SALES-FREE PITCH Jarvis Cocker and Pulp afforded the folks in the VIP tent an opportunity to feel awkward.
There was an endless list of notable things that happened this past weekend (the first of two) in the California desert: Harlem spitfire rapper Azealia Banks served notice of her mainstream arrival; resurrected Britpop legends Pulp made a bunch of people in the VIP tent feel awkward during class warfare anthem "Common People"; and comeback appearances by '90s reunion acts Refused, At The Drive-In, and Mazzy Star made us appreciate Radiohead, a band that never went away and flexed their impressive catalogue with a captivating two-hour Saturday night headlining set.
But Coachella 2012 will forever be known by two simple words: Tupac hologram.
Shakur, the slain rapper dead for 16 years, was featured as a live, rapping 3D hologram during Sunday night's headlining set from hometown giants Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg. On his three tracks with Snoop, Tupac Hologram was kinda like a cross between Princess Leia asking Obi-Wan for help in Star Wars: A New Hope and the dancing bikini girls from Poison's "Unskinny Bop." Throw in some Guitar Hero graphics and a chilling "What the fuck is up, Coachella?" greeting, and it was a haunting dead rapper that stole the entire weekend.
Dre and Snoop brought their A-game and A-list guests (Eminem, 50 Cent, Kendrick Lamar, and Wiz Khalifa), but if Tupac Hologram hadn't emerged Sunday night, all the talk might still be on pop-murderer Banks, a future superstar who needed only 25 minutes to declare herself an oncoming crossover force. She closed her diverse, rapid-fire afternoon set — combining electro, hip-hop, and even a soulful R&B cover of the Zutons' "Valerie" — with her vulgar breakout hit "212" mixed into the Prodigy's "Firestarter." Everyone in the Gobi tent went batshit — even those not wearing T-shirts with one of her standout "212" lyrics, "I guess that kunt gettin eaten," splashed across the front.
Elsewhere, Mazzy Star's Hope Sandoval didn't look a day older than she did in 1994, Alec Empire's Atari Teenage Riot felt stale and boring — u still mad? — now that the world has caught up to Empire's once-intriguing Digital Hardcore beat-assault, and M83 packed the Mojave tent with thousands annoyingly singing the synth hook to "Midnight City" long before Anthony Gonzalez hit the stage.
In the Sahara dance tent, Rihanna joined Calvin Harris while all eyes were getting ready for Tupac, and the relentless beats of Sebastian Ingrosso, SebastiAn, and Afrojack proved that Boston is still far behind when it comes to rave culture. On the bigger stages, Justice incited thousands of glow sticks to be launched into the air, and Swedish House Mafia threw down the loudest dance party of the weekend. Coachella these days is just tens of thousands of people all waiting for the drop. And it came often.
The big-room, Killers-esque sound of Wolf Gang suggested they're the next big thing to emerge from England, and an animated Jarvis Cocker blamed the gray skies over Indio on Friday — dubbed #coldchella— on the pairing up of two Sheffield bands back-to-back: his own Pulp and the revitalized Arctic Monkeys. Adding James into that day's mix gave the assembled Anglophiles their money's worth.