Welcome to live coverage of Day 1 of the 2023 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.
Friday’s headliner is the Puerto Rican superstar Bad Bunny, the first Spanish-language artist to top the festival’s bill, and, in another first, one of three nonwhite headliners this year: K-pop girl group Blackpink will take the main stage on Saturday night, and international man of mystery Frank Ocean will close out the festival Sunday with his first concert since 2019, and his first area show since 2017.
The 2023 edition of the wildly popular (and lucrative) festival follows a chaotic few years, for Coachella and more broadly for live music. In 2022, both Travis Scott and Kanye West pulled out of planned headline performances, while the 2020 and 2021 editions were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Friday will feature highly anticipated sets from Gorillaz, Metro Boomin, Burna Boy, the Chemical Brothers, a reunited Blink-182, Wet Leg, Becky G, Yves Tumor, Kaytranada, Blondie, Doechii and many more, plus the usual parade of surprise guest stars (who gets custody of the Weeknd?), and The Times’ Mikael Wood, August Brown, Suzy Exposito, Kenan Draughorne and Vanessa Franko will be roaming the grounds of Indio’s Empire Polo Club, reporting on all the action as it happens.
3:18 p.m. Greetings from Coachella, where the weather is already hot, the music is already loud and the outfits (costumes?) are already sparkly. Last year was technically the first year back after COVID, but there’s something in the air here that suggests people are ready to party like it’s 2019 again. Music-wise, everything’s leading up to Bad Bunny’s headlining performance tonight, though folks are buzzing too about Blink-182’s surprise reunion gig. “It’s gonna be so many songs that people know, bro,” I overheard one such bro testify in a drinks line, and indeed that’s true enough. Also: Who will Damon Albarn bring to the stage during Gorillaz’ set? The Times crew will be here for it all — stay tuned. — Mikael Wood
3:20 p.m. “There’s only one reason to be at Coachella today — Bad Bunny,” said Hugo Olguin, 42, of Murrieta, Calif.
The Friday night headliner was the catalyst for Olguin and Rocio Luis, 32, of Carlsbad, to make their first trip to the festival. They planned to catch the reunited Blink-182 — added to the festival lineup this week — in the Sahara Tent before staking out a good spot for Bad Bunny.
Even though Coachella only sells three-day passes, Olguin and Luis are attending Friday only.
“We can’t survive three days,” Olguin said. — Vanessa Franko
3:52 p.m. Among the banners trailing airplanes above the polo grounds — a venerable Coachella tradition — is this one promoting somebody’s OnlyFans account. Shrewd! — M.W.
4:15 p.m. Coachella is always a valuable learning experience in finding out which acts are far more popular than you thought. My first lesson this year: Benee, the New Zealand bedroom-pop singer who had an early-pandemic hit with “Supalonely,” is still capable of filling the not-small Mojave Tent. And “Supalonely” still sounds great. — M.W.
4:34 p.m. Started the day watching Doechii, who brought a healthy crowd to the main stage. TDE’s rising star tapped into her ballroom bag near the end, rapping Beyoncé’s final verse from “Heated,” a cappella-style, before launching into her breezy hit “Persuasive.” Her orange contact lenses were a nice touch to complete the purple crop-top-and-shorts combo. — Kenan Draughorne
4:40 p.m. Security guards are already passing out white light-up wristbands near the main stage ahead of Bad Bunny’s headlining performance tonight. — K.D.
5:10 p.m. I cannot wait for Saba’s upcoming mixtape with producer No I.D. The Chicago rapper released the tape’s first single “Back in Office” yesterday, and blasted it today from the Outdoor stage. And especially after Rolling Loud California, it was nice to see someone rap a whole set without a backing vocal track. — K.D.
5:13 p.m. Backstage in the floral-strewn artist compound on Friday afternoon, the 27-year-old Belgian singer Angèle had just arrived a few hours before her highest-profile U.S. concert to date later this evening, at Coachella’s Mojave Tent. In Europe, she’s a superstar of the Francophone pop world: Chanel ambassador, chart topping disco-pop belter with Dua Lipa, easily the most successful Belgian artist since Stromae.
But on Friday afternoon, she was a starstruck first-timer on the Polo Grounds.
“It’s so big!” she said, gesturing towards the craggy mountains out the window of her trailer. “The desert is so new to me. When you come from Belgium, it’s hard to think of yourself as a global artist, but it’s so cool to feel like I’m a part of this.”
