Fans are calling the Californian festival BillieChella after her storming performance
By now, you’ll be familiar with the story of Billie Eilish, the 17-year-old taking the pop world by force. Each move she makes, be that her debut EP, first UK live shows, or chart-topping, record-breaking debut album, captures the imagination of a whole new crop of people and propels her star to even more unfathomable new heights. Wherever she goes, hysteria follows, fans screaming and singing along to every word louder than any venue PA can go.
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Her Coachella debut is no different, but a problem early on threatens to upset things. Where the scene on stage should be her prowling in oversized streetwear, it’s instead one of stressed men trying to make the technology that fuels her stark but atmospheric production work until over 30 minutes after she was due to start. Fans get impatient but, instead of leaving, start a chant of “Fuck that screen!”
When she finally gets to begin conquering Coachella, she starts by giving the thumping ‘Bad Guy’ and The Office-sampling ‘My Strange Addiction’ their live debuts, immediately turning this section of desert into a dark, pulsating party. On ‘You Should See Me In A Crown’, she swaggers even harder than usual – which is saying something given her usual air of supreme, unfuckwithable confidence – controlling the crowd with her brash moves. Her stage presence throughout is so utterly enthralling that, even if the technical problems of earlier hadn’t been solved, she probably could have wowed regardless.
There is still one more issue to come, however. When Vince Staples joins her for ‘&Burn’, his mic doesn’t work. All we’re left with is the visual of him rapping wordlessly for what could have been a very special moment. Still, the rest of the set is full of other special moments to make up for it, not least a hair-raising, spine-tingling version of creepy pop banger ‘Bury A Friend’, which sees Eilish perform from the top of a bed that looks like it’s been salvaged from a Victorian hospital and hung over the stage by iron chains.
“I don’t deserve this at all,” she says at one point during the set, as stars like Lady Gaga, Kylie Jenner, and Travis Scott watch on. The truth is, though, she does. When she admits she used “sit and cry in her room because I wanted this shit so bad”, there’s a glimmer of disbelief, just for a second, that this is her real life. As with every other chapter in her story so far, her Coachella debut points to things getting even more mind-blowingly wild for her very soon. Tonight (April 13), Eilish made her mark, not only as a hype act that can justify every positive word said about her, but as a future headliner and, perhaps, the future of pop.
‘My Strange Addiction’
‘You Should See Me In A Crown’
‘Watch / &Burn’
‘Wish You Were Gay’
‘All The Good Girls Go To Hell’
‘Bury A Friend’
‘When The Party’s Over’