June 24, 2024

Shakira wows at Coachella on day dominated by Latino artists


INDIO, United States, Apr 13 — Shakira dropped last night for a surprise Coachella cameo with Argentina’s superstar producer Bizarrap, a highlight on day one of the festival that saw a diverse slate of Latino artists command the conversation.

Meanwhile Lana Del Rey rolled into the festival with a motorcycle escort to headline the opening night of the California desert’s mammoth arts event, which traditionally kicks off the summer concert circuit.

But there were no stage appearances from Taylor Swift, the megastar currently on break from her blockbuster, billion-dollar Eras tour, who is said to be having a romantic Coachella weekend with NFL boyfriend Travis Kelce.

Swifties were speculating she might appear onstage with friend Del Rey or Sabrina Carpenter to no avail — but there’s always tomorrow, when she could join longtime producer Jack Antonoff during his Bleachers set, or collaborator Ice Spice, the Bronx rapper who’s also on deck.

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The singular Del Rey returned to perform at Coachella a decade after first doing a show there, offering her cult style of ethereal pop.

She wore sparkling knee-high boots and a mini dress to lead fans through a dreamy, sensual sequence of her hits and deeper cuts, flanked by a coven of dancers who writhed, pole-danced and performed acrobatics along to the Born to Die singer’s languid vocals.

And while Del Rey didn’t bring Swift onstage she did invite Billie Eilish and Jon Batiste out for several songs, to the crowd’s delight.

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Argentine record producer and songwriter Bizarrap performs on the Sahara Stage during the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, California, on April 12, 2024. — AFP pic

Latin revolution

It was an atmospheric finish to a day whose afternoon built a lot of heat, not least thanks to Shakira and Bizarrap’s collaboration that saw the former announce a global tour.

She appeared onstage for a powerful, dance-heavy performance including of the duo’s shared hit that saw Shakira seek revenge on her ex.

“Arriba Coachella!” shouted Bizarrap to explosive cheers from the crowd.

It was one of many Latin acts on Friday, one year after Bad Bunny played a historic set as the first-ever Spanish-language headliner.

Latin representation has grown significantly in recent years at Coachella, and yet another strong showing in 2024 indicated that such bookings are becoming less an anomaly and more so the standard as Latin music continues to dominate global charts.

Peso Pluma drew an enormous crowd to the mainstage with his unique brand that fuses traditional regional Mexican music with heavier Latin rap and reggaeton.

Among fans, Mexican flags flapped in the breeze as the 24-year-old performed, as projections of news articles referencing the criticism he has received for delving into the “narcocorrido” subgenre, which some critics say glorifies drug culture.

And Puerto Rico’s Young Miko helmed the main stage with a rager of a set, showcasing her playful Spanglish bars and Latin trap that also alludes to 1990s West Coast rap.

Cimafunk meanwhile became the first Cuban-born artist to perform Coachella, in an electrifying performance that brought Afro-Cubano funk fused with New Orleans-style horns and high-octane dancing to the grounds dramatically flanked by the San Jacinto mountains.

“I’m really happy to be here, it’s really crazy,” the beaming artist told AFP backstage.

Mexican singer Peso Pluma performs on the Coachella Stage during the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, California, on April 12, 2024. — AFP pic

Mexican singer Peso Pluma performs on the Coachella Stage during the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, California, on April 12, 2024. — AFP pic

A virtual star

A throng of screaming fans turned out for Japan’s famed virtual singer Hatsune Miku — a Vocaloid software voicebank whose personification is a teen with turquoise pigtails — who debuted at Coachella after originally being booked for 2020.

The “artist” — who is not real — began as a virtual instrument in 2007, and has grown into a cultural icon, touring since 2014.

The stage production featured trippy visuals and a live band, an evolution from the act’s online beginnings.

“There was no, like physical space or like real life gatherings that prompted this fandom,” Riki Tsuji — who is on the business team of Crypton Future Media, the company behind Miku — told AFP prior to the festival.

A staging like at Coachella offers the fans a “way to enjoy each other’s company,” he said — just like for any other artist.

Today’s headliner is Tyler, the Creator, while tomorrow will close with fellow California native Doja Cat.

The weekend is also offering a heavy dose of indie rock nostalgia with a reunion of No Doubt, the group fronted by Gwen Stefani that will play together onstage for the first time in some 15 years.

And Vampire Weekend is also returning to the desert, having last performed there more than a decade ago.

Legendary rockers Blur will perform today as will Sublime — the 1990s stoner reggae rock group beloved for hits including Santeria — with the late frontman Brad Nowell’s son Jakob leading the way.

Coachella 2024 takes place this weekend with a near-repeat of the lineup scheduled for April 19-21. — AFP



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