It wasn’t enough for Drake to simply perform the song “Madonna” off his platinum-anointed mix tape If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late during his headlining Coachella set Sunday night. The muse herself invaded the Main Stage during Drizzy’s festival-closing slot to run through her own “Human Nature,” “Hung Up” and “Bitch, I’m Madonna” before laying an aggressive kiss on the Canadian MC, reiterating “Bitch, I’m Madonna,” and exiting stage left.
“What the f— just happened?” Drake said moments after theatrically wiping the Material Girl’s smooch from his lips. Considering their absence of a shared history beyond her previously declared crush—was anyone even aware that Madonna and Drake even knew one other before last night? Has Madonna even set foot inside the Empire Polo Field grounds since her lackluster 2006 performance at the rave tent?—many people in the crowd were wondering the same thing.
The Toronto-born rhymesayer arrived as just the third hip-hop act to grace Coachella’s biggest stage (after Jay Z shattered that glass ceiling in 2010, followed by Kanye West in 2011 and Dr. Dre in 2012) but, moreover, as arguably the most mainstream performer with the deepest roster of current Top 40 hits to ever play the festival. Drake performed an arsenal of his hits—“Started from the Bottom,” “Find Your Love,” “Tuesday” and “Hold On, We’re Going Home” among them—for a rousing, emo-tinged appearance that had many people in the audience rapping along and finishing Drake’s rhyming couplets as he repeatedly held his mike to the crowd.
Just a few songs into the set, he recalled a conversation in which his mother (Calling Drake by his first name) told him, “Aubrey, you know I love you but I need a favor. I need you to go on that Coachella stage tonight and kill that motherf—er!” In his low-key Canadian way, he basically did.
Maternal advice aside, though, a powerful surge of female energy ran through the last day of the fest’s Weekend One, despite lingering criticism that Coachella could improve the gender breakdown of its bookings. Preceding Drake on the Main Stage, Florence + the Machine delivered one of the most galvanizing sets in recent festival history. Flame-haired singer Florence Welch spent much of their performance—the group’s second stint at Coachella—sprinting across the stage, descending from the platform several times to get up close and personal with fans. Magisterial in a white pantsuit, Welch came off as humble and awed by the outpouring of crowd devotion in response to such songs as “Dog Days Are Over,” “Shake It Out” and “How Big How Blue How Beautiful,” a new song from her upcoming third album.
But her overall vibe was something closer to warrior woman: an outsize physical presence who doesn’t so much sing as emit deeply emoted sounds out of some wellspring of the collective unconscious who commanded her space and demanded undivided attention. She was riveting. And her band demonstrated that they deserved their prime time Coachella billing. “It really means a lot to be playing in front of you,” Welch said from the stage.
Fellow red-haired pantsuit-wearer Jenny Lewis displayed a different set of feminine wiles during her 5:35pm Outdoor Stage set. Marking her sixth appearance at the festival, the petite songstress was like burst of California sunshine, shimmying through a selection of country-accented indie-rock songs, and several from her former band Rilo Kiley—even delving into a kind of Studio 54 stomp with their 2007 single “The Moneymaker.”
At times, however, the Valkyrie screams of Marina and the Diamonds (performing with much larger amplifiers on the Main Stage at the same time) threatened to wash out Lewis’ performance. She took the musical intrusion in stride and even managed to joke about it: “I want to say what’s up to Marina over there. What’s up!” Lewis said. “I don’t think she heard me.”
About half an hour into the set, she brought up former bandmate Blake Sennett for a fleeting, ad hoc Rilo Kiley reunion—they performed “Portions for Foxes” from the group’s 2004 album More Adventurous, a song Lewis referred to as “some old-school shit.”
And the Coachella spirit of pro-woman sisterhood—call it the anti-Broachella— reached its apogee when Lewis brought out her own surprise guess, the three sister members of the Los Angeles power-pop band Haim, who joined Lewis in a performance of her new song “Girl on Girl.” To hear the singer-songwriter explain it, the rationale for their collabo was simple: “We’re all from the Valley, basically.”