Coachella started with surprises. The last rays of sun bathed the stage on Friday as Blink-182 reunited for the first time since 2015. The sunset between the mountains of the valley was the perfect backdrop for a band that helped define the sound of southern California in the late 1990s. Festival organizers added them to the lineup just hours before the start of an edition that expects to attract 750,000 people between this weekend and the next. Thousands of fans welcomed Tom DeLonge, Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker, singing along as the band broke a silence that had lasted eight years.
“Call the police, someone is smoking pot down here,” DeLonge yelled during one of the breaks in the set. The joke was a reference to the last time the group toured, when weed was illegal. With their music, Blink-182 also reminded the audience of the adolescent humor that always characterized them. Hoppus and DeLonge joked about their mothers’ vulvas. In the audience, a couple danced with their baby, who wore large white headphones to block out the noise. The child was wearing a tiny jean jacket with sewn-on logos of Nirvana, Stone Temple Pilots and other relics of rock from the last century.
At sunset, Coachella featured the music of the past. Debbie Harry and Blondie only managed to half fill one of the small stages of the festival, which has been organized since 1999 in Indio. The changing of the guard was very clear in the first minutes of the night, when Kaytranada, a DJ born in Haiti but raised in Montreal, gathered the first large crowd of the day. Thousands of young people danced to Beyoncé's remixes and the songs from 99.9%, the musician’s album of Caribbean and Latin sounds. A stage away, Burna Boy, a Nigerian artist who moves in the afrobeat sound, was drawing his own crowd.
But the night belonged to Bad Bunny, the first Latino solo artist to headline at Coachella. Several hours before Benito Martínez Ocasio (his real name) went out on stage, he was already there in the way many people were dressed. The fisherman’s hats, the melancholic heart of A summer without you, the colored glasses and the short pants showed that the Puerto Rican artist is not only a musical reference, but a fashion icon as well.
Some festivalgoers thought Bad Bunny would give an early surprise by coming out with Gorillaz, Damon Albarn’s band, to perform the song Storm, which appears on Cracker Island. But it was not so. The star made everyone wait until 11:30 p.m., the exact time that his performance was scheduled for. The wait was worth it.
”I want to ask you a question,“ said in English the star who has taken the Spanish language all over the world. “What do you prefer, me talking in Spanish or hablando español?”
-“En español!” the audience roared back.
-”Entonces, ustedes mandan (you’re the boss),” replied Bad Bunny, who began his performance singing from a suspended platform several feet above the stage.
For more than an hour, the Puerto Rican made it clear why he broke grossing records with his tour last year, dethroning Ed Sheeran’s mark from 2018 and filling pavilions and stadiums in several countries. Hairstyled with cornrows and wearing one of his thick luxurious jackets, Bad Bunny made tens of thousands of people dance as soon as he launched into Titi me preguntó, a song that resonated especially in the VIP area, where tickets sold for more than $1,000.
“No te hagas la santa, que el perreo te encanta (Don’t play the saint, you love perreo)”, Benito intoned in La santa, included in YHLQMDLG. His number began with a long presentation in which the artist talked about his first time at Coachella in 2019. “Legendary figures have passed through here, a legendary list. The most incredible thing is that out of so many of them there was never someone like me. This is the first time that a Benito closes an epic night.”
And it was an epic night indeed. Bad Bunny got people warmed up. He had Jhay Cortez and Post Malone on stage, with whom he shared a strange moment when they struggled to understand each other in order to play a song. In addition to singing songs from the three albums he released in 2021 and Un verano sin ti, he took several breaks. In one, he played an educational video on Latin and African rhythms that have served as the basis for Latin American genres, especially reggaeton. In another break, Benito Martínez Ocasio appeared before the world (the festival is also being broadcast to millions via YouTube) with a monologue. He also settled some accounts. He asked people not to judge him based on the version of him that the media have created, alluding to a controversy over his interview in Time magazine. He was criticized on social media over statements about racism and its political weight in his native country. “Whoever wants the truth, come to my house. Who wants to meet me? Who wants to come home ?” he asked.
Hours earlier, Gorillaz had dealt with the audience’s numbness, a result of several hours of driving that are required to get to Coachella, located east of Los Angeles. Even though they performed several hits, including Kids With Guns, On Melancholy Hill , and Dirty Harry, the songs didn’t fully awaken fans. the audience. This, despite the fact that special guests like Bootie Brown and Del The Funky Homosapien came out on stage. Thundercat participated in the song that lends its name to Cracker Island, their most recent album. In one of the most emotional moments of the night, De la Soul joined Damon Albarn on stage to sing Feel Good Inc. But only two members of the influential New York band were there, because Dave Trugoy, aka The Dove, died in February.
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