It took three years for music to return to Indio’s Empire Polo Club. But Covid seemed to be an afterthought this past weekend as fans flocked to each Coachella stage, mostly unmasked. Overall, the fest’s 2022 edition served as an exciting three-day celebration of live music’s resurgence, with Harry Styles, Billie Eilish, and Swedish House Mafia alongside the Weeknd topping the bill. (Kanye West’s last-minute drop-off went seemingly unnoticed.)
History was made throughout the weekend, as Eilish became the youngest headliner in history, and Pabllo Vittar the first drag queen to perform. Meanwhile 2NE1 fans were treated to a surprise reunion of the South Korean girl group. Latinos said presente at the festival with more than 15 acts all weekend — including stellar performances by Brazillian queen Anitta, regional Mexicano sensation Grupo Firme, reggaeton royalty Karol G, and Sinaloense legends Banda MS.
As always, the festival also served as the perfect forum for guest appearances, with Styles bringing out Shania Twain and Eilish welcoming Damon Albarn of Gorillaz and Blur and De La Soul’s Posdnous during their respective headlining sets. Meanwhile, the likes of Becky G, Tiësto, Diplo, Khalid, Ruel, Justin Bieber, and Snoop Dogg turned up at different points throughout the weekend.
The gears of the Coachella machine seemed rusty on Friday, as fans spent hours trying to exit the grounds following Styles’ set. But by the end of the weekend, the fest proved that it remains a well-oiled machine, and a reliable delivery system for what hundreds of thousands turn up for every year: great fucking music. Here, we run down the best of what the weekend had to offer.
Billie Eilish Makes History
Billie Eilish closed out Saturday’s festivities with a performance for the people, as she sang most of her Happier Than Ever tracks on the catwalk and among the crowd. Joined by Damon Albarn and Posdnous, the Gen Z hero broadened her audience and proved that she can conquer literally any crowd. Her set was laced with sweet moments with her brother and bandmate Finneas, as the two performed several acoustic tracks together. (“As a kid growing up in L.A., Coachella was a dream place to perform at,” Finneas told Rolling Stone over the weekend.) Eilish made history as the youngest artist ever to headline the festival, but at this point, she already seems like a seasoned veteran, and clearly one of her generation’s most impactful pop stars.
Welcome to Latinochella
The sounds of both banda Sinaloense and dembow shone bright on the Coachella stage, as top Latino acts across genres, such as Grupo Firme, Karol G, Banda MS, and Anitta, took the stage. “We’re here to show off our roots,” Grupo Firme’s Eduin Caz told Rolling Stone before their prime-time performance on Friday.
On other stages, indie Latinos Omar Apollo, Cuco, and Jean Dawson brought their magic. Drag queen Pabllo Vittar thrilled on the Gobi stage. Nathy Peluso and Nicki Nicole represented reggaeton. And Natanael Cano brought the corridos tumbados.
Megan and the Hotties Win
Megan Thee Stallion gave a headline-worthy performance for her Coachella debut, rolling out an impossible-not-to-dance-to set featuring an impressive lineup of viral hits, including “Body,” “WAP,” “Thot Shit,” “Savage,” and “Hot Girl Summer.” She also debuted a new diss track aimed at an ex, and she didn’t hold back. It isn’t immediately clear who inspired the song, but fans have already speculated it may be Tory Lanez.
Harry Styles Brings Down the House
Harry Styles hasn’t lost a step, with his Coachella headlining debut coming just months after the U.S. leg of his acclaimed Love on Tour run. He debuted two beautiful new tracks from upcoming album Harry’s House: the melodic “Boyfriends” and the funky “Late Night Talking.” He also brought out country-pop legend Shania Twain to duet on her hits “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!” and “You’re Still the One,” lauding her influence on him in between. “This lady taught me to sing,” Styles said of Twain. “She also taught me that men are trash.”
Elsewhere, Styles was his typical playful self. “We’ve got 12 minutes …,” he said with a pause about 40 minutes into his set, eliciting groans from the crowd. “Of dancing,” he continued. “I may be quick at some things but this is not one of them.”
