Katy Perry brought snacks -- a clear plastic bag of chips and Pedialyte, to be precise. It’s the second day of Coachella’s first weekend, and Perry is huddled among a rarefied group of festivalgoers at the Outdoor Theatre. There’s Perry’s fiancé, actor Orlando Bloom; Late Late Show host James Corden; omnipresent DJ-producer Diplo; Apple CEO Tim Cook; and Apple Music global creative director/Beats 1 host Zane Lowe, plus much of Interscope Records’ staff. The only person missing is the star they’ve all come to see: Billie Eilish.
Two weeks earlier, Eilish -- the 17-year-old singer-songwriter who has been pronounced everything from a prodigy to the future of pop -- dropped her debut album, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? It immediately shot to No. 1 on the Billboard 200, making Eilish the first artist born in the 21st century to hit the chart’s peak; it returned to No. 1 a month later. Today is her first live performance since its release.
Eilish was scheduled to hit the stage nearly 30 minutes ago, but her crew is still making last-minute adjustments to her LED-paneled floor. Perry eagerly chants, “Fuck the screen!” while Eilish’s team whispers somewhat anxiously about the holdup. But outside of the viewing area reserved for Eilish’s friends and family, the growing crowd appears unfazed. An artist can only make her Coachella debut once, a notion deeply understood by the tens of thousands who want to one day say, “I was there” -- and by Eilish herself.