It’s a very “L.A.” start to Coachella Saturday, with local D.J. and L.A. Weekly cover star Kittens performing early on the Sahara Stage. It’s a huge area so, with many festivalites apparently still shaking off last night’s cobwebs, the crowd looks very sparse when she starts. No matter — Whittier’s own Lauren Abedini took it all in her stride. Screens projected oceans and mountains, while Kittens played the sort of heavy-beat, Dilla-inspired set that got her this far.
Over on the Mojave Stage, another L.A.-based act, Chloe X Halle, were phenomenal. It’s the blend of operatic and classic R&B vocals that makes these sisters so special. Their sound seems equally inspired by Beyoncé and Kate Bush (I feel like Bush’s name has come up a lot this weekend — are young singers checking her out more lately?), and songs such as the opening “Galaxy” and “Everywhere” just kill. On the latter, the siblings sing, “I got money everywhere, falling off the tree,” yet it doesn’t sound crass. Rather, Chloe X Halle are willing themselves success, and by God it’s working.
Biggest and best surprise of the day was Japan’s Otoboke Beaver. These women play filthy, crunchy garage-punk that is both relentlessly heavy and catchy; it seems inspired by the likes of The Melvins and Melt Banana. Completely unfamiliar with them beforehand, I’ll be digging into their back catalog when I get home.
Dashing between stages, I caught snippets of brilliance. L.A.’s Sir Sly have a fun, quirky, indie-pop thing going on and their two albums, You Haunt Me and last year’s Don’t You Worry, Honey have seen them build a respectable following. All decked out in white, they looked at home at the Polo Club, and they sounded great. Mild High Club’s dreamy Americana vibe was perfect middle-of-the-day fodder, as was Marian Hill’s chill, sultry electro-pop.
Nile Rodgers of Chic, upon taking to the stage, quickly informed us that Wizkid, who was supposed to be opening the main stage on Saturday, had been denied access into the country (Coachella tweeted that he will be here next week), and he hoped that his band wouldn’t let anyone down. Fat chance! Chic’s ’70s disco sound provided a magnificent soundtrack to a steaming hot day in the desert. And shit, Rodgers has written so many amazing songs.
The band opened with “Everybody Dance” and went straight into “Dance Dance Dance,” so there’s a not-too-subtle theme. Then there was the medley of songs that Rodgers has written and/or produced for other people: “I’m Coming Out” and “Upside Down” (both Diana Ross), “He’s the Greatest Dancer” and “We Are Family” (both Sister Sledge), proving that Rodgers is one of the great American songwriters.
When he announced that he’s cancer-free after a recent battle, he seemed clearly touched by the enthusiastic cheers he received, and no wonder. Fuck cancer! But here we are in 2018 and not only is Rodgers looking fantastic, but Chic is playing Coachella in front of a young audience. “Good Times” indeed.