After two years of COVID-19 pandemic delays, safety policy changes, and months of headliner turbulence, the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, America’s finest music festival, is finally returning this weekend.
The Empire Polo Club in Indio hosts the festival on April 15-17 and April 22-24.
The first three evenings of Week 1 will feature Harry Styles, Billie Eilish, and a combo of EDM stars Swedish House Mafia and the Weeknd. Kanye West, who pulled out just weeks before the show, was replaced by Swedish House Mafia and the Weeknd.
Doja Cat, Phoebe Bridgers, Grupo Firme, Megan Thee Stallion, and Anitta are among the other famous performers.
Mikael Wood and Suzy Exposito of The New York Times will be live from the polo grounds, reporting on all the must-see acts. Check back here for updates from Coachella’s 21st edition throughout the weekend.
It’s 1 a.m. Harry Styles’ headlining set at Coachella on Friday night featured new songs and a new friend.
Following a welcoming nature video of various animals, umm, enjoying themselves, the 28-year-old English heartthrob kicked off the performance with “As It Was,” the very a-ha-ish lead track from his new album that recently set a Spotify record for the most streams in one day. Later, he performed two previously unheard tracks from his upcoming album “Harry’s House”: “Boyfriends,” an acoustic ballad with lush Laurel Canyon-esque vocal harmonies, and “Late Night Talking,” which had a sharp ’80s pop-funk sound.
When introducing the former, he inquired as to who in the audience had a boyfriend and who didn’t, before declaring, “To boyfriends everywhere: F— you.”
Styles brought out an unannounced special guest Friday in pop-country icon Shania Twain, who wore a sparkly dress to mirror Styles’ glittering costume, as has become the standard for Coachella headliners. They performed “Man! I Feel Like a Woman” and “You’re Still the One,” two of Twain’s 1990s smashes, together.
“This woman taught me to sing in the vehicle with my mother as a child,” Styles stated in between songs. She also instilled in me the belief that males are trash.” Twain admitted that she was “a touch starstruck” to be performing with Styles and that singing “You’re Still the One” with him was “surreal,” given that she composed the song when he was “just a tiny child.” MW —
It’s 11:35 p.m. The most enjoyable thing I discovered tonight was an electrifying show by Epik High, a South Korean hip-hop group that made history by becoming the first Korean act to perform at Coachella in 2016. “It appears that my bandmates have decided to communicate in English tonight,” Tablo observed. “By the end of the night, you’ll be able to communicate in Korean.” I’m not sure what the Korean equivalent of Spanglish is called – Koreanglish? — but Epik High nailed it, bringing the flames from Seoul to America. SE —
It’s 11:01 p.m. Styles wasn’t the only former teen-pop star at Coachella on Friday night: Justin Bieber made an appearance during Daniel Caesar’s concert to sing their song “Peaches” around an hour before he entered the stage. The Biebs seemed ecstatic to be here, so much so that he wore his pants and red Phillies ball cap without a shirt. And, in comparison to the vocalists’ sleepy-smooth rendition of “Peaches” at the Grammys a few weeks earlier, this version had a bulked-up power-soul vibe. MW —
It’s 10:05 p.m. At Coachella, there’s a hidden sushi bar. You must first locate the hidden entrance. Then you walk into a cool, airy space where the sushi chefs behind the counter at Sushi by Scratch Bar restaurants will prepare your meal right in front of your eyes. Because you’ll be eating with your hands, the night begins with a hot towel. There’s otoro that’s been charred with pineapple and brown sugar, Canadian spot prawns with prawn-head butter, and plenty of sake in the cups. It consisted of 16 sushi meals plus dessert. Now it’s time to get back to the craziness. Jenn Harris is a writer.
