Already, Coachella 2016 is outpacing last year in terms of surprise guest appearances. Where the 2015 edition of the festival featured Madonna with Drake, Zack de la Rocha with Run the Jewels and not much else, Friday alone was awash in headline-grabbing cameos, with more expected today.
The biggest, both in terms of name recognition and igniting the crowd into a frenzy, was Kanye West, who dropped by A$AP Rocky's set on the Outdoor Stage just after sunset to trade a few verses of “Father Stretch My Hands, Pt. 1,” from his much-discussed recent (and still work-in-progress) album, The Life of Pablo. Later, West made a fleeting return appearance on the Outdoor Stage during Diplo and Skrillex's Jack Ü set, but didn't take to the mic — he just posed for the crowd while the superstar DJ/producer duo spun a snippet of “Power.” (Jack Ü also brought out Kiesza, AlunaGeorge and Post Malone, all of whom actually did lend some vocals to the set.)
Earlier in the day, in the Sahara Tent, Swedish dance-pop duo Icona Pop (of “I Love It” fame) delighted fans by unexpectedly joining up-and-coming Chicago EDM team Louis the Child, to debut a forthcoming single they collaborated on. Back on the Outdoor Stage, dance-music wunderkind Robert DeLong was joined by dancer-violinist Lindsey Stirling and L.A. jazz giant Kamasi Washington, both of whom soloed on his infectious electro-pop hit, “Global Concepts.” Even veteran R&B singer Seal got in on the guest action, showing up during newcomer Gallant's set in the Mojave Tent.
Saturday's rumored guest appearances, if they turn out to be true, promise to top Friday's by a mile (sorry, Kanye). Ice Cube has hinted that his set may include an N.W.A reunion; some insiders are claiming that Paul McCartney might join Guns N' Roses for their ripping cover of his “Live and Let Die.”
Perhaps the most intriguing possibility of all might be an appearance by Kesha, the beleaguered pop star embroiled in an ugly legal battle with her former producer and mentor, Dr. Luke, whom she has accused of sexually assaulting her. Sources tell L.A. Weekly she'll appear with EDM super-producer Zedd during his headlining set on the Outdoor Stage, right before Guns N' Roses.
Whether Kesha shows up or not remains to be seen, but no matter what happens at the Empire Polo Club today, Coachella 2016 is already off a surprise-filled start.