Doja Cat’s Coachella Set Showed What A Headliner Is Supposed To Be SuperNayr

Thank you for proving me right, Doja Cat. I said you deserved to be headlining Coachella two years ago. This year, you brought a full-size Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton to your headlining set. Bless you, you demented genius. You are the best.

The final day of Coachella 2024 was a bit thinner on must-see artists; while there was still plenty to do and see, there was also enough time to wander and explore between the priority sets. So, rather than rushing around from tent to tent and stage to stage, there was time to poke around, try new things, and make a few observations. For instance:

ATARASHII GAKKO!
Philip Cosores

Call me biased, but there is no better backing band in music than a churchy-ass Black band. They have the power to uplift pop singers like Reneé Rapp, who we caught in the late afternoon, and to elevate R&B stars like Victoria Monét to transcendent performances. Monét – who also incorporated soul and R&B staples like The Supremes’ “Stop! In The Name Of Love” and Usher’s “There Goes My Baby” and rap breakouts like Sexyy Red’s “Get It Sexyy” into her early evening set – proved every bit to be a star worthy of even better placement upon her inevitable return to Coachella. And speaking of “Get It Sexyy,” while the St. Louis rapper wasn’t on the bill, her presence was felt at practically every DJ set and activation… Sexyy Red is out. Of. Here.

Renee Rapp
Philip Cosores

One place her impact was felt was GV Black’s Party In My Living Room activation. An initiative from Coachella promoters Goldenvoice, GV Black aims to promote equity and inclusion at the festival, living up to all those promises brands made back in 2020. It partnered with Inglewood rapper Thurz and his long-running party promotion to present DJ sets from both unexpected names like “Billie Eilish” rapper Armani Black and local LA mainstay DJ R-Tistic. One of the upsides of Sunday being a bit more laid back was getting to pull up on friends here and spend an hour two-stepping to club faves in a fun atmosphere out of the sun and wind.

It also gave the Uproxx team more time to wander and try new food options. While the team typically has faves that we frequent year after year, there, there are still so many other options that it’s worth trying out something new. This year, it was Big Belly Burger, which offered an Impossible version of its signature smash burger. And hallelujah, we may have found a new favorite. With a unique, light sweetness to its spread, Big Belly may even have overthrown some of our usuals.

J Balvin
Philip Cosores

After a calm and cool set from psychedelic funk rockers Khruangbin, Colombian Latin artist J Balvin put on a stellar show at the main stage, complete with an early appearance by Tainy, a surprisingly on-theme surprise pop-in by Will Smith, and an alien invasion storyline straight out of a 1950s B-movie. (Between Balvin, Sabrina Carpenter’s ‘70s thriller set up on Friday, and Tyler The Creator’s own flying saucer on Saturday, they’ve got one hell of a weekend matinee triple feature.)

Lil Yachty
Philip Cosores

Manwhile, Lil Yachty completely revamped his set from Camp Flog Gnaw in November, tapping into his career beginnings with a big reference to his nickname, Lil Boat, starting the show from the prow of a ship onstage. However, despite what might have been a throwback to his early days, his setlist stuck to the more recent, rock-focused Let’s Start Here and even tapped an indie reference point: multi-instrumentalist Mac DeMarco, who performed two songs, “On The Level” and “Chamber Of Reflection.” Still, Yachty was sure to hit maintstays like “Minnesota” and “Broccoli,” making his set one of the most sastisfying yet.

Now, remember what I said about bands? Doja Cat’s stunning headlining set not only incorporated that signature vamping but took things a step further with a five-part harmony from a South African vocal group, The Joy, paying homage to her roots. Once again, a set was enhanced by understated innovations like a spider cam swooping over the audience and a high-concept, post-apocalyptic sci-fi setup.

Doja Cat
Philip Cosores

While Doja’s set did not incorporate a storyline per se, it did a great job of actualizing the things that have been on her mind lately. The eye-popping visuals addressed the public’s preoccupation with her hair, her tattoos, and her heritage; hence, backup dancers draped in Wookie-like wig costumes, South African vocal groups singing in Zulu, and yes, a massive T-Rex skeleton traipsing along her catwalk, aided by a team of puppeteers.

Doja Cat, like Lana Del Rey, Tyler The Creator, J Balvin, and a slew of other artists to rock the stage, showed the potential still remaining to be wrought from the platform provided by Coachella. What she – and they – demonstrated was that it doesn’t take flashy streaming numbers or worldwide name recognition, so much as the imagination to prove that they belong. There’s a whole generation of new stars waiting to be minted, and Coachella gives them the opportunity to make their case – which Doja Cat did with her signature wit and weirdness.

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