Hayley KiyokoEXPAND
Hayley Kiyoko
Amanda Charchian

Coachella 2018: Hayley Kiyoko, Cuco and More

With Destiny’s Child reuniting during Beyoncé’s set, and X Japan putting on a masterful rock & roll performance (including holograms) at the end of Saturday, not to mention David Byrne and Tyler, the Creator kicking ass, Sunday had a lot of work to do to keep up.

Los Angeles R&B duo They. (the period is part of the name) were a cool surprise. The fact that they blended in a bit of Nirvana’s “Polly” during a song that has an otherwise classic soul sound illustrates where these guys are coming from. The roses wrapped around the mic stand were a nice touch too, somehow reminiscent of a bygone age. But the sound isn’t dated either; the songs are memorable, while the big vocals soar with believable, raw lyrics. Must hear more.

Over at the Yuma Stage, Peggy Gou seemed to be making the most of her Coachella debut with a set that blended ’90s house and early techno, while both Snail Mail and Japanese Breakfast played beautifully understated sets that focused more on the song than the show.

The same can’t be said of Hayley Kiyoko, who marked her Coachella debut with unabashed, pure pop. Following the release of her album Expectations, Kiyoko is brimming with confidence, recently telling me that the record “really represents me as an artist and every aspect of myself as a person. I’m just so proud of it.”

She’s right to be proud, and tunes like “He’ll Never Love You” sounded huge on a festival stage; super-polished and saccharine sweet maybe, but still, epic. Kiyoko seemed genuinely humbled when she thanked everyone, mentioning that she used to stand at the back of the tents “with the cool people” watching bands.

"I was a big Coachella person and then I stopped going because I was like, ‘The next time I go I’m gonna play,’” she told us. “I forced myself to make that happen.” Good for you, Kiyoko.

When L.A. Weekly wrote about Cuco last June, he was already headlining sold-out shows, performing in front of masses of besotted Latina teens. A teen himself, now here he is playing at Coachella and, as he pointed out from the stage, he’s done all of this without a label, 100 percent independent.

His Spanish-language songs are dripping with emotion, so those who don’t speak Spanish can still feel what he’s putting across. There are, it seems, no limits to how high this guy can rise.

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