Chelsea Cutler and her team dealt with a frenzy as Coachella’s second weekend approached.
The singer-songwriter from Connecticut is known for her popular psychedelic-dance-pop numbers, many of which are collaborations with either Quinn XCII or Jeremy Zucker, both of whom appeared with her during her Saturday set on weekend one.
“Weekend one was really cool, ” Cutler said during an interview in the press tent. “I’ve never been to Coachella before this year, so for me, it was a lot of stimulation. I was kind of just taking everything in and seeing what Coachella is all about. You hear so much about it. We had a great turnout at the set, and it was a lot of fun.”
She was slated to have her special guests with her again during weekend two … until her set was moved to Friday.
“We had to move some things around to make it today instead, so unfortunately, I think it’s gonna just be me,” she said.
Fortunately, the crowd that surrounded the Outdoor stage for her 4 p.m. Friday slot didn’t mind one bit.
“It’s intimidating until you get here—and then you kind of realize, oh, it’s a festival like anywhere else,” Cutler said during our interview. “It’s actually a lot more manageable in person than I thought it was going to be.”
Cutler was joined by a drummer and a synth player for her show; they ran out as a clip played of Cutler talking about her new album, When I Close My Eyes, and the idea of wanting to connect with people again. Cutler then arrived onstage to applause—the intensity of which only grew as her set went on.
Visuals of flower fields provided the perfect backdrop for Cutler’s mix of psychedelic-pop and dance music. While most of her music is very mellow and vibe-y, Cutler still wanted the crowd to be engaged.
“I hope I can get you guys moving!” she told the crowd. They happily obliged as Cutler launched into “Sad Tonight.” People were dancing and waving their arms all the way back to the Sonora stage.
I must admit I would have loved to have seen her weekend one performance with Quinn XCII, as the stuff that they do together would make for a perfect festival soundtrack.
“I got the opportunity to go support Quinn XCII on his tour, and that was Spring 2018,” said Cutler during our interview. “It was cool to pursue music while I was at college. I couldn’t be in two places at once, so once I got the offer to go on tour, obviously, I had to make a bit of a decision where I should be. That was really the catalyst.
“I dropped out my junior year. It was definitely a hard decision. I was playing college soccer, and I think also we, as a society, put a lot of pressure on kids to get their degrees. It was really stressful, but fortunately, my family was so supportive and really encouraged me to go pursue music. I know not everybody gets that.”
Back to her set: Cutler busted out a guitar for “Crazier Things,” which had almost a country feel, before playing two songs off her album with Jeremy Zucker, Brent. Even though the tempo slowed, and Cutler played some deeper cuts, the crowd still grew and danced along.
“I think that audiences probably care a lot more about how a song translates to the live performance then how many streams it has,” Cutler said during our interview. “It’s kind of more about the arrangement and just how you perform it, but I find it to be a really fun aspect of being an artist—getting to come up with live arrangements.
“I think once you tour, it’s impossible to write music without thinking about how it’s going to translate live. Even throughout the pandemic, just because I wasn’t touring at the moment, it didn’t mean I wasn’t thinking about how things were going to translate live. I think it’s been really consistent through the last few years.”
Cutler got the crowd raging again as she launched into “Not Ok.” The lively beat drop had hands moving up and down as Cutler danced around the stage.
Next was her latest single “the lifeboat’s empty!”—a performance that was long overdue, as the crowd erupted when she announced the song title.
“If you want to bop around, you are more than welcome to bop around with me!” said Cutler to the growing crowd.
Near the end of her set, Cutler covered the Killers’ hit “Mr. Brightside” in a way that fit into her psych-pop style. She grabbed a guitar for the ending and soloed on top of the bass drum.
She then transitioned into the final song of her set, “Your Shirt.” The overall festival crowd was not at its biggest, but people were still grooving all over this corner of the Polo Club. Huge applause sent Cutler off—proving she more than has the skills and talent to wow audiences without special guests.