Best and Worst of Coachella 2024 weekend two

Coachella 2024 mainbar Mykiaela Pierre-Louis

This past weekend was my twelfth Coachella weekend since first attending the festival in 2014. The previous year was my first not attending at least one day of Coachella in that time, and it’s crazy how things can drastically change after even one year away from the Empire Polo Club. Coachella 2024 was quite the journey.

After somewhat lackluster ticket sales for the first time in a long time, some were wondering “Is Coachella over?” I can assure you that it is not, is has just evolved from what it was. The festival reportedly tried landing a legacy headliner but ultimately settled for a trio of headliners that are at the center of this particular zeitgeist in Lana del Rey, Tyler the Creator, and Doja Cat.

Legacy rock acts seem to be a thing of the distant past at Coachella, and the alternative bands are mostly being relegated to the tents. In the case of Blur, perhaps they should have been relegated to one of the tents after a bare crowd took in their main stage set Saturday night.

Though I am starting to feel a bit like maybe Coachella isn’t for me anymore, I still found it to be the best run major festival I’ve attended in the US (I’ve hit over 50 of them) by a far margin.

After recovering from the dust, here is what I found to be the highlights and lowlights of Coachella 2024 weekend two.

Olivia Dean courtesy of Coachella / Alden Bonecutter

BEST: R&B and neo soul is the indie rock

Where in years past at Coachella, I would come away with a new favorite band or four after watching sets in the Gobi and Mojave tents, this year there seemed to be much more of a focus on up-and-coming superstar performers in the R&B and neo soul spaces.

One of my absolute favorite moments of Coachella 2024 came in the form of English songstress Olivia Dean delivering a tear inducing rendition of her ode to her grandmother “Carmen”. For weekend two, Dean had the additional help of some horns, which really gave the song an additional dose of bombast. The song is about Dean’s grandmother who boarded a plane at 18 to the UK having never been on a plane in her life, the bravest person in her family. At least two people in my line of sight were blinking away tears and I myself got goosebumps. Her whole set Sunday late afternoon in the Gobi Tent was awesome.

That came after RAYE delivered a powerful performance on Saturday in the Mojave Tent. Also backed by an incredible band, her set traversed a wide set of emotions and her words in between song were heartfelt and real. At a festival that often gets associated with shallowness and vanity, her vulnerability was met by a welcoming crowd. Acts like Faye Webster, Victoria Monet, and FLO showed that there is a huge appetite for these genres as the tents were packed for their shows, and the tents were a good fit to help make the music feel that much more intimate.

Doja Cat photo courtesy of Coachella / Shaun Llewelltn

BEST: Doja Cat brings it as Sunday headliner

Though I felt Lana del Rey was underwhelming as a performer on Friday night and that the Camila Cabello guest drop-in was a huge miss, Doja Cat was the opposite of underwhelming on Sunday night to close out the festival. Though she featured just one special guest Teezo Touchdown as opposed to a first week set that included A$AP Rocky, Doja Cat proved she is on the top tier of performers in 2024.

Doja Cat didn’t need to rely on more than a few of her pop hits and leaned heavily into her latest music that has a grittier feel to it than the albums Hot Pink from 2019 and Planet Her in 2021. Her many outfit changes and closing dance number in a mud pit kept the tired crowd engaged for the full 75 minutes. Once a lot of pop stars hit this level they plateau, and I don’t see that happening for Doja. One ask though. How about next time she headlines, a collab with Courtney Love on her cover of “Celebrity Skin”?

Blur photo courtesy of Coachella / Alden Bonecutter

WORST: Blur hung out to dry with sparse crowd at main stage

Much of the talk following weekend 1 was about Britpop legends Blur and their main stage set on Saturday night and how little the crowd interacted with frontman Damian Albarn. Clips went viral of Albarn trying to get them to sing along and they just weren’t having it. You think them being sandwiched between a pair of 90s legends Sublime and No Doubt would’ve been a good spot for them, but unfortunately Blur hasn’t been super relevant in the United States for a long time. The crowd that was camped at the front of the stage all day for Tyler the Creator had no interest in their set and the overall size of the crowd taking in the show was probably the smallest of any act on the main stage all weekend. After weekend 1, I would’ve opted to move Blur into being a headliner in the Gobi or Mojave Tent where they would’ve had a packed room of diehards who are really into them, rather than people waiting them out. If nostalgia alt-rock bands are going to be part of Coachella moving forward, that might be the way.

