When a festival begins to feel routine, that is when you know it’s time to go home. Day three was the final chance for Coachella attendees to reap the benefits of spending hours in the desert listening to music. Afterall, it is all the bells and whistles that bring the Coachella experience together: the infamous Ferris wheel, enormous art installations, impeccable food, floating lights. Still, it is the final performance of the night, much less the whole weekend, that dictates if the day was a success.
Magic Giant led a valiant effort in playing at the Outdoor Stage early in the day under the unrivaled searing sun. Frontman Austin Bisnow constantly led the audience in participating, whether singing along “la la las” or waving arms side to side, such as during “Hideaway.” Their generally folks-stompy tunes made for a show worth watching, even for those that had never heard their lyrics. On the other side of the grounds, Sahara continued as it had been all weekend. By mid-afternoon, it was bumping. At this point, San Holo took the reigns of the highly elevated platform and drew a crowd that reached the edge of the venue’s shadow. Interestingly, the Dutch DJ goes beyond the traditional laptop set up and also provides vocals (“I Still See Your Face”) and plays guitar on a new song. It was a nice dose of electronic dance music before embarking on a long day.
At the Coachella Stage, LANY drew a sizable afternoon crowd. In an Adidas long sleeve and sweats, singer Paul Klein bounded about the stage, unless of course, he was playing a little bit of guitar. By closing with favorites “Super Far” and “ILYSB,” LANY properly sent on a sizable chunk of people with good vibrations to carry them the rest of the day. High spirits continued at the Sonora stage with Buscabulla. A lot of people were using the indoor venue for survival purposes, sitting plopped on the floor to cool down. However, Raquel Barrios was unbothered: “Thank you for cooling off in here with us.” She was amped on the stage, constantly bobbing and swaying her hips with the beat.
Female power rocked the late afternoon. Dej Loaf commanded the Outdoor stage in a yellow ensemble that billowed in the wind. She treated the audience to a new song called BYOB. Perhaps the best part of her set came at the end: “We need everybody to dance with us on this one.” What followed was the snappy anthem “Liberated,” which gave a shout out to makeup-less girls, introverts and the liberated. After, keeping up the momentum, Dej said, “We got one more. This song is about feeling fearless,” and played the pop-tinged “No Fear.” Cardi B’s sex-positive and unapologetic stint at the Coachella Stage affirmed her place in pop culture relevancy. Her performance was typical hip-hop bravado hyped up by a simple silver structure used by a crew of dancers to seductively slither and flip around. Their presence also amplified Cardi’s party in matching the rhythm of bangers like “Bartier Cardi,” “Finesse (the remix)” and “Bodak Yellow.” The headliner-sized audience was bumpin’ and managed to only be more excited when Sza came out to sing “I Do.” Bad Bunny and J Balvin also appeared for “I Like It.”
It was time for a rock moment, and with the sun behind the mountains, Portugal. The Man brought their version of that. The Alaska-native band let their performance do most of the talking. They began with a teaser of their hit “Feel It Still,” before playing an introductory clip of Beavis and Butthead. The six-person band brought on extra help, filling the stage with extra musicians, which included a full choir (all in Portland Trail Blazers jerseys) for the set. Songs were accompanied by visuals of abstract, colorful line drawings. What’s more intriguing were the occasional messages that popped up in white lettering over generally swirling colors. During “Live in the Moment,” the screen said, “Hey Migos… turn it up.” Migos were to play Sahara later that night. During the set’s final mashup, “That’s right kids. No computers up here. Just live instruments” overlayed images of snowy mountaintops. Riding on the high of “Feel It Still,” Portugal. The Man finished the confessional “Sleep Forever.” As knowledgeable performers, they segued into one of the most well-known songs of all time, “Hey Jude,” to keep their audience to the end.
Princess Nokia closed out the Sonora stage. Another female rapper well-versed in hip-hop confidence, the venue was packed for a series of trap tracks. After a few songs that included “Tomboy” and “Kitana,” Nokia took a moment to explain why, as a queer woman of color, she would play Coachella: “I was a brown queer woman with no one behind me.” She said she realized the festival needed that representation, reassuring the crowd that “It’s okay to come see Princess Nokia… Like I said, we make history together… I just had to show our true colors in this mother fucker.” Over at the Gobi stage, Ibeyi also took a stand. They played the song “No Man is Big Enough for My Arms,” which samples Michelle Obama’s speech that responded to Donald Trump’s Access Hollywood tape. The twin sister duo were there to uplift the audience. Another high point of the set was “Deathless,” an anthem with a call-to-action to feel powerful. When it was time to get the crowd to chant back “We are deathless,” the first go-around was fairly weak: “Wait a minute. No… you have to feel it… This is your moment to be heard.” With such encouragement, “We are deathless” resounded.
A dance party of approximately tens of thousands of people pulsed in the night thanks to ODESZA. On a platform below a glowing hexagon, The EDM pair played a set of tracks for both the raver kids and spirited bohemians that vibed in the grass. Even the ice cream stand workers were dancing. For those looking to get down to a different kind of beat, Kamiayah was throwing her own party at the Gobi stage. After DJ Vision warmed up the crowd with songs like Drake’s “God’s Plan” and Nelly’s “Ride Wit Me,” the Bay Area rapper came out to have a good time with her fans, playing songs including “Dope Bitch” and “G Thang.” Kamiayah was obviously pleased with how good of a time the crowd was having. “Y’all hyphy as fuck,” she grinned.
A Perfect Circle were the last to perform at the Outdoor Stage. The band had dropped a new album on Friday, and so the set was filled with new songs: “Hourglass,” “Talk Talk,” “Disillusionment” and “The Contrarian,” to name a few. A Perfect Circle was one of the first bands to ever perform at Coachella, and while the festival itself has changed over the years, the heart of A Perfect Circle appears to have remained. Singer Maynard Keenan performed in the dark, only to even seem lit on the two side screens where his silhouette glowed. The performance was all about the music, with only a few asides ever made by either Keenan or guitarist Billy Howerdel. Toward the end of the set, Keenan admitted to having the flu, which one could assume is a reason why they began 10 minutes late: “Because I’m singing at you, you all have my germs… It’s the flu, not chlamydia.”
Eminem mastered closing out the festival with star power and fan favorites. Like the previous weekend, he brought out Skylar Gray, 50 Cent and Dr. Dre. The Detroit rapper ran on the crowd’s high of performing “California Love” with Dre. As Eminem put it, “Since we’re on the West coast you know we couldn’t leave without doing this mother fucker.” Later, things got a little sentimental: “Alright, so Coachella, before we get out of here man, I just want to share something with y’all. I just celebrated my tenth anniversary of being sober.” He then launched into “Not Afraid,” dedicating it to those who’ve had the same struggles or those who have close ones struggling with sobriety. The inspirational number could have been a way to end, but Eminem’s exit was only fleeting. Classical instruments rang out, eventually giving way to a piano introduction. Eminem reentered and launched into “Lose Yourself,” garnering cheers with the very first note. When Coachella began 19 years ago, who would have ever imagined that someday a middle age rapper would close out the biggest festival in the world?