Kanye? Yep. Bieber? Nope: Pop stars on (and off) the scene at Coachella

Ellie Goulding

Ellie Goulding performs Friday night at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio.

(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

The Biebs didn’t show.

Though he was widely expected to pop up during Jack U’s set Friday night at Coachella — expected, that is, by industry insiders as well as the hyperventilating kids standing next to me — Justin Bieber failed to appear with his pals Diplo and Skrillex to do their collaborative pop-EDM hit “Where Are U Now.”


Maybe Bieber will make it Saturday night to sing “The Feeling,” his duet with Halsey, who’s scheduled for a main-stage performance around 8.


Is it wrong to keep looking forward to these unannounced pop-star sightings at Coachella? Hardly. If anything, such cameos feel more and more like the point of the thing.

After all, though Diplo and Skrillex may not have hosted Bieber, their raucous, punishingly loud set as Jack U featured surprise drop-ins by plenty of other names, including Bieber’s current tourmate, Post Malone, who sang a bit of his “White Iverson,” along with Kiesza, Aluna Francis of AlunaGeorge and Bunji Garlin, all of whom did their songs from Jack U’s self-titled 2015 album.

Kanye West showed, too, though only to stand silently onstage with his arms crossed as the DJs blasted his song “Power.”

It was West’s second appearance Friday, following an earlier cameo during ASAP Rocky’s set, in which he rapped a portion of his song “Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1” while wearing a white denim jacket embroidered with a lightning bolt.


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A sloppy but fascinating blend of tough street rap and trippy drug music, ASAP Rocky’s show also had a long theatrical bit in which he welcomed a real-deal barbershop quartet to the stage to help do his song “Jukebox Joints.” And there was a video sequence, modeled after an airplane-safety address, with the actress Juliette Lewis instructing fans what to do in the event of unexpected crowd-surfing.

No extra pop stars crashed the stage during Ellie Goulding’s performance later Friday. But that’s only because Goulding has become a pop star herself, as was obvious when she came onstage after a canned introduction basically depicting the singer as an angel.

Dressed all in white, Goulding brought impressive vocals and a flashy athleticism to “Aftertaste” and “Holding on for Life,” and she strapped on a guitar, Madonna-style, for “Outside,” which had a distinct “Ray of Light” vibe.

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Yet Goulding wasn’t trying to disguise the fact that she’s a human. During “Outside,” the laces on one of the singer’s shoes came untied, so as soon as the song was finished, she did what anyone except maybe West would: She crouched down and tied them.

Twitter: @mikaelwood



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