Billie Eilish’s Surprise Coachella 2024 Appearance At DoLab Recap

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The backstage area of ​​the DoLab at Coachella is a scene of chaos. It's 6:30 p.m. on April 13, and the usually spacious and quiet gathering area for industry people and artists is shoulder-to-shoulder with bodies. Benny Blanco walks past me with a worried look on his face, then walks past moments later with two neon green bracelets in his hands. Someone carrying several large metal trays filled with Mexican food speeds into the staff-only cordoned off area. Nearby, a man wonders if he should go get Sublime's set. “He's DJing, dude!” says his friend in response. “This is the first time it's happened! We don't want to miss it.”

About 30 minutes earlier, Coachella organizers had announced that Billie Eilish would take the stage in the festival's underground DoLab electronic tent for a last-minute DJ set. In fact, of all the shows at Coachella this year, Eilish's impromptu appearance was the most unexpected. As a flurry of fan-recorded footage later proved, the pop star didn't actually end up DJing, but used the time to preview unreleased tracks, jump to hip-hop oldies and, in general, hanging out with his crew, consisting of his brother FINNEAS, Tyga, influencer Quen Blackwell and the rumored little Odessa A'zion.

It turns out that the story of how this strange collision of worlds came together was just as spontaneous. It started with a phone call just 10 days before the start of the festival. Jesse Flemming, one of the three founders of DoLab, received a ring from Coachella founder Paul Tollett, who told them that Eilish's team had reached out about doing a surprise set at the festival, and that they wanted it to be on the DoLab stage. . “I said, are you kidding me?” he tells NYLON in an exclusive interview. “How does Billie Eilish know who we are?”

Flemming says that “a really big, coordinated effort by a lot of people” went into building the buzz for Eilish's new album. HIT ME HARD AND SOFT, it all came down to a 26-person call with his record label, management and social media team. Her earlier time slot (continued at 7:35 p.m.) was also strategic: “Coachella didn't want her going up against No Doubt, or Tyler the Creator… Because she's Billie Eilish.”

In the end, Flemming estimates that as many as 25,000 people gathered in his corner to see the show, setting a record for attendance on stage. And above all, Eilish wasn't the only big pop star to grace DoLab that weekend. Katy Perry also made an appearance on April 14 to sing a song during DJ Mia Moretti's set, but this appearance was not planned. “She just showed up,” says Flemming, who was still in bed at the time and found out about Perry via text.

In the wake of these big pop star moments, some DoLab purists have expressed their frustration about the stage's future, to which Flemming shrugs in response. He and brothers Josh and Dede, who founded the stage in 2004 and use it to preview their own summer electronica festival Lightning In A Bottle, say they're still committed to maintaining an underground bent as part of their mission. But they're also ready for a bigger spotlight. “All the big bands were small at some point,” he says. “And if this happens to us after 20 years of doing it, then we won't hold back.”



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