No masks, no health restrictions but wreaths of flowers on the head and glitter makeup: the famous music festival in Coachella, California, resumed on Friday for the first time since 2019. The site must accommodate nearly 125,000 people per day.
After 3 years of absence due to a health crisis, the Coachella festival is making a comeback. To mark the occasion, the festival welcomes a multitude of artists from the international music scene. Brazilian Anitta caused a sensation on stage, paving the way for Snoop Dogg — who performed “Mas Que Nada” with her — and Saweetie and above all, the highly anticipated Harry Styles.
“It’s fantastic,” 24-year-old Alexa Davis, from Connecticut in the northeastern United States, told AFP, swaying to Anitta’s music while images of a Rio favela de Janeiro paraded in the background. “She is really great, she is very beautiful”. The 29-year-old singer made history this year by becoming the first Brazilian to reach number one worldwide on the Spotify platform.
“I’m vaccinated and we’re outdoors, I’m not worried at all, I really needed that,” says Katie, 22, from New York and whose second time at Coachella. “I’m so happy to be here, it’s great,” she added during a concert by The Hu, a rock band from Mongolia. Even though Covid-19 cases are increasing in the United States, hundreds of thousands of people are expected in Indio, in the Californian desert, for this huge event which is held over two three-day weekends.
Show business test event
Headlining this year are Billie Eilish, Harry Styles and The Weeknd, as well as Swedish House Mafia. The 2020 edition of the festival had been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, and two years of chaotic cancellations, concert date and program changes followed. After a three-year hiatus, Coachella is seen as a test event for an industry still unstable after all the pandemic-related setbacks.
Organizers said they would not require proof of vaccinations, masks or social distancing. The festival is held mostly outdoors, welcoming some 125,000 enthusiasts a day from across the country and abroad, many of whom camp out or fill nearby hotels. Two Covid-19 screening sites are available on site. Jose Arballo, a spokesman for the local health authorities, said testing capacities would be increased in the area as well.
While cases have fallen sharply since January across the country, their number is starting to rise, according to authorities. Some universities have reinstated mask-wearing requirements, but restrictions remain minimal across most of the United States, including California.
The French represented
Other big names at Coachella this year include Megan Thee Stallion, Phoebe Bridgers and Doja Cat. The French from L’Impératrice, the superstar Stromae, the Palestinian DJ Sama’ Abdulhadi and the South African Black Coffee are also on the programme. The Weeknd and Swedish House Mafia were added to the roster at the last minute, after Kanye West dropped out.
Travis Scott has also given up performing after a deadly stampede during his concert in Houston last year.