Phoenix pulled off a major Coachella surprise on Saturday, but it wasn't the Daft Punk cameo that festival-goers had been buzzing over: About three-quarters of the way through the band's joyous, two-years-in-the-making headlining set, R. Kelly – the Chicago R&B star who shares little if anything in common with the French rockers – belted one of his best known lyrics from offstage, shocking virtually everyone: "My mind's telling me no! But my body . . . my body's telling me yes!" Seconds later, Kelly and Phoenix leader Thomas Mars were arm in arm and duetting on "Ignition," Kelly's sexy 2003 Chocolate Factory smash, as the band jammed out to its own "1901" riffs, then segued into the even-loucher "I'm a Flirt." The whole thing lasted less than five minutes, but that was plenty of time to send fans into a frenzy – not that Phoenix needed the help. They were tight, propulsive and supremely confident all night, their painstakingly-planned set demonstrating exactly how to hold an overstimulated Coachella crowd's attention.
Phoenix's giddiest synth-pop singles, from "1901" to "Fences" and "Lisztomania," came sprinkled between new tunes from their upcoming Bankrupt! LP that venture into more far-out places, but never sagged live. A romantic at heart, Mars was obviously feeling extra mushy on this night, bounding about the stage and hugging his bandmates at the knees. "For the last two years, we've been thinking about tonight," he gushed. By the time Mars ended the night by running to the lighting riser and crowd-surfing his way back to the stage, Springsteen-style, fans were more than happy to lift him off into the stratosphere.
Earlier in the night, U.K. synth-pop wizards Hot Chip brought more heady dance tunes to Coachella's main stage, as the sun set over the festival grounds. Looking like Buster Bluth in a fisherman's cap, singer Alexis Taylor crooned through songs like "One Night Stand" and "Ready for the Fall," anchoring the band's disco grooves with wistful longing.
Kanye West pal Pusha T took a victory lap in the Gobi tent with a hit-stacked set that ranged from Clipse's 2002 breakout "Grindin'" to G.O.O.D. Music smashes "Mercy" and "New God Flow." "My career done had so many peaks and valleys," shouted Pusha, who, despite an occasionally overpowering backing track, easily gave the fest's most impassioned hip-hop performance yet.
As Major Lazer, producers Diplo and Switch brought crowd-pleasing beats to the Mojave tent mid-afternoon, shifting seamlessly from other acts' hits like "Harlem Shake" (which Bauuer himself had just done a couple hours ago) to original tracks from their next LP. Switch's MC'ing turned the set into a soca-style jam when he somehow convinced half the crowd to take off their shirts, twirl and eventually hurl them into the air, no doubt leaving some fans highly susceptible to chilly breezes a few hours later.
Coachella 2013: Phoenix Bring Out R. Kelly for Triumphant Headlining Set
- Arts & Entertainment