Raye Lights Up Coachella 2024

(Raye photo by A Osborn/Coachella)

While the highlights of Friday (Lana Del Rey, Sabrina Carpenter, Deftones, Chloe, Hatsune Miku) were undeniably joyful, it was clear very early on after the lineup announcement that the Saturday of this year's Coachella Festival is the cherry day. When No Doubt was confirmed to be performing on Saturday, that fact was hammered home.

Arriving in the desert early on Saturday morning, we took a few moments to really admire the landscape. The festival itself is phenomenal but the surrounding area really is stunning. Snow-peaked mountains can be seen in the distance, while we sit in the sun.

Getting there early offered the chance to chill out in shade of the Speaker Stage tent, listening to talks by photographer and author Cory Richards, and many more. There's something fundamentally "Coachella" about listening to talks about mental health and societal change in front of a giant horse statue, while electronic music pulses in the background.

We soaked up the chill beats of Maddy Maia b2b Tottie at the DoLab stage when entering the festival proper; that's a wonderful place to relax early on because there are water spritzers spritzing everyone from the trees. It's like being in some sort of a rave botanical garden -- a vivid trip made real.

L.A. post-punks Militarie Gun shook off everyone's Friday night cobwebs at the Sonoma stage. Heavy and irked, they were the first of many punk (or at least punk-adjacent) bands on Saturday and they made some friends. On a completely different musical spectrum, soul singer and songwriter Erika de Casier charmed the Gobi stage crowd with her sultry tones and sweet tunes, while back at Sonoma Girl Mexican R&B singer and guitarist Girl Ultra overcame some early sound issues to put in a solid set.

Young Fathers (Photo by C Reagan/Coachella)

We caught a little bit of Kenya Grace (lively electro fun), before making a beeline for Scottish progressive hip-hop band the Young Fathers. It's been a decade since their debut album Dead won the Mercury Prize, and their second, White Men are Black Too is another fine slab of socially conscious, rhythmic, brilliant alt-rap. At Coachella, they made every minute count. Inspiring, intense, and magnificent.

Changing the tone completely, the Aquabats saw a line of people stretching across the field to get to their Sonoma set. We were able to catch three songs, including an opening "Pool Party" which saw them bring out the Yo Gabba Gabba characters. A perfect festival band, these superhero punks are goofy, silly, hilarious fun. But they also have a ton of great pop-ska-punk tunes.

The reason we had to leave the Aquabats early was the highly-anticipated set from British chanteuse Raye (who you have recently seen on SNL). Easily one of the highlights of the day, and probably the whole weekend, her nightclub jazz-meets-electropop-meets-R&B has drawn comparisons with Amy Winehouse but Raye is very much her own woman. Her set at the Mojave stage was simply incredible. Powerful, beautiful and devastatingly honest.

"Ice-Cream Man" details her own experience with sexual assault, and it just tears your heart out. Women around us in the crowd openly sobbed as Raye poured out her soul. The fact that this song resonates with so many women is just awful, that this is their shared experience, but Raye's ability to connect with her fans on such an emotional level has to be therapeutic for everyone.

Other songs, such as the nightclub-y ode to illicit substances "Mary Jane" and the pulsing brilliance of "Prada" proved that Raye is set to explode when her new album drops.

Incredible, and there was more to come.

The Aquabats (Photo by J Bajsel/Coachella)