There are great music festivals, there are spectacular music festivals, and then there’s Coachella.
Each year, Coachella offers a completely unique festival experience, and 2023 was stacked to the brim with unmissable talent. With surprises (Blink-182), global icons (Bad Bunny, BLACKPINK, Rosalía), indie favorites (boygenius, Gorillaz), and elusive rarities (Frank Ocean, Jai Paul), thousands packed into the California desert oasis for a weekend of incredible music.
Each major genre and each generation had ample representation. There were some classics from different eras, like Blondie, The Breeders, and Björk, amidst music’s future heroes, like Ethel Cain, Sudan Archives, and Magdalena Bay. What makes Coachella so special is that each artist typically plays their very best show — they’ll pull out all the bells and whistles. That includes bringing in tons of unexpected stars to appear on the festival’s seven stages; The Weeknd, Billie Eilish, Future, Post Malone, Nile Rogers, and Tyler, the Creator were just a few of many exciting guests throughout the weekend.
Overall, Coachella ran very smoothly — but as with any large-scale event, there were occasional hiccups. Frank Ocean’s set was certainly polarizing; he did show up, but it was an hour after his scheduled time, and he ended up having to cut off his set early due to curfew. A few audio issues arose (The Linda Lindas made due with microphone mishaps, and it took Jai Paul a couple songs before it all came together sonically), and certain performances underwhelmed: Gorillaz had some fun special guests, but their set wasn’t as gripping as it could have been, and a few of the electronic giants felt a little homogenous, while acts like Fisher + Chris Lake had some intriguing visuals but lacked a little showmanship.
But at Coachella, the good tends to outweigh the bad. Bad Bunny’s headlining set was a sight to behold, and his raucous opener — last year’s irresistible “Tití Me Preguntó” — was absolutely electrifying. Elsewhere throughout the weekend, EARTHGANG and Pusha-T performed some of the best hip-hop sets; Charli XCX, Rosalía, and BLACKPINK served some killer choreography; and Björk dazzled with a full orchestra behind her.
Thankfully, most sets were live streamed once again this year, so even if you had some FOMO — we don’t blame you! — at lease you could enjoy Couchella. Here are some things you may have missed if you weren’t physically at Coachella 2023.