For all of your buzz bands, superstar DJs, European sensations and celebrity sightings, it was two American musical institutions – the Wu-Tang Clan, representing Staten Island, New York, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers from Los Angeles, California – that dominated a stormy final night of Coachella 2013’s opening weekend.

Like the true Shaolin masters they are, the Wu-Tang Clan stormed the Coachella polo fields from the outdoor stage, generating such a massive influx of fans that the entrance to the VIP viewing area turned into a bottleneck and had to be shut down, while general admission fans packed every available space from the front of the stage stretching back as far as the Do Lab dance area and even the Gobi tent.

Ghostface Killer, Method Man, Raekwon, RZA, Inspecta Deck, U-God, GZA, Masta Killa, Cappadonna – individually, Wu-Tang Clan is home to some of the best (and most lethal) rappers on the planet. At their Coachella performance, they displayed their skills as a group, working together like a battle-ready hip-hop machine, allowing each member to shine while smoothly supporting each other on the mic (they also featured a full string section, providing added depth to RZA’s meticulously produced beats).

The legendary rap collective is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the release of their groundbreaking 1993 debut, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). They ran through their deep catalog of street anthems and hip-hop classics, touching on songs like “C.R.E.A.M.,” “Can it Be All So Simple,” and “Protect Ya Neck.”

They also showcased solo hits, with Method Man pulling out “All I Need” and “Bring the Pain.” Fellow New York hip-hop legend (and Sunday night birthday boy) Redman joined the group onstage, teaming up with Method Man to perform their 1999 track, “Da Rockwilder.”

The galvanizing set from “Hurricane Wu” (complete with monster sound system) was a real weekend highlight, setting a high bar for both performance and overwhelming fan reaction for acts to come.

The weather was a big factor on Sunday night, with whipping winds and plunging temperatures creating a virtual sandstorm throughout the Coachella grounds, forcing concertgoers to bundle up with whatever was available, with men and women both utilizing bandanas as makeshift face masks against the onslaught. The Wu-Tang Clan’s entire supply of hooded sweatshirts (going for $50 a pop) sold out at the merch booth. Still, everyone in the vicinity was literally coated in a layer of thick brown dust.

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