Swedish House Mafia and the Weeknd Are the Perfect Pinch Hitters
Despite only being bumped up to headliner status a little more than a week ago, Swedish House Mafia — the EDM supergroup of DJs Axwell, Steve Angello, and Sebastian Ingrosso — gave the most intricate visual performance of the weekend. Like much of Coachella’s comeback itself, the trio’s set was a celebration marking their return after a decade of inactivity.
Meanwhile, for the Weeknd, it was his hits that most clearly ignited the crowd, further locking in his status as one of the biggest stars in the world. A string of iconic tracks like “The Hills,” “Party Monster,” “Heartless,” “Starboy,” and “I Feel It Coming” offered a stark reminder that Abel Tesfaye boasts a catalog as deep as any artist of his generation.
Danny Elfman’s Musical Whiplash
In one of the most delightfully strange sets in Coachella history, Danny Elfman mashed up the New Wave of Oingo Boingo and industrial-tinged hard rock of his solo work with tracks he composed for films and shows, including Alice in Wonderland, The Simpsons, Spider-Man, and Batman. The crowd was mostly on its feet by the time Elfman became Jack Skellington performing “This is Halloween,” from The Nightmare Before Christmas. “Don’t try to think about it, it’s mismatching pieces jammed together in a construction that logically makes no sense whatsoever,” Elfman told Rolling Stone before his set.
Karol G Toasts Latin Pop’s Hits
The Latinx pride shone far and wide across Coachella, from Nathy Peluso and Nicki Nicole to Natanael Cano and Banda MS, but it was Karol G on Sunday night who flew the flags of Latin America hella high. She opened the show with “Makinon,” as she reminded the crowd she was going to “try my best” during her set. And that she did as she performed a medley of Latin-pop hits, from Selena’s “Como La Flor” to Celia Cruz’s “La Vida Es Un Carnaval,” J Balvin’s “Mi Gente,” and Daddy Yankee’s “Gasolina.”
Karol highlighted the power of sisterhood as she welcomed Becky G for a rendition of “Mamiii.” Meanwhile, an appearance from Tiësto transformed the Coachella stage into a club. “These are the colors of my flag. I am from Colombia,” she said about one of her outfits. “And tonight, I feel so happy and proud to represent my country and my Latina community around the world.”
All Hail, the Queen of Planet Her
When Kanye West dropped out of Coachella, many wondered if Doja Cat would have been the appropriate replacement in the headlining spot. Her Sunday-night performance answered that question with a hell, yes. Accompanied by lively dancers, Doja transformed Coachella into her own world as she performed tracks like “Get Into It (Yuh),” “Woman,” and “Kiss Me More” (sans SZA).
Doja turned her biggest hit “Say So” into a rock anthem, and welcomed Rico Nasty for an intense performance of “Tia Tamera.” Doja was made to perform — and if you’re reading this, Amala, we hope you reconsider retirement. We need more Doja.
A Brazilian Takeover
Don’t mess with the Brazilian queens. Anitta and Pabllo Vittar repped Rio de Janeiro with epic performances on the Coachella and Gobi stages, respectively. Anitta made history as the first Brazilian artist to play the main stage — during a performance that was worthy of a headlining slot — while Vittar became the first-ever drag queen to perform at the festival. Pop fans who failed to catch either of their high-energy, ass-shaking-filled sets completely missed out.
2NE1 (Briefly) Reunite
K-pop progenitors 2NE1 shocked the crowd at 88rising’s Saturday-evening show on the main stage by closing the set with their hit “I Am the Best,” marking the disbanded supergroup’s first performance since 2015. The girls were electric, demanding attention and turning the 88rising showcase into a moment all their own. Fans probably shouldn’t expect a full-on comeback for 2NE1, but what better time than the first Coachella since 2019 to reunite as everyone else in the desert this weekend did the same.
