Punk rock isn’t dead – it’s in Indio, California.
Blondie proved this point with a sparkling performance at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, capturing the full attention of audience members in the Mojave tent. The rock band, co-founded by singer Debbie Harry and guitarist Chris Stein, kicked off its set with 1979 hit “One Way Or Another,” driving the crowd into a frenzy.
As the second oldest performer in Coachella history, the 77-year-old Harry exhibited just as much star power as ever, dressed in acid-washed pants, a leather vest and futuristic black sunglasses. “You’re walking around here with no clothes on…I feel so overdressed,” she joked with members of the audience. As she glided across the stage, the wind blew back her hair – still the peroxide platinum color that inspired the band’s name (according to punk rock folklore, truck drivers used to catcall “Hey, blondie,” when they drove past her).
When Harry took off her sunglasses, revealing her glamorous, smokey eye makeup, it seemed as though nothing had changed since the 1970s and 1980s. She embodied the same onstage character she once described in her memoir as “an inflatable doll but with a dark, provocative, aggressive side.” Harry leaned into the persona by making playful comments in between songs, such as “I’ve seen a lot of good looking people here today…and sexy.”
Audience members ate up every word. Although the band was formed in the mid-1970s, attendees both young and old danced and sang along to hits like “Heart of Glass,” “Call Me,” “Atomic” and “The Tide is High.” Fifteen years after breaking up in 1982, Blondie got back together in 1997 and has been rolling out new music ever since, its most recent album being “Pollinator” in 2017. It performed some of these new songs at Coachella, before bringing out record producer Nile Rodgers as a guest.
“This is what happens when old friends say they want to play together,” Rodgers told the audience.
The last song Blondie performed was “Dreaming,” which was appropriate, being that the whole set delivered an illusion of being inside of a 1970s punk rock dream. Harry, who put on a glimmering poncho for the last song, demonstrated that this dream is not far gone after all.