Coachella Festival Highlights

More than seventy acts performed across five stages this weekend at the fourth Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival. Drawing more than 30,000 to the Empire Polo Fields in Indio, Calif., the festival closed last night with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, while a politically charged set by the Beastie Boys finished off Saturday’s bill.

The Chili Peppers’ performance was dominated by their recent string of modern rock radio hits, including opener “By the Way,” “Around the World,” “Californication,” “Otherside,” and “Scar Tissue.” The set closed with the group’s “Give It Away.”

Other Sunday highlights included Iggy Pop’s first performance in more than 25 years with the surviving members of the Stooges. The group, augmented by punk rock icon Mike Watt on bass, sounded sharp as it powered through such staples as “TV Eye” and “Fun House.”

Sets by Sonic Youth, Interpol, and the White Stripes didn’t disappoint. Earlier in the day, the 20-member strong Polyphonic Spree added a healthy dose of the bizarre with its blend of Queen-style pomp rock and salvation-seeking, white-robed choir.

In the Sahara Tent, some of the biggest names in dance and electronic music held court, including Richie Hawtin, Deep Dish, and Felix da Housecat. Last night, Underworld had thousands of dancers on the verge of frenzy with a set that featured dance favorites like “Two Months Off,” “King of Snake,” and “Born Slippy Nuxx.”

On Saturday, the Beastie Boys played just their second U.S. show since fall 2001. The group debuted a new song with the repeated line “That’s it / that’s all / that’s all there is,” as well as its recent anti-war track “In a World Gone Mad,” which the Beasties offered via download from its Web site. Nonetheless, the best responses came for such classics as “So What You Want,” “Root Down,” “Intergalactic,” and even a snippet of the ancient “Brass Monkey.”

Taking a cue from a question-and-answer session held earlier in the day by Fugazi’s Ian MacKaye, the Beasties expressed their dissatisfaction with what they called the Bush administration’s “bullying” foreign policy and urged concertgoers to vote for “anyone but this fool” in the 2004 election.

Earlier in the day, hometown rock outfit Queens Of The Stone Age unleashed an uncommonly powerful set highlighted by the singles “No One Knows” and “Go With the Flow,” as well as older cuts such as “Regular John” and “The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret.” Other mainstage performers included Ben Harper, the Donnas, N*E*R*D, Blur, and in what is expected to be their only U.S. show of the year, Swedish rock upstarts the Hives.


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