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No Doubt Ramps Up the Ska in Their High-Powered Coachella Reunion

No Doubt ended their nine-year hiatus with a buzzy Coachella set on the main stage on Saturday night. Fronted by a punk-ified Gwen Stefani, the iconic ska group threw it back to the ’90s and ’00s as they ripped through hits like “Just a Girl,” “Don’t Speak,” and “Ex-Girlfriend.” They served as the final act on the main stage before Tyler, the Creator’s headline set later Saturday night.

Backed by a mighty brass ensemble, the Orange County heroes opened promptly at 9:25pm with their 2001 electro-rock hit “Hella Good.” Stefani — who’s enjoyed a more “Simple Kind of Life” since her marriage to country music star Blake Shelton — emerged like a glamorous Tank Girl in a tattered plaid getup, ready to rock with the same group of guys she first jammed with in 1986. (And with some of the same instruments, too: founding guitarist Tom Dumont wielded a keytar during their performance of “Hey Baby.”)

No Doubt made sure to regale diehard fans with deeper cuts in their catalog, including “Happy Now?” and “Different People.” They even rolled out “Total Hate 95,” a song the band recorded with the late Sublime singer Bradley Nowell — whose band resurfaced earlier in the day with Nowell’s son, Jakob, at the helm. (If this ska-punk double feature doesn’t inspire the genre’s revival on the radio this year, it’s hard to say what will.)

Olivia Rodrigo tore herself away from her ongoing Guts world tour to join No Doubt for a spirited rendition of their 2000 ska-pop smash, “Bathwater,” off their album Return of Saturn. Rodrigo has cited the record as a major influence on her songwriting.

“Gwen sang about being a woman moving about this world in detail that I had never before heard put to music,” Rodrigo recently said of Stefani in an interview with Nylon. “There’s so much heart in every word she says, and every song feels like it’s ripped from the diary of the coolest girl you know.”

The pop-rock princess arrived dressed in a Stefani-esque uniform circa 1996: Converse sneakers, navy blue utility pants, and a white No Doubt muscle shirt with red bra straps peeking out. Once the song ended, the two divas giggled and skipped backstage arm in arm, leaving the band to amuse the crowd with a reggae-rock interlude.

“Hey Tony, I was thinking we should dust off some of the old shit!” said Stefani to founding bassist Tony Kanal upon her return. The Anaheim players burned through more raucous Tragic Kingdom cuts, including the 1995 anthem, “Just a Girl” — which has seen a resurgence in the past year on TikTok, bringing the music to a younger Gen-Z audience. Stefani flaunted her hard-earned fitness by doing 10 push-ups onstage, then led the crowd in a roaring singalong. In accordance with a tradition she’s upheld since the ’90s, Stefani reserved a special call-and-response of the chorus — “I’m just a girl!” — from the men in the audience.

While Stefani enjoyed a prolific solo career after the No Doubt days — and remaining members founded the supergroup Dreamcar with AFI‘s Davey Havok — the group kept the set to strictly No Doubt material. After cooling down with crowd-pleasing ballads like “Don’t Speak” and “Underneath It All,” No Doubt capped off their high-octane set with “Spiderwebs,” then linked hands to share a sentimental final bow. “I owe you one big, fat thank you!” said Stefani to the crowd.

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No Doubt’s return was perhaps the most surprising entry on the Coachella bill this year, given how long it’s been since they last played together. They have not released a new album since 2012’s Push and Shove, the reunion effort that ended their first hiatus, and they have not mounted a full tour in even longer. (Their last live performances before this were a handful of dates in 2014 and 2015.)

It remains unclear if the Coachella reunion is another one-off appearance, or if they plan to play more shows in 2024. As Stefani told People back in January: “We haven’t really figured out the next steps of how we’re going to do this, but we’re just all so excited.”

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