Coachella 2019: Kanye West Shows off His Spiritual Side, Childish Gambino Gets Intimate and More Highlights from Weekend 2
Coachella 2019 lost none of its luster in its second weekend, as Kanye West appeared at the festival for the fifth time, headliners Childish Gambino, Tame Impala and Ariana Grande once again left the audience wanting more, and rising artists like Billie Eilish and Lizzo proved to be superstars in the making.
Chilean singer-songwriter Mon Laferte, who has been called the new queen of Spanish-language music following the release of her latest album “Norma,” set the mood Friday at the Coachella Stage with a robust set that included a horns section and plenty of fun dance moves. Kacey Musgraves may not have attempted another call-and-response this weekend, but she still brought the “yeehaw” to her set, performing hits such as “High Horse,” “Rainbow,” and “Butterflies,” the song she revealed to the audience that she wrote after meeting the man who is now her husband.
Friday saw multiple special guests pop up, including none other than Will Smith, who made a surprise appearance at his son Jaden’s set, rapping a verse of “Icon.” Brandy and Jay Rock joined Anderson .Paak & the Free Nationals for “Jet Black” and “King’s Dead,” respectively. Paak then did a playful cameo during Janelle Monáe’s set, joining female fans who got the opportunity show off their dance moves during “I Got the Juice.”
Monáe’s set had a definite girl power theme, with songs like “Pynk” and “Tightrope.” The singer/actress made sure to give a shout out to Beyoncé, whose influence was evident during her set, with her stunning costumes and dedicated background dancers. However, Monáe’s individuality shined through, especially when she rocked her infamous vagina pants and, later, discussed being a queer woman of color. Blunt and not afraid to speak her mind, also called for the impeachment of a certain controversial president.
Between Paak and Monáe, The 1975 took the stage, performing hits such as the memorizing “Somebody Else,” the danceable “It’s Not Living (If It’s With You),” and “Chocolate,” the upbeat audience favorite about being caught with marijuana. Frontman Matt Healy and the band proved to have a sense of humor, playing a video in which Healy is mocked for supposedly taking himself too seriously.
Despite having literal fireworks, Childish Gambino’s show had an intimate feel, or at least as intimate as a headlining set can be at one of the biggest musical festivals in the world. The powerhouse performer once again asked audience members to put away their phones in order to be in the moment, but he loosened his own rule when he posed for photos with fans, members of a group he referred to as the “selfie generation.” Even those way in the back could feel up close and personal with Gambino, as the camera stayed close on him for much of the set, even when he stepped backstage to say hi to a pal—Chance the Rapper. However, Gambino didn’t share the stage with anyone, save for his phenomenal backup dancers, who especially impressed during “This Is America.”
French pop star Jain may not be a big name in the States, but that is surely to change if her performance Saturday was any indication, as audience members danced to infectious hits such as “Come” and “Makeba.” Fans swooned for SiR’s R&B love songs, and the singer-songwriter celebrated 4/20 by throwing joints into the crowd. Maggie Rogers wowed the fans the packed into the Gobi tent, and she didn’t let a little dust in the air prevent her from belting out hits like “Lights On” and “Alaska” and passionately moving about the stage.
Weezer took the Coachella Stage after dark, and unlike last weekend, Rivers Cuomo and company did not bring out any surprise guests. But this didn’t matter to the fans, who danced their hearts out to classics like “The Good Life” and “Beverly Hills” and sang their lungs out to “Say It Ain’t So.” The crowd also went wild for their cover versions of Toto’s “Africa,” A-Ha’s “Take On Me,” and The Turtles “Happy Together,” the latter of which included a snippet of Green Day’s “Longview.”
Billie Eilish, an artist who many say represents the future of Coachella, played the Outdoor Theatre to a packed crowd of mostly younger fans who were thrilled to be in the presence of the “Bad Guy” singer. Once again, Eilish was joined by special guest Vince Staples for “&Burn.” By the end of her set, heavy winds were in full force, but that didn’t prevent Eilish (and much of the audience) from fervently singing “Bury a Friend.”
