Sundays at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival start slowly. Your muscles are sore. You haven’t had much sleep.
But reaching the festival grounds, the grass a little worn from the pristine green of Friday, you feel just a bit better.
And as music starts to fill the air — be it the beautiful voice of singer-songwriter Weyes Blood, the guttural growl and lo-fi rumble of British electronic punks Sleaford Mods, or the joyful dance beats of Porter Robinson — everything feels absolutely fine again.
Weyes Blood, the name under which singer-songwriter Natalie Mering performs, played a lovely set — her vocals truly are gorgeous — that at time veered into unexpectedly funny places.
“I hear there is a lot of moshing going on this weekend,” she deadpanned to the Mojave Tent crowd after a somber “God Turn Me Into a Flower.”
“Well, luckily this our one moshing song, so I highly support at least rubbing shoulders with the person next to you, or soft bashing, because this is your one chance,” she added.
The song that followed, “Everyday,” was more jauntily mellow than jaggedly mosh-worthy. Though a human in a fluffy black-and-white dog suit walked on stage to wave purple-and-green pom-pons, then climbed into the crowd and started a softly bashing mosh pit.
So she wasn’t wrong.
Earlier, across the field on the main Coachella Stage, dance music singer and producer Porter Robinson had a massive later afternoon crowd for his upbeat grooves and energetic performance. Unlike many dance music producers, Robinson played with a full band and sang his own vocals live, giving his set more life than many in the genre. Highlights included “Musician,” “Mirror,” and “Trying to Stay Alive.”
In the darkness of the enclosed Sonora Tent, English post-punk duo Sleaford Mods delivered a powerful blast of stripped down emotion. Singer Jason Williamson barked out his literate diatribes against the powers that be as musician Andrew Fearn, whose lo-fi electronics and bass were programmed on his laptop, allowed Fearn to dance wildly in a T-shirt with “The Simpsons” character Police Chief Wiggum on the front.
Highlights included songs such as “Force 10 From Navarone,” “Tilldipper,” and “Tory Kong,” all them under the watchful, smiling visage of Damon Albarn, mastermind of Gorillaz, which performed Friday night.
The El Michels Affair played in Sonora before Sleaford Mods. The band has provided instrumental backing for live hip-hop artists for years. Here they did mostly their own music, though rapper Freddie Gibbs came out to perform for the last three songs of the set.
Latin artists were also featured early on with Argentinian ska and rock band Los Fabulosos Cadillacs getting the crowd at the Outdoor Theatre Stage up and dancing in the broiling heat. At the same time in Sonora, the London-based Los Bitchos played a sweet set of instrumental music that might best be described as cumbia-meets-surf-and-garage rock — groovy!
In December 2021, rapper and activist Noname announced she’d be going on indefinite hiatus from music and putting her “Factory Baby” album on pause. The 31-year-old Chicago native is back at it now, performing one of her first shows since before the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns in the Mojave Tent at Coachella on Sunday. It was an electric set that had fans singing passionately along with her and to one another.
“Is it OK if I play some stuff from ‘Telefone?’” she asked the crowd. With a roaring response she played the song “Diddy Bop” from her 2016 mixtape. She played a few more and has this audience smitten before launching into a a few off of her 2018 debut full length, “Room 25,” including “Don’t Forget About Me” and “Montego Bae,” during which she gave her all-Black backing band an opportunity to shine with some funky R&B and jazz solos.
Noname was fun and personable, greeting the growing crowd stopping by to check out her set by introducing herself. “I’m gonna teach you the words to this song,” she said. “Some people might not know it. And if you don’t know me and stopped by, ‘Hi, I’m Noname.” She then led the crowd through “Room 32” during which fans sang back the “Yippee-ki, yippee-ki-yay, with the Noname” chorus.
Over in the Sahara Tent the speakers blasted, “Yo Pi’erre, you wanna come out here?” Producer and rapper Pi’erre Bourne soon hopped on stage as the recording of his well-known catch phrase introduced him. He’s produced tracks for artists like Playboi Carti, Ye, 21 Savage and Travis Scott. Though he’s done so much with others, the focus was on his rapping skills as he pulled mostly from “The Life of Pi’erre 5,” his sophomore album that dropped back in 2021. He played “Biology 101,” “4U” and his TikTok hit, “Drunk and Nasty.”
Los Angeles-based alternative rap duo Paris Texas had and early and hot set in the Mojave Tent. Going on just after 2 p.m. with the sun beating down on the festival grounds, their set attracted fans looking for some shade while they enjoyed frozen lemonades and popsicles to cool down. The energy was palpable, and those that had merely sought refuge from the elements soon began grooving along and making their way to the front of the stage as they played songs like “Force of Habit,” “Girls Like Drugs,” “Heavy Metal” and even a new offering, “Panic!!!”
🎡 More Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival news
Coachella 2023: A look inside the festival bars and hidden speakeasies
Coachella 2023: See photos from Day 2 of the festival
Coachella 2023: The festival offers a $364.80 farm-to-table dinner. Is it worth it?
Coachella 2023: New large-scale art displays join other iconic fest pieces
Coachella 2023: Linda Lindas, Destroy Boys and Flo Milli kick off Day 2
Coachella 2023: Photos of artist-inspired outfits and fashion during Weekend 1
Coachella 2023: The New Bar offers a cocktail experience without the hangover
Coachella 2023: Juliet Mendoza shares what it’s like to be one of the opening acts
Coachella 2023: See Day 1 photos of Bad Bunny, Gorillaz, Blink-182 and Blondie
Coachella 2023: See photos from Day 1 of the festival
Coachella 2023: Weekend Two hasn’t sold out yet. Here’s why that’s good for you