With the final day of Coachella upon us, festival goers took the time to explore the exhibits like the Spectra tower, a seven-story spectrum of color immersive installation, Sarbalé ke, the 12 colorful towers that reference baobab trees, the brightly colored Colossal Cacti, The HIPO space rocket, Overview Effect, the larger than life astronaut and more, all of which made for great Instagram photos.
Anticipation and expectations were high for headliner Ariana Grande, following epic performances from the previous weekend’s headliners, Tame Impala and Childish Gambino. Maybe it’s just because she writes pop music, but Ariana Grande’s set seemed to fall a little flat for being a headliner, especially after receiving such an impressive set from H.E.R. just prior at the Outdoor Theater.
“I wasn’t gonna bring any guests tonight but my friend Justin Bieber came out…” As soon as the name Justin Bieber left her mouth, the fans went nuts, screaming and hollering. A grateful Bieber sang his song “Sorry” with Ariana Grande and after shared that it had been two years since he performed. The guest appearance seemed rather unplanned and Bieber’s exit was a little awkward. “She’s so amazing, give her some more energy!” he said, trying to liven up the crowd.
Ariana Grande started her set in the dark with “Raindrops (An Angel Cried)” and moved right into “God Is A Woman” revealing a very “last supper” scene of her and her dancers on a long table. The back up dancers provided most of the visual entertainment, aside from a large moon-like orb hanging stage center and showing an eclipse in backdrop. During “Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored” Grande and company performed a seductive chair dance and came down the stage runway with the backup dancers. A clip from First Wives Club with Goldie Hawn saying, “you think I don’t have feelings?!” introduced the next song “Be Alright,” which had everyone dancing along. She also performed “Bang Bang,” a song she sang on with Jesse J and Nicki Minaj, whose parts were just playing in on the speakers while Grande sang her part. In fact, it seemed like she was singing a lot over recorded vocals, although she did showcase her vocal talent and range throughout the set. Slight mic issues arose during the set, as she changed from headset to handheld pretty early on, but her voice did seem a little too quiet at times.
Songs off her newest album, thank u, next “7 rings” and closing song “thank u, next” received glowing feedback from the crowd, who sang along to every word. There was a bit of a lag for another costume change before “thank u, next” that left fans wondering if the set was over, but she did come out and perform and confetti with the words “thank u, next” were blasted into the crowd.
If you missed Kanye’s Sunday Service, H.E.R. was ready to take the audience to church with her powerhouse set. H.E.R. came out playing the acoustic guitar for “Carried Away.” She picked up the bass and did some slapping and then took up the keys then moved to the drum machine, showcasing her multi-instrumental proficiency. “2” had a pulsing bass that had the crowd swaying. “Let’s make it about the music” she said, addressing the crowd. “Avenue” showed a captivating video in the background of her driving to a mans house, with animations that made the city come to life. “I just received a Grammy – it’s for this song” she said, and asked the crowd to help sing “Hard Place.” She dedicated the song to Prince, noting that he passed away three years ago today. She also dedicated “Make it Rain,” a Foy Vance cover featuring her on the electric guitar, to Nipsey Hustle. She played a new song from a new album she’s working on, “Don’t Count On Me.” “Focus” had a dreamy harp intro and was her “double platinum” song, as she shared. She ended her set with the inspiring “As I Am,” and showed clips of fans singing the words to the song from their social media.
Khalid brought out special guest Ty Dolla $ign for their song, “OTW.” But that wasn’t all – he also brought our John Mayer, who played guitar on “Outta My Head,” which was surprising consider John Mayer hadn’t guest performed with anyone else. “Can I play some new shit for you guys?” he said before going into a soulful, funky new track.
