The Coachella lineup release is a long-awaited event every year, and people always have strong feelings about the reveal. Yet despite annual naysayers, hundreds of thousands of people attend the festival yearly. The headliners are typically the most attacked from the skeptics, and this year was no different. Ariana Grande? Childish Gambino? Last year they had Beyonce. And years ago, they had Red Hot Chili Peppers and Tool. And while the fest has morphed its priorities to stay relevant, this year some of the fine print was highly underrated by critics. JPEGMAFIA? Iceage? Men I Trust? Blood Orange? All bands (and more) worthy of playing this prestigious fest.
Just an observation from day one, this crowd overall seemed a lot more willing to connect with each other and less fashion obsessed. And maybe even more focused on the music. At least that was the overall vibe from the Gobi and Sonora stages, and even the main Coachella stage at times. The remembrance of fallen rapper Nipsey Hustle was present during a few of the artist’s sets including Childish Gambino and DJ Snake.
Childish Gambino was quick to point out our phone-obsessed culture, and even asked the crowd to put their phones down before going into “Summertime Magic.” “I know how hard it is to be here since noon, I know it’s late, but we still gotta fuck shit up,” Donald Glover challenged the crowd. His set was an hour and a half of pure energy, whether the song was soft or hard, and was complete with backup dancers, a gospel choir, pyrotechnics, fireworks and more. Regardless of his plea to have everyone put down their phones, he said, “this is a selfie generation I will take a selfie with one of you.” That one fan happened to be a girl named Janiqua who looked ecstatic. “This ones for you, Janiqua” he dedicated a soft song to her.
One particularly humanizing moment during Childish Gambino’s set was when Glover shared how worried he was about giving us our “money’s worth” as the headliner. However, he saw how much fun Janelle Monae had during her set and it inspired him to relax and do the same. Some additional performance highlights included the beginning of a cover of Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” and a new song premiere for Coachella. “This is some new shit I’m working on it’s got a really big drop in it but when this drop goes off you better fucking lose it,” he said.
Glover’s stage setup allowed him to make as much contact with the crowd as he could from a stage. He danced up and down the runway that led into the crowd and went right to the crowd barricades at times as well, once to say hello to Chance the Rapper who offered him a bottle of water. “Redbone” ended the set and was a religious experience complete with gospel singers.
Anderson .Paak’s set at the main Coachella stage pulled out the pyrotechnics early on. “This weekend I feel loose, last weekend was nerve-wracking,” he said to the crowd. .Paak took a seat at the drums for a few of the songs, showcasing his expert drumming. They also performed “Coming With Me” and during “Come Down” lyrics popped up on the screen above an image of a dollar with a rainbow. During “6 Summers,” the lyrics “I smoke drink just to cope with the pain” had the crowd waving a hand in the air along to the beat. “We used to be smoking all kinds of weird stuff, now we on this stage,” .Paak said referring to his band the Free Nationals, of whom he only plays with. This inspired a Free Nationals cover of “Beaty and Essex.”
The crowd cheered excitedly when .Paak brought out Brandy to the stage to sing on new song “Jet Black,” which had everyone dancing. “Y’all want me to play my Grammy song?” As “Bubblin'” started, and he brought out another guest performer, Jay Rock, who stayed for a second song as well, “Win.” “We love you Nipsey, we miss you” he shared before going into “Dang!” a cover that recognized both Mac Miller and Nipsey Hustle.
Houston-based instrumental band Khruangbin filled the Gobi tent, the psych sounds beckoning people in. They encouraged the crowd to introduce themselves to their neighbors and shout out the name of their new friend. Now that everyone was friends, the vibes were especially good during “Maria Tambien.” During a particularly impressive guitar solo in “Lady and Man,” guitarist Mark Speer crouched to his knees and played while tuning down the E string, and placing the string back in place like it was nothing. But the hip hop medley featuring songs from Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, Snoop Dog and more really had the crowd excited as they sang the lyrics over the instrumental parts.
Janelle Monaé came out in full force on the Coachella stage donning what can best be described as “vagina pants,” the first of several costume changes during what felt like too-brief of a set. Her backup dancers of all black females sent a strong “proud to be a woman of color” message. “Tonight we’re celebrating things that make us unique,” Monae said, encouraged people to sing along to her individuality anthem, “I Like That.” She also gave a shoutout to Beyoncé for opening up so many doors. And lastly, “impeach Trump,” was her final note to end on, which the crowd seemed to agree upon.
