Coachella 2019, Day 2: Billie Eilish seizes the moment, Weezer (and fans) revel in the past

Billie Eilish at Coachella (Photo courtesy of Coachella)
Billie Eilish at Coachella (Photo courtesy of Coachella)

Billie Eilish’s coronation as the queen of dark pop was not without drama Saturday night at Weekend 1 of the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival.

By 9:15 p.m., while Weezer was romping through a feel-good main-stage set, an Outdoor Theatre crowd bigger than any in festival history had gathered in giddy anticipation of the 17-year-old’s turn in the desert. But at her 9:35 set time, the stage remained empty. Ten minutes passed, then 20, then 30 … before, finally, 33 minutes tardy, the opening beats of “Bad Guy” kicked in.

Production issues with the keyboards and a stage prop were the culprit, but it was all delirium after that, Eilish delivering on the promise of her chart-topping album “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?” while wowing a crowd young and old with her energy, charisma and intensity. Live and on record, Eilish’s edgy, moody, inventive music is far from today’s conveyor-belt pop, and certainly not just kid stuff. And even with Saturday’s cameo by Vince Staples on “&Burn” bombing because his mic didn’t work, Eilish certified her status as a future headliner and preeminent wearer of baggy clothes.

The aforementioned prop was a bed suspended from the stage’s ceiling. Dancers arrived on it for one song, then Eilish performed from it as it seemed to float during “Bury a Friend.”  The moment helped get her set back on the rails after Eilish flubbed the words to “All the Good Girls Go to Hell.”

“I don’t deserve this,” she said, responding to the roars of the crowd. But it was clear she did.

Other notes from a Saturday that saw a solid, laser-guided set from headliner Tame Impala: tributes to the late Nipsey Hussle and Mac Miller by both Wiz Khalifa and Kid Cudi, a Kenny G spotting (he guested with CHON), a convention of the electronic old guard at Aphex Twin and a dietary revelation from Mac DeMarco.

Best Dad Rock set

C’mon, kids, high-five somebody who was actually alive in the 1990s and sing along. “Buddy Holly.” “My Name Is Jonas.” “El Scorcho” (!). Text your big brother that you just heard “Hash Pipe,” “Beverly Hills” and “Pork and Beans.” Weezer drew a huge crowd and dispensed huge smiles. Tears for Fears appeared for “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” and then Chilli from TLC appeared for “No Scrubs.” And their set ended with that meme-worthy cover of “Africa.” Thank you for playing.

Four other covers we heard

Dance-music luminaries Bob Moses spiked their set with a stellar version of the Prodigy’s “Breathe” at the Outdoor Theatre. L.A. indie-pop ensemble Steady Holiday finished their Gobi Tent set with a sweet rendition of Air’s “Surfing on a Rocket.” Christine and the Queens, declaring the Outdoor Theatre a safe and welcoming place, covered David Bowie’s “Heroes.” And main-stage darling Bazzi took MGMT’s “Electric Feel” for a spin.

Best set you could hear from the outside

That would have been the Roots, holding forth for nearly two hours in the packed Heineken House, where a throng of fans gathered outside for some second-hand jams.

Two sets where early arrival was needed

Breakout pop songstress Maggie Rogers wowed an overflow crowd at her 7:20 set in the Gobi Tent, and earlier in the Mojave Tent, there was barely room to breathe for Frenchman FKJ’s turn.

Most punk rock set

Yes, there’s some real punk rock at Coachella this year, and Shame’s “Songs of Praise” deserves some words of praise. They were simply viciously good at their underattended set in the Sonora Tent (despite the Sonora’s newly convenient location, we’ve never seen it full). Runner-up: Orange County experimental crazies The Garden, twins Wyatt and Fletcher Shears, who played a set that should have come with a “fasten seatbelts” warning.

Biggest meltdown

Literally. The brutal afternoon sunshine wreaked havoc with Mac DeMarco and his gear, and the crowd tried and tried and tried out as he tried to soldier through in good humor. “Right before we came onstage,” DeMarco confided, “we all had a bowl of oatmeal.”