Sofi Tukker played a neon-filled dance set at the Mojave tent. Not a still person was in sight during their entire set, which included appearances from “The Best Drummers in the World” on conga and hand drum for one song. “Best Friend” was by fair the catchiest song of the set. “I got I like I got” breakdown had everyone jumping.” “Batshit” had people clapping along, and a call and response was elicited from the crowd toward the end of their set
Blood Orange played the Outdoor Theater joined by two singers including the talented Ian Isaiah as they sang “Best To You.” They performed mostly songs off the recent album Negro Swan, including “Jewelry” which ended in a solo guitar part. “Velveteen” served a brief intermission into “Charcoal,” which showcased their instrumentalist going from flute to sax seamlessly. Dev Hynes also welcomed artist and singer Tei Shi to the stage, and they shared a hair raising duet over the piano for “Hope.” Singer Ian Isaiah took us to church once more with his gospel-esque performance of “Holy Will.” The rhythm section and horn were on a riser in the back and the singers on the stage level so everyone could be seen. The funky rhythm of “You’re Not Good Enough” had everyone dancing along. “You’re gonna miss the greatest guitar solo of the weekend. It’s like a minute and a half” Dev said to the dispersing crowd towards the end of their set, to which he delivered a screeching solo at the end of one song. “I only said Coachella one time and not ten times” he said after “thanking Coachella,” which was funny considering how the EDM scene was hyping up “how you doing Coachella!” after every song.
The Mojave tent was filled to the brim for Lizzo’s set. “Where my big women at? Where my black women at?” she shouted at the crowd who screamed back. “Juice” was filled with booty shaking bass. “I don’t need a crown to know that I’m a queen” she had the crowd sing. “Where my boys at?” She said the the crowd before going into the thumping hit “Boys.” She continued the dance party with “Phone” as plus size male dancers came out and joined her on stage.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra performed a solid set in the afternoon heat at the Outdoor Theater. Although they had to re-start “Swim And Sleep Like a Shark” over because it was out of tune, the rest of their set seemed to run pretty smoothly. “Thanks for hanging with us on this, you guys are so nice” singer Ruban Nielson said to the crowd before going into “Necessary Evil.” All was forgiven, considering Nielson’s voice and guitar playing abilities aren’t matched by many. Their stage set was a modern Ikea set come to life complete with plants and furniture, giving the crowd a feeling like they were being let into a private space to watch the show. During “So Used to Being in Trouble,” the crowd joined in at the chorus, then Nielson took a seat on the chair for a guitar solo, rolling the song into a screeching jam. For “We’re Not in Love We’re Just High” he got in the crowd with the mic. They went right into “Multi Love” and “Hunnybee” which had everyone dancing and singing along. “It’s a good day today no? Yea?” Ruban said to the crowd. The volume turned way up for “Can’t Keep Checking My Phone” and everyone danced for the rest of the set.
Men I Trust opened with “Break for Lovers” with moody blue lights shining on the crowd. Their dreamy sound washed over the Sonora tent. “Show Me How” had the crowd cheering. “Tailwhip” was a funky song that had everyone dancing. They played a new song that “doesn’t have a title” a slow, sultry number with jazzy synth chords. This Canadian indie-pop group is selling out shows left and right, and is a must-see if they come to your town.
Iceage played inside the Sonora tent to a small but attentive crowd. “Hurrah” got the crowd warmed up “Painkiller” had elements of shoegaze sounds washing over the crowd. “Under the Sun” slowed things down with a bluesy intro and screaming first vocal note. They went out with a bang with “Catch It” off their latest album, Beyondless.
Emily King opened her Gobi tent slot with “The Switch” a soulful funky number that got the medium sized crowd dancing. Highlights included the theatrical “Look At Me Now” which included a synchronized Macarena inspired dance with her backup singers and “back to who we are” which drew in even more people to the tent. “Big bad wolf” “I was teaching a person his to love me step by step because they didn’t kind how to” she said before going into “Teach You.”
Additional partial acts we caught included electronic trio Shallou, who had a large dancing crowd at the Sahara tent. “Thought you were leaving?” Had heavy drumming and booming bass chorus and soft vocal verses. Soccer Mommy filled the Sonora tent with people for her indie-pop set. They played an old song called “Try” and the crowd bobbed along, as well as “Last Girl” and some more songs off Clean, the album they released just last year. Indie pop up and coming artist Clairo played some new songs at the Mohave tent. Hyukoh reminded everyone that not all Asian boy groups do is sing pop music. Their rock set in the Sonora tent ranged from dreamy to downright anthemic. SOB x RBE had “Sweet home Alabama” playing and went into a remix of “Old Town Road” to hype up the main rapper before going into a hip hop set.
All said and done, Coachella ran pretty smoothly from start to finish. From seamless and easy parking (to walk a mile to get to and from), and on-time sets, decent restroom, sound and more, it’s clear the fest has been at this a while and will continue to do so.
Photo Credit: Sharon Alagna