The Highs, Lows, and Whoas of Weekend One

The Highs, Lows, and Whoas of Weekend One


Is Will Smith paying Balvin to clean up his SEO?
Photo: Arturo Holmes/Getty Images

Rumors of Coachella’s demise have been greatly exaggerated [Editor’s Note: oops]. The festival’s rep as less a music event and more a place to be seen hasn’t gone away and probably won’t for some time. But the 2024 edition — headlined by Lana Del Rey, Tyler, the Creator, and Doja Cat — felt like a return to the era when who was onstage mattered more than who was in VIP. Why pay attention to anything else when No Doubt is playing ska to 20-somethings, Billie Eilish is DJing a horned-up party on a side stage, and J Balvin is getting abducted by aliens? All in all, it was refreshing to have a mostly music-first Coachella, and we recapped all the Weekend One moments that stood out — for better, worse, or somewhere in between. —Dan Reilly

From Odd Future’s disorderly yonker to a sensible cardigan-wearing Louis Vuitton spokesman, it’s been a pleasant surprise watching Tyler, the Creator grow into a somewhat mature adult. His immaculate headlining set on Saturday included stressing the importance of hygiene (“I’m so excited to clean my dick,” he said a number of times) and leaving his pet dislikes in the past, like bringing out Childish Gambino (whom Tyler “used to hate”) to perform “Running Out of Time,” and A$AP Rocky (whom Tyler “also used to hate”) for “Potato Salad” and “Who Dat Boy.” —Emma Madden

Sky opening Kevin Abstract’s set with a cover of Lady A’s lovesick country ballad “Need You Now” is a new level of surprise for Coachella. Sure, we’re still waiting on Masochism, but would it be too much to ask for her to drop the studio version of this? —Justin Curto

If midwest princess and “Guts” tour opening act Chappell Roan’s kink is karma, then she must really be getting off on finally performing for the screaming, crying festival hoards her witty sapphic glitter-pop deserves. Storming the stage in Working Girl drag, Chappell got the crowd hot like Papa John on “Femininomenon” before costume-changing into a punk-Jazzercise look, the better to jog and butt-kick nonstop around the stage while belting yodel-inflected vocal runs (and vocal puns) on “Red Wine Supernova” and “HOT TO GO!” Coachella has mercifully uploaded her “Casual” performance for me and the guy below to sing along to for all posterity. —Rebecca Alter

After a poorly received Rolling Loud 2022 performance, the Fordham Road native finally proved she has the skills to translate her coquettish drill raps to the festival stage. The stagework was crisper, her breath control was stronger, and her signature twerk move inspired a near-Pavlovian response from the crowd. Despite a few technical hiccups, it was a well-executed, Taylor-approved showing, shutting down claims that the Gen-Z darling’s 15 minutes are anywhere close to finished. —Shamira Ibrahim

The high priestess of problematic faves gave one of the most disastrous performances in Coachella history, all because she didn’t back up her files. In front of AI visuals (also a LOW), Grimes’s set descended into total carnage, due to the fact that — if I’m understanding this correctly — the tracks she pre-loaded onto her mixing desk were playing at double the speed? Grimes, a DJ, was then faced with the immense task of having to mix in (gasp!) real time. —E.M.

Grimes’s fiasco notwithstanding, Lana Del Rey’s performance was racked with microphone problems, the guest performers during Doja Cat’s set were barely audible, and British girl group Flo’s frustratingly inconsistent levels interfered with their three-part harmonies (a small blemish on a standout vocal performance). —S.I.

What if two of the most technically proficient musicians in the world made music about toilets and farting and pooping? The duo Clown Core is the answer to that dumb hypothetical. If you happened to watch the livestream while these two anonymous musicians (they’re almost definitely Sam Gendel and Louis Cole) took to the Sonora Stage, you probably thought your brain was glitching or that the world was about to end. —E.M.

Crisp choreography, inspired transitions, (with the assistance of “Renaissance” tour fave Amorphous), dazzling vocal arrangements — the Sacramento native and recent Best New Artist winner not only brought the hits, she paid homage to her influences and current inspirations. One moment we were in a Sexyy Red dance break, the next an Usher cover. —S.I.

As in Hilton. Not to sing her Slovakian chart-topping reggae-pop single “Stars Are Blind,” but to play cornhole? Sure, why not. —D.R.

If you’re a Sublime fan in 2024, you have two options to see them live: the Sublime With Rome farewell tour, which features none of the group’s original members, or the OG rhythm section with late front man Bradley Nowell’s son, Jakob, who was less than a year old when his father died of an overdose in 1996. Jakob looked incredibly relaxed during the biggest gig of his life, playing hits that he and a sizeable portion of the crowd weren’t old enough to hear when they first came out. —Dan Reilly

Blur frontman Damon Albarn did not appreciate the crowd’s lackluster response to “Girls & Boys,” repeatedly trying to goad them into participating: “You’re never seeing us again, so you might as well fucking sing it.” Perhaps the organizers should’ve combatted American ignorance by writing “Blur (Featuring the Cartoon from Gorillaz)” on the poster? At least “Tender” sounded incredible. —D.R.

Kathleen Olivia Rodrigo operates at incredible Gen-X frequencies, so it felt like poetry when No Doubt’s Gwen Stefani invited her onstage to perform the band’s 2000 hit “Bathwater.” Perhaps Gen Z is ready for that ska revival we’ve all been waiting for. —E.M.

Either it wasn’t on your bingo card for 2024 or you started subscribing to solipsism. More likely, you’ve no idea what I’m talking about when I say that Lana ended her headliner set with a song by the Caretaker. For the vast majority who don’t know, the Caretaker is a niche British artist whose music tends to evoke very sexy ideas about lost futures and the inertia of late capitalism. Perhaps Lana was tapping into it — or maybe she just got wise to the Caretaker TikTok challenge a few years back. —E.M.

With a little help from Renee Rapp. —Alex Suskind

What’s the point of 2-D Miku when we all have hologram Miku at home? International pop star and 16-year-old Vocaloid Hatsune Miku’s “blue hair, blue eyes” have been brought to life with different hologram effects since she began performing in Japan almost two decades ago. It’s a simple yet magical trick of reflecting light off screens that allowed Miku to travel up and down the stage, interact with objects like a mic stand, and appear on a massive scale fitting for a virtual idol who sings about existential crises. So when making her Coachella debut, one of the first opportunities for western fans to interact with her since the pandemic, why would her overlords production company, Crypton Future Media, just project Hatsune Miku onto a black sheet, performing “live” from a void? —Zoë Haylock

Argentinian DJ Bizarrap’s Sahara Tent set already seemed like an obvious spot for surprise guests given his incredible run of Music Sessions. But the crowd got a legit “holy shit!” moment when Shakira roared onstage to perform “La Fuerte” and her 2023 divorce diss track, “BZRP Music Session #53.” As a bonus, the Colombian superstar announced she’ll embark on an international tour this fall, presumably so she can remind the world that her ex is a massive imbecile for cheating. —D.R.

For someone not included in the lineup poster, Billie Eilish had herself a weekend. After joining Lana Del Rey’s Friday headlining set to sing “Ocean Eyes” and “Video Games,” she hosted a surprise DJ party on the smaller Do LaB stage, previewing her upcoming album, partaking in some steamy onstage fun, and leading singalongs to the Killers and Eminem. —D.R.

Did J Balvin run out of cameo ideas? Is Will Smith paying Balvin to clean up his SEO? Will I watch this insanity 50 times before Neuralyzing myself? —A.S.


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