When SZA entered the R&B world, music lovers could not get enough of her. Not only did she seemingly come out of nowhere, but she was trained and mentored by one of hip-hop’s top labels, Top Dawg Entertainment. Being the only lady amongst elites such as Kendrick Lamar, ScHoolboy Q and Ab-Soul, the St. Louis, Missouri, songstress had no choice but to bring her A game.
With the release of her debut album, CTRL, SZA proved her superstar status, landing four records on the Billboard 100 charts. At Coachella 2018, she was taking the second-to-last slot on the main stage. It’s nighttime, and most people are either comfortable on the floor or dancing their asses off.
For SZA’s set, it was the latter. Last weekend, there were some technical difficulties with her microphone. This weekend, things were looking up. SZA took the stage flaunting a colorful ensemble, and she was all smiles as she graced the crowd with her angelic aura. Her energy onstage was unmatched as she danced and sang her way through the set.
After the first song, she screamed, “What the fuck is good Coachella!” She then introduced herself as Solána, followed by a soulful “Go Gina.” But the real party started as the beat for “Broken Clocks” began — fans knew every word! This was the biggest fan reaction I’d seen all day.
The intro to “Drew Barrymore” consisted of SZA admitting she wrote her album about real-life struggles and feelings that most females go through as they transition from adolescent to teenager to adulthood. “20 Something” was next, which again, the crowd knew every single word to.
This next moment was probably the most exciting: bringing out Khalid for “Young, Dumb & Broke.” I was surrounded by high-pitched screams from all corners. It was as if Justin Bieber had just walked onstage. The synergy between SZA and Khalid was one that every girl wishes she had in a guy friend.
One of my favorite parts of SZA's set was how often she spoke to the crowd between songs. These were motivational speeches that we could relate to on a personal level. She told everyone how weird she was, and how much she used to crave normalcy. She used to be the girl at the strip club, smoking weed, quiet as ever. Now, she’s making the crowd swoon at one of America’s most popular music festivals.
“Garden” came laced with the most beautiful shots of nature against the LED screens. Next, she performed
“Pretty Little Birds,” before bringing out fellow TDE artist Isaiah Rashad. As a hip-hop head, Zay is one of my favorites. It bummed me out that nobody in the crowd knew who he was. His energy and her energy together was priceless.
“Love Galore” featuring Travis Scott is one of her biggest hits, and it was followed by an unreleased verse. “The Weekend” was next, which also had the crowd screaming for joy.
Then came the fireworks, as SZA thanked the crowd. She ended it with a special birthday shout-out to Top Dawg himself, before telling everyone to “get fucked up!” Happy 4/20.
Earlier, Vince Staples matched his crowd-wowing weekend one set.
With enough daylight to go around, audiences of all ages were parked across the lawn with their gaze on the big LED screens that surrounded him.
He played his song recorded with Gorillaz, “Ascension,” followed by “Rain Come Down.” As he performed “Blue Suede,” I couldn’t help but notice Tyler, the Creator in the center pit, where only artists are granted entry. Tyler was dancing his heart out — grooving, jamming, bouncing his head to the beat. It was a sight to see.
Next was “Norf Norf,” one of Staples’ stand-out singles. Before he started, he made a joke about “cripping,” which was met with silence. He rescued it with, “Wrong crowd.” He did shout out Long Beach once or twice during his set, a nice call-back to his home.