Features April 24, 2019

Six takeaways from Coachella 2019

Six takeaways from Coachella 2019
Image: Kanye West / Coachella Facebook

One of the world’s most anticipated music festivals has wrapped up for another year.

From special guest appearances to Kanye’s Sunday Service, there were plenty of talking points at 2019.

Here are TMN‘s six takeaways from this year’s festival


Australians Were High Up The Bill

There may have been fewer Australians than in previous years on the bill but they were higher up than ever. Tame Impala were the unlikely headliners of the second night of the festival, rising to the occasion with one of their most accomplished sets to date. They may only have two new songs, Patience and Borderline, to their name since they last played the festival but they are a well-oiled machine now.

With a beefed-up set design and production, the Fremantle favourites delivered a transcending, hypnotic performance that spiked with an A$AP Rocky surprise appearance. Kevin Parker’s chat was casual at best but there’s something endearing about headlining Coachella like you’re playing at the local pub.

On Friday night, RUFUS DU SOL took to the Outdoor Stage for a performance that the festival needed. Alternative pop, hip-hop and RnB largely rule nowadays so it’s rare to see a band making euphoric dance music tailor-made for the festival experience. They’re incredibly comfortable on a large outdoor stage and their set was one of the most-talked about of the weekend.

Elsewhere, Mansionair gave a beautiful, early afternoon performance while BLACKPINK, which features Australia-raised singer Rose, broke into the US festival market with a near-perfect performance.


It Was More International Than Ever Before

Coachella has always opened its doors to artists from Australia and the UK but the 2019 edition felt like the most diverse it has ever been. For the first time, two Nigerian artists Burna Boy and Mr. Eazi played the festival, both delivering some of the most rhythmic music the main stage was treated to the whole weekend.

BLACKPINK were the first K-pop girl group to play Coachella and they surely won’t be the last. Their set on the Sahara stage was one of the most accomplished, delivering a militaristic precision as they worked through mighty pop tracks like Kill This Love and Kiss And Make Up. The crowd, as expected, was absolutely bonkers.

Legendary Japanese group Perfume also became the first J-pop band to play and they were awarded a night time set that intrigued and excited many. Their musical stylings range from experimental electronica to rock and they’re thrilling to watch.

Latin music was also very popular on the main stage this year with Puerto Rican MC Bad Bunny and Colombian singer J Balvin both playing very popular sets on Saturday and Sunday respectively.

Meanwhile, Rosalia showed America why she’s the biggest popstar in Spain right now with a hypnotic night-time performance that ranged from spine-tingling acapella to hard-hitting dancing. She’s an absolute superstar and it won’t be long before the rest of the world is on Spain’s page.


Maybe The Kids Don’t Want To Turn Up Anymore

We’ve watched Coachella move from arena rock to EDM to hip-hop with the common thread being that festivalgoers want to go wild but maybe that’s not the case anymore. Two of the festival’s most popular performers Khalid and Billie Eilish delivered relatively low-key sets that suggested that’s where popular live music may be headed.

Admittedly, Eilish is far more energetic than Khalid, bringing a Nirvana-like anarchy to songs like Bury A Friend but the crowd’s favourite moments were songs like When The Party’s Over. At her quietest, she seemed to hush the entire festival, bringing a stillness to the air.

Khalid, on the other hand, is trading in soulful, RnB that often sits around the 100BPM mark and yet he managed to send the crowd into a frenzy. Better is not the song you’d imagine to bring home a Sunday night set but he delivered a cruisy, slick performance that had thousands singing long.


Kanye’s Sunday Service Was The Main Talking Point

From the minute it was announced Kanye’s Sunday Service (pictured) was always going to be a major talking point and it didn’t disappoint. It’s rare that a festival can successfully put on anything early on the final morning but Kanye had people coming in the thousands to watch his church service.

It took almost an hour to get going but once it did, it was spectacular. Choirs and dancers lined a hill made specifically for Sunday Service as they moved through deconstructed Kanye West songs and popular church hymns. Kanye, surprisingly, took a backseat, only taking centre stage at one point to rap Jesus Walks. At other points, the spotlight was awarded to Chance The Rapper, Kid Cudi and Teyana Taylor.

Even for the atheists in the crowd, it was hard to deny that it was a moving experience. The sheer power of the choir was enough to cleanse us all of at least some of our sins.


The Surprise Guests Were Better Weekend 2

Coachella is known for its surprise guests and while it’s usually weekend 1 that gets all the good ones, YouTube streamed weekend 2 for the first year this year and with it brought a slew of guests.

There was Kanye jumping out with Kid Cudi to do KIDS SEE GHOSTS songs, Justin Bieber lip-syncing his way through Sorry during Ariana Grande’s set and Anderson .Paak bringing Brandy to the Coachella stage for the first time.

The weekend 2 surprises didn’t end there either. A$AP Rocky, Vince Staples, Jay Rock, Future and 2 Chainz all popped up on various stages throughout the weekend.


New Names Reigned Supreme

Coachella kicks off the US festival season essentially and is often a good determiner of who is going to reign for the rest of the year. On top of relative newcomers Khalid and Billie Eilish, there were two names that had people talking – King Princess and Lizzo.

With label-head Mark Ronson looking on, King Princess gave a hearty Friday afternoon set. She doesn’t have many songs to her name but she’s such an accomplished performer it really didn’t matter. 1950 sounded like a classic from the first guitar strum while Pussy Is God ricocheted around the festival grounds. She’s effortlessly cool and ready to be upgraded to the mainstage immediately.

Lizzo actually has way more songs having just released her third album Cuz I Love You. It’s her major label debut though and the recent hype surrounding her has given her the air of a new artist. She knew that Coachella was an important moment for her and she brought it all giving us relentless choreography, jazzy flute playing and plenty of twerking.

She promotes self-love with everything she does and the whole set felt like a celebration of individuality as she encouraged people to marry themselves and made sure everyone on stage with her represented all kinds of body types.


Sam Murphy is the co-founder and editor of new music blog The Interns. He was previously the editor of Cool Accidents.

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