Billie Eilish duets with Damon Albarn, Scream Beyonce and more during historic Coachella 2022 headlining set
The last time Coachella happened, in 2019, Billie Eilish had just released her historic debut album When we all fall asleep, where do we go? — and celebrated with her very first performance at Coachella. Everyone showed up for this early evening slot on the outdoor stage – from Zane Lowe and James Corden to Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom.
Fast forward to the second day of Coachella 2022 (Saturday April 16) and Eilish made her return to the desert – but this time she was there to make the headlines, becoming the youngest artist to do so in the history of Coachella. For the occasion, the superstar took a break from his current journey in the arenas to support his second album, last year happier than ever. Although the staging and much of the setlist remained the same, one surprise in particular proved that this show was far from another stop on the tour.
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Eilish first appeared at the end of the stage track in a comically oversized coat, which she quickly shook off with a chuckle. She then subtly nodded to the last time she dazzled the desert performing “Bury a Friend,” letting the final line (and debut album title) ring out onto the pitch with a victorious undertone — as if in the years since the album’s release Eilish has finally found the answer to the question she once asked.
If you’re Eilish, when you sleep your dreams take you to new heights – and in the case of Coachella, that can be said quite literally. At one point, Eilish hovered above the crowd in a mobile crane, wanting to make sure there were, essentially, no bad ‘seats’ in the ‘house’. Throughout the set, she weaved in and out of hits from her two albums with the skill of a seasoned seamstress (there were, however, two omissions: the Bond theme “No Time To Die”, she and Finneas just won their first Oscar for and acclaimed 4*Town hit “Nobody Like You,” which she and her brother wrote for the Disney/Pixar movie turn red). And while Eilish flaunted her flexibility on punchier songs (at one point she bent into a particularly impressive backbend), she shone the most during sets of more tender moments, like “” Idontwannabeyouanymore”, “when the party’s over”, and when she and FINNEAS sat side by side on stools to acoustically perform “Your Power”, a song she feels “very protective of”.
It appeared, however, that on the main stage at Coachella, Eilish herself was still learning just how much power she had — and how to best channel it into a performance of this size. For those who saw Eilish on tour this year, her Coachella set may have felt like a repeat (minus the few audio glitches and frequent field lights). Still, she made sure to include something no one had seen of her until now: a live duet with Damon Albarn.
Towards the end of his set, the superstar treated fans to a guest performance from the frontman of Blur, Gorillaz and The Good, the Bad and the Queen – consider it his own “when Harry met Shania” moment (from the head of Styles first day poster). Albarn took the stage to lend his voice to “Getting Older”, off happier than ever before ripping the Gorillaz hit “Feel Good Inc.”, for which De La Soul’s Posdnuos also joined and injected the latest track from Eilish’s set with a heavy dose of energy. “This is the craziest shit I’ve ever been through,” Eilish said. “[Damon] changed my life in many ways and changed my vision of what music, art and creation could be. And Albarn wasn’t the only surprise on set, as Eilish had previously welcomed Khalid on stage to perform their “Lovely” collaboration, returning the favor when he welcomed her to his main stage in 2019.
Eilish did her part to keep the energy flowing once Albarn left, jumping straight into an impressive hat-trick of “Everything I Wanted” and “Bad Guy” before, of course, finishing with “Happier. Than Ever”. As the rockier second half of the song picked up, the roaring winds also increased – as if Eilish’s epic screams on the song were enough to generate such gusts.
For the artist who started her set by confessing “I shouldn’t be the headliner of this shit, but I’m so grateful to be here,” she certainly managed to prove herself wrong. But at the end of the set, she still seemed to need convincing. “I’m sorry, I’m not Beyoncé,” Eilish apologized with a smile before greeting her brother and drummer Andrew Marshall.
Luckily for her fans, her name is Billie Eilish.
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