This year is an exceptionally multilingual year for Coachella, with headliners from Puerto Rico and South Korea and superstar acts from Nigeria and Spain among many others. There’s an atypically strong Francophone coterie as well: Christine and the Queens, Lewis OfMan, the Blaze, FKJ, Grammy nominees Domi and JD Beck. But among them, Angèle mix’s of high-wattage house bangers, skittering electro-pop and moody jazz-inflected ballads seems most prime for a breakthrough.
“Fever,” the rip-roaring disco duet with Dua Lipa, changed her prospects stateside dramatically. With a few albums of fiery, thoughtful and smoldering tracks under her belt — and a new late-night jazz number, “Sunflower,” in English — Coachella fans primed to scream lyrics back in Spanish or Korean might be ready to hear her out as well.
“When we did some shows in the U.S. last week, I was very surprised they were singing the lyrics,” she said. “Some people came and told me they were Googling the topics of the songs.” — August Brown
5:22 p.m. At the Sonora tent, DannyLux fans radiated love for the Coachella Valley native as he performed his first show at his hometown festival. Couples swayed, slow-danced and shouted Mexican gritos to atmospheric cuts from his 2022 EP “Limerencia”; the 19-year-old also commanded a melodramatic singalong to “Jugaste y Sufrí,” his chart-topping hit with fellow “sad sierreño” stars Eslabón Armado. We may be in the desert, but there’s no need for eyedrops when you’re watching DannyLux live. — Suzy Exposito
5:43 p.m. L.A.-based three-piece Gabriels brought a bit of soul salvation to the desert with its Friday afternoon set in the Gobi Tent.
Singer Jacob Lusk grew up in Compton. This was his first time at the festival.
“Seeing my old coworkers, that was amazing. Seeing my friends and family out in the audience, that was special,” he said after the set.
Lusk is also in the running for sharpest dressed at Coachella. He wore a full tuxedo, even in the desert heat.
“I have planned my outfit months in advance, went fabric shopping, we made it,” he said. — V.F.
6:20 p.m. Hail Sappho! Muna threw a synth-pop dance party at the Mojave Tent, where fans across the gender spectrum cavorted in wholesome queer joy. Their set was crashed by indie-rock supergroup boygenius — Phoebe Bridgers (Muna’s label boss), Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus — who lent their folky voices to Muna and Bridgers’ 2022 delight, “Silk Chiffon.” We duly await their super-supergroup album next year. — S.E.
6:28 p.m. Big Elastica vibes from the Isle of Wight’s Wet Leg this evening, with the added physical comedy of the band’s two frontwomen, Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers, one of whom (Teasdale) clearly wants to be a pop star and one of whom (Chambers) clearly does not. — M.W.
7:13 p.m. At the moment, Coachella’s second weekend isn’t sold out — something that hasn’t happened in years. One way to change that — judging by the thousands trying to cram into the Sahara tent right now for Blink-182’s first reunion gig in nearly a decade — might be to announce that the SoCal pop-punk trio is officially on the bill next Friday. — M.W.
7:15 p.m. Coachella and the Grammy Awards often operate in different spheres of the music universe. One is a reliable, tastemaking showcase for the best in new and ambitious music; the other typically rewards commercial success and generally steers towards the middle of the road.
But on Friday, there was a notable overlap of best new artist nominees and the Goldenvoice-curated festival. U.K. indie-rock duo Wet Leg, virtuoso jazz freaks Domi and JD Beck and the Houston independent rapper Tobe Nwigwe were all Grammy nominees this year, and all performed Friday in the span of a few hours.
Under the United Masters umbrella — a distribution platform that’s become home to stalwart major-label resisters like R&B lothario Brent Faiyaz — Nwigwe has carved a one-of-a-kind niche for his heady, gospel-soaked southern rap. At Coachella, his giant, commanding form ruled over the small-ish Gobi Tent with a bandleader’s panache. Songs like “Lord Forgive Me” and the brand-new “Bravo” pull from his hometown’s dragged-out, heat-warped sonics, but his delivery came fast and furious.
Grammy or no (jazz singer Samara Joy took home the best new artist award), he’s dead set on creating his own lane in hip-hop, and he made a barrel-chested case for it at Coachella. — A.B.
