Extenders in thong body suits, with glitter eye shadow and neon casing partyed late Friday night as the first Coachella since the onset of the pandemic in the California desert.
Brazil’s Anitta brought electricity with elaborate dance routines at lock, thrilling crowds after inviting Snoop Dogg and Saweetie on stage, while Phoebe Bridgers conjured up a lighter waving mood with dreamy strings accompanying her muddy lyrics – and a guttural scream for good measure.
And Harry Styles debuted at Coachella as a lead, kicking off the evening’s premiere set in a fur coat before stripping to unveil a disco ball from an outfit he wore to run along the stage’s runway dancing, thousands of screaming fans screaming at his feet.
He later delighted fans by bringing no one but Shania Twain on stage for a string of duets and telling the audience that he sang along with the nineties superstar’s hits in his mother’s car.
“I’m a little startruck … It’s a little surreal to sing this song with you,” Twain said when the couple twisted her 1997 track “You’re Still The One.”
The giant event, which takes place over two three-day weekends, is one of the world’s most celebrated festivals, and traditionally kicks off this year’s summer concert circuit.
Coachella’s 2020 edition was scrapped when the coronavirus pandemic came into full force, and two years of chaotic cancellations, rescheduled performances and assemblies followed.
As it returns after a three-year hiatus, Coachella is a clockwork for the multi-billion-dollar tour industry that is still on shaky ground after persistent pandemic setbacks.
After other large-scale festivities, including Lollapalooza last year, required proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 result, Coachella announced this winter that it would not require such mitigation measures, including masks or social distances.
But it comes amid an increase in coronavirus cases nationwide, mostly due to the highly transmissible Omicron subvariant known as BA.2.
On Friday, temperatures rose and when festival-goers descended on the site for a three-day party, the coronavirus appeared to have contracted.
“Look at this!” Sarah Jones, a 26-year-old from Oregon, told AFP.
“We just want to have fun; I do not want to think about (coronavirus) tonight.”
“Everyone misses it”
The festival is mostly held outdoors and welcomes daily about 125,000 celebrants from across the country and overseas, many of whom camp and perfect hotels in the area.
There are two virus test sites on festival grounds. Jose Arballo – a senior representative of public information for the Riverside County Public Health Department, where Coachella takes place – said there will also be reinforced testing facilities nearby.
“I’m very excited to be here,” said one concertgoer who was identified as Saturn Risin9, who said they were ageless and had traveled from Los Angeles.
“I’m not scared, and I’m excited to be outside with people.
As the sun set and the fresh grass made way for trampled dust, the desert night owls came out.
“That’s great!” Alexa Davis, a 24-year-old Connecticut native, told AFP as she joined the crowd dancing with Anitta. “She’s killing it, she’s really hot.”
The 29-year-old Anitta made history earlier this year when she became the first Brazilian to reach the world number one spot on Spotify.
She gave the order over Coachella’s main stage, whose set contains images replicating a Rio de Janeiro favela, which began with the introduction of “Mais Que Nada” when California legend Snoop Dogg joined her.
During a set that saw her jump seamlessly between Portuguese, English and Spanish, Anitta later embarked on her reggaeton hit “Envolver,” which joined the masses in the rhythm.
“Our culture is being noticed … Latinas are also reaching the pinnacle of the world scene,” Anitta said in an interview with AFP last month. “I plan to keep making songs for every part of the world. Including in Portuguese, of course.”
Other big actors playing sets at Coachella this weekend include Megan Thee Stallion and Doja Cat.
After Styles Friday, Billie Eilish will headline on Saturday and The Weeknd will work with Swedish House Mafia to lead on Sunday.
The duet performance was an 11th-hour addition after chaos agent Kanye West withdrew from his lead role without ceremony a few weeks ago.
Travis Scott also dropped out after a deadly rush last year at his Astroworld show in Houston, while 2020’s expected lead actor Frank Ocean will return to the desert in 2023.
Stromae will play on Saturday, as well as Palestinian DJ Sama ‘Abdulhadi.
In a last-minute surprise, Arcade Fire played a set Friday night – while rap duo City Girls sparked a heated audience twerk-off during a rendition of their 2021 hit “Twerkulator.”
(This story was not edited by techlives staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated stream.)