Love it or hate it, Coachella’s prevalence in pop culture is undeniable. One of the most influential American music festivals of all time, it’s the birthplace of iconic moments that go down in the history of music, entertainment and fashion.
In 1999, Paul Tollett and his company, Goldenvoice, introduced the world to the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, an outdoor desert event in Indio, California. Around 20,000 people attended it on the first two days and the festival earned almost a million dollars. Coachella tickets were sold out for the first time in 2004, and it soon became one of the most anticipated music events in the world.
This year, it returns with headliners Bad Bunny, Blackpink and Frank Ocean; Rosalía, Gorillaz, Björk, Charli XCX, Burna Boy, Alex G, Jai Paul, Weyes Blood, boygenius, Glorilla and many others also on the lineup. The first weekend has almost ended with just one more day left, and it’s already making history — with its most global billing yet.
Jai Paul’s first-ever performance
Jai Paul performed live in concert in a long-anticipated debut at Coachella on April 16. The show didn’t stream officially, but footage surfaced on social media.
It’s been over a decade since the enigmatic London-based artist went recluse, at the peak of his popularity — after his still unfinished album was leaked. In 2019, he made a comeback with Leak 04-13 (Bait Ones) which mostly comprised official versions of tracks leaked six years earlier. The electronic music artist-producer had never played a live gig before his Coachella set on Saturday night, and his appearance was apparently uncertain until the very moment he stepped on stage. Fans were clearly in for a great performance, despite technical glitches throughout.
Paul was joined on guitar by his brother A.K. Paul. The band also included Fabiana Palladino, Rocco Palladino, and Isaac Kizito. He also debuted a new song and performed some of his most beloved singles.
Surprise Blink-182 return
Coachella is famous for providing surprises, from Justin Bieber making his comeback appearance during Ariana Grande’s performance to 2Pac’s hologram resurrection during Dr Dre’s set: the possibilities are always endless. But in a moment nobody saw coming, the classic lineup of Blink 182 reunited in almost a decade at an hour-long set in the Sahara Tent — announced just a day before the festival’s start. Iconic Travis Barker, Tom DeLonge and Mark Hoppus stepped out onto the Sahara stage as the sun was setting for their jam-packed concert, playing together for the first time since DeLonge left the band in 2014.
As the band cracked juvenile jokes and re-embraced the punk-pop style that made them iconic, eyes were especially on Travis as he hit the drums with everything he could muster. The artist underwent surgery to repair his ring finger back in March, forcing the postponement of the band’s tour, but he looked absolutely in his element — with no signs of injury holding him back.
Bad Bunny makes history
Bad Bunny was the first of the three Coachella 2023 headliners to take the stage. He made history this year, becoming the first Latin or Spanish-language artist to headline the festival. Early in the set, he asked the crowd if they would prefer to hear him speak English or Spanish; the crowd loudly cheered for the latter. He unapologetically delivered a lengthy heartfelt speech in Spanish, and people are hailing him as an international icon.
Bad Bunny asked the #Coachella crowd if they would rather hear him speak English or Spanish, to which they loudly replied Españooooool. pic.twitter.com/6rsarKCdN6
— Ana Lopez H (@analopezh) April 15, 2023
The past four years have been pivotal for the Grammy-winning artist, who has redefined what it means to be a Latin artist today with two No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200 (including his latest Un Verano Sin Ti) and a record-breaking tour. Post Malone joined the reggaeton and trap artist late in the set with his acoustic guitar, performing an acoustic version of “La Canción” from the J Balvin/Bad Bunny collaborative LP OASIS. Jhay Cortez later joined to perform a trio of his collaborations with el conejo malo.
Diljit Dosanjh becomes the first Punjabi singer to perform at Coachella
History was being made all weekend, and Bad Bunny’s set was only the beginning. Actor-singer Diljit Dosanjh became the first Punjabi artist and second Indian artist to ever perform at the event. The singer, whose musical journey started with performing at Kirtans is a man of many firsts. In his trademark traditional Punjabi look (a turban with a kurta and a tehmat (a kind of lungi), Diljit Dosanjh belted out songs from his albums on stage, while backup dancers performing bhangra only made his performance better. Videos of people headbanging and swaying to the Punjabi beats cropped up on social media, starting with the festival’s official handle on Instagram.
Blackpink becomes first K-pop band headliners
In yet another series of firsts, the K-pop heavyweights — Jisoo, Jennie, Lisa, and Rosé — performed an almost two-hour-long set of their greatest hits making history as the first K-pop act to headline Coachella. The performance was streamed live on YouTube and was slated to be the most streamed act of all of Coachella, according to a report by Rolling Stone.
They gave an energetic performance of their hits in a blend of English and Korean. The group first performed at Coachella back in 2019, making history at the time as well. This time though, their performance felt much more powerful and confident, a testament to their international growth over the years.
Camilla Cabello and Shawn Mendes spotted kissing two years after their breakup
Coachella provides iconic moments not just on stage, but in the audience too. In a short clip shared by Pop Base on Twitter, Mendes and Cabello appeared to be hugging and sharing a kiss in the middle of a crowd. The singers dated from 2019 before breaking up in 2021, and were one of the most talked about couples of the time, but said they’d remain “best friends.” The viral clip has caused a frenzy on the internet, leading to a plethora of memes and funny tweets. it’s certainly one of those pop culture moments that the internet will keep bringing back every year.
Everyone after seeing Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello kissing at Coachella be like:pic.twitter.com/p2JUiI9KFN
— Minnie 🦋 (@eraofaqueen) April 15, 2023
One more weekend of the festival to go, and everyone is anticipating great things on the sandy horizon. Despite the technical glitches, a few disappointing performances and deleted live streams, Coachella 2023 is leading up to be one of the best ones yet.