Coachella 2024 DoLab Jamie Rosenberg
Courtesy of Do LaB / Jamie Rosenberg

BEST: The Do LaB Stage continues its evolution

The DoLab Stage at Coachella 2024 showed that the people behind it continue to evolve and provide a place for juggernaut DJ acts to have some fun and maybe do some sets they wouldn’t normally play on the main stage. DJ Snake was a surprise act Friday night with an all hip-hop set, Gryffin and Cloonee b2b Chris Lorenzo were the Saturday surprise acts, and Skream & Friends closed out the stage Sunday night. But in addition to that, the DoLab always had a decent crowd even early in the day for some up-and-comers in the electronic world like Honeyluv, and even weirdo folktronica act CocoRosie played an early Friday set. The stage design is always next level and much different than what you will find elsewhere, and it also has some shade and sprinklers to help provide cover from the crazy heat. I spent a lot more time there this year than in any previous and it was enjoyable as hell.

Jungle photo courtesy of Coachella / A Chan

BEST: Jungle and Khruangbin get their just do at Outdoor Theatre

It’s been amazing to see the trajectory of two of my favorite acts on the Coachella 2024 lineup in UK disco kingpins Jungle and Houston instrumental trio Khruangbin. Both acts have graduated from playing intense and amazing sets in the Gobi and Mojave Tents to having enthusiastic crowds at the Outdoor Theatre stage in primetime spots this year. Both of these acts are among the best live touring acts on the planet right now, the kind of word-of-mouth bands that make their bones playing to festival crowd comprised of a lot of people that may have been unfamiliar with their game before seeing them. In 2015, I saw Jungle at Coachella and was so impressed the first weekend that I dragged everyone I knew to their weekend two set and made at least a dozen new fans. It seems like that has continued in 2024 with these two bands and both of them delivered groovy sets.

Tyler the Creator photo courtesy of Coachella / Shaun Llewellyn

WORST: Lack of surprise acts weekend two compared to recent years

Back in the early days of Coachella FOMO, it used to be that weekend one would get all of the special guest appearances and weekend two would get slim pickings. Somewhere around 2016 or so that seemed to shift with each weekend getting their fair share of superstar drop ins. This year there weren’t as many weekend two as in weekend one, and you have to look to the headliners especially. Lana del Rey brought out Billie Eilish during weekend one, but only brought out Camilla Cabello during weekend two to do her groan inducing song “I Luv It”. Tyler the Creator brought out Childish Gambino, A$AP Rocky, and Kali Uchis for weekend one, but the only special guest weekend two was Earl Sweatshirt. Doja Cat brought out 21 Savage and A$AP Rocky in weekend one but in weekend two only brought out Teezo Touchdown, who also came out weekend one. Names like Justin Bieber, Olivia Rodrigo, Will Smith, Ke$ha, Sky Ferreira all made weekend one appearances but didn’t appear weekend two. The most special drop-in we got was Norah Jones during Sabrina Carpenter’s main stage show Friday.

Lauryn Hill and Wyclef Jean photo courtesy of Coachella / Shaun Llewellyn

BEST: YG Marley with an all-time nepo baby performance

YG Marley is famously the son of Lauryn Hill and grandson of Bob Marley. He leaned heavily into those famous roots on Sunday with a main stage performance that saw Lauryn Hill, Skip Marley, Wyclef Jean, and Busta Rhymes all join him on stage. This was an all-time nepo baby moment as I swear there was probably about 25 minutes of this show where YG Marley didn’t have to rap or say a single thing while these hip-hop and R&B legends did their thing. And who could blame him?

Five Favorite Sets

  1. Jungle
  2. Olivia Dean
  3. Justice
  4. L’Imperatrice
  5. The Last Dinner Party