Coachella 2023: Bad Bunny, Blondie, Burna Boy, and More of the Best Things We Saw On Day One
Coachella 2023 kicked off with a packed lineup, full of major stars who wanted to seize the moment and make their set a massive event. On every stage, artists seemed to be pulling out all the stops with elaborate production design and buzzy surprise appearances that included everyone from Nile Rodgers to Post Malone to the Weeknd. Becky G brought out the biggest names in musica Mexicana, with Peso Pluma and Fuerza Regida’s JOP all stopping by her show. Meanwhile, Metro Boomin stacked the stage with the biggest heavy hitters in rap, including Future and 21 Savage, just to name a few.
One common theme was, unfortunately, tech issues as mics failed and sound systems cut out during multiple performances. When Post Malone’s mic stopped working, it forced Bad Bunny to lead the crowd in a mini a cappella sing-a-long. Kali Uchis also faced some glitches when she joined Kaytranada onstage. But overall, everyone rolled with the punches and made the first day of Coachella 2023 completely memorable, stirring up excitement for the rest of the weekend. Here’s the best of what we saw.
Doechii’s Swamp Kingdom
Doechii transformed the Coachella MainStage into a swamp early in the afternoon. Wearing ruby red eye contacts, attendees swarmed to see her setup, which she had decorated with an open alligator mouth true to the rap star’s Swamp Princess brand. “Is it okay if I take my clothes off in front of y’all?” she asked fans as her dancers removed her skirt to reveal a skimpy undergarment. After name-dropping Nicki Minaj and Missy Elliott, the rap star brought up the energy for “Crazy.” Given that her Coachella performer was a huge milestone for her, she celebrated her humble start by performing “Yucky Blucky Fruit,” the song that first got her attention and which she wrote while “sleeping in a McDonalds.” — T.M.
DannyLux’s Wholesome Journey
The Mexican-American artist DannyLux is known for wearing his heart on his sleeve when he’s singing his tender acoustic ballads and corrido. On Friday, he put his emotions out there, telling a massive crowd that piled into his set at the Sonora tent that he could hardly believe he was onstage. Coachella has a special significance for DannyLux: He grew up near the Coachella Valley, and his father used to drive garbage trucks to clean the festival in past years. Right before the performance, his dad surprised his son with bright billboards in town that read, “My last time at Coachella I was picking up the trash. Now I’m back to see my son perform this Friday. Te amo, Dannylux. Tu papa.” — J.L.
The Raucous World of Yungblud
Camera kisses, flying beers, and cross-stage sprints filled Yungblud’s high-energy Outdoor Theatre performance. Sporting bright pink socks and striped black and white sleeves, the rocker opened his set with single “The Funeral,” bringing rock ‘n’ roll to Coachella’s second-largest stage. His set — and the jamming fans in the crowd — proved that rock is far from dead. The star filled his set with songs such as “Loner,” “Strawberry Lipstick,” and “Sex Not Violence,” and even performed his massive hit “I Think I’m Okay,” which features Machine Gun Kelly and Travis Barker. If the set was any indication of what to expect during his upcoming world tour, fans should get hyped. — T.M.
Kaytranada’s All-Out Night Party
As soon as the sun went down, it was time for Kaytranada to turn Coachella into a full-blown rave. The crowd began flicking toward him the second the artist and producer took his place at a pair of turntables in an elaborate stage, decked out with silver sculptures in the shape of his own head. But it was all about the music as soon as he launched into songs like Beyoncé’s “Cuff It,” which made the audience go wild. If that weren’t enough, he brought out a few special guests, including rapper Aminé, with whom he formed the collaborative project Kaytraminé. He also shared the stage with Kali Uchis, who’s performing at the festival later this weekend. Though she seemed to be having tech issues, people didn’t seem to care much and only kept dancing. — J.L.
Icons Nile Rodgers and Debbie Harry Combine Star Power
Nile Rodgers just wanted to “get funky!” Blondie’s set went from great to spectacular when Nile Rodgers joined Debbie Harry for a five-song jam session during the band’s set at the Mojave stage Friday night. “This is what happens when old friends say, ‘We just want to play together. We just want to have a good time,” Rodgers said after performing songs like “The Tide is High,” “Rapture,” and “Backfired” on guitar with the band. “I love her so much, you have no idea what our lives have been like together.” At 77, Harry made it clear she has no sign of slowing down. Of course, Harry ended with the band’s greatest hits, among them “Heart of Glass.” — T.M.
Throughout the festival, the anticipation seemed to be building for Coachella’s first Latino headliner, Bad Bunny. Fans wore shirts and hoodies with the little red heart from the Puerto Rican star’s Un Verano Sin Ti tour merch, and they filled up the entire MainStage area far before the performance even started. Once Bad Bunny hit the stage, the crowd began to roar and stayed with him, even during sound mishaps and a few lengthy speeches. The set list was modeled like a greatest hits reel, with medleys dedicated to his last albums and video tributes that paid homage to the history of Puerto Rican music. Bad Bunny got some help from Jhayco, Jowell Y Randy, Nengo Flow, and Post Malone — and handled a major mic malfunction like a champ. — J.L.
