storm the Empire Polo Club this weekend, we’ve decided to compile a list of some of the best performers and performances from the Coachella 2017 lineup. Per usual, guest appearances, showmanship and technical ability took center stage once the time came for artists to absorb the spotlight. Separating this year’s event from the annals of Coachella history was the wealth of new hip-hop that surrounded the event. With recently-released records and projects from Kendrick Lamar, Future, Gucci Mane, Travis Scott, Migos, Drake and Rae Sremmurd dominating rap, all of the artists involved were present to bring the diverse live experience of contemporary hip-hop to Indio.
Currently on a comeback tour to bring attention to her sophomore studio album, New Zealand popstar Lorde decided to keep her set at Coachella intimate and direct. Giving a nod to the unique, "one-night-only" style of the event's performances, Lorde decided to serve up her own brief rendition of Kanye West's "Runaway" for her audience. The "Runaway" showcase came to life thanks to the inclusion of a new track titled "Liability," which Lorde says "reminded" her of the Yeezy fan favorite. Considering the "Royals" singer will be in takeover mode once June 16 rolls around, expect many more blockbuster, show-stealing festival acts in her future.
While film soundtracks usually don't make for the best sounds to fuel festivals, Hans Zimmer emerged as one of the standout acts at this year's Coachella. The legendary composer has gained acclaim and recognition across the globe for the compositions he's cooked up for films such as Inception, The Dark Knight, Pirates of the Caribbean and more. For his Coachella outing, the 59-year-old icon was backed by a full-fledged live orchestra, allowing him to basically recreate the sonic narratives he's created for the big screen. Most notably, Zimmer brought out Pharrell as his superstar guest; together, the pair delivered one of the best live performances of "Freedom" you will ever see and hear.
With all eyes on King Kendrick, the Compton rapper took the stage at the Empire Polo Club to a crowd that had just been enveloped in the storm that is DAMN. While the armies of fans at Coachella probably weren't anywhere close to knowing the DAMN. records word-for-word, the entire world appeared to be waiting for Kendrick Lamar's first post-release performance (or, at least YouTube footage of it). Knowing that he would have to deliver a performance worth of thinkpieces and listicles everywhere, Kendrick stepped up to the plate with a set that ran through the majority of DAMN.'s music and a lean, well-curated mix of surefire festival favorites like "M.A.A.D. City." Throwing in one surprise, Kendrick also recruited Future for an end-of-set rendition of a record that has ruled a great deal of the first part of 2017, "Mask Off."
Gucci Mane (featuring Rae Sremmurd)
Considering Gucci Mane's several years of grinding and the mountain the music he's composed, it's only right that the Trap God was given a Coachella set while at his physical and mental peak. While past live reviews for the pre-incarceration Guwop have been mixed, Gucci brought out his best when the time came from the California crowd to experience everyone's favorite trapper-turned-rapper. Keeping in tune with Gucci's reputation as the unofficial A&R and lead tastemaker of the Southern rap scene, the "Both" rapper brought out Migos, Lil Yachty and Rae Sremmurd -- he also joined the Sremm Life duo for a spirited take on their joint single "Black Beatles." Released last year as part of the promotional campaign for SremmLife 2, "Black Beatles" has transformed into one of Gucci Mane and Rae Sremmurd's biggest recent hits. Performing the track together at Coachella, the pairing of Guwop and Rae Sremmurd momentarily turned the stage into their personal tour.
Future (featuring Drake)
Love him or hate him, Future has become one of the most successful and influential emcees and stylists in recent years. Rising from Atlanta's contemporary crop of artists to become one of the world's biggest rappers, the 33-year-old has his name plastered all over the charts and his influence firmly entrenched in every corner of SoundCloud. Just a few years ago, Future would have to take on an early afternoon set time or opening slot at a less-prestigious hip-hop festival to get his songs across. Now, he's receiving top billing at the United States' premier music festival. With Migos and Drake as his crowd-riling guests, Future pumped out a set that was nothing but hits and anthems. For the Coachella denizens seeking to experience the best mainstream street rap has to offer, they received their's money's worth at Future's stage.
Always one to outdo himself nearly every time he hits a stage, Travis Scott was a solid choice for a "best performances" ranking before he even step foot in Indio. In the midst of a headlining tour that boasts a gigantic owl-monster as one of its centerpieces, the "Goosebumps" artist turned his Coachella showcase into yet another memorable entry in his ongoing "Birds Eye View" trek. Somewhere in-between a club in the middle of the night and a high-energy rock show, Travis Scott's frenzied Coachella set went above and beyond the traditional, run-of-the-mill festival rap performance. As one of the most animated, dynamic showmen in modern music, Travis was firing on all cylinders this past weekend -- even his brother came along for the wild ride.
While The xx have been a reclusive bunch at times, the Mercury Prize winners can also be counted on for a heavy dose of melancholy. While Coachella's contemporary run pushes the festival as more of one giant, star-studded party, The xx represent the sort of indie act that would have received a top billing at one of the event's inaugural editions. Now globe-trotting superstars in their own right, Jamie Smith, Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim served up a slow-churning set for Coachella 2017, complete with a narcotic, emotive rhythm and bounce to keep the festival-floors moving. Eschewing any sort of the rockstar bombast that guided many of the weeknd's major players, The xx keep the sounds and feelings of their performance minimal and tightly-knit.
DJ Snake (featuring Migos & Lauryn Hill)
In recent years, DJ Snake has emerged as one of the few major electronic artists to rise above the collapse of the EDM frenzy. Accomplishing more than just "staying afloat," the "Turn Down for What" creator has excelled and ensured his name will be one that stays attached to mainstream club bills and radio setlists for some time to come. Further cementing his role as one of modern EDM's strongest contenders, Snake put on a Coachella performance that was more of a blend of all party-friendly genres than a straightforward DJ exhibit. As if there weren't enough turn-up anthems coming out of Snake's set-up, Migos even played a part in turning the performance into one giant rap-rave. However, for one of his best moments yet, the Grammy nominee brought out Lauryn Hill for a very, very rare performance. While the ex-Fugees singer is notorious for not even showing up to her own shows, she came correct for DJ Snake's Coachella set.