As clouds of dust occasionally obscured the bright blue SoCal sky, I walked from the entrance gate enthralled by the ocean of fans and mosh-pits all around me. With anticipation coursing through my veins, it was my first time seeing everyone back in the desert — laughing, dancing, singing and most importantly, relishing two years’ worth of sights and sounds Coachella-goers evidently missed out on.
I’m an avid festival head and concert aficionado. I’ve seen been on stage with Machine Gun Kelly. I rocked out with Kendrick Lamar three separate times. I even stage dived at $NOT’s set at Hard Summer last year. Amid every place I’ve been, every artist I’ve seen and every festival I’ve attended, though, Coachella 2022 seemed to feel completely different in the heat of the moment.
With the reintroduction of music festivals in the latter half of 2021 — and after attending the event for the first time in 2019 — I excitedly bought a ticket for 2020 which ended up rolling over due to pandemic restrictions. At first I was devastated, but soon realized another year on the sidelines just meant for a bigger game day in the end. Fans wasted no time getting prepared for the fest’s long-awaited comeback, as campers began rolling in and setting up shop on Day Zero (the day before the actual music festival).
However, a lot has happened since the lineup was initially announced. Ye dropped out last minute and was replaced by Swedish House Mafia and The Weeknd — a hot topic for those who went all-in on tickets (like me) just to get a glimpse at Kanye in the flesh. Nevertheless, that didn’t faze me, I had plenty more to see — capturing as much as I could while soaking up the beaming California sun.
Excitement constantly flowed throughout the venue, as the festival’s energy felt like a homecoming of sorts. There I was in the middle of it all, as Coachella not only brought forward the best and brightest music has to offer, but memories that will surely last a lifetime.
Here’s a few of my favorite acts that absolutely killed Coachella 2022.
If you ask any hip-hop fan who attended Coachella this year, they will probably tell you Baby Keem was there favorite act of the weekend. Coming out with a simple yet effective stage design that highlighted himself against a blue background, Keem had his stage packed to the brim with old and new fans alike. His 2021 album The Melodic Blue is fresh in the minds of listeners, recently receiving a Grammy for the Kendrick Lamar-assisted “Family Ties.”
Unexpectedly, Kung Fu Kenny was in attendance, coming out for a rendition of his collaborations with Keem then leaving abruptly to keep the spotlight on his signee. Keem himself was overflowing with energy, bringing tracks like “16” and “lost souls” to life with his melodic delivery, then switching up to a more aggressive flow for a few tracks off of DIE FOR MY BITCH.
Directly following Keem’s stellar performance, Big Sean made his way to the stage for a stellar performance, reminding fans of his elite catalog of bangers. After blessing the crowd with classics like “Clique” and “I Don’t Fuck With You,” Sean Don brought out one of the most shocking special guests of the weekend with childhood friend Mike Posner singing his hit song “Cooler Than Me.” Unsurprisingly, Jhené Aiko joined her mans onstage for a few of their collaborations before the end of yet another legendary Coachella closing performance.
One of the acts I was most excited to see this weekend was the ever-elusive Isaiah Rashad, especially considering his radio silence following a blatant breach of his privacy earlier this year. As the lights dimmed to indicate the beginning of his show, a video montage began playing on the screens, showing the immense support he received from industry voices like Akademiks, The Game, Big Boy, The Breakfast Club and more. Isaiah himself came out swinging with The House Is Burning standout “RIP Young” before diving headfirst into the rest of the album, bringing out Zacari, Doecchii and Kal Banx to assist him with a few collaborations.
With his upcoming album on the horizon, Freddie Gibbs was a hot commodity this weekend, competing with Megan Thee Stallion‘s conflicting set time as Madlib made up for his Weekend 1 absence. Freddie and Madlib’s banter was off the charts as the duo roasted each other for the duration of their set, pausing occasionally to reiterate their appreciation for one another. Performing fan favorites from Alfredo, Piñata, Freddie, Bandana and more, Freddie and Madlib showcased their unmatched chemistry by freestyling the setlist as the well-respected producer relentlessly threw on his favorite tracks for Freddie to spit on. Stopping momentarily to celebrate his sleeping son’s birthday, the performance took the cake (no pun intended) as one of the funniest and fast-paced acts of the weekend.
Coachella must have underestimated Griselda’s following, putting them on the docket for an early set at 3 p.m. I was blessed to have a front row spot as esteemed DJ Daringer began spinning tracks for a sea of fans, with every moment of silence immediately filled with sporadic cries of “Boobooboobooboom” and gun sound ad-libs. Coming out one-by-one, Conway the Machine, Westside Gunn and Benny the Butcher each performed a solo track before bringing out Stove God Cooks and Armani Caesar for a barrage of crew cuts.
All in all, after seeing so many of my favorite artists in such a short time, I would call it a successful weekend. Even though I could write a book on the absolutely stunning performances all weekend, I picked out a few of my personal favorites to share. Check out my honorable mentions below and prepare yourself for the festival run of a lifetime as we enter a new era of shows.
Honorable mentions: The Weeknd, BROCKHAMPTON, 21 Savage, JID, Vince Staples, slowthai, Channel Tres