A constant sandstorm didn’t stop thousands of fans from enjoying the diverse set of performers appearing on Coachella’s most jam-packed day. Unlike the fest’s sometimes chaotic first day, the Saturday installment went much more smoothly. From Billie Eilish’s stellar headlining debut to a career-spanning Danny Elfman set, here’s what stood out most as we took it all in.
Billie Eilish Owns Her History-Making Coachella Moment
Just three years after bringing the world of When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? to Coachella, Eilish returned to the desert on Saturday with the prime slot — and delivered a performance characterized by the prowess of an industry veteran but with the humility of a 20-year-old who just made one of her dreams come true. “This is a fucking trip,” she told the audience with a giggle, as she made history by becoming Coachella’s youngest-ever headliner. “What the fuck.”
Eilish spent most of her set within the crowd — using the catwalk and an accompanying crane for most of the show as she belted her songs’ lyrics and transformed Coachella into a Happier Than Ever haven. No one in the crowd was left with a bad view of the singer.
Eilish’s set list mirrored that of her recent world tour, as she introduced the huge Coachella to the three key rules of her shows: “No. 1 rule, don’t be an asshole. No. 2, you’re not allowed to judge anyone out here. And No. 3, have fun, bitch.”
Throughout the show she was joined by her brother Finneas. The two shared a sweet moment when they performed heartstring-pulling acoustic renditions of “I Love You” and “Your Power.”
She also welcome some unexpected guests. Khalid surprised the audience when he joined Eilish during “Lovely,” one of the singer’s most notable collabs. As on the recorded version, the two pair’s voices complemented each other perfectly. Many of Eilish’s fans shared a look of confusion, while older fans smiled in excitement, as Damon Albarn joined her onstage for “Growing Older” and Gorillaz hit “Feel Good Inc.” Even if Albarn missed a lyric or two, the appearance of the Britpop veteran — who Eilish named as one of her greatest inspirations — was a sweet addition to an already memorable set. “This is the craziest thing I’ve ever experienced,” she said. “What the fuck? Where do I go from there? Dude. I’m sorry? Gorillaz. Please? Please make some noise for them, dude. … I feel like I’m dying.”
Eilish ended her set with a silly dance-filled performance of “Bad Guy” before wowing the crowd with the emotional “Happier Than Ever.” (Whoever made Billie hate this city, you suck.) Celebrity friends including Justin Bieber, Timothee Chalamet, Pabllo Vittar, Bretman Rock, and James Corden were spotted jamming out in the crowd.
Megan Throws Shade
Megan Thee Stallion previewed a new song toward the end of her Saturday night set called “You’s a Bitch,” a rare diss track during an otherwise infectiously positive and easygoing first Coachella set for the rapper. Meg pulls no punches on the song, expressing regret over ever sleeping with the man the song is aimed at, and, of course, calling him out as a bitch. It isn’t immediately clear who she’s roasting, though we have a few guesses …
Beyond the new track, Meg delivered a strong, supremely fun set — even without the guest appearances fans may have expected for a Coachella show — getting everyone dancing and thanking her hotties for their continued support.
More Horn Sections, Please
Artists such as Phoebe Bridgers, Harry Styles, and Japanese Breakfast accented their Coachella sets with trumpets and saxophones, bringing an extra flair and warmth to their mixes. Bridgers included a trumpet for “Kyoto” during her Friday set, while JBrekkie brought out the sax several times during her Saturday appearance, including on standout Jubilee tracks “Paprika” and “Slide Tackle.” Even Danny Elfman’s set featured a killer sax solo when his orchestra performed the Simpsons theme (more on his set shortly). No complaints here if more artists start to jump on the trend.
Reunions and Departures
Fans of 2NE1 went into a frenzy when the retired girl group surprised the crowd to perform “I Am the Best” at the end of the 88rising showcase on the main stage. Meanwhile, over at the Sahara tent, Brockhampton’s legion of fans had a bittersweet celebration for what could be their last time seeing the group, as the hip-hop boy band of the future are hanging it up after their final Coachella set next week. (Maybe Brockhampton will pull a 2NE1 and reunite at Coachella in six years?) Brockhampton fans still have something to look forward to after next week, though: The group tweeted Saturday that its final album will come out sometime this year.
