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Coachella: Day 2

Broken Social Scene performs on the Coachella stage at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival at the Empire Polo Grounds in Indio, California, Saturday, April 16 2011. (Courtesy of Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times/MCT)

After Friday’s dazzling displays and painless navigations, we knew the other shoe had to drop on Saturday. No, it wasn’t the volcano of last year, but it might as well have been during the face-melting heat of the afternoon. The sun became the nemesis of Coachella day two, turning up the heat to a slow broil for the hungover and clothes-less masses. Brains were scrambled for the festival hump day — one woman “mentally altered on substances” fell off the Ferris wheel — but the day still had its shining moments.

Cults

With plenty of questions surrounding the volume of Cults musical arsenal on Saturday, the New York-based band didn’t really answer critics who thought their appearance at Coachella might have been a bit premature. Without a full album to play from, Cults was particularly pragmatic in its approach to its performance, enduring a long sound check that ate into the band’s scheduled start time. But fans did not embrace the savvy performance move and grew agitated as the wait grew longer and the heat rose under the tent. When Cults finally arrived on stage for the performance, the band was particularly nervy, flustered by the fast-paced Coachella atmosphere into mistakes as simple as forgetting to turn on their guitars. As the band settled, however, Madeline Follin began to find her groove, swaying to the heavy bassline as she crooned “You Know What I Mean.” “Most Wanted” proved another hit, with the crowd taking kindly to the catchy keyboard lines, but it was “Go Outside” that the Gobi masses were waiting for. With temperatures rising above three digits, the song’s title may not have been the best advice as Cults finished 10 minutes early, sending the crowd into the baking sun.

Duran Duran members from left: Simon Le Bon, Roger Taylor, Nick Rhodes and John Taylor pose together backstage before a concert at The Mayan Theatre in Los Angeles, California. (Courtesy of Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times/MCT)

Bright Eyes

Bright Eyes caught the dusk of the day, playing as the sun sank below the palm trees. With bangs down to his lips and a dark red plaid shirt, Conor Oberst whipped his hair back and forth like Willow Smith as he rocked through his opener, “Jejeune Stars,” from this February’s “The People’s Key,” followed by hits from past albums “Bowl of Oranges” and “Take It Easy.” He chatted with the audience casually, dedicating “We Are Nowhere and It’s Now” to “anyone who got lost” on their way to Coachella and “just ended up here.” Despite the somber nature of the lyrics, Oberst hammed up his stage presence with just enough glee, playing with his poetic lyrics’ delivery and going absolutely nuts on “Lover.” The set ended with “Road to Joy,” with a crowd of hands up in the air, singing to each other about being wide awake — it’s morning.

Mumford and Sons

To quote one of our own, people went “batshit crazy” during Mumford and Sons. Perhaps it was a result of the full moon that, when featured on the main stage screens before the set, incited the impatient audience to a crowd full of wolf howls. But when Marcus Mumford and company took stage, all howling ceased and attention was on them. Launching into “Sigh No More,” the quartet stretched their slow, four-part harmonies into tight musical suspense then collapsed into a banjo-driven frenzy with each song. Keyboardist Ben Lovett, in particular, was having the time of his life, literally jumping in the air while keeping his hands glued to the keyboard. Banjo man Winston Marshall and Mumford faced off for the cutesy 6/8 opener to “Roll Away Your Stone,” and the band debuted two new songs, “Lover’s Eyes” and “Lovers of the Light” — someone was obviously feeling a bit romantic in the writing process. Mumford, who played bass drum while standing upright on earlier songs, switched to the drumset for the second new song and to mandolin for “Winter Winds.” The band bashfully announced that Coachella was “by far the biggest gig we’ve done,” but in closing with “The Cave,” they proved they knew exactly how to handle the West Coast’s largest stage.

Arcade Fire

Arcade Fire’s audience stretched beyond the farthest sound tower of the main stage. The crowd, all on its feet, watched eagerly as the set opened with a video about the Month of May — leading into the band’s song of similar name, and meshed seamlessly into “Rebellion (Lies).” Will Butler, the frontman’s brother (known to many as the crazy drum man), lived up to his reputation on every song, pounding the drum with such vigor that shoulder dislocation seemed imminent. Régine Chassange glowed on numbers like “Haiti,” dancing around in a gold-foil dress when not at the mic. The band, focusing on tracks from “The Suburbs” but also venturing back to “”Funeral” with songs like “Crown of Love,” came to a culmination at the end of the set with “Wake Up,” in which audience participation was probably at its peak for the day. As the crowd swayed and sang along to the wordless chorus, more than a hundred bike tire-sized white beach balls dropped from the stage, lighting up the audience as they flashed different colors and patterns. After a brief wait, the band returned for an encore — “Ready to Start,” “Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)” and “Sprawl II” — before closing out the night, sending audience members home with glowing inflatable lanterns on the long walk back to campgrounds and parking lots.