“If you don’t get up I’m walking off stage,” a member of The 1975 jokingly threatened the crowd, encouraging them to get up and dance. During the autotuned “I Like America and America Likes Me,” strips of the lyrics appeared on the stage screen. “We’re scared of dying” they sang over heavy house beats. They performed mostly songs from their latest album, A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships. “Somebody Else” helped get the crowd moving with a funk-inspired pop song with heavy bass beats. “I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes)” was more of a slow ballad on acoustic guitar. The giant spaceman installation pushed toward the stage, providing a bit of distraction for the audience. “So much ego so much extra for Coachella I love it,” one of the members said.
Beach Fossils came out a la Late Night announcement, showing their goofy nature upfront. “We got it made in the shade! Let’s do this shit,” singer Dustin Payseur said to the crowd. They opened with “This Year” then the dreamy “Sugar.” “It’s 4:20 on 4/20″ Payseur made sure the crowd was aware before going into a nostalgic song, “Adversity.” The crowd sang and bobbed along to “Down The Line.” Guitarist Tommy Davidson started playing “Wonder Wall” jokingly before they went into “Generational Synthetic,” and the crowd gently moshed. “I’m breaking them in at Coachella” Davidson joked as he showed the crowd his platform boots. Payseur put his soul into the slow “Be Nothing” which rolled out into a solid krautrock, screeching jam. “This next song is about existential dread.. a nice song for a nice sunny day,” Dustin said before going into the dreamy “Sleep Apnea”. Dustin teased the opening chord of “Calyer” before full throttling into the song, getting the crowd going again. They closed with “May 1st.”
Grammy Winning country singer Kacey Musgraves took the Coachella stage in the late afternoon. “I’m from a tiny town in Texas. This one goes to my weird ass family members,” she introduced an older song, “Family is Family.” She performed with a backing band that also included a standup bass, banjo and cello. A super-sized disco ball sat in the middle of the stage, glimmering. She sang “Golden Hour” just as the sun was starting to go down, and fans rocked along, basking in the sun.
Pop sensation BLACKPINK played to a full crowd at the Sahara tent. The Korean all-female group played a mixture of hip-hop, pop and rock to a crowd of fans. Although since the demographic for BLACKPINK and The 1975 are pretty much the same, many headed out to catch the rest of The 1975, who slightly overlapped.
“Do you like bass?” Dj Snake wanted to know. The Outdoor Stage was packed for this electronic set which included everything from house music to a “Heads Will Roll” remix. Pyrotechnics and smoke came from the stage, and fans got to experience a full-on rave throughout the set.
Still Woozy played an inspired set at the Sonora tent. “Who wants to dance on a Friday?” The singer rhetorically asked before providing ample opportunities for everyone to do so. The crowd appeared to be die-hard fans already, as they danced and sang along to “Cooks” and “Vacation.” For the verse “no hand in this world” he had the crowd wave back along to the beat. They performed some “Love Songs” and a new, hip-hop forward track that was released about a week ago. The trio goofed it up, dancing around all across the stage and playing off each other. “Who’s been to a still woozy show?” the singer asked before going into a short punk number which just repeats, “what the fuck you gonna do?” They also took on a Mac Demarco cover, “Still Beating.”
There was a massive crowd inside the Sonora tent for Kero Kero Bonito. Her catchy indie pop featured unexpected twists and turns, including glitchy sounds and electronic twists. “Now it’s time to take a break” singer Sarah led the crowd in a call and response and broke into slow rap. “Break Time is over we’re going back to the party,” she continued, going into a song called “My Party” and had everyone clapping along. “Who’s ready to Rock?” She asked with a stuffed dinosaur on her head. Stuffed animals made regular guest appearances during their set. The heaviest song of the set featured unexpected growls from the singer.
Turnstile was the first rowdy set on today’s agenda inside the Sonora tent. The first note played and the mosh pit started already. The singer jumped around constantly and sang “Don’t Waste My Time” with his whole body. “Come on up here” the singer beckoned to the crowd who took that as an invitation to take the stage during a song that was basically an entire breakdown.
Yellow Days started off our day with soulful, jazzy songs. The singer had a toned down King Krule-esque throaty vocal, which crooned over the psychedelic keys and jazz-infused set. Hurray for the Riff Raff could be heard finishing up the epic “Pa’lante” at the next door Gobi tent. Their backdrop read “we’re all in this together,” a statement that seemed to encapsulate this weekend’s Coachella experience so far.
Day two of Coachella Weekend Two will be a scorcher, and with performances from Tame Impala, Weezer, Maggie Rogers, Kid Cudi and more, it’ll make braving the heat so much worth it.