The best Coachella 2018 sets

Beyoncé undoubtedly stole the headlines of Coachella 2018 with a master class in artistic vision and execution, but the Polo Grounds hosted hundreds of other performances during Weekend 1 of the festival that also deserve recognition. Hip-hop artists carved out a bigger presence than they had at any other Coachella, but rock bands, DJs and other genre-defying acts proved that the event contains far more depth and breadth of talent than some naysayers might have you believe.

Click through the gallery below to see Weekend 1's best shows

Best performances at Coachella 2018
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Best performances at Coachella 2018


The UK funk act drew a massive crowd in the Mojave tent for their first US concert since 2005 — no small feat, since they played opposite Friday headliner The Weeknd — and didn’t disappoint, bringing out Snoop Dogg for a revised version of “Gin and Juice” before running through hits such as crowd favorite “Canned Heat” and “Cosmic Girl."

(Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images for Coachella)

Greta Van Fleet

Don’t tell these guys that rock doesn’t have a place at Coachella anymore — Greta Van Fleet filled every inch of the Mojave tent on Friday. The Michigan quartet has been dubbed the modern successors to Led Zeppelin, in part thanks to how frontman Josh Kiszka’s voice has an uncanny resemblance to Robert Plant’s. But Kiszka’s bandmates showed they too have the chops to make classic rock fans out of a new generation.

(Photo by Scott Dudelson/Getty Images for Coachella )
St. Vincent

St. Vincent leader Annie Clarke shredded throughout her magnificent Friday night set, highlighted by back-to-back renditions of “Los Ageless” and “New York” from last year’s Masseducation album, cementing her status as a bona fide rock star. 

(Photo by Scott Dudelson/Getty Images for Coachella )

Jean-Michel Jarre

A very sparsely attended set as it kicked off, the French electronic music pioneer’s intricate laser show and progressive synthesizers quickly drew a bigger audience at the Outdoor Stage. Never one to shy away from political statements, he devoted a couple minutes to a short message from Edward Snowden about the importance of online privacy, imploring the crowd, “If you aren’t going to stand up for it, who will?"

(Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Coachella)

Vince Staples

The Long Beach native took over the main stage — or in his words, the “white people” stage — as the sun set on Friday night for an electrifying performance that featured perhaps the most notable special guest of the weekend in Kendrick Lamar. His visual setup, segmenting the three screens behind him into more than 50 miniature ones to display different images, was also one of the most entrancing ones of the weekend.

(Photo by Scott Dudelson/Getty Images for Coachella )


This Belgian trio has been active since 1995, but they seem perfectly made for the current phase of electronic music where live instrumentation is all the rage. Their live setup gave listeners a thrilling mix of rock and dance music to provide an energetic segue into Friday night’s headliners. 

(Photo by Gus Stewart/Redferns)

The Weeknd

Three years after he let surprise guest Kanye West take over his set for a solid chunk of time, Abel Tesfaye kept the main stage all to himself this time for his Friday night headlining set. The talented singer put on an emotional performance that brought himself to tears and oscillated between contemporary hits such as “Can’t Feel My Face” and “The Hills” and fan favorites from his earlier EPs that preceded his rise to superstardom. 

(Photo by Scott Dudelson/Getty Images for Coachella )

Moon Boots

Moon Boots’ melodic yet throbbing selections from behind the decks stood out among the many DJs populating the Yuma Tent, an air-conditioned haven that serves as the de facto warehouse party venue of Coachella. 

Credit: Instagram/@moonbootsmusic

Nile Rodgers & CHIC

Rodgers, a legendary musician who’s helmed albums for David Bowie, Madonna, Daft Punk and more, showcased the absurd depth of his production catalogue alongside his disco group CHIC. Sister Sledge’s “We Are Family” and Diana Ross’ “I'm Coming Out” had the audience grooving, as did CHIC’s own hits “Le Freak” and “Good Times.” Their slowed-down, piano-driven take on “Get Lucky” — which Rodgers wrote about his battle with cancer — was a beautiful, poignant moment amid a dance-heavy set that proved to be an ideal main stage opener for Day 2.

(Photo by Scott Dudelson/Getty Images for Coachella )


This Australian former pro surfer turned DJ had the Do LaB at its wildest on Saturday afternoon with 75 minutes of riotous house selections, including his breakout singles “Stop It” and “Crowd Control."

Credit: Instagram/@followthefishtv


The three Haim sisters effused awe at being tasked with playing on the main stage directly before Beyonce at the festival they grew up attending as fans, then proved they deserved that lofty billing with a shimmering performance as imagery of their native San Fernando Valley glistened on the giant screens behind them. This year might’ve marked the first year Coachella didn’t feature a rock headliner, but it’s not hard to imagine this trio eventually returning to fill that role.

(Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Coachella)

Maceo Plex

A techno stalwart, Maceo Plex delivered a rare live performance from the Gobi Stage on Saturday night to satisfy festival goers who were pining for a grimy, minimalistic electronic set rarely seen outside of the festival’s Yuma tent.

Credit: Instagram/@maceoplex


The pop queen delivered a performance for the ages during her only scheduled live show in 2018, with some critics declaring it to be the best Coachella has ever seen. From Destiny’s Child reuniting to the stunning choreography and tribute to HBCU marching bands, Beyonce put on a spectacle that even had the notoriously mellow Coachella crowd ready to join the BeyHive. 

(Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Coachella)

David Byrne

The 65-year-old showed off impressively synchronized choreography with his live band and had the Outdoor Stage bouncing with the tracks that sprung him to stardom in “Psycho Killer” and “Burning Down The House.” It was as close to a Talking Heads reunion as anyone could hope for.

(Photo by Scott Dudelson/Getty Images for Coachella )


Electronic producer ZHU pulled the biggest crowd of the six surprise performers at the Do LaB stage throughout the weekend, and he kept every last person dancing on Saturday night with a techno-heavy set that included his standout tracks “In The Morning” and “Dreams.” 

Credit: Instagram/@Zhu

Fleet Foxes

Like many guitar-driven acts these days at Coachella, this folky band from Seattle didn’t draw much of a crowd to their nighttime set at the Outdoor Stage. But their warm sound and relentlessly positive stage presence made the Polo Grounds seem like an intimate venue, not an outsized one.

(Photo by Scott Dudelson/Getty Images for Coachella )


The Korean producer/rapper might’ve seemed like an odd fit for the dance-heavy Yuma tent, but she showcased her DJ chops and expertly mixed in the throbbing beats at the heart of her innovative tracks, which proved to be club-ready in the dark confines of the Yuma. 

Photo credit: Instagram/@kraejiyaeji


British rock group Alt-J came out of the gates firing at the Outdoor Stage on Saturday night with energetic tracks such as “Deadcrush” and “Fitzpleasure” and didn’t let up from there, ensuring their fans would stay throughout their third Coachella appearance — even if it meant missing the beginning of Beyonce. 

(Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Coachella)


The 14-man rap collective that’s branded themselves as “The internet’s first boy band” enthralled the packed Mojave tent with a high-energy set featuring songs such as “GUMMY” from their first three albums, all of which were released in 2017. Each member wore a black police vest adorned with a different identifying word, ranging from “Fiend” and “Maestro” to more controversial terms such as “N*****” and “F*****” — presumably an attempt to reclaim the expletives thrust upon them over the years.

(Photo by Scott Dudelson/Getty Images for Coachella )

Cardi B

Rap’s newest breakout superstar paid homage to late TLC front woman Lisa Lopes with her giant pigtails -- and to her pole-dancing past by employing nearly a dozen voluptuous women who performed acrobatic moves on a monkey bar-like structure. Chance the Rapper, YG and G-Eazy all dropped in to perform their features on Cardi’s new album “Invasion of Privacy,” and a crowd-pleasing twerk from the pregnant tour de force showed she can still get down, even with a bun in the oven. 

(Photo by Scott Dudelson/Getty Images for Coachella)


The two-man electronic act warmed up the main stage crowd for Eminem on Sunday by providing a visually striking show -- complete with a drone fleet used to form a painting in the sky -- that perfectly aligned with their atmospheric sound. They didn’t bring on USC’s marching band as they did three years ago in the Gobi tent, but a dozen drummers lined up across the front of the stage for several songs and provided extra depth to a performance that already would have been quite the spectacle.

(Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Coachella)

Kamasi Washington

Washington, whose profile rose after providing saxophone for Kendrick Lamar’s album “To Kill A Butterfly,” proved the Coachella crowd knows how to appreciate modern jazz by drawing a healthy crowd to the Outdoor Stage for a graceful performance that was the perfect vibe for Sunday evening.

(Photo by Scott Dudelson/Getty Images for Coachella)


The final show of the weekend sent fans home on a high note, as Eminem exhibited the same airtight flow that helped skyrocket him to the top of the rap game nearly 20 years ago. Nate Dogg stayed by his side throughout nearly the entire show and essentially served as his MC, while 50 Cent, Skylar Grey and Dr. Dre each stepped out and shared the spotlight with Slim Shady for a few songs. 

(Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Coachella)

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