As the clock struck 12:22 p.m. and the traditional roar of an anxious crowd finally allowed to enter was heard, the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival officially returned Friday.
The festival’s COVID-19-forced near-three-year break was finally over and the sun-drenched throngs could again congregate to enjoy music, art, food and one another’s company.
One of the first acts out of the gate was a local favorite Giselle Woo and the Night Owls who rocked the Sonora Tent at 1:40 p.m.
“It’s so so special to be here,” Woo told the smallish crowd that quadrupled in size as her set went on. “For those that don’t know us, we’re Giselle Woo and the Night Owls and we were born right here in this Coachella Valley.”
The partisan crowd roared as she weaved through her seven-song set which — just like her new album, “Everything,” which was released on Tuesday — included some songs in Spanish and some in English.
“Encourage your kids to dream big,” Woo posted on Facebook last week with a photo of her band superimposed in front of a Coachella crowd. Now she has the real thing as she posed for a photo with the crowd behind her after her set.
Of course, the loudest cheers were saved for her most popular song, “Coachella Gold,” which she said she wrote years ago as she was preparing to head to the festival.
That is an experience tens of thousands of fans could relate to Friday as the outdoor music and art sensory overload returned for the first time since 2019.
After navigating the parking and the security and the long walk to the venue, fans were greeted with the usual mix of eateries, music and art.
The funky art installations that are a hallmark of the festival add fanciful color to the grounds that still include the Instagram-famous Ferris Wheel and the colorful spiral walk-in installation “Spectra.”
One of the more noticeable art pieces is called “Circular Dimensions” by Christopher Cichocki. It’s a five-story-tall structure made of 25,000 large PVC pipes. The imposing structure creates a unique visual experience of being see-through from certain angles as you walk by.
The Friday night headliner was Harry Styles, and other acts that had festival-goers excited on Day 1 were Arcade Fire, Phoebe Bridgers and Lil Baby.
Billie Eilish is set to headline Saturday night and the combination of The Weeknd and Swedish House Mafia finishing it off Sunday. The same collection of bands will be back for Weekend 2 from April 22-24.
This article originally appeared on Palm Springs Desert Sun: Coachella 2022 is back with music, art and a local band’s dream realized