It was a wild weekend at this year’s installment of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts festival in Indio, California, full of historic headlining sets, dramatic guest turns, and exceedingly welcome new favorites.
While we’re still trying to recover from three days of music and sun — and trying to get that list bit of inhaled desert dust out of our lungs — we couldn’t wrap the weekend (Apr. 13-15) without one final look back at our favorite moments from the festival that was. Here are the ten best things we saw at Coachella 2018.
BROCKHAMPTON brings the mayhem
Self-proclaimed boy band BROCKHAMPTON may have been 15 minutes late to their afternoon set on Saturday, but that didn’t slow them down. In fact, they had one of the most high-energy performances of the weekend, with each member taking turns on the mic and showing off dance moves in front of a string section and helicopter staged behind them. The group may have battled mic issues sporadically throughout — which leader Kevin Abstract later took to Twitter to apologize for — but it didn’t kill any of the momentum, with cuts from their latest project Saturation III getting the strongest response from the packed audience. — STEVEN J. HOROWITZ
The War on Drugs up their potency
As if they had read Billboard‘s preview post claiming that you always know what you were gonna get with a War on Drugs live performance, the Philadelphia drone-rockers checked in at Coachella Friday with a set that was nearly unrecognizable in its raw energy. Not that the band has never kicked out the jams before, but compared to the languid daydreaminess of their 2015 Coachella set, this felt like WoD going full MC5, with frontman Adam Granduciel tapping into a newly throaty, bloody urgency with his vocals and shredding on the guitar like his timeslot depended on it. We stand corrected. — ANDREW UNTERBERGER
MØ proves her pop prowess
Best known for her contributions to Major Lazer’s “Lean On” and “Cold Water,” Danish pop singer MØ held her own during her afternoon set on Saturday, showcasing her solo tunes and bringing out a few friends including Diplo and Charli XCX. But above all, she showed that she knows how to command the stage. With every pop or crash of the beat, she was constantly moving in time, without a single shaky note. It was a testament to her artistic abilities, and proof that she’s more than just a guest singer on mega-hits. — S.J.H.
?Aminé has a story to tell
The Portland rapper closed his Sunday afternoon set with a sequence of likely his four best-known songs — “Wedding Crashers,” “REDMERCEDES,” “Spice Girl” and “Caroline” — connecting them via an obviously creative-license-taken tale of trying to pick up girls as a single guy (“What can I do to get girls to like me… should I get a red Mercedes?“) Narrative sketchiness aside, it was one of the weekend’s most enjoyable runs of jams, particularly lighting up the crowd when Aminé dropped Snoop Dogg’s Neptunes-produced “Drop It Like It’s Hot” beat in the middle of “REDMERCEDES,” then followed that by leading the audience in a “Wannabe” singalong at the end of “Spice Girl.” — A.U.
SZA brings out her homies to party with her before ”The Weekend.”
Though SZA didn’t get to perform arguably her biggest song in ”The Weekend” on Friday night (April 13) — she was forced into an early exit after starting late — that didn’t hinder her from partying like it was 1999. The TDE singer-songwriter recruited Kendrick Lamar, Isaiah Rashad and Trippie Redd for her sizzling set. Don’t fret, though: despite her robust guest list, SZA still dictated the pace on her own, with captivating performances of “Go Gina” and “Love Galore.” — CARL LAMARRE?
Chance the Rapper comes through with the timely assists
Though everyone would have loved to enjoy some ”Sunday Candy” during weekend one of Coachella, watching Chance the Rapper make surprise appearances during both Kyle and Cardi B’s sets was enough to stave off fans’ hunger pangs. Not only did he venture back in time and assist his Cali brother on the Surf highlight ”Wanna Be Cool,” but he also helped the Bronx Bomber, Cardi B, perform her standout cut ”Best Thing,” from her newly minted No. 1 album on the Billboard 200, Invasion of Privacy. — C.L.
Beyoncé sets new standard for Coachella headliners
The hyperbolic responses around Beyoncé’s headlining slot on Saturday night were completely justified. In person, patrons were losing their collective minds at every turn as Queen Bey flawlessly hit every single cue, dance move and note, not losing a single breath throughout. But beyond that, it cemented her as the greatest living live artist. The performance was imaginative, bar-raising and generally perfect, particularly notable for its machinations — the brass band, the dancers, the guests including JAY-Z, Solange and Destiny’s Child — but also for its historical weight. “Coachella, thanks for allowing me to be the first black woman to headline,” she said halfway through the set. “Ain’t that ’bout a bitch?” Sure is. — S.J.H
Greta Van Fleet disproves what we think we know about rock in 2018
Rock was relatively under-represented at Coachella this year, but given the spotty attendance at some of the bigger rock names’ gigs throughout the weekend, it’s not hard to understand why. One notable exception, however, was Michigan quartet Greta Van Fleet, who make fairly little effort to modernize their classic rock with EDM drops or guest rappers or even modern lyrical concerns, yet still packed the Mojave Tent with a relatively young crowd. The quartet’s instrumental prowess — particularly frontman Josh Kisza’s Valhallan wailing and brother Jake Kisza’s jaw-dropping fretwork — might just be indomitable enough to make such generational divides immaterial; no matter who you are or when you are, in their tent, you’re always a 16-year-old in 1973. — A.U.
Puff Daddy touches down at French Montana’s set
Though Puff Daddy doesn’t really dabble too much in the rapping side of things anymore, whenever he graces the stage, he always does so with flair and grace. That was the case on Coachella Sunday, when French Montana brought him out as a surprise guest to perform his No Way Out classic “It’s All About the Benjamins.” Once his name was called, the Bad Boy head honcho glided across the stage, and buoyantly rapped the ‘90s classic as if he’d just released the party record yesterday. — C.L.
Eminem Pays Homage to His Shady/Aftermath Family
Besides watching Beyoncé reunite with Destiny’s Child for their sweet-sounding medley on Saturday night (April 14), to see Eminem join forces with 50 Cent and Dr. Dre the following day was perhaps the festival’s most pleasant surprise. The three-headed behemoth owned the rap front in the early 2000s, and on Sunday, their performances of classic hits like “In Da Club” and “Forgot About Dre” reminded everyone that their legacies in hip-hop will be eternal. — C.L.