It’s 9:55 p.m. Phoebe Bridgers swanned onto the stage in a bejewelled skeleton dress to tease her concert with a clip from Disturbed’s nü-metal smash “Down With the Sickness” — and then performed her own fiddle-laden “Motion Sickness.” As a treat, the festival goths might have a little malaise. —SE
It’s 9:11 p.m. Gunna, dressed more or less like Randy Quaid in “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” or Lil Baby himself, resplendent in a ’80s-jock sweatshirt with the sleeves ripped off, had the better look during Lil Baby’s main-stage show. MW —
8:06 p.m. a.m. a.m. a.m. If you’ve driven through Los Angeles County recently, you may have noticed “Soy el tóxico/Soy la tóxica” bumper stickers on various trucks — “I’m the toxic one,” they proclaim — and I suspect many of those drivers were throwing down at Grupo Firme’s set Friday night, shouting along to the lyric “Voy a ser tu ex, el tóxico, el innombrable!” It was a suitable follow-up to the Mexican group’s booming brass band performance of Karol G’s “Tusa,” a 2020 breakup ballad originally sung by Sunday Coachella singer. SE —
p.m., 7:56 p.m., 7:56 p.m. Finneas, 24, and Lou Adler, 88, were among the hundreds that packed into Arcade Fire’s surprise show on Friday evening. (How’s that for a diverse fan base?) The Canadian indie-rock band opened Coachella with the record’s slow-building lead single, “The Lightning I, II,” ostensibly to whip up some publicity for its new album, “We.” Then it was “Rebellion (Lies),” “Ready to Start,” and “My Body Is a Cage,” one after the other. They even sang “Everything Now,” a song from the critically panned (but unquestionably brilliant) 2017 album of the same name. Coachella was formed out of a 1993 event Pearl Jam conducted at the Empire Polo Club as part of its anti-Ticketmaster campaign, as frontman Win Butler, dressed as Bono in a black leather vest, joyously reminded the crowd; at another point, he stage-dove like in the good old days. MW —
p.m., 7:16 p.m., 7:16 p.m. I teleported between Anitta and City Girls’ sets because having to choose between them felt like an affront to baddies everywhere. Anitta, currently the most popular Brazilian artist in the world, delivered a flavour of Rio to the Coachella Stage. She breezed through her singles, including “Envolver,” her first No. 1 on the Billboard Global Songs chart, backed by a baile funk-rock band and a complex set designed to appear like a favela.
Meanwhile, hip-hop trio City Girls’ heat surpassed that of the desert on the Sahara Stage. During a spirited throwback to Florida rappers Splack Pack in “Scrub the Ground,” The Misses 305 took a few spins around the stripper pole, and they powered through an extended version of their 2021 song “Twerkulator,” stoking a frenzied twerk-off amongst revellers of all genders. SE —
It’s 6:23 p.m. Carly Rae Jepsen’s relationship with her fans can be summarised as follows: They love her precisely because she never attained the pop fame she appeared destined for. When the singer fell in the Mojave tent during her song “Boy Problems,” the audience erupted in cheers rather than screams. MW —
p.m., 5:47 p.m., 5:47 p.m. The best thing I’ve seen so far is Ari Lennox, who is fronting a fantastic live band full of women, mash-uping her and Jazmine Sullivan’s “On It” with D’Angelo’s deathless beefcake-soul smash “Untitled (How Does It Feel).” A slow jam for people of all ages and beliefs. MW —
“Where my homosexuals at?” says Omar Apollo, dressed in a brilliant fuschia suit, at the Outdoor Theatre. He appears and sounds magnificent. Apollo delivers “En El Olvido,” an original ranchera song from his new album “Ivory,” after a marathon of groovy guitar cuts. His sadboy vibe is starting to blend in beautifully with Lennox, who is leading a guided neo-soul meditation on the Coachella Stage. SE —
p.m., 5:14 p.m., 5:14 p.m. Report about the fashion scene: Psychedelia is back, baby! It must be Harry Styles Day! There’s a lot of orange sherbet and canary yellow flower-power clothing around. Twiggy, Lady Miss Kier, and Tavi Gevinson in her “Style Rookie” era are all included on the mood board. While no masks are required, festivalgoers may wish they had brought some for the dust. SE —
Mika revealed a fun fact while performing on the big stage: A night out at Costa Mesa’s Butterfly Lounge, which promotes itself as a size-acceptance nightclub, inspired his song “Big Girl (You Are Beautiful).” MW —
3:53 p.m. a.m. a.m. a.m. Arooj Aftab has had a busy month: The Brooklyn-based Pakistani singer and songwriter was nominated for best new artist at the Grammy Awards in Las Vegas less than two weeks ago (and lost, inevitably, to Olivia Rodrigo). She performed at Coachella today with a four-piece ensemble that included a harpist, bringing her peaceful, gently unfolding tunes. The music felt like a balm in the cool shade of the Gobi tent, a welcome relief from the weekend’s noise and commotion. MW —
It’s 2:02 p.m. Greetings from Coachella, where the sun is shining and the temperature is 84 degrees, the masks are scarce, and the kind bartenders inquire if you’d like Absolut Grapefruit in your Absolut-and-grapefruit cocktail. (It seems like there’s a lot of grapefruit, but it’s still early.) I’m thrilled to be returning to Coachella for the first time in three years. This will be my tenth time attending what the media refers to as the world’s most prominent music event. Today’s major headline is likely to be Harry Styles’ arrival in town, but I’m looking forward to seeing Phoebe Bridgers, Lil Baby, City Girls, and Omar Apollo, who has an A+ billboard on the 10 Freeway informing people that attending his show can cure heterosexuality. — Mikael Wood is a musician from the United Kingdom.
