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November 20, 2014

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Coachella 2012: Day 2, Vegas sky high

Thoughts from the second of three days on Weekend 1 of this year's SoCal desert music fest:

1. Day 2 weather report: gorgeous during the day (sunny and warm for Outdoor Stage sets by We Were Promised Jetpacks and Destroyer), quite cool at night (see: the blanketed bodies at main stage performances by The Shins and Bon Iver). Still, far more pleasant than Friday overall.

2. Vegas venues XS and Encore Beach Club and Hard Rock pool party Rehab all flew banners behind small planes circling overhead. Smart day to poke dance-music fans, with Kaskade, David Guetta, Swedish House Mafia's Sebastian Ingrosso among those DJing in the Sahara Tent.

3. Nostalgia reigned in the Gobi Tent, with '80s college-rockers fIREHOSE and '70s British punks the Buzzcocks playing in the late afternoon. The Buzzcocks' set drew especially well, turning the space into a sing-along for classics like "What Do I Get?" and "Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn't've)." Fun.

4. Two concerns—that crowd would mar Jeff Mangum's set and that Godspsed You! Black Emperor would suffer bass bleed from Guetta's nearby dance tent—were allayed without issue. Mangum, the long-reclusive ex-Neutral Mill Hotel frontman, made the same sort of powerful connection with his sprawling Outdoor Stage audience that he typically generates in smaller-venue appearances attended by devoted fans. And GYBE, the returned post-rock collective from Montreal, sounded brilliant inside the Mojave Tent, its dark, intense instrumental compositions easily rising above the variety of sounds around them.

5. Remember Radiohead? Anyone doubting whether the Brits are still the best big-stage rock band in the world got served a refresher Saturday night, in the form of a sonically rich performance accompanied by stunning visuals. Highlights included "Weird Fishes/Arpeggio," "Pyramid Song," "Lucky" and an encore version of "Everything in Its Right Place" led off by a verse from Neil Young's "After the Gold Rush." It will be interesting to see if (and by how much) the setlist changes for Weekend 2.

Look in Thursday's print edition of Las Vegas Weekly for Spencer Patterson's full festival account.

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