Coachella 2016 Highlights

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Sufjan Stevens

Sufjan Stevens Coachella 2016
Sufjan Stevens - Coachella 2016. Photo by Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

Alternative pop star Sufjan Stevens surprised many in attendance by skipping over most of his most recent album, the critically acclaimed but downbeat Carrie & Lowell, and opted instead for a dizzyingly colorful jump into pop spectacle. Most of the songs were from highly electronic 2010 album The Age of Adz. The show fit the sheer size of a festival like Coachella with the artist wearing wings and surrounded by day-glo colors and hundreds of balloons.

Watch Sufjan Stevens perform "Vesuvius" at Coachella

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Sia Coachella 2016
Sia - Coachella 2016. Photo by Kevin Winter / Getty Images

How do you be a star without exposing yourself like a star? Just ask Sia. She has made it an art form. Her powerful voice rang clear and true throughout her Coachella set, but she managed to hide in plain sight as she has done since her massive pop breakthrough with "Chandelier." Her Coachella set was one of the most innovative of the festival bringing the interpretive power of her dance-based videos to life with guest dancers that included Maddie Ziegler, a star in her own right now on the heels of star turns in multiple Sia music videos.

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Jack U

Jack U Coachella 2016
Jack U - Coachella 2016. Photo by Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

Jack U, aka DJs Skrillex and Diplo, filled their set with guest artists including Kanye West, Kiesza, AlunaGeorge, and Post Malone. Also, towering over the stage was a reminder of where today's at-home DJ manipulations began with an enormous replica of an Apple II computer towering over the stage. The DJ pair soared on the pop charts with Justin Bieber on vocals, but they proved to have their own star power in a well received Coachella set.

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Major Lazer

Major Lazer Coachella 2016
Major Lazer - Coachella 2016. Photo by Kevin Mazur / Getty Images

Estimates place the crowd that saw Major Lazer at this year's Coachella Festival as one of the largest crowds ever for the event. On the heels of their massive worldwide hit "Lean On," Major Lazer's Diplo and DJ Snake led an upbeat, colorful set that also included a marching band and reggae pop star Sean Paul.

Watch Major Lazer perform "Lean On" at Coachella 

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Zedd with Kesha

Kesha Coachella 2016
Kesha - Coachella 2016. Photo by Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

While Kesha is still in the thick of intense personal legal battles with producer Dr. Luke, she made a surprise appearance on the Coachella stage. Earlier this year star DJ Zedd expressed his concern for her situation via Twitter and offered to collaborate in the future. At Coachella, she joined Zedd's set to perform his song "True Colors." It was a bittersweet, memorable moment at the festival.

Watch Zedd and Kesha perform "True Colors" at Coachella

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Guns 'n Roses

Guns 'n Roses Coachella 2016
Guns 'n Roses - Coachella 2016. Photo by Kevin Mazur / Getty Images

One of the biggest stories ahead of Coachella 2016 was the anticipation of the reunion of three of the original members of metal legends Guns 'n Roses to headline at the festival. The performance generated some of the most widely disparate commentary of any major act at Coachella this year. Lead vocalist Axl Rose was limited in his movement by a broken foot sustained earlier in the month. Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters stepped in to lend his "rock throne" used when he was hobbled by a similar injury. The results led to many comments about the ravages of middle age on the group while others contended the music itself held up very well.

Watch Guns 'n Roses perform "Paradise City" at Coachella

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Disclosure with Lorde

Lorde Coachella 2016
Lorde with Disclosure - Coachella 2016. Photo by Kevin Winter / Getty Images

As fits with their wide range of collaborations on record, the British electronic dance music production duo Disclosure brought guest performers to the Coachella stage. Sam Smith, AlunaGeorge's Aluna Francis, and Lorde all joined the Lawrence brothers to present their music to a receptive audience. 

Watch Disclosure and Lorder perform "Magnets" at Coachella

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Grimes Coachella 2016
Grimes - Coachella 2016. Photo by Mike Windle / Getty Images

For some time now, adoring fans have looked at 28-year-old Canadian Claire Boucher, aka Grimes, as the future of electronic pop music, and she did not let them down at Coachella. She was slated to perform in the same time slot as Guns 'n Roses, and those who stuck with Grimes in the dance tent arguably got the better show. Guest performers included critically celebrated Janelle Monae and Taiwanese rapper Aristophanes. 

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Courtney Barnett

Courtney Barnett Coachella 2016
Courtney Barnett - Coachella 2016. Photo by Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

If you count yourself as one of the music fans who wondered why Australian Courtney Barnett earned a Best New Artist Grammy nomination, she answered your queries at Coachella. Surrounding her quirky lyrics with a barrage of guitar noise, Courtney Barnett provided a much needed counterpoint to much of the rest of the dance music heavy festival. 

Watch Courtney Barnett perform "Pedestrian At Best" at Coachella

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Ellie Goulding

Ellie Goulding Coachella 2016
Ellie Goulding - Coachella 2016. Photo by Michael Chang / Getty Images

Ellie Goulding has arrived as one of the world's top pop stars. She proved the fact with a Coachella set that felt filled with radio hits. She delivered such familiar songs as "Burn," "Love Me Like You Do," and "I Need Your Love." However, the most transcendent moment of her performance took place when she stripped the arrangement down to just vocals and piano for her breakthrough hit single "Lights."

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The 1975

The 1975 Coachella 2016
The 1975 - Coachella 2016. Photo by Kevin Winter / Getty Images

Love them or hate them, British pop-rock group The 1975 are in your face and celebrating their first #1 hit album in the US. The lengthy title  I Like It When You Sleep,for You Are So BeautifulYet So Unaware of It soared to the top of the US charts last month. The group's lead vocalist Matthew Healy is every bit the vain focal point of the group, but the 1975 also deliver quality goods. They did not disappoint their fans at Coachella. 

Watch The 1975 perform "Love Me" at Coachella

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Calvin Harris with Rihanna

Rihanna Coachella 2016
Rihanna with Calvin Harris - Coachella 2016. Photo by Mark Davis / Getty Images

What might have been an otherwise lackluster set from Calvin Harris was redeemed when Rihanna took the stage to sing their collaboration "We Found Love." The performance was a bit of a victory lap celebrating Rihanna's nine weeks at #1 with her current single "Work." 

Watch Calvin Harris and Rihanna perform "We Found Love" at Coachella

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Your Citation
Lamb, Bill. "Coachella 2016 Highlights." ThoughtCo, Aug. 22, 2016, Lamb, Bill. (2016, August 22). Coachella 2016 Highlights. Retrieved from Lamb, Bill. "Coachella 2016 Highlights." ThoughtCo. (accessed December 11, 2017).