Coachella 2009: The Killers, Paul McCartney Light Up Desert Festival

The Cure, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Public Enemy were also highlights.

INDIO, California — In a recession year, it was only fitting that Coachella would come to an end with a power outage.

And perhaps even more fitting that [artist id=”982″]the Cure[/artist] continued on for two more songs — with no speakers or lights, just the help of thousands of backup singers (a.k.a. the audience).

Yes, this will be remembered as the year Coachella soldiered on. As the pocket guide put it, “On this 10th Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, take comfort in knowing that for at least 72 hours, we can put aside the woes of the world to revel in it. After all, there’s a Beatle here.”

There were 129 acts at this year’s Coachella — a drop from the planned 131, after Glasvegas and [artist id=”1189492″]the Clipse[/artist] canceled at the last minute — but the one that mattered most was the 66-year-old music icon who lived and let die and let it be for a two-and-a-half-hour set that will go down in festival history.

(Check out photos from the Coachella festival here.)

[artist id=”12165″]Paul McCartney’s[/artist] show featured a dozen or so Beatles favorites, especially the encores (yes, there were many), along with songs from Wings, his solo material (the recent ukulele jam “Dance Tonight” was a highlight), dedications of fallen Beatles and even tracks from his side project, the Fireman.

Yes, Paul McCartney has a side project — maybe he even has a Twitter account too.

Speaking of micro-blogging artists … Michael Franti closed his set on Saturday by telling the audience, “See you on Twitter.”

It’s a new world where bands are updating their fans on their every move, so the ability to make a connection through music has never been more important. McCartney and the Cure did that with ease, as did dozens of others, from the angelic-voiced Jenny Lewis to My Bloody Valentine, who connected via blistering guitar feedback.

And then there were some who struggled. [artist id=”1803648″]M.I.A.[/artist], in her first post-childbirth gig, phoned in a seven-song set full of annoying banter, an even more annoying horn sound every few seconds, and a big mess of music not unlike an earlier set from N.A.S.A.

[artist id=”2410037″]Girl Talk[/artist] drew one of the dance tent’s largest crowds, and as hard as he tried to entertain them with props and dancing on the table, all he really did was push “play” on a laptop.

Zane Lowe has a similar mash-up style and a lesser name, but the live elements (a few machines and scratching) in his show made a huge difference. And then along came [artist id=”1562979″]DJ AM[/artist] and [artist id=”1526529″]Travis Barker[/artist], who took it to a whole ‘nother level, with one of the most intense, awesome sets of the festival. Again, it was about soldiering on.

On Friday, keeping up with the lineup felt more like navigating a zoo, between Noah and the Whale, Dear and the Headlights, the Bug and Cage the Elephant. The latter band play hip-hop-infused blues rock ([artist id=”10551″]Kid Rock[/artist] meets the [artist id=”3118082″]White Stripes[/artist]) and made their mark thanks to frontman Matt Shultz, a rock star-in-the-making.

The [artist id=”2998819″]Ting Tings'[/artist] set felt a bit slow, but they were still super fun to dance and sing along to. It was much of the same for [artist id=”1241057″]Franz Ferdinand[/artist], thanks to their collection of party-starters, and [artist id=”1107″]Morrissey[/artist] kept the party vibe in his following slot (as much as Morrissey parties, anyway).

Saturday was more serious, with challenging bands like [artist id=”1236818″]TV on the Radio[/artist] and Thievery Corporation (who brought out honorary Coachella mayor Perry Farrell for a song) rocking the Main Stage. [artist id=”2417305″]Fleet Foxes[/artist] and [artist id=”2103667″]Band of Horses[/artist] did the high-pitched-voice thing back-to-back on the Outdoor Theater.

[artist id=”1244299″]The Killers[/artist] wisely opened their headlining set with hits “Human” and “Somebody Told Me,” reeling in fans before they could make an early run for the parking lot. It’s not easy when Paul McCartney headlined the night before, but Brandon Flowers commands a stage no matter who he’s competing with.

On Sunday, while the Cure worked through their catalog, [artist id=”939″]Public Enemy[/artist] saluted their 21-year-old landmark album It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back by playing it from beginning to end. Chuck D’s “how low can you go” voice is still as powerful as ever, and it felt good to see Flava Flav on a stage instead of a reality show.

On the Main Stage, [artist id=”2017962″]Peter Bjorn and John[/artist] showed they are continuing to improve as a live band, especially on their latest singles, “Lay It Down” and “Nothing to Worry About,” both candidates for Coachella anthems of the year.

The [artist id=”1229828″]Yeah Yeah Yeahs[/artist] know a thing or two about anthems and they proved a perfect soundtrack to the beautiful Sunday sunset.

Audrina Patridge from “The Hills” was among those spotted dancing to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Paris and Nikki Hilton hung out during M.I.A.’s performance, and Zac Efron took pictures with fans while waiting for My Bloody Valentine. Emile Hirsch, Tara Reid, Dita Von Teese and Chloë Sevigny were also in attendance.

Outside of the Empire Polo Fields, Kanye West attended the ultra-exclusive Frank Sinatra house party, and Jared Leto was seen dancing onstage at the Music Loves Fashion event at Hotel Riviera. Kid Cudi performed at the URB Magazine pool party, while Doug E. Fresh got on the mic at Viceroy Hotel party.