Coachella 2022: Billie Eilish delivers powerful, polished headliner set three years after prophetic debut
Early in her Saturday night Coachella set, Billie Eilish demurred “I should not be headlining this (expletive).”
She was clearly underselling the power of her voice and her draw, because she produced a commanding performance, lifting a crowd whose energy had been sapped by a long day battling wind and blowing sand.
The 20-year-old singer stayed true to the setlist she’s been playing at recent shows, with tunes vacillating between haunting and upbeat.
To no one’s surprise, she brought out Khalid to sing their song “lovely” to the delight of the crowd. It was the second guest appearance of the night for Khalid, who also played with Disclosure.
Brother FINNEAS — who has his own Coachella set to perform Sunday — joined for a quick acoustic interlude, including the song "Your Power."
During her song "ocean eyes" in the middle of her set, Eilish created a unique visual as she was hovering over the middle of her burgeoning crowd in a crane-like mechanism after she had asked everyone to turn on their cell phone lights. The result was an elevated Eilish above a sea of light.
The rumored collaboration between Eilish and Damon Albarn, former Blur frontman and leader of the Gorillaz, came to fruition as the two joined forces on Eilish's "Getting Older" then they sang the Gorillaz song "Feel Good Inc."
The working relationship between Eilish and the 54-year-old Albarn seems to have emanated from a January Los Angeles Times interview where Albarn was asked about Taylor Swift's song-writing and said he believe Eilish to be the superior songwriter.
"A really interesting songwriter is Billie Eilish and her brother. I’m more attracted to that than to Taylor Swift. It’s just darker — less endlessly upbeat. Way more minor and odd. I think she’s exceptional,” Albarn said.
Even before that, Albarn covered Eilish's song "Getting Older" from her second album "Happier Than Ever" for a project he was working on.
Two days ago, Eilish put out an Instagram story wearing a Gorillaz T-shirt, sparking the Coachella Cabo conversation.
Eilish finished the confident performance stringing together the hits like "everything i wanted," "bad guy" and "Happier than Ever" — the exact type of songs that prove her original statement was not accurate. She clearly belongs in that headliner spot.
History at Coachella
Eilish has already had several life-changing moments at the Coachella grounds before Saturday night's headlining set.
She made a loud and clear declaration that she was about to be the next big thing when she performed at the Outdoor Theatre in 2019. She was already a relatively well-known commodity, but the size of the crowd that packed the stage to see was so large it had the entire grounds in a gridlock, something that hadn't happened on that stage since Wu Tang Clan in 2013.
It was that same 2019 Coachella where Eilish famously met Justin Bieber for the first time, when he jumped down from the Coachella Stage and was interacting with fans, one of which was Eilish. The moment went viral as she was blushing and nervous like the 17-year-old girl she was.
Three years later, and Eilish's "next big thing" prediction has come true. Just last week it was revealed that she and FINNEAS will be on an upcoming episode of "The Simpsons" set to air on April 22. She also is getting in the shoe game, having recently announced a partnership with Nike for a new apparel collection.