7:30 p.m. Becky G did not simply perform at the main stage this year — dressed in a Dodgers blue sequin bikini and matching low-rise JNCOs, the L.A.-born-and-bred singer threw a bombastic carne asada. After a brief sound snafu during “Fulanito,” she bounced back with her candy-coated disco hit, “Bailé Con Mi Ex.” Then, with a tip of her blue cowboy hat, she ushered in a procession of regional Mexican stars, including members of Fuerza Regida and up-and-comer Peso Pluma, who joined her for a harmonious rendition of their new song “Chanel.” Becky was later joined by Dominican reggaetón diva Natti Natasha for a sensational version of their 2018 duet, “Sin Pijama” — and she tossed her English-speaking fans a bone with a rocking spin on her early hit, “Shower.” — S.E.
7:50 p.m. Coachella’s audience is young enough these days that Blink-182 counts as a legacy act. But this year’s show has a bunch of real-deal old-timers in Blondie, whose frontwoman, 77-year-old Debbie Harry, turned up Friday in a black-leather vest and wraparound shades to sneer “Call Me” like she was giving a lesson in eternal cool (which she pretty much was). — M.W.
7:52 p.m. Whatever else the merits of avant-grade rocker Yves Tumor — and there are many — they’ve won best-dressed act at Coachella so far.
Tumor, born Sean Bowie, straddles all sort of lines in music — welcome at rap-inclined fests like Day N Vegas, but signed to experimental electronic label Warp.
Basically, they’re a rock star, however you choose to define it in 2023. I, for one, have never seen tighter leather pants than the pair Tumor was poured into, a fitting compliment to their bleached, demon-spiked hair, sunglasses so dark they they sat like negative space and lithe stage moves that evoked Bowie in his peak milk-and-peppers-only diet era.
The rest of their band looked just as great: a guitarist with a bouffant and Gibson Explorer guitar straight out of a Scorpions tour doc; a demure yet captivating bassist with a gigantic black straw hat that looked straight out of Easter Sunday in hell. Coachella has a new fashion icon, and their name is Yves Tumor. — A.B.
8:03 p.m. Burna Boy’s shirt came off four songs into his set, but his smile remained plastered on his face from start to finish during his main stage set. On the heels of his dominant “Love, Damini” album, the Nigerian singer’s joy was undeniable, whether he was high-kicking mid-song or reflecting on his 2019 Coachella set, where his afternoon crowd was “a quarter the size” of tonight’s. “African giant” is tattooed on his left hip; the stellar dusk set proved the title is no exaggeration. — K.D.
8:18 p.m. It wouldn’t be a Blink-182 reunion if the pop-punk legends didn’t start with their expletive-fueled deep cut, “Family Reunion.” Once again comprised of the classic Blink lineup for the first time in almost a decade — singer-bassist Mark Hoppus, drummer Travis Barker and singer-guitarist Tom DeLonge — the trio dropped in for a last-minute set at the Sahara Tent. This comes after they were forced to postpone their initial March comeback show in Tijuana due to Barker’s ill-timed finger injury. (It’s also the band’s first show since Hoppus recovered from a life-threatening case of Stage 4 lymphoma.) At Coachella, they resuscitated classics like “Girl at the Rock Show” and “What’s My Age Again?” and served a discourse on cancel culture, a phenomenon they miraculously avoided in the near 30 years since their inception. “We say, F— you cancellation!” quipped DeLonge, to which Hoppus added, “We say, Just don’t be a d—!” — S.E.
8:45 p.m. DJ and producer Kaytranada brought out Kali Uchis! Alas, her mic didn’t work until the final chorus. At least the 30-foot floating head (with laser eyes) behind the DJ platform was a nice touch. — K.D.
10:10 p.m. The surviving members of De La Soul joined Gorillaz to perform “Feel Good Inc.” on Coachella’s main stage Friday night, just two months after the death of the hip-hop trio’s Trugoy the Dove.
Dressed in black De La hoodies, the group’s Posdnuos and Maseo led the crowd in a chant — “I will never let anyone tell me what to think” — before laying into the jaunty 2005 hit, after which a photo of Trugoy beamed out from the stage’s enormous video screens.
Gorillaz mastermind Damon Albarn brought out several other guests in the band’s set, including Del the Funkee Homosapien for “Clint Eastwood,” Thundercat for “Cracker Island” and the British rapper Slowthai for “Momentary Bliss.”
Also on the scene: Chicago house veteran Jamie Principle, who wore a fetching pink bodysuit as he joined Gorillaz for their song “Hollywood.” — M.W.