Idles Say Yes to the Dress
Mark Bowen, guitarist and producer for prolific British rockers Idles, came dressed for the group’s high-octane set in a flowy nightgown, eventually heading offstage to be hoisted by the crowd during a performance of “Danny Nedelko.” Is there anything more punk rock than seeing a man shred on guitar while wearing a dress that belongs in Little House on the Prairie?
Finneas Claims His Own Moment After Backing Billie
Hours after conquering the headlining slot alongside his sister, Billie Eilish, Finneas proved he has the star power to do the thing on his own as he took over the outdoor stage in broad daylight.
“On this most recent tour we were playing clubs and a couple theaters, and that was a blast, but they’re insulated, smaller rooms,” he told Rolling Stone. “It’s such a different vibe than a festival on a big stage. They’re such different energies.” Performing songs like “The 90s,” “Medieval,” and “The Kids Are All Dying,” from his record The Optimist, Finneas kept the crowd captivated in the scorching heat. He also welcomed Lizzy McAlpine for their team-up “Hate to Be Lame.” “I hope that someone watches the set that has never heard of me and thinks, ‘I thought that was really good,'” he said. “That would be awesome.”
Omar Apollo Cures Heterosexuality
As fans drove down I-10 to Indio, they were met by a promise that “heterosexuality can be cured” as long as you watched Omar Apollo’s 5 p.m. set on the festival’s first night. With his neon-pink suit, Apollo introduced an eager crowd to his complex Ivory LP — and stayed true to his word. “Where the fuck are my homosexuals at?” he asked the crowd after performing tracks like “Killing Me,” “En El Olvido,” and “Want U Around,” when he was joined by Ruel.
Justin Bieber Galore
On Friday, Daniel Caesar was midway through a vibey, romantic performance, when Justin Bieber hit the stage for an electric rendition of “Peaches.” The surprise appearance from one of the world’s biggest pop stars made for a fun addition to an already-stacked Friday lineup. The following day, Giveon performed “Peaches” as well, this time sans the Justice star. However, Bieber was later spotted dancing along to Billie Eilish’s set and vibing with Swedish House Mafia alongside his wife, Hailey.
Stromae Contains Multitudes
Seven years away from the spotlight couldn’t stop Stromae from showcasing his genius performance art as he introduced fans to the eclectic, worldly sounds of his most recent record, Multitude. Aided by a robot dog, a moving love seat, and delightful animations, Stromae delivered new emotion-filled tracks to an audience ready to witness the magnitude of the Belgian musician. Before ending his set with “Mon Amour,” he converted the outdoor stage into a European club as he performed “Alors on Danae” — and even danced to the slowed-down version of the song that went viral on TikTok last year, nearly a decade after he first released the bop.
Rina Sawayama Encourages Fans to “Say ‘Gay'”
On Saturday, the Gobi stage became the perfect platform for Rina Sawayama to slam anti-LGBTQ legislation as she was one of three stars alongside Pabllo Vittar and Caroline Polacheck — all adored by the gay community — to perform back-to-back in the venue. “[They’ve] targeted queer and trans people in this country, and for some reason they don’t want us to say the word ‘gay,'” she said onstage, eliciting boos from the crowd. She then told the audience, “When I say ‘say,’ you say ‘gay.'”
Conan Gray Empowers the Lovelorn
Conan Gray is no longer the naive-about-love sad boy he once was. But he’s still the same quirky kid fans originally fell for. On Saturday, he took the stage in a hot-pink ensemble and platform heels as he performed tracks “Memories,” “Jigsaw,” and “Astronomy” from his forthcoming sophomore album, Superache, along with some of his most-played tracks from Kid Krow, like “Maniac” and “Heather.” “I give you permission to hate every couple here,” Gray joked on the main stage. “I give you permission to spit on them.”
Carly Rae Jepsen Gives a Master Class in Anthemic Pop
Carly Rae Jepsen kicked off Weekend One with a Friday show just before sunset, with the pop veteran delivering one of the tightest sets of the entire weekend, as she sang fan favorites like “Emotion” and “No Drug Like Me” alongside chart toppers “Call Me Maybe” and “I Really Like You.” With thousands of festivalgoers belting the words to “Call Me Maybe” as soon as the music started, her set was a spark plug for the rest of the weekend.
