The Weeknd saves Coachella 2022 on Sunday with a flawed but hit-filled last-minute set

    The Weeknd performs onstage at the Coachella Stage during the 2022 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival on April 17, 2022 in Indio, California.  (Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for ABA)

The Weeknd performs onstage at the Coachella Stage during the 2022 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival on April 17, 2022 in Indio, California. (Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for ABA)

Less than two weeks before this year’s Coachella festival finally returns to the Southern California desert after a three-year COVID hiatus, Sunday headliner Kanye West has suddenly pulled out – leaving Panicked promoters of Goldenvoice scramble to find a suitable large poster-replacement font. According to TMZ, Goldenvoice initially took on Silk Sonic, but the retro-soul duo of Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak turned down the invitation because 13 days wasn’t enough for them to put on the kind of main stage. show usually required to close the largest music festival in the United States

But another artist couldn’t resist the call — or the $8.5 million paycheck, the same amount Ye would have picked up. “Coachella, you know how much I love you! I’ve got your back. I’m here for you,” Abel Tesfaye, aka three-time Coachella veteran The Weeknd, assured the crowded Indio field on Sunday as he rushed to save the day. “I will always be there for you. You are always there for me.

This was, admittedly, a far from ideal situation. The Weeknd’s appearance was essentially glued to the set by reunited EDM trio Swedish House Mafia – who were already on the Coachella 2022 bill and jostling for West’s Sunday spot – then house music supergroup of Stockholm consisting of Axwell, Sebastian Ingrosso and Steve Angello made a rather Kanye-like move and did not take the stage until 35 minutes after the announced start time of 10:20 p.m. Then it took another 50 minutes before Tesfaye even showed up. Frustrated fans watching YouTube’s “Couchella” livestream expressed their impatience on Twitter, and the Weeknd/weekday puns practically wrote themselves.

Plus, since Tesfaye is busy filming his HBO series The idol (of which he is the star, co-writer and co-director), he too was unable to mount a large-scale production at the last minute. So tonight, there would be no facial prostheses, no surprise Daft Punk or Jim Carrey cameos, no mummy-bandaged backup dancers, no mirrored Super Bowl carnival maze – just Abel (possibly ) dropping into the desert to sing a bunch of his hits.

But… the Canadian superstar has a ground shots. And he raced breathlessly through most of them – starting with the live debut of the Dawn FM titles “Sacrifice” and “How Do I Make You Love Me?”, with Swedish House Mafia still on stage. His distinctly piercing lyrical tenor voice cut through the indoor air, and all was forgiven: “Abel” immediately became the top trending topic on Twitter for all the right reasons.

And the hits kept coming: “Can’t Feel My Face”, “Blinding Lights”, “The Hills”, “Party Monster”, “Heartless”, “Often”, “Starboy”, “I Feel It Coming,” a hauntingly slowed down/stripped-down “Save Your Tears” and another never-before-played Dawn FM single “Out of time”. Tesfaye even threw in partial covers of Future, Drake and Ty Dolla $ign, and — in a cheeky nod to absentee Kanye — a bit of his recent Grammy-winning collaboration with West, “Hurricane.”

“I said we were going to keep going,” the Weeknd promised the audience, as his set beat the Indio-area midnight curfew by about half an hour (he probably used some of his seven-figure salary from Coachella to deal with a subsequent $1,000 per minute fine). However, the show ended somewhat abruptly, with no encore, no whimper after the Swedish House Mafia joined Tesfaye for their recent collaboration, “Moth to a Flame”. Yet while The Weeknd’s upcoming bells-and-whistles stadium tour will surely take things to several other levels from this relatively small-scale affair, the crowd-pleasing pop star proved on Sunday that sometimes a singularly vocal great and great songs are more than enough.

Other Sunday standouts without Coachella’s Kanye included masked mystery man/rodeo queen/tailored cowpoke Orville Peck, whose American goth ensemble majestically channeled Johnny Cash, Charlie Sexton, David Lynch and Roy Orbison — and paid a fun tribute to queer trucker culture with “Drive Me, Crazy,” which Peck wryly introduced by pointing out that “truck stops were the original Grindr.” Sadly, Shania Twain, who made a surprise appearance during Harry Styles’ headliner on Friday, was apparently no longer on the festival grounds to play her role in Peck’s Show Pony “Legends Never Die” Duo EP. However, Peck’s guitarist Bria Salmena filled the role well, and overall it was indeed the performance of a legend at Coachella.

Earlier in the day, a very A non-Swedish House Mafia-like act also hailing from Stockholm – the pissing garage rockers Viagra Boys, the self-proclaimed “worst band in Scandinavia” – really got the daytime drinkers of Sonora Tent seriously laughing at their skronky, sleazy , sax-y kill the city-era Stooges-racket damaged. And also representing for rock, glamorous Italian Eurovision winners Maneskin, who covered Iggy & the Stooges’ “I Wanna Be Your Dog” at one point and did it justice.

“I bet your favorite rapper can’t do that,” scolded Maneskin’s attitudinal and undeniably charismatic frontman Damiano David, who took the stage wearing a fluffy Victorian lace dressing gown until the heat oppressive desert pushes him to undress, revealing the studded leather harness, thigh-high PVC A pretty woman boots and open-back see-through panties he wore underneath. (The overall look was very Miss Havisham…if Miss Havisham lived in an S&M dungeon instead of an attic.)

“If you see a girl with better hips, let me know,” the skinny rocker joked, before he and his leather-and-lace-clad bandmates debuted a ramshackle remake of Britney Spears’ “Womanizer.” , then put an end to their wild spectacle with the surprising solemn recitation by David of a famous speech by Charlie Chaplin in honor of the Ukrainian people. It was a set of colliding worlds that perhaps best encapsulated Coachella 2022’s spirit of gender blurring and gender blurring.

Really, Kanye wasn’t missing at all. And maybe, just maybe, Silk Sonic can leave the door open for the Coachella title in 2023.

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