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How the Brits won Coachella

Written By Sam Murphy on 04/22/2014

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The Americans have always been traditionally cold on the Brits. While The Stone Roses and Blur headlined the festival last year, The Stone Roses pulled a paltry crowd proving that Americans just weren’t that interested. A year has gone by and it seems that the US crowd have become infatuated by the artists from over the pond ever since.

Calvin Reigns Supreme

Of course, the prevalence of EDM in the US currently has a lot to do with it. Scottish DJ/producer (that’s British really, isn’t it?) Calvin Harris impressively pulled the second largest crowd in Coachella history. The sounds of Florence and the Machine and Ellie Goulding permeated his set, providing hands in the air sing-a-longs to songs that barely scratched the surface of the US charts only a little over a year ago. It was proof that while EDM may be losing its mainstream appeal elsewhere in the world, America is still well and truly in love with it.

It’s quite an experience to see a field once filled by fans of Red hot Chilli Peppers, Arcade Fire and Tupac (albeit delivered by a hologram) being shredded by bass-heavy EDM sounds.

Ellie is queen of the desert

Ellie Goulding found success in the US with her track, Lights, which reached the top ten- a rare achievement for a British female artists in 2010 (apart from Adele). Goulding filled the famous polo grounds, providing a much-needed anthemic pop moment on the first day. As a well polished pop star, she surprisingly fit the Coachella mould well, thumping drums and sending the set home with an inspired guitar solo. The US may have Rihanna and Katy Perry but Goulding radiated an air of ability that the crowd lapped up. Finisher, Burn, was enough indication that despite not being born in the hosting country, Goulding has the goods to reach pop queen status in the US- perhaps the first female Brit in as long as we can remember.

Brits show-off their electronic music prowess

Countless British acts joined the Coachella line-up this year and the crowds flooded in. The most notable was Disclosure who mustered a mighty crowd on the Outdoor Stage both weekends. Their set was a star-studded affair, colliding a European aesthetic with US appeal. They were joined by Sam Smith, AlunaGeorge and Mary J. Blige. Blige was a timely example of the happy medium that has been met between American R&B and the British deep house dance culture. The two melted together, stirring the crowd into a mix of hip-hop induced grinds and EDM fuelled fist pumps. The energy garnered during the set made it hard to imagine the Disclosure brothers generating the same excitement at a British festival.

Rudimental have had mass exposure in both their homeland and in Australia, however, the US have not welcomed them into the mainstream quite as much. You wouldn’t have known from their Coachella set. Their drum n bass-heavy rampage had the crowd in fits. In another example of the America/Britain meld, the Rudimental gang pulled out Lauryn Hill for a drum n bass twisted version of Ready Or Not.

AlunaGeorge also impressed with a set made up of a good portion of new material. The new tracks carried a heavier hip-hop weight seemingly tailored at an American audience. Given the crowds reaction, there was no reason for them to doubt the aesthetic of their previous work as it received just as an excited reaction. A bassed up version of Lost & Found was a particular treat, along with Disclosure’s White Noise.

Muse’s over-the-top Saturday night headline

Muse seemed to fit like a glove with an American audience. Their Global financial crisis-inspired set was anxious, speculative and dramatic, straight out of The Wolf of Wall Street. Actors on stage ate money, drank gasoline and contended with rampant flames that shot out. While many may have thought the theatrics were far too much, majority of the audience remained fixated. Songs like Time Is Running Out and Knights of Cydonia boded well for them as did the literal visual portrayal of Uprising which saw Matt Bellamy lifted on a forklift above the audience.

While the near two-hour set was seemingly a critique of America, the crowd was more interested in the howling vocals and screeching guitar riffs than their nationalistic pride. For their debut headline at Coachella, the band gathered a healthy cluster of screaming punters, proving that it wasn’t just the Yanks creating vivid memories on the main stage.

2014 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival - Day 2