Couch-chella: Recapping My Favorite Coachella Live Stream Set Moments


I was not at Coachella this weekend, and I've been slightly, vaguely, just a little bit sad about it since presale happened for these tickets a year ago. I do live in LA now and a solid two thirds of everyone in my classes was there this weekend, so FOMO was running ever so slightly high. And so I assumed the role of festival livestream coordinator for my parents and my one friend who wasn't at the festival in person. Between 3 different streams and set times that were wildly different than what was happening in the great Coachella Valley in real time, there was a lot to juggle. But, at the end of the day, even though the live streams weren't perfect, they did fill the Coachella sized whole in my heart sans the camping, thousands of dollars spent, and a thorough coating of desert dust. So here is my review of Couch-chella featuring all of the artists I talk about on here constantly. 

(Rich Fury/Getty Images)

Phoebe Bridgers

Overall: 7/10

Since the livestreams were messy and constantly changed up who was on what feed when, I ended up missing that the Regrettes, who made it onto the video stream at the last minute, so my first act of the day was Phoebe Bridgers. I stayed up till 10:30pm to see her set for a touch of the authentic experience. I figured that Phoebe's music is kind of like a lullaby if you want your babies to cry themselves to sleep in the midst of an existential crisis, so I carried my laptop to bed and curled up in the dark to watch.
I loved Phoebe's glittery homage to her favorite uniform paired with an amazing, glittery guitar that I immediately fell madly in love with. Phoebe wasn't super interactive with the crowd and mostly stood at the mic stand, playing her guitar, and singing. She had some good quips between songs including the amazingly self aware line, "Now we're going to pretend we're in a fictional world where people come to a concert to see a new song." And she brought out Arlo Parks and debuted the live version of her new songs "Sidelines". It was my first time hearing the track since it's finals seasons, and I've hardly had time for anything that's not Google Docs. This is definitely one of my favorite Phoebe songs (that deserves much more of a conversation at a later date), and I've been captivated by all the ways that Phoebe and Taylor intersect around Sally Rooney books and boyfriends which I learned about from TikTok while I was procrastinating today. It was the perfect introduction to Couch-chella. 

Kevin Mazur / Getty

Harry Styles

Overall: 9/10

I hardly made it to the end of Phoebe's set because my body has a very strict bedtime where it just gives up on me without my choosing, so I quickly realized I was not making it past midnight to watch Harry's headlining Friday night set. I think I enjoyed Harry's set much more for having watched it at 8:30am. His set also made me realize that I could backtrack through the live instead of waiting for the replay which greatly improved the rest of my weekend. 
Starting with "As It Was" with a genius choice, and it gave me chills hearing his god-daughter's voice echo through the dark asking to say goodnight. Once he shed his ridiculously fluffy black trench, Harry ran around in a rainbow sequined glitter jumpsuit (though one girl on TikTok insisted that the unitard was an illusion and it was separates all along). The outfit did not disappoint and was a fun homage to the "As It Was" video and seems to be defining a new motif for the Harry's House era away from the suspenders look of Fine Line. 
Harry is just a ball of energy, and people who haven't seen him perform severely underestimate the pure contact high of joy that you get from watching it. There's something about seeing someone so unselfconsciously express themselves that just feels good. The set was a solid collection of sentimental moments and hits to jump around to. His special guest for the weekend was Shania Twain, and while she seemed a bit awkwardly infatuated with Harry, it was sweet to hear his story of singing to her songs in the car with his mom. He'd previously covered "You're Still The One" on his first arena tour with Kasey Musgraves, so it felt full circle to watch him duet it with the Shania Twain. I preferred their rendition of "Man, I Feel Like a Woman" though. The song was bursting with fun, and everyone loved seeing Harry dance around to the chorus. I'm still wondering what was going on with Shania's nearly silent mic, though. 
Harry also performed 2 new songs from Harry's House that we'll get to hear again in about a month. "Late Night Talking" has a distinct disco feel, though in a very different flavor than the Dua Lipa and the Weekend revival of 2019/2020. I need to hear that song again and read the lyrics before I make any commentary there. 
But "Boyfriend" already owns my heart. I've seen people calling it the "Cherry" of the new album, but my first thought was that it's the "Falling" because of its introspective, reflective, self-blaming quality. I also love that he started the song by saying, "It's the first time we've ever played it for anyone so please be gentle," before adding, "To boyfriends everywhere, fuck you." This final sentiment perfectly aligns with his prior comment that Shania taught him that "men are trash". 
This set made me grateful that Coachella was happening even though it has cost me many of my favorite artists playing LA shows this spring. It's so rare to get high quality, extended set Harry Styles performance videos, so I soaked up every second of this stream. 