Angèle Soars In From Belgium
“Do you know who this is?” a pair of festival-goers said as they walked toward the magnetic pop sounds of Angèle in the Mojave tent. The Belgian star, dressed in a disco ball-inspired two-piece, delivered likely the only pure pop performance of the night. “It’s hard for me to realize that this is really happening,” she told Rolling Stone ahead of her set, adding that she was “overthinking” how to deliver a standout show. But she had the packed tent jumping as she performed hits like “Demons,” “Libre,” and her Dua Lipa collab “Fever.” After a nod to her LGBT audience, as she donned a gay flag, Angèle closed her set with “Bruxelles Je T’aime,” backed by a silly backdrop of flying Belgian waffles. — T.M.
Yves Tumor’s Haunted Wonderland
Yves Tumor mixed gothic glam and razored rock during their performance , which lured fans from all over the festival. The crowd toggled between swaying and head banging as the experimental musician commanded the stage from the center, snarling and their way through haunting selects from their recent album Praise a Lord Who Chews but Which Does Not Consume; (Or Simply, Hot Between Worlds) and 2020’s excellent LP Heaven to a Tortured Mind. The baroque set, which included a velvet-red backdrop and white chandeliers adorning the tent, helped the scene and invited everyone into Yves Tumor’s wonderland of violent delights.— J.L.
Becky G’s Star-Studded Carne Asada
For her MainStage set, Becky G brought out la familia. As Mexican flags waved in the audience, the Inglewood-born singer powered through brief sound issues and still shone brightly as she shared space with Mexican and Mexican-American artists such as Peso Pluma, Marca MP, and Fuerza Regida’s Jesus Ortiz Paz. She later shared a smooch with her friend and collaborator the Dominican artist Natti Natasha as the dynamic duo performed “Sin Pijama.” There were so many people who didn’t want us to work together,” she told Rolling Stone before her set. “Without ‘Sin Pijama,’ I don’t know what would’ve happened. I have a sister for life now.” — T.M.
Burna Boy’s MainStage Moment
Burna Boy’s performance on the Coachella MainStage was a full-circle moment for the afrobeats heavyweight: Four years prior, he had performed at the festival in front of a crowd “a quarter of this size,” as he put it. “This is a big blessing for me,” he told the people who flocked to see him. Backed by a brass band and an trio of backup singers, Burna’s show was a straight-up party. The Nigerian star went through hits from his recent Love, Damini album such as “For My Head” (sans Ed Sheeran, of course), and closed his set with “Last, Last.”
Magdalena Bay Made Us Ask “What’s In the Box?”
“Look at this big, beautiful box. Doesn’t it make you feel hopeful?” Mica Tenenbaum coyly directed our focus on stage to the monolith-looking set piece projecting swirling lights within. “You’ll see what I mean soon.” The Miami synth-wave duo kept us in suspense throughout the entire set, but never bored, shredding on the keytar to songs like “Secrets (Your Fire)” and “You Lose!” amidst a pixelated backdrop of crunchy, early internet gifs (and at one point, a framed portrait of Laura Dern). But we were dying to know — what’s in the box already?! — and Tenenbaum did eventually step out of it, transformed, with an outfit that reminded us of Doctor Doom and a sexy Mac Tonight to deliver new tracks from their latest audiovisual project mini mix vol. 3. It’s Magdalena Bay’s lo-fi dream world, and we’re just living in it. — S.A.
Blink-182’s Testosterone-Fueled Family Reunion
From the moment the crowd roared out a string of obscenities in unison to the opener “Family Reunion” there was no question if Blink-182 still had that wonderfully special juvenile touch. A surprise last-minute addition to the lineup, and reuniting with Tom DeLonge for the first time in nine years, the band kicked up the nostalgia to eleven as they blasted through an electric set. We got all the classic angsty bangers, from “All the Small Things” to “I Miss You” to “Feeling This” to “What’s My Age Again?”, in between sophomoric banter between DeLonge and Hoppus ranging everything from UTIs, to the recent Dali Lama scandal, and “eating it from the back”. Blink-182 proved that maybe we collectively haven’t grown up as much as we thought, and why would we want to? — S.A.
Metro Boomin’s Superheroes of the Stage
“A storm is brewing at Coachella…” the booming voiceover from Morgan Freeman’s intro set the tone for what would become a fiery and star-stacked set under the Sahara Tent from legendary producer Metro Boomin. Bringing the energy of his Heroes & Villains album, this might go down as one of the festival’s most iconic performances this year, with an orchestra on trumpets and strings accompanying a revolving door of surprise guest after surprise guest. Future kicked it off first with “Superhero (Heroes & Villains)”, followed by Don Toliver. 21 Savage got the crowd even more hype with “Runnin” and “Bank Account”, and even Diddy came on at the end for the “Creepin” remix. When it seemed like he couldn’t be topped, Metro Boomin introduced the heavily-rumored and hotly-anticipated The Weeknd, with a live performance debut of his latest track “Double Fantasy” from The Idol Vol. 1. With high energy, dramatic visions, and star-pulling power, Metro Boomin clearly did not come to play. — S.A.