Arguably the world’s most influential music festival, Coachella 2022 soared back to life over the weekend. Audiences swarmed the grounds to celebrate the first of two Coachella event dates (the second serving starts this weekend, 22 April). Join us for a rundown of the various highlights from the Coachella 2022 premiere.

Credit: @mcyog Insta

Coachella returns this season after a two-year hiatus, resulting from the global pandemic. Held at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, California, the celebrations (and selfies) started on a sunny Easter Friday; kicking off the long weekend (April 15-18). As expected, the notorious festival was packed full of celebrity sightings, dazzling performances and guest star appearances threatening to outweigh the headliners.

Newcomers and Veterans

Hedonism reigned, with minimal mask requirements, no vaccine mandate, and new but rarely enforced, Covid safety regulations. The headlining acts were, for the most part, relative newcomers in terms of career longevity, but undoubtedly among the current hottest acts in town.

Billie Eilish took the main stage by storm on Saturday. The Festival was headlined by a pairing of EDM stars Swedish House Mafia and The Weeknd for Sunday, brought in last minute to replace Kanye West. The megastar was set to headline the closing of Coachella, but pulled out two weeks prior, reportedly (Perez Hilton) to seek treatment for his mental health.

Big Culture

Fatboy Slim | Credit: Coachella Instagram

Although the massive Indie Festival didn’t have the iconic star factor of previous years, the international diversity of this year’s lineup was groundbreaking. Argentine trap sensation Nicki Nicole performed for the first time in the United States, making her U.S. debut at the Sonora stage. The emotional 21-year-old artist tells Billboard,

“I never imagined that so many people would come watch my first show in the U.S.”

At the Coachella main stage, 88Rising, a parade of Asian pop and hip-hop stars — including Warren Hue (Indonesia), Milli (Thailand), Niki (Indonesia), Rich Brian (Indonesia), Hikaru Utada (Japan) and Jackson Wang (China) — made history as the first time a record label landed a slot on Coachella’s lineup. The spectacle finished with a reunion of Korean girl group, 2NE1, starring CL.

Flume waved the Australian flag, with the DJ/producer seamlessly delivering “You & Me” before introducing a parade of guests, which started with Vince Staples for “Smoke & Retribution.” courtesy MAY-A and Oklou, also appeared during a set that leaned heavy on new music, and rightfully featured Flume’s remix of SOPHIE track “Is It Cold in the Water?”

Credit: Coachella Instagram (Flume)

Classic Anthems

The Friday lineup kicked off with gusto, introducing a surprise last-minute addition, Arcade Fire.

Credit: Pitchfork

Thousands were crammed into the pop-up event, with the Canadian indie-rock band playing their LP’s slow-building lead single, “The Lightning I, II.” They played to the crowd, honouring their relationship with Coachella, which dates back to 2006 as reported by Pitchfork.

Classic after classic was belted out: “Rebellion (Lies),” “Ready to Start,” followed by “My Body Is a Cage.” During the performance, lead singer win Butler breaks down for a moment, stating “It’s been a hard couple of years… We tell ourselves so much poison.”

Glistening, in bedazzled Gucci rock-goth dress, Phoebe Bridgers introduced her set with a clip from Disturbed’s nü-metal anthem, “Down With the Sickness”.

Phoebe Bridges | Credit: The Cut

Next, she glides across the stage to perform  “Motion Sickness.” The reigning goth queen, ever sombre, was appreciated by fans and newcomers alike.

Currently toted as the best rapper in Atlanta, Lil Baby lived up to his reputation during his Friday night set on the main stage.

Credit: Pitchfork

Pitchfork reports the performance as crisp, smartly sequenced, and ultimately one of the best Coachella rap performances in recent memory.

The Heavyweights

The first heavyweight guest star made his appearance on opening night during Daniel Caesar’s set. Justin Bieber, unable to resist an opportunity to perform sans shirt, joined his fellow Canadian centre stage,

Credit: Just Jared

He wears only jeans and a red Phillies cap, to perform a funked-up soul rendition of their hit “Peaches.”

Harry Styles closed the first night of Coachella for 2022, making his debut appearance, at the world-famous festival.

Credit: The Cut

He was shimmering, in a golden sequin bodysuit. He wowed fans with music new and old before bringing out an unexpected guest star, iconic songstress, Shania Twain. The country legend joined his set, and the duo performed her classics “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!” and “You’re Still the One”.