Getty Images for Coachella

Conan Gray

Overall 8/10

I have a bone to pick with Coachella that mainly surrounds Conan Gray's set. First of all, up until a few hours before, it wasn't slated to be live streamed which was devastating. Then it was added to the line up sans three whole songs. 3 whole songs! He played "Overdrive," "Comfort Crowd," and "Checkmate," and I would've never known if it wasn't for Twitter. I'm extra bitter about this because Coachella is directly at fault for me not getting to see Conan live after two and a half years of waiting. It's still a sore subject.
But none of that has to do with Conan or his set. The obvious place to start is the custom, hot pink Valentino ensemble that got written up in Vogue. It was totally unexpected given Conan's much more understated tour wardrobe and street style, but it sure got heads turning. While, to me, it felt slightly editorial for Coachella and left everyone biting their nails if his ankles would survive the massive platform boots, it was really fun to see Conan continue to push past his comfort zone when it comes to fashion. Clothes have always been such an important part of self expression to him. He's definitely grown up a lot. 
Though the wind created a battle with the flowy tulle shirt through most of his set, Conan put on a great show. It was exciting to get an HQ live version of "Memories" so soon after its release, and I never have a bad time watching Conan skip around a stage. Coachella is a rough crowd of hot, tired people who are typically above being into the actual musical acts which was a bit of a bummer to see, but overall, I had a great time watching the set. 

CREDIT: Jenn Five

Billie Eilish

Overall: 7/10

I tuned in to watch Billie Sunday morning. I had too hectic of a week to catch her at the Forum, so I was excited to still get to see her perform. I immediately loved that even though Happier Than Ever had this vintage, mature aesthetic that Billie had blended it into a middle ground with the WWAFAWDWG era's dark mysteriousness. I loved her little hair poofs, and I found the way the show unfolded to be thoroughly intriguing. I found myself really enjoying songs that didn't click with me off the record, and I definitely didn't see the latex clad dancers coming. The set kept me on my toes. 
While Billie understandably heavily relied on track and wasn't trying to hide it during active, more upbeat numbers, she showed off her vocal power during the quiet songs and her acoustic moment with Finneas. I also was intrigued by her willingness to give the Coachella crowd instructions about how to have fun like making the crowd bounce around and flip their hands around in the air to loosen up. "You Should See Me In A Crown" was the moment her set really took off in my eyes. 
To wrap up my commentary on Billie's set, I thought it would be worth printing Billie's 3 rules for her set which is worthwhile advice for all shows you might attend, "1. Don't be an asshole 2. You're not allowed to judge anyone out here 3. Have fun bitch!"

(Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Coachella)

Finneas

Overall: 6/10

The most iconic part of Finneas's Coachella set was the pink billboard he put up on the way into the festival that announced he would be performing naked. While Finneas was in fact in a baggy, gray suit for his set, he did play his new track "Naked". The hot afternoon set time is never the greatest, and something felt a little laggy about this set. He recycled his tour backdrop and played an interesting assortment of songs including "Till Forever Falls Apart" with Ashe's disembodied voice coming out of the speakers. He did manage an actual duet with Lizzy McAlpine where they played their new song from her album Five Seconds Flat, but again, something with this performance didn't totally gel with me. I had a friend over during his performance, and while a total look of confusion passed over my face, she yelled, "It's 4*Town," and got more excited than she had been his entire show. It didn't dawn on me until then that Billie and Finneas had just finished working on the music for the new Pixar film, Turning Red. Maybe it was because I'd just seen his tour set recently, but this performance just left me looking for something more.

ANDY ABEYTA/THE DESERT SUN

Maggie Rogers

Overall: 7/10

Maggie Roger's set came on right after Finneas, and even though neither my friend nor I are particularly fans of her, we found ourselves unable to walk away from the computer. Through songs we both didn't know and the ones we half remembered from first listening to her debut album so many years ago, we agreed that there was something captivating about her performance even though it was about as strictly focused on the music as you could get. I think one thing that gave it more dimension was that the crowd actually seemed to care about what they were watching when the camera panned out, and that energy translated on stage and through the screen. There was something similar about the bits and pieces of the Wallows set that was the same. There's something that makes you pay attention when that alignment exists. So often, it seems it's really the luck of the draw, especially at a place like Coachella, but it was impressive to see the command that the smallest artist I saw all weekend held. In a way, Maggie's indie darling status definitely factored in, bolstering her popularity in that crowd beyond that of her social media following, but she used the energy well. Both my friend and I agreed that we'd go see her show if she came to town.


Couch-chella Overall

5.5/10

I do give Coachella props for offering three different live streams to watch a good portion of the acts. They definitely don't have to do that, especially for free, even though it is spectacular advertising for their second weekend. Still, they'd long sold out the festival, so I'll give them props for the small nod towards accessibility. 
Despite that gratefulness, I will say that it could've been handled a lot better. The long delays, ever evolving times and artists offered, and the random cutting out of chunks of songs made coordinating your day to see your favorite artist's stream a bit more difficult than it had to be and left me wanting more out of it. There were also artists whose sets I would've loved to see, like Holly Humberstone and Olivia O'Brien's iconic Logan Paul moment, that weren't offered on the live. While I know they can't show every performance on just three channels, it felt like the least they could've done given what their radius clause does to the concert scene around LA in the spring. 
At the end of the day, I'm grateful for my taste of Coachella and excited that I got to have an extra dose of live music this weekend instead of just having my TikTok feed overtaken by the botched Revolve Fest that coincided with Coachella. Maybe I'll make it out to the desert one of these days, but from some of the stories I've heard, I'm not heartbroken that I took this one from my couch. 

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