Coachella returned to the Indio, California desert for its 2019 edition this past weekend, and the first three days of the festival boasted plenty of surprise appearances and moments worth highlighting.
The historic presence of Latinx performers at the festival this year has been the source of much media attention, particularly because mainstream music festivals often perpetuate the longstanding industry segmentation of Latinx artists. This year, large-scale festivals like Coachella proved they’re finally paying attention to Latinx talent and working on integrating them into the major festival landscape. J Balvin and Los Tucanes de Tijuana’s sets were particularly historic, as they became the first reggaeton and norteño acts to play at the famed Indio festival.
These wins should certainly be taken with a grain of salt, considering Coachella co-owner Philip Anschutz’s widely reported history of donating to anti-immigrant and anti-LGBTQ organizations. In 2018, Anschutz’s lawyer told Pitchfork that the mogul has since halted donations to the anti-LGBTQ orgs, but as recently as 2016, profits from the festival have gone to the conservative anti-immigration foundation NumbersUSA Education & Research. The conversation around Anschutz and the festival’s connection to these organizations will continue to evolve.
Despite these concerns, Coachella remains a massive platform and is widely considered a milestone for any pop star. Check out some of the highlights from the first weekend below.
Los Tucanes de Tijuana played “La Chona” and the crowd went off.
Los Tucanes de Tijuana made history as the first norteño group to play Coachella, and the moment holds special resonance for the iconic group, considering that Coachella was one of the first U.S. cities the band ever played. As expected, the crowd went off when the group played their eternal bop “La Chona” on Friday. It was especially heartwarming to see so many Latinos commanding space at a predominantly white festival.
Ozuna and Cardi B made surprise appearances during DJ Snake’s set.
Reggaeton fans will be happy to know that Ozuna made a surprise appearance alongside Cardi B and Selena Gomez during DJ Snake’s set. The trio performed “Taki Taki” and Ozuna even delivered a verse from “Te Boté.”
J Balvin’s historic performance honored reggaeton legends.
J Balvin became the first reggaeton artist to play the main stage at Coachella this weekend, and appropriately, he marked the occasion by breaking out into a mid-set medley of mid-00s reggaeton hits, like “Gasolina,” “Rakata,” and “Oye Mi Canto.”
Balvin brought out Rosalía, Sean Paul and other guests during his set.
Balvin brought out Rosalía and Sean Paul to perform “Con Altura” and “Contra La Pared,” but he also had plenty of dancers & bobbleheads on stage with him as well. During “Con Altura,” a series of backup dancers dressed up as cartoon clouds swayed behind him. For his performance of “I Like It,” the Colombian pop star brought out giant Cardi B and Bad Bunny bobbleheads.
Bad Bunny and Balvin hung out in the crowd during Zedd’s performance.
Best friends Bad Bunny and Balvin hit up Zedd’s Coachella performance and posted a video from the pit, where they raged to Ariana Grande’s “Break Free.”
Javiera Mena and Tomasa del Real went to see Aphex Twin.
One of the best parts of Coachella is watching artists from different worlds cross paths. Chilean reggaetonera Tomasa del Real and indie pop titan Javiera Mena linked up to go see Aphex Twin perform on the Coachella stage, and posted a video from the crowd.