INDIO, Calif. – Now that the sun has set behind the iconic ferris wheel on another Coachellait’s a good time to reflect on the six days of sun-baked music and art, as the festival made its return trip to the desert for the first time since 2019.
For two straight weekends, about 100,000 sunburnt, dust-covered visitors packed the Empire Polo Club to hear music, see art, eat food, take Instagram photos and generally sway and vibe with like-minded masses of humanity.
There was some headliner drama heading into the event, but the festival seemed to pick up right where it left off following the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2022 version was not altogether different from the 2019 version.
The rhythms of the festival and how it affects the desert remained the same. An influencer-heavy first-weekend crowd gave way to a more music-focused second-weekend crowd. Also returning, pharmacies selling out of suntan lotion, wet wipes and Gatorade.
But every iteration of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival has its own magic moments. Here are some of the reasons 2022 will be remembered.
Harry Styles dueting with powerhouse singers Shania Twain, Lizzo
In a year without a lot of jaw-dropping surprises, Friday headliner Harry Styles produced a couple. During Weekend 1, he had the biggest didn’t-see-that-coming moment when country music icon Shania Twain joined him to sing two of her hits. She fit in nicely with his set which seemed to be a celebration of women in general and when they dueted on “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!” the crowd was eating it up.
During Weekend 2, it was a different special guest and a different female empowerment anthem, as hip-hop star Lizzo joined Styles to sing the Gloria Gaynor hit “I Will Survive.” It was a special moment and marked the first time Lizzo played on the main Coachella stage, but probably not the last.
Coachella Weekend 1:The most memorable moments, including Harry Styles and Shania Twain
Latinx bands like Anitta, Grupo Firme drawing huge crowds
Tapping into a growing market, Goldenvoice had more than 20 Latinx acts sprinkled around the festival this year and they seemed to draw big boisterous crowds every time. Karol G, Banda MS, Grupo Firme, Anitta and Jessie Reyez — to name a few — offered not just a lot of Latinx options, but a large variety of Latinx styles.
Anitta brought a sort of sultry South American vibe from Brazil, while Grupo Firme featured the electronically souped-up banda rhythms of Mexico.
Switching up the announced headliners (and it worked)
The obvious way in which the 2022 version was different than the scheduled 2020 version certainly is in the headliners. While almost 75% of the bands that were scheduled to play in 2020 performed in 2022, none of the three headliners did.
The original headliners were set to be Frank Ocean, Travis Scott and Rage Against the Machine. Ocean has been earmarked for a 2023 headliner spot. Scott was removed as a headliner after the tragic incident in which 10 people died when the crowd surged toward the stage at one of his concerts in Houston on Nov. 5. And it’s not clear why Rage Against the Machine was not on the 2022 bill. Kanye West, who now goes by Ye, was to be the Sunday headliner, but it was announced just 11 days before this year’s festival that he would no longer be performing.
So with that as a backdrop, Friday night’s Harry Styles, Saturday headliner Billie Eilish and Sunday’s last-second fill-in Swedish House Mafia and the Weeknd, provided more-than-suitable replacements as crowds flocked to see all three performers. We’ll never know, though, just how different a Frank Ocean, Travis Scott, Rage Against the Machine Coachella 2022 would have turned out.
Italian rock group Måneskin gives breakout performance
While Lizzo and Billie Eilish burst into the mainstream with eye-popping Coachella sets in 2019, a good guess to follow that path from 2022 would be Italian rock group Måneskin.
The hard-rocking quartet blew the doors off the Mojave Stage with a high-energy, skillfully performed set of the variety you just don’t see anymore. A true rock band seemingly plucked from the Iggy Pop era but with a modern twist features charismatic lead singer Damiano David, shredding guitarists Thomas Raggi and Victoria De Angelis and drummer Ethan Torchio. Get on their bandwagon now, because it will be filling up soon.
Coachella embraces K-pop: Expect to see more
It’s official. Coachella definitely snaps and crackles with K-pop. It started with a splashy Sahara tent performance by female group BLACKPINK in 2019, and continued in 2022 on the main stage.
A collective called 88rising played on the Coachella stage both Saturdays, showing various Asian acts and each weekend they wowed the Twitterverse by including female K-pop acts. During Weekend 1 it was 2ne1 and on Weekend 2 it was aespa. In both cases, it was the first time those acts played Coachella and in both cases, they brought with them a large crowd in the field and on social media.
Epik High, a South Korean male hip-hop group, was the first act from Korea ever to play Coachella back in 2016 and they returned in 2022 to play their own sets both Fridays. There seems to be no reason Goldenvoice wouldn’t continue to include K-pop acts in its mix moving forward.
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George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism