Coachella 2023 Day Three: Björk Tops Herself, Kali Uchis Nods to Her Roots, and Ciara Surprises Everyone
The first day of Coachella was jam-packed with major artists making moves, while the second day seemed to revolve around pure pop. Sunday, day three, featured the weekend’s most eclectic lineup, with all kinds of genres represented on every stage. In the early afternoon, the Argentine rock band Los Fabulosos Cadillacs got people moshing, while GloRilla delivered hard-hitting bars just moments afterwards. Kali Uchis mesmerized the crowd with her luxe brand of R&B, and Björk transformed the festival into avant art in one of the most impressive and intricate performances of the evening.
It all seemed to be leading up to Frank Ocean’s hotly anticipated headlining set, his first show in six years. The festival grounds were swarmed with people trying to find space as close to the stage as possible, and the crowd spilled out far beyond the stage area. Ocean finally appeared more than an hour later than planned, and his performance was a mix of vulnerability and confusion as the reluctant star concluded the three-day festival. Here’s more of what we loved on Sunday.
Porter Robinson’s Fond Farewell to ‘Nurture’
It’s the end of an era for Porter Robinson. The electronic musician gave an emotional performance on the main stage as he bid goodbye to the tour that revolves around his most personal album to date, 2021’s Nurture. He’s come a long way: from learning how to pluck notes on the guitar composing “Everything Goes On” for League of Legends, to performing nearly half his synth-pop tracks — songs like “Trying to Feel Alive,” “Language,” and “Unfold” — semi-acoustically with a live band. More than anything else, his sheer love of music making shined through. Juxtaposing a blue-sky-filled screen with flashing text like “EVERYTHING WE NEED IS ALREADY HERE” and “FUCK THE OPPS,” and working surprise guest appearances (Madeon included), Porter wore his heart on the sleeve of his “Music Saved My Life” shirt. —S.A.
DJ Crystallmess’ Part of Frank Ocean’s Set
Frank Ocean’s performance undoubtedly had its ups and downs, but one person who did shine onstage was DJ Crystallmess, who took over the set at one point and mixed Nineties house with Ocean songs like “Slide” and “Pyramids,” also adding in tracks like Ice Spice’s “In Ha Mood.” Though Ocean was mostly offstage during that portion of the show, the interlude seemed to be a tribute to the parties the elusive singer threw in New York before “shit started going down” in 2020, as he put it onstage. “It’s good that it’s not always all about me so I wanted to bring a little of that,” he said after Crystall Mess wrapped things up. It was the kind of energy more of his performance could have used. —T.M.
Björk’s Orchestra of the Senses
Backed by a Hollywood string ensemble conducted by Bjarni Frimann, and with 864 drones weaving and shifting colors in time to the music, Björk’s performance was a theatrical symphony of the senses. (There was also a stunning aerial performance from the artist duo DRIFT.) Her almost otherworldly voice pierced through her most popular tracks like “Joga,” “Quicksand,” and “Isobel,” feeling like a scene ripped out of The Fifth Element. We’d also be remiss not to mention her outfits — one a spiky top with a stiff plastic skirt, and an encore ensemble that featured an iridescent, tendril-like cage. As one of only nine acts to ever be a Coachella headliner multiple times, Björk was faced with a question: How would she top her previous, legacy-defining performances? Amazingly, she did. “We’re going to do a string version of a techno song,” she told the audience before the frenetic encore “Pluto”. “Let’s see how it goes.” —S.A.
Sudan Archives Powers Through
Coachella had yet another technical fail that almost derailed Sudan Archives’ entire performance. Fans waited at the Sonora stage almost 20 minutes after her set was supposed to start, and once she did step out, she seemed to struggle to get her microphones to work. Finally, almost 40 minutes later, she yelped, “Alright, let’s fucking do this!” With her violin in hand, she launched into a short but mighty list of songs, including the standout “Selfish Soul.” Even though her time was cut short — and although Frank Ocean was scheduled to start before she finished — lots of fans hung back, so entranced by her sound that they were down to miss the headliner. —J.L.