Tame Impala, Saturday’s main attraction, offered something quite different from his co-headliners Gambino and Ariana Grande, and not just musically. While Gambino especially put himself out there, Kevin Parker, the head of this psychedelic rock music project from Australia, prefered to to be camouflaged by tie-dyed colors on the LED screen and letting the visual focus being on his laser show. In addition to feel-good hits like “The Less I Know the Better” and “Patience,” Tame Impala also performed a surprise collaboration with A$AP Rocky. The MC came out during “Why Won’t You Make Up Your Mind” and performed “Sundress,” his hit that samples the former song. They then proceeded to perform a memorizing version of Rocky’s “L$D.”
Kanye West may not have been an official headliner this year, but some would argue that the rapper/producer stole the show nonetheless. First, he popped up during Kid Cudi’s set late Saturday to join him for “Kids See Ghosts.” Then, he turned around and woke up early Sunday morning for his much-hyped Easter service. The packed crowd of festival-goers who woke up early and made their way to the camping area were treated to a moving service that featured West and dozens of other musicians, including Kid Cudi, Chance the Rapper, Ty Dolla $ign , performing gospel music appropriate for the occasion, as well as Kanye hits as “Jesus Walks” and a new song, “Water.” Rapper DMX also delivered a sermon of sorts, using the lyrics from his own “Prayer.”
Lizzo, a rapper, singer and songwriter whose star is on the rise, got the crowd in the right mood late Sunday afternoon at the Mojave stage with an energetic set, and her positive energy was infectious. Before launching into “Tempo,” she spoke about embracing her body type and the importance of having plus-size women among her backup dancers, declaring “I want to see all kinds of people fucking it up!” Lizzo certainly knows how to roll with the punches. After a technical mishap during the end of her set, she broke out her flute to finish “Juice,” putting her music major to work.
Things got pumping on the Coachella Stage when the D.J. Zedd performed an eclectic mashup of hits as well as his original songs, including his Ariana Grande collaboration “Break Free.” Although Grande, that evening’s headliner, did not join Zedd onstage, Alessia Cara and Maren Morris did, for “Stay” and “The Middle,” respectively.
Gucci Gang, a rap supergroup comprised of Gucci Mane, Lil Pump and Smokepurpp, kept the party going at the Sahara stage, performing the catchy song of the same name and bringing out multiple guests, including French Montana. Girl group Perfume, one of the biggest musical acts in Japan, brought something different to the Gobi stage, performing futuristic, danceable hits such as “Flash.” The trio, who are the first J-pop group to play Coachella, expressed their excitement at being at the festival, and the crowd fed off of their energy.
R&B singer-songwriter Khalid performed songs off of his recently released sophomore album “Free Spirit” on the Coachella Stage, including “Outta My Mind,” a collab with John Mayer, who joined him on stage. Gabi Wilson, a.k.a. H.E.R. brought her soulful stylings to the Outdoor Theatre, including “Focus” and a stirring cover of Lauryn Hill’s “Ex-Factor.”
The queen of the festival, Ariana Grande, took the Coachella Stage around ten-thirty. Quite appropriately for Easter, she first appeared with her dancers positioned on a long table, making tableau of sorts evocative of Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper.” She then proceeded to perform two of her celestial songs, “Raindrops (An Angel Cried)” and “God Is a Woman.” While Grande has yet to reach the heights of last year’s big headliner, Beyoncé, she certainly proved herself to be a performer with great range, performing bubblegum hits like “Bang Bang” one minute, and being joined by an orchestra for “No Tears Left to Cry” the next.
None other than Justin Bieber surprised the crowd towards the end of Grande’s set, and the pair performed his hit “Sorry.” There was a noticeable glitch halfway through the song, as Bieber’s vocals played for a few seconds when his mic was away from his face, evidence that he was lip syncing. Still, the enthusiastic crowd was forgiving, especially after he explained that this was his first live performance in over two years. He wrapped up by announcing a new album in the works. The stage was then all Grande’s once again, and she ended the festival with her infectious break-up anthem “Thank U, Next.”
Coachella 2019 Weekend 2 took place April 19-21 in Indio, CA.