Coachella 2019: 16 Best Performances – Rolling Stone
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Coachella 2019: The 16 Best Things We Saw

Billie Eilish, Tame Impala, J Balvin and Bad Bunny, Ariana Grande featuring ‘NSync and more

This year’s first Coachella weekend featured a strong showing from some of pop, hip-hop and rock’s biggest names, led off by the very 2019 headlining trio of Ariana Grande, Childish Gambino and Tame Impala. As always, though, many of the greatest moments from the desert-valley party happened on side stages, in dance tents and during early-afternoon sets. It was trippy, it was beautiful, it was hot — and it was another Coachella weekend in the books. Here are the 16 best things we saw on Weekend 1.

INDIO, CA - APRIL 12:  Jpegmafia performs at the Outdoor Theatre during the 2019 Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival on April 12, 2019 in Indio, California.  (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Coachella)

Jpegmafia performs at the Outdoor Theatre during the 2019 Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival on April 12, 2019 in Indio, California.

Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Coachella

JPEGMafia Brings the Noise

“Before I start this freestyle, I need a strong white man to lean on.” JPEGMafia was as winkingly confrontational as his on-record persona would have you believe at his Coachella debut; he quickly found a white man to lean on after that announcement. The experimental rapper was intense, but frequently let the audience in on the act, joking about being old, too hot and too high. The glitchy, muscular production that defines his work isn’t made for the festival scene, but it is bluntly effective for those that made their way to his set. B.K.

Mon Laferte

Mon Laferte performs at the Coachella Music Festival in Indio, California.

Koury Angelo for Rolling Stone

Mon Laferte’s Tropical Folk-Pop Party

In just a few years, Chilean indie-pop singer Mon Laferte has scored a number of streaming and radio hits around the world — a refreshing respite from the demanding and dominating rhythms of reggaeton. On Friday afternoon at the main stage, she gave the crowd a tropical folk-pop party that glimmered in gold. Donning a red cabaret-style one-shoulder dress, the coquettish singer oozed plenty of sass with her melodramatic takes on salsa, mambo and cumbia. She strutted through the hits of Norma and other crowd favorites, at times evoking Carmen Miranda’s sultry extravagance with a vintage pin-up-style allure. “I feel that it’s very important to sing music in Spanish on the main stage, because that reflects a change in the world,” she told Rolling Stone backstage. “Language isn’t a problem anymore, and I feel very happy about that.” I.R.

Ocho Ojos perform at the Coachella Music Festival in Indio, California.

Photo credit: Manuel Barajas

Ocho Ojos’ Cumbia Celebration

Lured in by the folkloric dance rhythm that is cumbia, festival-goers grooved to the Latin beat at the Sonora stage on Sunday evening. Ocho Ojos, an ensemble of Mexican-American dynamos, showcased their riveting mix of cumbia sonidera, villera and a dash of chicha to a crowd that was eager to hip-shake. “This is the how the real Coachella sounds like,” said frontman Danny Torres, while duly repping their hometown. Perhaps the only actual, native Coachella band on the lineup, Ocho Ojos managed to make their performance feel like a grand family function of pure baile with all your primos and extended relatives in attendance (whether you’ve met them or not). I.R.

sophie

SOPHIE performs at the Coachella Music Festival in Indio, California.

Quinn Tucker/Goldenvoice

SOPHIE Builds a Dance Tent Dystopia

Sophie doesn’t move much during her sets. Instead, she opts to sway slightly from side to side, as if listening to something light and airy. It’s at odds with what she plays: As a recording artist, Sophie tends to craft songs that veer between the experimental and the simply beautiful, but during her live sets it’s the most abrasive sounds that take center stage. DJing from behind what appeared to be a scrap metal xenomorph, Sophie’s set tended towards the punishing — the mixes sounded like a computer attempting to replicate the sound of running water — but when the bass dropped it was easy to see that she was building towards something bigger than discomfort. B.K.