If you missed the first weekend of Coachella, there is good news: Weekend Two is just a day away, and there are still tickets available. A decade ago, it might have seemed crazy to have the same festival take place on two consecutive weekends in the same location, but Coachella has turned that into a business model, with each installment having its own personality. Different guests often pop up from weekend to weekend, and of course this year has a special church service for Easter. And while some may visit Indio for both weekends, this handy guide goes over some of the best things we saw and ate during the first weekend for those that are gearing up for their trip to the desert.
Outstanding In The Field
Outstanding In The Field is a dinner unlike any other. Taking place in the Rose Garden VIP section, OITF is a nightly multi-course meal featuring different menus and chefs on each night. Over the first weekend, chefs like Nyesha Arrington, Jessica Largey, the team from Tartine, Shirley Li, and Casey Thompson all brought inventive menus paired with outstanding wine to the polo fields. Diners get to meet the farmers that grew the produce and the winemakers who made the wine, bringing people closer to the food they are consuming than is usually possible. Weekend Two will offer up the team behind Border Grill, Ray Garcia of Broken Spanish, and more over the course of three nights. This was our first year experiencing the dinner, and it went far beyond our expectations. Purchase add-on tickets here.
Indio Central Market
If you don’t want to drop a couple bills on a fancy dinner, Coachella still has plenty of amazing dining options. Many can be found at the Indio Central Market, a food hall that debuted last year and features some of the best vendors from Los Angeles and beyond. Here is a quick rundown of some of the great things we ate this year (some of which are elsewhere on the field):
– The egg salad sandwich from Konbi.
– David Chang’s loaded fries from Fuku.
– The Dole whip float (and all the delicious Kogi items) from Roy Choi’s gigantic KogiTown.
– The Al Pastor vegan tacos from Vegatinos.
– The Planet Earth ice cream from Van Leeuwen.
– Sweetfin’s fresh selection of poke.
– Menotti’s iced Mexican latte. The best way to start your day.
– Nana Lu’s undeniable pizza bagels, available in both meat and veggie versions.
– And of course, Spicy Pie, because no festival is complete without it.
There are some years when the headliners at Coachella are completely skippable, but this is not one of them. Ariana Grande brought out huge guests like members of NSYNC and Nicki Minaj, but really she didn’t need them as the music from her last two albums and her pink-hued performance easily stood on its own. Childish Gambino turned his set into a showcase for his artistic vision, debuting new music and proving how his success in multiple disciplines can work together. And Tame Impala showed that a rock band still has a place in the most coveted booking in music, amping up their production with storms of confetti, bold colors, and enough lasers to make Calvin Harris jealous. The variety at play is truly impressive, with three very different artists offering up three very different performances, and all of them went over well.
It’s not often that one of Coachella’s weekends has a bit of completely original programming that the other one doesn’t, but this year’s scheduled appearance from Kanye West promises to be just that. We’re not talking about him headlining in a giant dome, which is what he originally wanted and caused him to back out at the eleventh hour. No, this is a Kanye West Easter Sunday Service, bringing his much-discussed weekly religious gatherings to the Coachella campgrounds. The booking shows a remarkable amount of forgiveness of the part of the festival to get back into business with West just a few months after he pulled a pretty shady move, but also an act of goodwill from both parties to continue their fruitful relationship. They’ve done great things in the past together, so why should this be any different?
Everything Else From GOOD Music
Had West performed as a headliner at Coachella, he would have had a lot of his friends on the grounds, too. Who knows if West will pop-up for any of those on Weekend Two when he’s already going to be in the area, but the possibility is enough to make viewing mandatory. But here’s the thing, between Kid Cudi closing out the Sahara on Saturday night by turning the stage into a cold, alien planet, Pusha T’s Sunday afternoon set that pays tribute to cocaine in front of a giant rock and dancing yetis, and 070 Shake honoring a small but dedicated crowd by delivering her Gobi set mostly from the edge of the stage, all of these performances stand tall without the need for special appearances. Kanye could just take them through the stratosphere.
Golden Hour at golden hour. It doesn’t get much better than hearing music from the best album of last year on one of the biggest stages in music as the sun starts to get low in the sky. Kacey’s set is special for many other reasons, particularly how rare it is to get a country star at Coachella (Chris Stapleton and Sturgill Simpson also played in the last five years, but were relegated to tents). And Musgraves is completely up to be an ambassador for her genre, even if they don’t always stand behind her in return. If you go to Coachella in 2019 and don’t shout “haw” when Kacey yells “yee,” did you even go to Coachella?
The Giant Art
Most of the giant art installations at Coachella are impossible to miss. They tower over the grounds, proving landmarks for teens to find their friends, or find the next band they want to see. But it’s worth taking the time to properly explore some of these beautiful creations. The crown jewel is Spectra, a rainbow-colored tower that provides equal opportunity to create jaw-dropping selfies or stunning scenic shots. Sure, there is a line, but it will be worth it. Also with a line is Childish Gambino and Google’s collaborative structure that takes his Friday night headlining performance to interactive levels. It’s another one as primed for selfie action as it is gorgeous on the landscape. And lastly, take the time to spend some moments with the hippos at H.I.P.O. – Hazardous Interstellar Planetary Object. It’s the costumed creations third time at the festival, and the weirdest mix of performance art and art installation on the grounds.
You heard it at South By Southwest. Now you’re hearing it at Coachella: Lizzo is a star and everyone should prepare to kneel down before her. It might seem like hyperbole until you witness her energy in live performance, which takes place on Sunday afternoon in the Mojave. There are dancers, there is flute playing, and there are laughs and countless cheers. This is basically an opportunity to see an artist truly having their moment that they deserve, and the kind of set that people regret missing if they do.
In terms of traditional rock bands, Coachella relied less than ever on the form. But still, The 1975 rose to the occasion by stacking great song after great song on Friday night at the Coachella stage. It was a testament to how strong the recent material truly is, and also in how much they have grown into their roles as ambassadors for bands everywhere. The most fun was the treadmill employed by bandleader Matt Healy, allowing him to Jamiroquai all over the stage while making wacky faces and delivering often profound lyrics. If they could log a couple more major hits, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them become festival headliners in no time.
…And More Music
Of course, the aforementioned artists, meals, and installations are only the top of the iceberg. Blackpink’s Friday night Sahara set is enough to think that a K-pop headliner could be in the cards for 2020 (BTS anyone?) with the four ladies showing themselves to be entertainers of the highest order. Billie Eilish might also be an album away from turning headliner, as she celebrated having the top-selling album in the country with one of the biggest audiences the Outdoor Theatre has ever seen. Janelle Monae clearly loved being on the fields, as she could be seen watching everyone from Tame Impala to Unknown Mortal Orchestra to Lizzo, and that love showed in just how inventive her stage performance was. King Princess is just as much of a rising star as Eilish, bridging the rock and pop worlds in her own distinct way that has to be seen to believed. Maggie Rogers deserved a much bigger stage, as her Gobi appearance overflowed the small tent, to the point where her celebratory bow at the end of her set felt heartily deserved. And if music festivals as still for discovery, for me it was Texas trio Khruangbin, whose mostly instrumental funky psych-rock is better experienced than read about, as the chemistry between the players resulting in a truly special performance. Surely there was more to be seen than our team could possibly get to, but this should provide a good starting point for the ultimate Coachella experience.
Some artists covered here are Warner Music artists. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.