GloChella: Real and Ratchet
“I don’t know how many ratchet bitches we have in the audience, but there’s one right here,” GloRilla told the crowd during her early afternoon main stage performance. Backed by nine backup dancers, the rap star repped Memphis as she showcased the streets she grow up on in the set design behind her. GloRilla was joined by Lil Durk for “Ex’s” and “Back in Blood” and later by Moneybagg Yo for “On Wat U On.” She also paid tribute to Gansta Boo, covering her song “Where Dem Dollas At” and showing a photo of the late rapper onscreen. “A bitch like me kicked the door down,” she said. “What the fuck is up Coachella!” —T.M.
Noname’s Radical Brilliance
Noname has become one of rap’s most conscientious thinkers — and also one of social media’s favorite intellectuals and activists, known for launching her Noname Book Club to elevate writers and ideas that uplift POC voices. But she’s a skilled performer as well, and some fans worried they might not see her onstage for a while after she announced in 2021 that she was putting her music on hiatus. Luckily, Noname returned to her art and launched into some of her best work at Coachella, performing past singles and highlights from her excellent album Room 25. Behind her, a full band made up of Black artists provided gorgeous sonic backdrops for her to rap to, making the entire set a show of community. —J.L.
Latto Gets Her Flowers
Latto sure delivers a show. The Sahara stage was jam-packed as the rap star took the stage to perform some of her biggest hits — bringing raunchy rap with songs like “Nasty Nasty” and “Wet” and a slew of female rappers onstage with her. She was joined by TiaCorine for “FreakyT,” Lola Brooke for their internet-favorite collab “Don’t Play With It,” and Saweetie for the remix of “Bitch From da Souf.” “We work our ass off so I just want to give Latto her flowers,” Saweetie told the crowd. “On the count of three, say ‘I love Latto.’” —T.M.
Dominic Fike’s Breezy Charm
“I had some low expectations back there. I wasn’t even nervous, to be honest with you,” Dominic Fike half-joked duing his Coachella set. “Walked out here, no nerves at all, completely fine, still don’t feel a thing.” Fike performed with a natural ease and endless chill, but his talent jumped out every time he took the mic, his voice gritty and emotive. Throughout his set, he thrashed on his guitar and fiddled with vocal loops, creating blown-out soundscapes with bright hooks fans knew every word of. Part of it marked a new era for the reformed singer and rapper, who’s spoken out in the past about his substance abuse and getting sober. “Hopefully I’ll feel something because, man, it’s been tough. When you quit drugs, it’s tough to get the serotonin back,” he shared. All around him, fans showed him how they felt through wild cheers. —J.L.
Jackson Wang Surprises With Ciara
After becoming the first Chinese artist to ever take the stage at Coachella last year, Jackson Wang of the K-pop group GOT7 brought us more of everything in 2023 — more magic, more grooves, more hypnotic visual interludes, and more star power in what just might have been the most unexpected guest appearance at the fest. Wang was in full master-of-ceremonies mode on his own (“By the way, this isn’t Jackson Wang, this is the Magic Man,” he told the audience), commanding the stage in a two-toned Joker-esque ensemble to songs from his second album, MAGIC MAN. But a cloud of smoke and the first few notes of “Lose Control” — a Missy Elliott track featuring Ciara — had passing festivalgoers running to the Sahara stage. “Well, my name is Ciara!” the singer shouted, before performing a medley of “Level Up” and “Goodies.” Wang joined her to perform “1, 2, Step” and to debut their new collab track “Slow,” giving us the surprise duo we never knew we needed. —S.A.
Kali Uchis’ Takes Us to Venus
Appearing from behind a flurry of feathers, Kali Uchis, in a stunning two-piece set, opened the performance with “Telepatía,” which she sang atop a Greek column-flanked stage. She was immediately joined by a trio of excellent guests — Tyler, the Creator, Omar Apollo, and Don Tolliver — who helped her perform songs from her album Red Moon in Venus. Uchis paid tribute to her Latina roots, singing along to classics such as Gastam’s “Salvaje,” El General’s “Rica y Apretadita,” and Lorna’s “Papi Chulo.” She also treated fans to a soon-to-be-released song, “La Diabla,” from her upcoming Spanish album. —T.M.