Credit: Music Feeds

Harry Styes closed the opening night with guest star Shania Twain. Styles appeared star-struck when introducing the goddess of country music, telling the audience, “In the car with my mother as a child, this lady taught me to sing. She also told me that men are trash,” He told Shania, “To you, to the memories you gave me with my mother, I will be forever grateful. I’m so grateful you’re with us here tonight. This is very special for me.”

A Very Big Drag

Saturday highlights included a performance by Brazilian star, Pabllo Vittar, who made history as the very first drag queen to perform at Coachella.

Credit: Pabllo Vitar Instagram

She drew in fans with a high energy set, that kept festival dancers going for hours. Toward the end of her set, she brought out Rina Sawayama to perform their new single “Follow Me.” And emotionally, thanked Coachella in Portuguese for having her.

Megan Thee Stallion had the audience dancing like mad, as she played a series of popular hits, followed by a new song that sent bloggers and journalists into a frenzy.

L.A Times reports that over a reworked version of the instrumental for the Wu-Tang remix to Jodeci’s “Freek’n You,” she raps what she describes as “a very motherfucking personal” diss song.

Credit: Billboard

The song is rumoured to be about a former flame, with inevitable speculation suggesting it’s aimed at Tory Lanez, the Canadian singer who allegedly shot Meg in the foot in July 2020. “Damn, I see you still kick it with them opp bitches,” she raps. “I’m the only reason that your goofy ass got bitches.”

“I Should Not Be Headlining This S**t”

Saturday’s headliner, Billie Eilish, became the youngest-ever act to headline the festival. “Dude, this is so weird,” the 20-year-old Eilish says, not long into her Saturday night set. “I should not be headlining this s—.” Eilish rewarded her fans by peppering her set with back-to-back hits such as “Bad Guy,” “All the Good Girls Go to Hell” and “Happier Than Ever.”

The chart topping songstress was joined onstage by a host of special guests including, Damon Albarn of Blur, Khalid and De La Soul’s Posdnuos. Keeping it in the family, her brother Finneas, also joined her on set.

As she closed Day 2 of Coachella, Eilish added a heartfelt, “Thank you, Coachella — I’m sorry I’m not Beyoncé.”

Psychedelic Stylings

Credit: Alessandra Ambrosia Instagram

Fashion at the festival embraced psychedelia, with loads of orange sherbet and canary yellow flower-power garb.

Credit: Vanessa Hudgeons Instagram

Spangled sequin bodysuits are officially a look – as evidenced by Harry Styles himself and a string of other celebs. Also popular? Crochet, mesh and sheer panelled overlays.

The field abounded with movie stars, socialites, and supermodels alike, all determined to capture an Insta-worthy selfie at the hottest festival of the moment.

Drawing Audiences

Sunday highlights included Anitta, the biggest Brazilian act in the world right now. She was joined by Saweetie and Snoop Dogg, as she brought a taste of Rio to the Coachella Stage.

Credit: LA Times (Anitta w Saweetie)

Doja Cat drew such a large audience during her 8:30 p.m. Sunday time slot that it became apparent the rising star might be ready to move into a headline position, rather than warming up the crowd for the final act of Coachella’s first three-day festival.

Credit: Coachella Official Instagram (Anitta & Snoop)

Although the grammy-winning songstress, recently announced she wanted to retire from the music industry, she seemed to be far from it during her set.

She sang, rapped and twerked through multiple hit’s from last year’s blockbuster album, “Planet Her”.

Doja Cat & Tyga | Credit: Tyga Instagram

She also performed “Woman,” “Get Into It (Yuh)” and Grammy-winning, “Kiss Me More.” Doja was joined on stage by guest performers Rico Nasty to perform “Tia Tamera” and Tyga for “Juicy,”

Closing it Out

In an effort to recoup the last minute loss of a Kanye West performance, Coachella inexplicably paired The Weeknd with EDM ensemble, Swedish House Mafia.

Credit: Coachella Official Instagram (The Week*nd)

The result felt a little patched-together, at least compared to the epic sets, staged by fellow headliners, Eilish and Styles. Swedish House Mafia played new music that retained a vintage feel, possibly bringing back a new wave of EDM?

Credit: The Guardian (Swedish House Mafia)

The Weeknd is dressed like he just left the Matrix. He cooed newer hits “Out of Time” and “I Feel It Coming.” He had the crowd firmly on their feet and dancing; closing out the first weekend of Coachella in three years!

Credit: Coachella Official Instagram

And so ends the first act of Coachella’s two-week run. The festival returns next weekend with the same lineup, for those who missed out on the first round. What’s your favourite Coachella 2022 moment so far?

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