Blur gets defensive, Grimes is derailed by technical difficulties in messy first Coachella weekend

Ah, Coachella weekend; a harbinger of summer, a cultural celebration, a mass exodus of the insufferable to the desert. The California festival didn’t exactly have a major Beychella moment this year. Vanessa Hudgens—she who once proclaimed death as “inevitable” when coronavirus lockdowns threatened 2020’s festival—didn’t even attend. Yet there were still, as always, big headlining moments from performers like Doja Cat, Lana Del Rey, No Doubt, and more.

5 memorable moments from Coachella 2023

When things go wrong

Damon Albarn of Blur had a tough time on the Coachella stage. Introducing the popular “Song 2,” he said, “This song has been so good to us. But I did get shown a TikTok of it being kind of performed by a vacuum cleaner which is you know…. It is humbling and inspiring at the same time.”

More humbling is the fact that no one in the crowd sang along with “Girls & Boys,” prompting confusion from the singer. “You’re never seeing us again so you might as well fucking sing it,” he complained after several attempts. “Know what I’m saying?”

Meanwhile, Grimes’ set was waylaid by “a major technical error,” she told her audience, adding “Don’t judge me for being bad at calculating things.” Her performance was interspersed with her own screams of frustration as her tracks played at double tempo. “Just don’t blame me because it’s not my fault. Well, it’s partially my fault. But it’s not entirely my fault,” she announced.

Special guests take the stage

Coachella weekend was rife with “Please welcome to the stage…” news. Vampire Weekend, themselves a last-minute addition to the festival setlist, for some reason brought out Paris Hilton to play a game of corn hole, which, she told the crowd, she hadn’t done since The Simple Life.

The weekend also saw a performance from embattled Oscar winner Will Smith. Smith joined rapper J Balvin for a delightful choreographed rendition of the Men In Black theme song, to complement the galactic theme of Balvin’s show.

Meanwhile, Reneé Rapp had multiple surprise appearances in her set, including an introduction from the cast of The L Word. Later, she brought out Kesha to do a rendition of “TiK ToK,” in which they changed the lyrics to waking up in the morning “feeling like P. Diddy” to “fuck P. Diddy.”

Up-and-comers impress

Speaking of Reneé Rapp, she was among a class of rising pop stars who made waves playing some of the biggest stages of their careers. Her cohort included Sabrina Carpenter and Chappell Roan, both of whom released new tracks leading up to their festival performances. Roan’s rendition of her new song “Good Luck, Babe” was a particular festival highlight.

This year’s Grammy winner for Best New Artist, Victoria Monet, also gave a typically impressive and crowd pleasing performance on Sunday.

Later, though you couldn’t call her an up-and-comer anymore, Doja Cat closed out the first weekend, becoming only the second Black woman to headline the festival. She brought her signature weirdness to the stage, including a horde of yetis as background dancers. We’ll see what she has in store for the second weekend!

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Mary Kate Carr