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Red Hot Chili Peppers rock the crowd at windy Coachella

Joe Newman of British band Alt-J performs during the Coachella Music Festival in Indio, California April 12, 2013. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
Joe Newman of British band Alt-J performs during the Coachella Music Festival in Indio, California April 12, 2013. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

By Piya Sinha-Roy

INDIO, California (Reuters) - California rockers Red Hot Chili Peppers closed out the first weekend of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival on Sunday, amid high winds that swept across the desert and prompted attendees to don extra layers.

The Chili Peppers, formed by Anthony Kiedis, Chad Smith, Flea and Josh Klinghoffer in 1983 in Los Angeles, showcased a catalogue of songs from their last four studio albums.

The band sang their classic hits, dark love letters to their home state of California, including "Dani California," "Californication," "Parallel Universe" and "Under The Bridge," as fans sang along in a finale to Sunday's events.

The Chili Peppers eschewed the tradition of headliners featuring a special guest, instead keeping their set all about their own music, with the exception of a cover of Stevie Wonder's "Higher Ground."

Prior to the Chili Peppers, Wu-Tang Clan drew a large crowd as all the living members of the hip hop collective came together to perform a set filled with their hit tracks, including "Bring da Ruckus" and "Clan in da Front."

The Staten Island collective, which has included rappers RZA, Method Man, Ghostface Killah, and Ol' Dirty Bastard who died in 2004, will celebrate its 20th anniversary this year with a new album, "A Better Tomorrow," released in July.

The group will also perform 10 dates across North America and Europe at music festivals this summer, kicking off with Sunday's Coachella performance.

As winds of around 35 miles per hour (56 km/h) swept across the festival in the California desert town of Indio, some 130 miles east of Los Angeles, revelers dressed for the desert sunshine were forced to cover up as dusk fell across the grounds.

FOLK MUSIC AND EDM DRAW CROWDS

Coachella, which began as a two-day festival touting rock music in 1999, has expanded into a three-day festival with more than 150 bands performing across six separate stages, with the same line-up featured across two consecutive weekends in April.

While Coachella organizers Goldenvoice don't release attendance or ticket figures themselves, concert-tracking website Pollstar.com said the concert grossed $47.3 million across two weekends, with more than 158,000 tickets sold.

While in recent years, the festival has boasted top artists such as Madonna, Jay-Z, Kanye West and Paul McCartney among its headlining acts, this year the festival returned to its rock and taste-maker roots with Blur, The Stone Roses, Phoenix and the Chili Peppers.

Earlier on Sunday, Grammy-nominated folk band The Lumineers took the main stage in the afternoon, playing tracks from their self-titled debut album.

The band are part of a new wave of folk-rock bands taking the U.S. pop charts by storm, along with British folk-rockers Mumford & Sons and Icelandic folk group Of Monsters and Men.

Lead singer Wesley Schultz told the Coachella crowd that the festival was the largest live audience the band had ever played and led attendees in sing-a-longs, including the band's hit singles "Ho Hey" and "Stubborn Love."

The Lumineers warmed up the outdoor main stage ahead of indie-rockers Vampire Weekend, who played to the crowd as the sun set across the festival, with hits including "A-Punk" and "Holiday" that got attendees dancing.

London-based dubstep-electronica singer James Blake set a mellow, ethereal vibe for the crowd at sunset at one of Coachella's tented stages, singing tracks from his self-titled debut album.

The festival attracts a large number of people drawn to electronic dance music, and while not many DJs topped the bill this year, EDM fans still had veteran and rising dance music acts to check out.

After playing primetime on Saturday as part of British indie-electro group The xx, British music producer Jamie Smith performed solo under the name Jamie xx on Sunday, as long lines of attendees waited to hear his dance music set.

British DJ Paul Oakenfold, who has been at the forefront of EDM since the 1980s, pumped up the crowd at sunset at Coachella's dance tent with house music, electronica and trance tracks, including a remix of Bruno Mars's "Locked Out of Heaven."

Rapper Azealia Banks was expected to join Oakenfold, but instead he was joined by Wallpaper, a pop-hip hop group formed by Ricky Reed and Novena Carmel, who provided vocals for the DJ's dance-floor anthems.

Banks is expected to join the DJ for next weekend's repeat line-up at Coachella.

(Editing by Eric Walsh and Paul Casciato)

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