From the Tupac hologram to tributes to Levon Helm, we run down the highlights of this year's Coachella music festival

By Jeff Weiss
April 27, 2012 at 04:00 AM EDT

This year’s Coachella music festival — held, for the first time in its 13-year history, over two consecutive weekends, April 13-15 and 20-22 — offered up the usual swirl of big-name music buzz (Radiohead, the Black Keys, Dr. Dre), extreme weather (after a stormy weekend 1, temperatures soared to 104 degrees on weekend 2), and celebrity attendees (Emma Watson! Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart! David Hasselhoff?).

An estimated 80–85,000 concert-goers flooded the festival grounds each weekend in Indio, Calif., to witness some 140 acts, including Florence + the Machine, Bon Iver, Gotye, and David Guetta. But the biggest news came in the form of a hologram of a rapper who has been dead for more than a decade and a half: As prophesied by his own lyrics (and perhaps the Mayans), the late hip-hop icon Tupac Shakur was resurrected for 2012 — his virtual likeness joining Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg and their A-list allies Eminem, 50 Cent, and Wiz Khalifa for two ”live” headlining Sunday-night performances. (The figure itself was created by Digital Domain, an L.A.-based animation and special-effects company cofounded by director James Cameron.)

As usual, the fest also lured a number of beloved, still organically animate acts out of retirement — Brit rockers Pulp, prog warriors At the Drive-In, dream-poppers Mazzy Star, and cultishly revered Neutral Milk Hotel mastermind Jeff Mangum among them.

Throughout the second weekend, the focus was on a more recent passing: that of Levon Helm — drummer and sometime singer for classic-rock stalwarts The Band — who died April 19. Several acts paid tribute, including the Black Keys, who brought John Fogerty on stage during their headlining Friday set to deliver an impassioned cover of The Band’s ”The Weight.”

Not that there weren’t complaints: Glacially slow security lines, overcrowding, and what some deemed the blatant cash-grab of doubling down on the same lineup two weekends in a row all earned their fair share of grumbles. But given the record attendance numbers and outsize popularity of the Tupac hologram — unsurprisingly, ”Faux-Pac,” as some dubbed it, almost immediately acquired its own Twitter feed and is rumored, somewhat speciously, to be planning a full tour — the possibilities for future Coachella bookings now seem virtually unlimited; expect no musical-icon gravestone to go unturned in 2013.