Regular readers of the Independent are no stranger to Chicano Batman. The Los Angeles-based group, known for Latin-infused psychedelic rock, makes frequent stops in the Coachella Valley—including two previous Coachella performances.
For appearance No. 3, Chicano Batman followed Orville Peck to the Gobi tent stage at 6 p.m. on Sunday. An instrumental played as the band walked out to greet the roaring festival crowd. The psychedelic jams kicked off right away, paired with cool visual effects that included heat-mapping and swirls. “Dark Star” and “Color My Life,” performed back to back, had the audience dancing and waving their arms.
“What’s good, family?” frontman Bardo Martinez asked fans after an electrifying guitar solo by Carlos Arévalo during their performance of “Moment of Joy.” The applause and screams continued as the intro notes of “Freedom Is Free” played. A Mexican flag began to wave over the first few rows.
The crowd ate up every Arévalo guitar solo, making up for some moments when Martinez’s microphone was a little low in volume. He seemed to be aware of this when he took off his shirt and threw his mic stand while jumping around the stage during “Manuel’s Story.”
The revelry subsided for a serious moment when the band performed “Invisible People.” “Invisible people, the truth is we’re all the same / The concept of race was implanted inside your brain. … Invisible people, the truth is we take the blame / Fuck the system, it created so much pain,” sang Martinez to a respecting crowd.
The fun would soon resume with “La Manzanita,” a cumbia track sung entirely in Spanish by bassist Eduardo Arenas, off the band’s debut EP. The Mexican flag waved a little higher—as the tent turned into a huge dance party.
The crowd and the cheers grew after each song. Another empathic guitar solo from Arévalo caused Martinez to jump into the crowd; he got carried about halfway back into the crowd until fans safely returned him to the stage.
Everyone was waiting for the band’s hit “Black Lipstick”—and as soon as the opening piano chords reverberated throughout the tent, the crowd went nuts. Other festival attendees came rushing into the tent, and smoke began to fill the air. The crowd knew every word; almost every phone was out; and the vibes were all on display as the sun began to make its way behind the mountains.
“A little bit of ‘Magma’ for you guys,” said Martinez as the band launched into the song. Martinez kept the crowd engaged with a call-and-response moment à la Freddie Mercury before the band went into the reprise section. With his shirt off again, Martinez picked up a guitar for an uber jam with Arévalo. As the song began to end, Martinez played with his guitar pedals for a little bit before running off.
Chicano Batman definitely set the mood for a chill ending to Coachella’s second weekend.
For George Miller, the Japanese lo-fi dark-pop singer/songwriter known as Joji, Coachella’s first weekend didn’t go as he’d planned: In the middle of his set, Miller left the stage for close to 10 minutes after saying, “It’s a medical thing; I’m sorry!”
Miller—who has open about his history with stress-related seizures—would return, covered in sweat, and finish his performance at a low energy level. Goldenvoice, which included Joji on their Coachella livestream schedule, replaced him with the Doja Cat performance when he exited the stage the first time. (Fans on social media said Miller mentioned something about being contractually obligated to continue his set after returning, but I have not been able to verify that.)
Rumors and internet hearsay aside, I was hoping to see Joji bounce back—as was the rest of the huge crowd gathered at the Outdoor Theatre. With a minute left before the 7:40 p.m. set time, “Joji” chants grew louder and louder until an ethereal and cinematic intro played. Miller was all smiles as he ran out with two big bags of beach balls. He launched them into the crowd as space visuals flashed behind him.
He started off the night with a chill hip hop beat via “Sanctuary,” the lead single from his most recent album Nectar.
“Coachella, what’s up? Make some noise!” shouted Miller as he launched right into “Yeah Right,” a hit off of his Ballads 1 album. The video screens played sequences of girls twerking on a seemingly distressed Miller. The crowd seemed to know every word.
Next up was the trap-pop song “Mr. Hollywood” “Thanks for having us tonight,” Miller said, at one point catching a rose thrown by a fan.
Although Miller’s songs and shows have never been particularly high-energy, the crowd’s response to “Will He” certainly was. The song had many dancing, and even more singing along. The occasional balloon or beach ball floated from fan to fan.
Miller stopped the show—but this time to bring out a slingshot. With the help of some crew members, he launched what looked like T-shirts into the crowd of screaming fans. After he performed “Ew,” another rousing round of “Joji” chants came; I even heard someone scream “Joij-chella!”
“Coachella, no one loves me like you do,” Miller said, appropriately launching into “Like You Do,” off Nectar. Miller’s segue skills were on point as he asked, “Who’s got demons?” before playing “Demons,” and said, “You guys are crazy; I can’t get over you guys,” before “Can’t Get Over You.” The funktastic nature of “Can’t Get Over You” had the crowd amped up and dancing, aided by a keyboard solo by a member of Miller’s band.
“That shit’s making me hard,” joked Miller.
After performing “Pretty Boy,” Miller turned to the slingshot, this time launching a few bouquets of flowers on top of some T-shirts. He rocked through “Gimme Love” and “Your Man” as the crowd turned into a dance party.
Miller emptied the bag of beach balls before his last song—his huge hit, “Slow Dancing in the Dark,” which led to not one, but two huge Coachella sing-alongs. Miller first performed a stripped-down version of the song before saying, “See you later! … Just kidding! I’m still here!” That launched him and his band into the fully electric version. He shoved his mic and mic stand into the crowd, marking his most animated moment of the night.
“Thank you, Coachella! I love you,” Miller said as he walked off while the band played out the last instrumental of the song. Even when the house lights came back on, the “Joji” chants continued.