REVIEW: Coachella 2019 Showcases Diversity On Global Scale

The first weekend of Coachella 2019 is in the books and certainly didn’t disappoint. Headliners Tame Impala, Childish Gambino and Ariana Grande brought their A-game, the up-and-coming acts H.E.R., Billie Eilish, Dermot Kennedy and Men I Trust gave memorable performances on top of surprise guests that included Halsey, Selena Gomez, Cardi B, Tears for Fears and Chilli from TLC amongst others who blew away audiences. This year’s lineup certainly expanded the lineup for a broader appeal with international acts, Blackpink, Bad Bunny, J Balvin, HYUKOH and Burna Boy amongst the highlights. The crowds this year reflected the diversity of fans of the aforementioned international acts with general observations of music fans who came from abroad to see their favorite acts. While there were some traditional Coachella fans questioning the move towards international acts and more pop fare than ever, the festival didn’t feel any less crowded than previous years, nor was there any less enthusiasm or lack of new music discoveries that Coachella is known for.


Breaking down the highlights from each day of weekend one-

Friday:


One of the new music discoveries for many would be Let’s Eat Grandma, who released their sophomore album late last year to much critical acclaim for their unique take on pop music. The excitement for the band’s Coachella debut was brought down a few weeks ago with band member, Jenny Hollingworth was dealing with the death of her boyfriend Billy Clayton. Clayton had been dealing with Ewing’s Sarcoma and eventually succumbed to the cancer. The duo of Hollingworth and Rosa Walton was highlighted by “Hot Pink” and “Donnie Darko” both of which were mesmerizing, but none more so than the band playing one of Clayton’s songs to close their set. Ella Mai and King Princess have been getting recognition prior to their Coachella sets, with the former having won a Grammy award and the latter breaking through on commercial radio with “1950”. Mai’s set was celebratory, soulful and highlighted by her songs “Trip” and “Naked” but her mash up of “She Don’t” that led to a cover of “Doo Wop (That Thing” by Lauryn Hill was a sight to witness. Electronic act FISHER was clearly in his element with the overflowing crowd “lost it” when the big song “Losing It” pulsated throughout the Sahara tent. K-pop girl group Blackpink came into the festival with much anticipation, as they would be performing in the U.S. for their first time. Their stage presence and overall set showed no nerves by the four women, who’ve played to large crowds before but none like the iconic Coachella Music and Arts Festival. The 1975 was comfortable in the festival environment as their set and visuals were fitting for a band of their stature. Their set contained all the familiar songs in “Give Yourself A Try”, “Somebody Else” and Chocolate”, which sounded close to their recorded versions. “Headliner Childish Gambino pulled no punches from the start of his set to the end. Emerging from the middle of the crowd, Gambino had no special guests, nor did he need them, as he and his dancers showed why he was headliner-worthy. Performing favorites like “3005”, “Sober” and the more recent radio hits, “Redbone” and a new rendition of “This is America”, Childish Gambino, aka Donald Glover, commanded the audience, who hung on every lyric, gyration and calls for participation.


Saturday:


As the desert heat increased throughout the day, the artists performing at Coachella kept pace. Early performances by Wallows and FKJ stood out with enthusiastic audiences and many attendees who found new favorite acts. Sabrina Claudio had a late afternoon timeslot on the main stage that seemed to be perfect for her slow tempo songs that had the crowd swaying and singing along, especially when she performed “Confidently Lost” (opener), “All To You” and closing with “Belong”. The night sets were memorable for night two, as Weezer started their set with an a capella rendition of “Beverly Hills” leading into their signature song “Buddy Holly”. Their set was filled with lots of familiar hits like “Hash Pipe” and “Undone – The Sweater Song” but it was the special guests Tears for Fears (who performed “Everybody Wants to Rule the World”) and Chilli from TLC (performing “No Scrubs”) that stood out. After enduring a nearly 30 minute delay due to technical issues with the LED screens, Billie Eilish performed in front of an overflowing crowd on the second stage. Her set demonstrated her poise and command of the crowd, not to mention great visuals to go along with “You Should See Me in a Crown”, “Bury A Friend” and “Ocean Eyes”. Vince Staples come out for their collaboration of “&burn”, however, his microphone had issue and was barely audible. Her weekend wasn’t done after her set as Eilish would show up during Khalid’s set on Sunday to perform their song “Lovely” together. Tame Impala didn’t need any guests during their set, showcasing their catalog of music that stretched from their debut in “Why Won’t You Make Up Your Mind?” and “It Is Not Meant to Be” to their bigger songs like “Elephant” and “The Less I Know the Better”. Not known for talkative breaks, the band focused on the music and created a chill atmosphere befitting of their music.


Sunday:


The final day of Coachella had strong performances throughout the day leading up to the highly anticipated set by headliner Ariana Grande. Men I Trust was a standout and perfect for the Sunday afternoon vibes, highlighted by “Say I Hear” and “Seven” that has garnered the band its growing fanbase. Multi-instrumentalist Dennis Lloyd gave attendees, who stumbled upon his set, a reason to explore his music, as he put on an engaging set punctuated by his breakthrough song, “Nevermind” and his cover of the Britney Spears hit, “…Baby One More Time”. Singer/songwriter Dermot Kennedy performed a soulful set that had a strong crowd sing-a-long with “An Evening I Will Not Forget” and “After Rain”. The duo of SOFI TUKKER brought their signature energetic and engaging set to the last day of Coachella. From “Awoo” and “Best Friend” to “Drinkee” and their latest hit, “Fantasy”, SOFI TUKKER kept the music going throughout the set, with short breaks to bring out guests Li Samuel from Bomba Estereo for their new song, “Playa Grande”, and Pabllo Vittar for “Energia”. Festival veterans, CHVRCHES, had a highly entertaining set for their first performance on their current tour. Highlighted by the band’s familiar songs “Leave a Trace”, “Miracle” and “The Mother We Share”, the Scottish band brought out Marshmello for their recent collaboration, “Here With Me”. Marshmello wasn’t done as he would later hit the stage with Khalid on their song “Silence”. Speaking of Khalid, his set contained the aforementioned guest Billie Eilish, but also Halsey for “Eastside” and Normani joined him on stage for “Love Lies”. The anticipation for how Ariana Grande would handle the closing headlining spot had reached its pinnacle when she hit the stage, opening with “Raindrops” and “God Is A Woman” that had attendees singing along with their cell phones out to record the moment. It was during the fourth song did the first surprise guest show up in the form of N’Sync (minus Justin Timberlake who was performing the same night for his own tour). Performing “Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored” and “Tearin’ Up My Heart”, Grande’s vocals fit in seamlessly with the boy band’s music. Nicki Minaj showed up to perform “Side to Side” and “Bang Bang”, although their were technical issues, the two still kept the performance going. Grande didn’t take much time to talk much and was accompanied by dancers that helped to keep the flow of the show on pace. Mase and P. Diddy showed up for “Mo Money Mo Problems”, as Grande had the crowd in throwback mode. Changing outfits multiple times throughout the set, Grande was in clear command of the crowd, performing a highly entertaining set that ended with her recent chart-topping hit, “Thank U, Next”.


There may not have been as many conflicting sets for music fans to choose between one versus the other, but Coachella 2019 was still a memorable experience with many musical moments and new discoveries. Overall, the organizers accomplished what they set out to do, which was to represent what music resonates with the audience on a global scale and as America continues to focus on diversity, they’re in the right place.

B-Sides Staff
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