… And it’ll be my third time at Coachella! This year’s artistic range is noteworthy: After that, I’m rushing to catch Anitta and Grupo Firme on the main stage, then bounding back to the Mojave stage for Idles (see Randall’s write-up below). I made sure to pregame this time by stopping by the chiropractor’s office and getting my back cracked like a glow stick — something I’m told isn’t allowed on the premises, based on the physical demands of previous Coachellas. Dr. Colleen in La Quinta deserves a shout-out! Exposito, Suzy
12:53 p.m. a.m. a.m. a.m. Trying to decide which musicians to watch today with your friends? Allow The New York Times’ music specialists to assist you. Here are some of our writers’ top selections for Friday’s best shows:
Idleness (8:10 p.m., Mojave)
Idles is a scorching post-punk band from Bristol, England, that sounds like a fierce mix of the Fall, the Birthday Party, and Gang of Four. Over the course of their 13-year history, they have undoubtedly bloodied more moshers than any other act at Coachella. The roughneck bark of Welsh-born singer Joe Talbot is at the core, powered by a snake-eating-its-tail riff progression provided by his four comrades, who use their testosterone to critique toxic masculinity in “Never Fight a Man With a Perm.” The band will perform at the polo fields in favour of its fourth album, “Crawler,” a gloomy, atmospheric record that is sure to crush the event. Randall Roberts (Randall Roberts)
Aalegra snoh (10:35 p.m., Mojave)
This timeless Swedish R&B singer might have played it safe and aimed her music at Grammy-voting nostalgists. But with last year’s “Temporary Highs in the Violet Skies,” she took a welcome left turn, collaborating with Tyler, the Creator, Terrace Martin, and the Neptunes on hazy and trippy soundscapes (one song is literally titled “Tangerine Dream”). Her songs never stay steady for long, but her voice could be heard all over the place, including main stages at hip-hop events like Day N Vegas last fall, where her live set charms were on display. August Brown’s quote
Harry Styles is a British singer and songwriter (11:35 p.m., Coachella Stage)
Coachella hasn’t scheduled a boomer hero like Paul McCartney or Roger Waters in years, but with Friday’s headliner, the festival may get something better: a classic-rock-obsessed 28-year-old adored by millennials and Gen Z. Styles’ first two solo albums channelled David Bowie and Fleetwood Mac, leading to a public bond with Stevie Nicks; his next “Harry’s House,” out next month, appears to advance his frame of reference a decade or so: The album’s debut song, “As It Was,” uses the tick-tocking synth-pop groove that The Weeknd previously stole from A-“Take ha’s on Me” from the mid-’80s. Gen Z is on board: “As It Was” set a new record for the most streams (8.3 million) ever recorded in a single day in the United States, according to Spotify. Mikael Wood (Mikael Wood)
p.m., 12:26 p.m., 12:26 p.m. TMZ reports that Justin Bieber will join Daniel Caesar onstage later this evening to sing their song “Peaches,” as if Styles wasn’t enough pop heartthrob for one Coachella night. Arcade Fire revealed on Thursday that they would be performing at the Mojave tent at 6:45 p.m., in more Canadian-related Coachella news.