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Coachella weekend one: the headlines

Headlined by Bad Bunny, Blackpink and Frank Ocean, the first weekend of the most diverse and inclusive Coachella yet is in the books

By James Hanley on 17 Apr 2023

Coachella will return to the Empire Polo Club in mid-April

The first weekend of Coachella 2023 is in the books, as the world-famous festival made its triumphant return to the Empire Polo Club in Indio, California.

Bad Bunny, Blackpink and Frank Ocean headlined the 125,000-cap Goldenvoice-promoted event, which also featured acts such as Calvin Harris, Gorillaz, Burna Boy, the Chemical Brothers, Blondie, Rosalia, Eric Prydz, The Kid Laroi, Charli XCX and Bjork.

For the first time ever, YouTube is livestreaming performances from all six stages on both weekends of the festival, while Epic Games’ Fortnite launched Coachella Island as a new destination for creator-made music and art experiences, as the festival lived up to its cutting-edge reputation.

Here, we look at some of the biggest headlines from Coachella’s opening weekend…

History-making headliners

The most diverse and inclusive Coachella in history saw Blackpink become its first K-pop headliners, and Bad Bunny installed as its first Latin American and Spanish-language headline act. Frank Ocean, meanwhile, was the first openly gay man to top the bill at the festival. Ocean’s performance – his first show in six years – was pulled from the YouTube livestream and his merchandise was not available to buy at the festival. The singer’s divisive headline set was ultimately curtailed due to curfew rules after he arrived on stage nearly an hour late. Nevertheless, the Los Angeles Times hailed it as “perhaps the most elaborately conceived Coachella performance since Beyoncé’s game-changing set in 2018.”

Surprises galore

Blink 182 played a 50-minute set on Coachella’s Sahara Tent in a gig announced 48 hours before the event began. The appearance marked the first show of the reunited group’s comeback tour, which was postponed following an injury to drummer Travis Barker. As ever, there was an abundance of surprise collaborations to be found across the festival, including Labrinth and Billie Eilish; Boygenius’ Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus, who joined Muna on stage; The Weeknd, Future, 21 Savage, Diddy, Don Toliver, Mike Dean guesting with Metro Boomin; and Gorillaz welcoming the two surviving members of De La Soul. Elsewhere, Bad Bunny’s set featured guests such as Post Malone, Rosalía was joined by her fiancé Rauw Alejandro, and Calvin Harris and Ellie Goulding performed Miracle live together for the first time.

The price is right?

General admission weekend tickets for Coachella cost $499 to $599, with VIP tickets priced $1,069 to $1,269. However, a TikTok video complaining about the price of food and drink at the festival went viral. “Just so you all know, these two coffees and two burritos cost us $64. Capitalism really popped off today,” Jackie Tanti told her followers on the platform.

Dancer injured in fall

An acrobatic dancer at Coachella was rushed to a hospital after falling during a performance. NME, via TMZ, reports the dancer was performing while suspended from a cloth during a DJ set when she fell from the height onto the exposed floor. No update has been given on the dancer’s condition, with Coachella yet to comment on the incident.

Better call Paul

Enigmatic electronic music guru Jai Paul made his presence felt at Coachella, choosing one of the world’s biggest festivals to make his live debut. The British producer and songwriter’s “shyness teetered between earnest and too unpolished”, notes a middling review by Variety, which nonetheless concludes that the talent and promise is definitely there”.

Coachella weekend two will be held from 21-23 April. Rostr breaks down the agencies and data behind this year’s line-up here.


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