No Doubt’s Thrilling Coachella Set Unites Multiple Generations of Fans: ‘We Grew Up on Them!’

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As their electrifying set on Saturday night proved, No Doubt was Coachella 2024’s secret weapon.

Sure, people were excited when the band’s presence at the festival — their first concert in nine years — was first announced, but the run-up to it was pretty low-key. And then BAM, the group clobbered the audience with one of the most powerful sets in recent Coachella history, a joyous, hyper-energetic romp through their deceptively deep catalog, playing like a young band at the peak of its powers instead of one that hadn’t performed publicly for nearly a decade. As Variety writer Steven J. Horowitz noted in his review of the set, “It would have been an easy out for No Doubt to come across as one of the de facto nostalgia acts of the weekend,” he wrote. “But it’s a testament to the chemistry they’ve had since their formation and subsequent mainstream ascent that they can still harness that same energy with conviction, especially for a band whose members are all in their mid-50s.” It seems likely that this was the opening salvo in what is hopefully a months-long No Doubt revival because the set showed the band in Super Bowl halftime headliner form.

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INDIO, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 13: (L-R) Gwen Stefani of No Doubt and Olivia Rodrigo perform at the Coachella Stage during the 2024 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival at Empire Polo Club on April 13, 2024 in Indio, California. (Photo by John Shearer/Getty Images for No Doubt)
Gwen Stefani of No Doubt and Olivia Rodrigo (Photo by John Shearer/Getty Images for No Doubt)

Yet as proven by the presence of special guest Olivia Rodrigo — who was born in 2003, three years after the release of “Bathwater,” the song she sang with frontwoman Gwen Stefani on Saturday — No Doubt isn’t just for aging millennials reliving their youth: The band and Stefani’s appeal and influence reach across generations and are very present and relevant today. Not only did their audience swell to the back of the Coachella grounds, but it clearly surpassed the number of people who turned out for headliners Lana Del Rey and Tyler, the Creator. Younger fans at the festival bore testimony.

“We grew up on No Doubt,” 23-year-old Whittier, Calif., resident Bella Diaz, who was attending with her sister, told Variety as the two were packed into the front scrum an hour before the band’s set time. “Our mom introduced us to them, and that’s something we connected with forever. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Stefani’s tabloid ubiquity has kept her in the public eye: her judging role on “The Voice” and her happily stable romance with costar Blake Sheldon; her solo albums and tours and Vegas residency. But to the young women in the crowd at Coachella, her earlier persona — as the powerful frontwoman of an otherwise all-male band in a historically male-dominated industry — is what rings true.

“Stefani is so cool,” said 26-year-old Liv Broadley, who’d flown in from Portland for the fest, before the set. “She’s so unique, and she’s such a feminist.”

Diaz concurred, “Now being in my twenties, going through breakups and relationships, [their music] hits harder. It makes me feel like a lot of the times I go to a bar or a club, I wish that’s what was playing.”

The same holds true for 36-year-old Naomi from Sylmar, Calif., who was in her early teens during the band’s peak. “I’ve been watching her the whole time — I love her style, it’s very hip, very street — but I also thought her marriage to Blake Shelton was the coolest thing ever. [Tonight’s set] is going to rock, because I think as a person, she always brings that natural side of herself.”

INDO-CA-APRIL 13, 2024: No Doubt performs at Coachella on Saturday, April 13, 2024. (Christina House / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
No Doubt’s Gwen Stefani and Tony Kanal (Christina House / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

The group’s merch — both new-school Coachella-branded items and the band’s old-school logo tees — also outnumbered those repping any other act on the bill, except their SoCal contemporaries in Sublime, also making a comeback of sorts at Coachella. Of course, the group’s reunion spoke to the people who were there back in the day.

“The set was so tight, so great, the crowd loved it, and to hear those songs in the big field was amazing,” said Joe Napolitano, 43, a Los Angeles-based music producer, before summing up the moment for many people.

“They definitely were a big breakthrough band of that sort of ska-punk thing in the ’90s, when that music was kind of [uncool] for a long time,” he continued. “But then Gwen had her own other career of being a pop star and I feel like No Doubt was kind of a footnote for her. So to see her honor that band on the big main stage and bring that legacy back in to a bunch of people who see her every day on ‘The Voice,’ who know her on the tabloids and the supermarket and all that — for her to say, ‘This is where I came from, and it fucking kills,’ was incredible.”

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