Brockhampton Bid a Bittersweet Farewell
Hip-hop boy band Brockhampton played their penultimate show Saturday evening, with just one more concert to go during Coachella’s second weekend before they go on an indefinite hiatus. The group, all wearing matching letterman jackets featuring the phrase “All good things must come to an end,” leaned most heavily on tracks from the Saturation-trilogy albums, taking fans back to the group’s prolific height in 2017. (One bonus: While Brockhampton have no more shows planned after next week, they said their final album will come out in 2022.)
Måneskin Heat Up Coachella With a Britney Cover
Viral Italian rock sensations Måneskin hit the mainstream last year thanks to their cover of the 1960s Four Seasons track “Beggin’,” and they put their own heavy-rock spin on another classic during their Coachella debut, covering Britney Spears’ 2008 hit “Womanizer.” “Britney makes me hot,” lead singer Damiano David said after singing the song,
The band also covered the Stooges’ “I Wanna Be Your Dog” and spread a message to support Ukraine, with David shouting “Fuck Putin” at the end of the band’s show.
Japanese Breakfast Continues Her Jubilee of a Year
Japanese Breakfast gave an expectedly upbeat performance at the Mojave tent on Saturday, running through several standouts from Grammy-nominated album Jubilee, such as “Paprika,” “Kokomo, IN,” “Be Sweet,” and “Slide Tackle,” as well as older songs including “Road Head” and “Glider.” She’s one of several acts this year who didn’t shy away from incorporating horns into her set, a welcome trend we hope more artists will begin to adopt.
Yola Ups the Emotional Stakes
With an early Sunday set on the outdoor stage in the 93-degree heat, Yola wasn’t given the easiest time slot, as most of Coachella’s attendees were still away from the festival grounds recovering from the night before. But she found a way, executing one of the most soulful sets of the weekend. She shrieked, shouted, and bellowed, evoking feelings of pain, longing, and excitement during standout performances of “Great Divide” and “Diamond Studded Shoes.”
Yola herself acknowledged that her set is a bit heavier than the overall party vibe that dominates the fest, but it’s intentional, she tells Rolling Stone.
“When there’s all this party veneer, you want to get into their guts and completely turn the screw,” she says with a laugh. “It’s hard to move someone and make them feel things when they didn’t know that would happen, but we can get people into a mindset where they’re susceptible to wanting to feel.”
Kim Petras Makes Her Stage Time Count
Did Kim Petras’ Coachella performance end early? The pop star abruptly left the stage after an energetic 40-minute set with a couple of technical difficulties that kept the singer on her toes. “Is she coming back? She didn’t even sing [her hit single] ‘Coconuts,'” one fan exclaimed.
Petras’ rep clarified that she simply ran over time, with Coachella organizers keeping a tight schedule
Still, the packed crowd at the Mojave stage didn’t seem to mind, chanting the singer’s name as she went backstage to switch mics, and showering her with cheers when she returned. The tightly choreographed set included the dance-floor jam “Heart to Break,” the anthemic “Future Starts Now,” and the title track off her latest EP, Slut Pop.
Petras wasn’t afraid to get raunchy, performing the crowd favorite “Throat Goat” and the X-rated “Treat Me Like a Slut,” but hardly anyone was blushing. If anything, the thousands of fans in the audience got exactly what they came for: Kim Petras in all her bold, boisterous, unapologetic glory.
Do LaB’s Dance Party
The unassuming Do LaB stage could easily be ignored by a regular festivalgoer, but those who showed up were treated to a hidden gem: a forum for a wide array of EDM acts and tons of surprises. Rebecca Black, who took over the stage on Saturday afternoon, brought out special guests Slayyyter, Big Freedia, Blu DeTiger, and Vincint. Meanwhile, Diplo surprised the crowd with his own set.