Danny Elfman Makes a Gloriously Strange Coachella Debut
Perhaps as fun as watching Danny Elfman’s show itself was watching the crowd try and figure out what to make of it, as the artist swerved seamlessly between his identities as Danny Elfman, Oingo Boingo founder, and Danny Elfman, film and TV composer. Metal fans got a kick headbanging to tracks from Elfman’s recent solo album Big Mess, while the crowd was universally giddy when he rolled out classic scores like the Simpsons and Batman themes. It’s hard not to smile hearing an entire crowd gleefully chant, “This is Halloween” in between hip-hop-heavy sets from Megan Thee Stallion and Stromae.
“Don’t try to think about it — it’s mismatching pieces jammed together in a construction that logically makes no sense whatsoever,” Elfman told Rolling Stone of his set from his trailer several hours before the performance. “When I do performances, I like to jam it all together.”
Elfman recalled Goldenvoice chief executive Paul Tollett approaching him in 2019 with the idea of an Oingo Boingo reunion. Elfman didn’t think the reunion would work, but he was inspired seeing sets at Coachella that year and decided to make his own mashup of rock and orchestral music, to Tollett’s strong support.
But even as Elfman began put the show together, he acknowledged the potential difficulties that came with making such varying styles of music work together for one concert.
“I knew the objective of the concept piece here, but did I have doubts? Tons, mountains of them,” he says. “But I still kept the objective and said I’d do this. Until you finish it and put it out in the gallery, you don’t know what the fuck it’s going to be.
“At the end of tonight, I’ll think, ‘That was either one of the best or worst ideas I’ve ever had in my life,’” he continues with a chuckle. The grandiose set seemed to win over the crowd, and regardless of how Elfman felt post-show, he’ll be doing it all again next week.
All Hail the Sonora Tent
The Sonora tent might not host the most recognizable artists on the festival’s stacked lineup, but it’s hands-down the best stage on the festival grounds. An appearance by melancoholic Mexican artist Ed Maverick in the dark, air-conditioned tent early in the afternoon served as an escape from the scorching Indio heat and dusty weather.
Rina + Caroline + Pabllo = Slaychella
On Saturday, LGBTQ faves Rina Sawayama, Caroline Polachek, and Pabllo Vittar took over the Gobi stage, creating a safe, inclusive space for their mostly queer, eccentrically dressed audience (we spotted at least four jock straps in the crowd). During her set, Rina slammed anti-LGBTQ legislation. “[They’ve] targeted queer and trans people in this country, and for some reason they don’t want us to say the word ‘gay’,” she said, eliciting boos from the crowd. She then led the crowd in a chant of ‘When I say ‘say,’ you say ‘gay.’”
Polachek then took the stage for an ethereal set that ended with a rendition of her “Free Woman” remix. Vittar came out with a bang, offering nonstop choreography in an energy-filled performance worthy of the main stage — a stadium, even. “I’m the first drag queen ever to perform at Coachella,” she said. “We’re making history tonight.” Vittar performed tracks in Spanish and Portuguese such as Thalía’s “Tímida” and “Rajadão,” before Sawayama came out for “Follow Me.” After Vittar’s stellar set, it remains a mystery why the Brazilian music maker hasn’t yet become an international pop star.
Stromae Makes a Triumphant Return
The desert’s heavy winds and some technical difficulties couldn’t stop Stromae from delivering a one-of-a-kind, interactive display of his performance art on the Outdoor Stage. Backed by a lovable animation inspired by the singer, the Belgian mastermind laced the highlights of his newest album, Multitude, with fan favorites from Racine carrée. During an electric rendition of “Alors on Danse,” he made mention of the TikTok trend that brought back his first hit during the pandemic.