Unlike Glastonbury or Primavera Sound, Coachella often gets dismissed as a festival that’s not for ‘real’ music fans (that’ll be the big-hitting pop headliners), or ‘real’ fashion fans (that’ll be the default uniform of barely-there denim cut-offs and fringed bralets). But to overlook the credibility of a 250,000-strong gathering – which exhibits an unapologetically positive stance on body confidence – would be to do a disservice to the seriously powerful female line-up (including pop’s new heroine Billie Eilish) that owned Thousand Palms at the weekend.
It was a balmy 28 degrees Celsius in Coachella Valley on Sunday evening when Ariana Grande took to the main stage as the youngest woman to headline in the festival’s 20-year history. The star brought out *NSYNC, P Diddy and Mase, but it was her joint set with Nicki Minaj (during which the duo battled frustrating technical issues) that epitomised the mood of the weekend: female superstars sharing the stage with other female superstars.
Cardi B and Selena Gomez also joined forces for a surprise appearance; Gomez’s Coachella debut and her first live show in almost a year. Remember the days when convention dictated that female performers coordinate their stage looks? 2019’s reality check is that today’s musicians, regardless of gender, rightfully do exactly as they please when it comes to wardrobe – Cardi B and Selena Gomez strode out in a bodiced leotard and a white tuxedo, respectively.
If, away from the stage, the festival has been criticised for being all about the selfie opp, it was yet another female duo who proved that Coachella doesn’t scrimp on IRL good times. Texan artist Lizzo, who made a guest appearance during Janelle Monáe’s opening night main stage show, set the bar pretty high for impromptu fun, while simultaneously illustrating what you can do when you’re not holding a smartphone. (Hit playback if you missed it).
Female solidarity is not just alive among the women commanding the world’s attention at Coachella – it’s thriving. And no amount of flower crowns could possibly detract from that.