The biggest talking points of Coachella 2019

Join us throughout the weekend for all the best moments from the desert fest

Coachella 2019 is underway but, if you’re not in the desert this year, you don’t have to worry about missing out. We’re collating all the biggest talking points of the weekend as they happen so consider this blog your virtual crib sheet, here to help you feel just like you were present, minus the desert dust.

Friday (April 12)

Kacey Musgraves is making country cool

First, she put out her best record to date, the pop-flirting ‘Golden Hour’. Then she got the call to support Harry Styles on his US tour. And, earlier this year, she pulled off a surprise win at the Grammys as her latest record was named Album Of The Year. Now, she’s making her debut performance at Coachella, a festival that isn’t exactly a go-to for country stars.

As ‘Golden Hour’ suggests, Musgraves is beyond your stereotypical idea of a country singer-songwriter. She comes on stage looking dressed more Studio 54 than a Nashville bar, the glitz emphasised by a giant disco ball behind her that rotates throughout the set. Her band are dressed in a uniform of brown tracksuits and rainbow sweatbands, part Wes Anderson, part 118 Got Your Number advert characters. They pull out all the best bits of her biggest album – the soft strum of ‘Wonder Woman’, the disco beats of ‘High Horse’, for which 90-year-old internet star Baddie Winkle comes on stage to dance – while leading a sizeable, adoring crowd in shows of solidarity through raised middle fingers and “When I say yee, you saw haw” chants. There are moments of hilarity, too, especially when the audience gets a little too eager to yeehaw, prompting their leader to chide: “I didn’t say fucking ‘Yee’!”

It feels a little too early to tell if Musgraves is about to have a Taylor Swift moment and go completely pop, but, in the meantime, she’s doing a fine job of changing perceptions of her country roots.

The 1975’s set is still glorious without all the fancy arena tech

There’s a bit in The 1975‘s current live show where frontman Matty Healy appears to be walking into and on the big screen at the back of the stage. It’s a mind-blowing moment of absolute creative genius but one that’s a lot more suited to arenas where you’re the number one priority, rather than a festival field crowded with bands.

The Manchester group’s Coachella set might be void of much of the flash of their ‘A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships’ tour, but proves that, even as masters of raising the bar production-wise, The 1975 don’t need these things to put on a great night. The only things that remain from their own gigs are the giant rectangle that frames drummer George Daniel, dancers The Jaiy Twins, and the travelator that runs along the front of the stage and allows Healy to recreate elements of the ‘Sincerity Is Scary’ video with more finesse.

Stripped of distractions, it’s the songs that really shine. ‘It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You)’ sounds 100 times brighter and more urgent, while Healy’s auto-tuned screams on ‘I Like America and America Likes Me’ are chill-inducing. A cameo appearance from the band’s labelmate No Rome provides the warming sight of the rising musician and Healy bounding around stage with excitement, and closer ‘The Sound’ has the singer boasting the moment he yells at everyone to jump will lead to the biggest crowd participation of the weekend. Your urge is to argue with him but one look at the response shows he may just be right.

BLACKPINK become the latest K-pop group to make history

No all-female K-pop group has ever played Coachella, or at least not until tonight. BLACKPINK, a four-piece from South Korea that will soon be impossible to not have heard of, claimed that honour when festival founder reportedly flew out to meet them and personally invite them to play. Their recent EP, ‘Kill This Love’, might have left listeners wanting but that wasn’t the case for their Coachella debut. Read our full review here.

Donald Glover is waving goodbye to Childish Gambino at the height of his powers

Soon we’ll be saying au revoir to Childish Gambino if Donald Glover is to believed. As part of his final tour under the name, he headlined Coachella 2019 on its opening day, perfectly pacing a set that went through emotions and sweet release. Read our full review here. 

Saturday (April 13)

Mac DeMarco previews ‘Here Comes The Cowboy’

Next month, Mac DeMarco returns with a new album, ‘Here Comes The Cowboy’ and, after playing all of it in full at a pre-Coachella warm-up show, the musician gave the festival a more abridged taste of what to expect from it. That, it seems, is something incredibly chill, with only the funk groove of ‘Choo Choo’ out of the five tracks he played from the new record getting anywhere close to energetic. That’s no bad thing, though – the likes of ‘Finally Alone’ are sweet cuts that are perfect soundtracks for watching the sunset in a field.

Billie Eilish justifies the hype

She may have only just released her debut album, ‘When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?’, but Billie Eilish is already marking herself out as a headliner of the future. Despite technical difficulties delaying the start of her set and spoiling a cameo from Vince Staples, the Californian teen nailed her first appearance at Coachella. Read our full review here.

Tame Impala’s biggest moment yet falls flat

Tame Impala are great. In 2017, when they headlined New York’s Panorama, NME declared that they should headline all festivals. Coachella gave them their biggest bill-topping chance yet on Saturday, but sadly, it was left wanting. While they might have new material on the way, it felt like the same thing they’ve been doing for the last four years instead of something exciting and fresh that could propel them from cult concern to crossover heroes. Read our full review here.

Sunday (April 14)

Lizzo is about to go stratospheric

Lizzo, the rapping, singing hero from Minnesota, has been around for a minute, but lately it’s seemed like she’s about to blow up big style. Her Coachella set, in which she previews her upcoming major label debut ‘Cuz I Love You’, only reinforces that – a riot of power, twerking, and celebratory spirit that’s lapped up by a huge crowd who make their appreciation known through raucous cheers and “Lizzo! Lizzo!” chants. The star herself knows the path she’s on to. “I need you over here and over here to get your technical shit together cos when I’m headlining next time I’m gonna need my ears to work,” she tells the sound crew, referencing issues with her in-ear monitors. With new songs as soulful and fun as the new album’s title track and ‘Soulmate’, expect her confident premonition to come true sooner rather than later.

Ariana Grande’s guests hit highs and lows

Who would have thought the reunion of the four least famous members of NSYNC would be a Coachella highlight? But, when Joey Fatone, JC Chasez, Lance Bass, and Chris Kirkpatrick appeared on stage with Ariana Grande, that’s exactly what happened. Their performance was slick, smooth, and just nostalgic enough, joining the pop star for an enjoyable burst of ‘Makes Me Ill’ and ‘Tearin’ Up My Heart’. The same couldn’t be said for all of Grande’s guests, though. Nicki Minaj’s cameo fell on the other end of the spectrum – lazy, messy, and dull. Read our full review here.