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Coachella 2014: Friday Night Lights

Coachella 2014 kicked off in a huge way on Friday

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    INDIO, CA - APRIL 11: Musician Paul Westerberg of The Replacements performs onstage during day 1 of the 2014 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival at the Empire Polo Club on April 11, 2014 in Indio, California. (Photo by Katie Stratton/Getty Images for Coachella)

    Hot. Hot. Hot. It was blazing out on the polo fields on Friday. But it certainly didn’t seem to affect performances. There were some amazing sets on the inaugural day of Coachella 2014.

    One-time San Diegan Dee Dee Penny led the Dum Dum Girls through a blistering set on the Outdoor Stage during the hottest part of the day. She was rocking the same sheer/pasties top and short-shorts that she did on her tour kickoff at the Casbah a few weeks ago, but given the extreme heat, it just seemed practical (see our photo gallery from Day 1 of the festival right here). 

    Aussie trio Jagwar Ma didn’t wear anything quite as fashionable, but they still had the entire Gobi Tent singing and dancing to songs from their stellar debut, Howlin.

    I wondered how long it would take Harlem rapper A$AP Ferg and his crew to remove the white camouflage ski masks they took the stage in, and the answer was: not long. I was impressed that they stuck to their initial game plan, but maybe next weekend they’ll switch it to fashionably coordinated sun hats or swim trunks. Ferg also provided yesterday’s best moment of unintentional hilarity when he went straight from the incessantly repeated “I f——d your b—h and she sucked my d—k” chorus of “Dump Dump” straight into asking the crowd to raise their hands and pray to Jesus. Awesome stuff.

    I thought the Goldenvoice people were crazy for putting L.A. collective Grouplove on the Coachella Stage, but I was wrong. They held their own and then some. As far as pure energy is concerned, the band was unmatched yesterday.

    Triple sister act Haim came close, making the very most out of their late afternoon set. Honestly, I didn’t think much of the group, but I’ve been converted. Danielle Haim is a full-on rock star.

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    Coachella first-timers Jon Spencer Blues Explosion were fantastic as usual and even threw in a Beastie Boys cover of “She’s On It” for those of us old enough to remember the movie Krush Groove.

    I heard there were a bunch of celebrities milling about, but I didn’t see many. I did spot Daryl Hannah watching Aloe Blacc’s superb afternoon set. And I caught Skrillex taking in Bonobo’s Mojave Tent masterpiece from the front row.

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    Kate Nash, Neko Case, Ellie Goulding, Broken Bells and the Knife were all great, but the set of the day went to Minneapolis’ the Replacements. As the newly un-retired rockers took the stage, I heard one fan screaming, “Yes! I’ve been waiting over 20 years for this!” That’s a lot to live up to, but Paul Westerberg (wearing a suit and a bow tie no less) and the boys did that -- and more. They were funny, irreverent, and most importantly, sober and focused enough to play a tight set that ran through highlights from their entire catalog. I wish they were playing all three days.

    Back at it today. Wish me luck.  

    Blogger Scott McDonald covers music in San Diego for a few different publications and is the editor of Eight24.com