Harry Styles emerged from beneath the Coachella mainstage on Friday night like a vision. Dressed in a pink, all-leather cowboy get-up (complete with his initials emblazoned on the back of his pants), he stood center stage, basking in the applause from the hundreds of thousands of people gathered to watch him.
When the crowd finally fell silent, it was only for that silence to be broken by the guitar intro to “As It Was,” the synth-pop-inspired first look at Styles’ upcoming album, “Harry’s House.” The devoted audience quickly morphed into a screaming frenzy of excitement. Indeed, no other crowd on Friday came close to matching the energy of Styles’ audience.
Following “As It Was,” Styles kept up the energy with “Adore You” and “Golden,” two of the most popular tracks from his 2019 sophomore effort, “Fine Line.” He improvised a bit on these tracks, switching octaves and harmonizing differently than on his studio album in typical fashion styles. Notably, “Golden” featured an extended guitar intro which allowed Styles to wind up the crowd before singing the fan-favorite track.
The most astounding part of the performance had to be Styles’ complete control of the stage. His confidence and sheer suave could convince even the staunchest critic that Styles is indeed an excellent performer. Not only were his dance moves smooth, slick, and sexy, but his facial expressions alone conveyed that the stage was his. As he ran his hands through his hair during “Golden,” he donned a cheeky grin which seemed to say, “I know you love me.”
Thanks to a catwalk which extended more than thirty yards into the crowd, Styles was able to engage more directly with those who didn’t get a spot at the front. (Those who did get the coveted barricade spots had been camped at the Coachella mainstage for hours prior to Styles’ performance.) He strutted down the stage, throwing his tiny pink cowboy hat into the crowd and splashing the audience with a jug of water and his signature “whale” move.
Although his stage presence was the highlight of the performance, his vocal range is not to be understated. During a performance of his new song “Boyfriends,” an as-yet unreleased track from “Harry’s House,” Styles demonstrated the true extent of his talent. Accompanied by an acoustic guitar and two backing vocalists from his band, Styles allowed his voice to shine through, navigating falsettos and sustaining chords like the seasoned singer he is. Furthermore, the folk style of the song shows his versatility as an artist who refuses to be limited to simple definitions of rock or pop genres.
Following the surprise appearance of Shania Twain during weekend one, fans were left wondering all week long who would be brought out during the second half of the set. Following “Treat People With Kindness” – during which Styles brought a Black Lives Matter flag onto the stage – a woman’s voice began to sing Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive.” At the edge of the catwalk, the spotlight turned to reveal pop and hip hop icon Lizzo donning a fuzzy fur coat to match Styles’ own.
The pair have an established relationship – Styles has covered Lizzo’s songs before, and their friendship is well documented – which made the Coachella collaboration all the more special. Together, Lizzo and Styles sang “I Will Survive” and, to the joy of longterm Styles fans (or, self-described “Harries”), One Direction’s smash-hit “What Makes You Beautiful.” In perhaps one of the most exciting moments of the show, Lizzo and Styles met in the center of the stage and harmonized the chorus of the latter, followed by a warm hug between the two. In tandem, Lizzo’s booming voice blended with Styles’ soft vocals and blew the audience away.
Other notable moments of the show include a rare and much-anticipated performance of Styles’ uber-popular unreleased track “Medicine,” a repeat performance of another not-yet-released song from “Harry’s House” titled “Late Night Talking” (it had its debut in weekend one of Coachella), and an extended performance of “Woman” from Styles’s 2017 self-titled album featuring a four-minute guitar solo.
For the encore, Styles performed one of his most famous ballads and the one that started it all, “Sign of the Times.” As the crowd sang in unison, Styles’ sang his heart out. The passion in his voice was undeniable as he belted out the vocals, allowing his raspy vibrato to shine through. With fireworks ablaze and lights flashing, Styles closed his set just as the Ukrainian flag lit up the LED screens behind him.
In addition to flawless execution of his set, Styles’ electrifying stage presence led to a whirlwind of entertainment and emotion. He truly lived up to his status as the first headliner of the three-day festival.
With “Harry’s House” scheduled for release on May 20, Styles’ future is surely golden.
—Staff writer AJ Veneziano can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @aj_veneziano.