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“The first weekend is about the influencers. The second weekend is about the music.” A music industry executive casually dropped this statement Friday night at Coachella, and it’s as succinctly accurate a statement as they come.
Daniel Caesar offered his take from the stage this weekend: “Legend has it this is a good week. This is when the real ones come out.”
You know weekend 2. The one with the same lineup, pretty much, but minus the hot lights of Hollywood. Fewer celebrities and sparkle. Fewer influencer-drenched off-sites whose FOMO-inducing content flooded your Instagram feed last week. So much so, in fact, that it might have outshined Coachella’s OG raison d’etre: The music.
As one of the few festivals that programs the same lineup two consecutive weekends in a row, Coachella offers second-weekend attendees a rare opportunity to do a little reconnaissance on a schedule that this year was more packed than ever (and cleverly billed as “Unprecedented Set Times”). Which acts can’t be missed, who’s worth skipping to clock longer-than-ideal time in the merch line, which newcomer blew the crowd away. Weekend 2 also has developed a little reputation for artists upping the ante on unannounced guests.
This year certainly didn’t disappoint. Among them, Harry Styles brought out a boa-adorned Lizzo for a Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive and One Direction classic What Makes You Beautiful. Kenrick Lamar, who’s due to drop some long-awaited new material in May, joined Baby Keem for two songs. Mike Posner took the stage with Big Sean for a fun throwback of their 2010 hit Cooler Than Me. Posner later tweeted: “From my mom’s basement all the way to Coachella – what a journey it’s been. Proud to have shared the stage with you again @BigSean.” Billie Eilish brought out Hayley Williams for a duet of Paramore’s Misery Business.
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Of course we know the Coachella experience isn’t really binary. As Finneas said to the crowd during his Sunday set, “For me it’s weekend 2, but I’m assuming for you it’s weekend 1.” This year, good vibes abounded throughout all six days. Here’s a sampling:
· Joy is back: The smiles were outsized and the hugs abundant as the season’s first big multi-day fest opened its gates after being shuttered since 2019 due to Covid. Even those omnipresent Coachella photo shoots seemed less tedious. Matching the euphoria on the ground was the gratitude on stage. From headliners to up-and-comers who got called up with a later invite, artists were unabashedly appreciative of their fans and ebullient to be performing for big crowds.
· The Do LaB scene: Sure, the big action was on the main stage. But there were all kinds of cool things happening in the sunshine and under various canopies around the festival grounds. One of those spots this year was Do LaB, a fan-favorite showcase that returned to host DJs and unannounced friends that’s seeped in the Southern California reengage rave scene. Diplo dropped by the first week; Grammy-nominated electronic musician Madeon took the stage weekend 2, as did 17-year-old Moore Kismet, who was spinning Friday night before heading home the next day for his senior prom. Backstage was a little hidden oasis featuring vegan eats, drinks and the coolest of vibes.
· Fred Again and again: This British singer, songwriter and remixer caught quite the Coachella buzz, and for good reason. The aesthetic of his vibrant set somehow perfectly encapsulated our collective nervous breakdown of the past two years and then set us all free.
· Dynamic duo: The sibling bliss of Billie Eilish and Finneas just keeps getting better. Finneas was unsurprisingly on stage backing Billie for her headlining set Saturday night, and she came out the next day, front and center, to watch her brother perform on the Outdoor Stage—the very stage on which she made her Coachella debut in 2019.
· Stage visuals were lit: Maybe it’s the re-emergence after a long hibernation, maybe it’s the new age of NFTs, but from Phoebe Bridgers’ gorgeous pop-up book-inspired screens to Disclosure’s trippy nature/tech visuals, the experience at so many stages felt as immersive as you can get considering you’re sharing it with more than 100,000 new friends. Ian Simon, whose company Strangeloop was behind the sets for seven of this year’s Coachella acts including 100 gecs and Duck Sauce, says the . “Darker sets are sometimes are very part and parcel for artists, but it’s a lot brighter this year, a lot more celebratory.”