Blink-182, Blondie bring Coachella nostalgia ahead of Bad Bunny headliner

The mammoth festival takes place over two three-day weekends and traditionally kicks off the year's summer concert circuit.

April 15, 2023 12:23 pm | Updated 12:23 pm IST - Indio, United States

U.S. singer Becky G performs during the first week-end of Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, California, on April 14, 2023.

U.S. singer Becky G performs during the first week-end of Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, California, on April 14, 2023. | Photo Credit: AFP

California's Coachella festival got back to its turn-of-the-millennium rock roots Friday with a surprise reunion set from Blink-182, delivering a nostalgic head banging moment hours before Bad Bunny is set to make history.

The reggaeton titan will be the first Spanish-language and first Latin American act to headline the festival.

It's but another notch on the belt of the Puerto Rican artist born Benito Martinez Ocasio, the 29-year-old who is by most measures the biggest star in the world.

Though Bad Bunny was on the minds of many of the thousands who attended the desert art festival's opening day, a stacked lineup spanning the genres offered plenty of diversions ahead of the evening's primetime event.

The Blink set was the pop-punk group's first performance with their original lineup in nearly a decade, and had droves of 30-somethings reliving the soundtrack to their youths.

Band members Travis Barker, Mark Hoppus and Tom DeLonge -- who are now all pushing or past 50 -- delivered the hits of middle school dances yore, including "Rock Show" and "What's My Age Again."

By the set's close, the band had thousands of people belting out a moody "I Miss You" before a mass singalong of "All The Small Things."

After the set, many rushed to a neighboring tent to catch a blockbuster show from Blondie, who also delivered hits including "Heart of Glass" and "Call Me," and invited guest Nile Rodgers onstage.

But neither rock nor legacy acts dominated Friday's slate, which featured main stage shows from rappers Pusha T and Doechii, a performance from Nigeria's Burna Boy and DJ sets from the likes of Nora en Pure and Idris Elba.

Belgium's pop star Angele made her Coachella debut in a coveted nighttime slot, donning a disco ball of an outfit to perform her brand of jazz-inflected electro-pop alongside tightly choreographed dancers and occasional French subtitles on display behind her.

Los Angeles native Becky G donned a bright blue bikini and baggy JNCO jeans for her highly anticipated set, which featured a smattering of her hits and some regional Mexican guest appearances paying homage to her Mexican-American roots.

"A lot of Latin artists are breaking a lot of barriers," fan Katherine Narvaez told AFP ahead of Becky G's show.

"It's amazing to see her grow as an artist and kill it at the show," the 28-year-old said.

Along with Bad Bunny and Becky G, the strong showing from Latinos this year includes rapper Eladio Carrion, Argentina's Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, and the Grammy-winning Kali Uchis.

Globalised lineup

The mammoth festival takes place over two three-day weekends and traditionally kicks off the year's summer concert circuit.

This year is the first time Coachella hasn't booked a white headliner: following Bad Bunny, K-pop superstars Blackpink and the influential but reclusive R&B artist Frank Ocean top the bill at Coachella.

The weekend is hosting perhaps the most international lineup Coachella has ever booked, including Spanish phenomenon Rosalia and Iceland's Bjork.

For CedarBough Saeji, a professor of Korean and East Asian studies who specializes in K-pop, the festival lineup emphasizing the hottest acts from across the globe is long overdue.

"The American music industry, the American decision-makers, are not necessarily the biggest risk-takers," she told AFP. "They want to follow clear indication of public demand, as opposed to sticking their necks out."

The elusive electronic producer Jai Paul is set to play his first public performance ever, while Diljit Dosanjh will become the first Punjabi singer to perform at Coachella.

Also on deck for the rest of the weekend are American indie rock supergroup boygenius -- which includes Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker -- and Charli XCX.

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