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What is Coachella? History, 14 memorable headliners & exclusive reveals

Coachella is held over two consecutive three-day weekends in April.

A view of the 23rd Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival venue at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, California [Image Credit: Lance Gerber]

Coachella, officially known as the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, is a major annual music festival in the United States.

It features musical artists from various genres as well as art installations and sculptures. Coachella is one of the largest, most famous, and financially successful music festivals in the world.

The festival is organised by Goldenvoice, a subsidiary of AEG Live. It was co-founded by Paul Tollett and Rick Van Santen in 1999, and Tollett continues to oversee the festival's operations.

Coachella is held over two consecutive three-day weekends in April. The festival takes place at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, California, located in the Inland Empire's Coachella Valley in the Colorado Desert.

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Coachella is a pivotal event in the music and cultural calendar globally. Since its inception in 1999, Coachella has featured a wide range of headlining artists across various genres, each bringing their distinct fanbase and star power.

  1. Cultural impact: Coachella often sets the stage for the year's music and fashion trends and has a substantial influence on global music and cultural trends.
  2. Economic impact: It generates a significant economic boost for the local economy, drawing tourists from across the globe. In 2017, Coachella grossed a record $114.6 million, marking it as the first recurring festival to earn over $100 million.
  3. Artistic showcase: Beyond music, Coachella is a platform for showcasing visual arts, including innovative and large-scale art installations.
  4. Innovative performances: The festival is known for groundbreaking performances and reunions of bands and acts. It was one of the first festivals to provide a live-streaming experience, expanding its reach globally.
  5. Celebrity attendance: It attracts celebrities and famous attendees, which adds to its visibility and status as a cultural phenomenon.
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The festival grounds feature multiple stages to cater to various performances simultaneously.

There are usually around five to seven stages or performance areas in total, designed to cater to a diverse range of music genres and performances, from big-name headliners to emerging artists. This setup allows festival-goers to experience a variety of musical styles and performances throughout the event.

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The primary stages and areas include:

  1. Coachella Stage: The main stage where headliners and other major acts perform.
  2. Outdoor Theatre: Another significant stage hosting large acts, slightly smaller than the main stage.
  3. Sahara Tent: Known for electronic dance music (EDM) and spectacular light shows.
  4. Gobi Tent: A venue for smaller, often more experimental acts.
  5. Mojave Tent: Similar to the Gobi but typically hosts a mix of genres with medium-sized acts.
  6. Yuma Stage: Dedicated to underground dance music with a club-like atmosphere.
  7. Quasar Stage: The stage was officially unveiled in the 2024 lineup. EDM fans will get to enjoy longer sets by their favourite artists who were previously constricted by set times on the Sahara stage.
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Coachella has hosted numerous iconic performances and reveals over the years that have become memorable milestones in the festival's history.

While the exact number of celebrities who have headlined is not commonly tallied as a simple statistic, each year typically features between three to five major headline acts over the course of the festival.

  1. Daft Punk (2006) - Their performance in the Sahara tent is legendary for revolutionising live electronic dance music. The elaborate pyramid stage setup and light show set a new standard for live EDM performances.
  2. Madonna (2006) - Appearing in the dance tent rather than the main stage, Madonna’s performance was a huge draw, emphasising her versatility and appeal across various music genres.
  3. Prince (2008) - Known for his incredible musicianship, Prince delivered a headlining set that included a range of hits and a memorable cover of Radiohead’s 'Creep'.
  4. Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg (2012) - This set is famous for featuring a hologram of Tupac Shakur, which performed alongside Snoop Dogg, creating a sensational moment in live performances and a landmark in the use of technology in live music.
  5. Swedish House Mafia (2012) - The group's performance was a significant moment for electronic music at Coachella, coming at a time when EDM was beginning to dominate music festivals worldwide.
  6. Radiohead (2017) - Known for their innovative sound, Radiohead headlined Coachella for the third time in 2017, drawing massive crowds and delivering a set that spanned their extensive catalogue.
  7. Travis Scott (2017) - Known for his energetic performances, Travis Scott brought a dynamic and theatrical performance to the Coachella stage, enhancing his reputation as a must-see live act.
  8. Beyoncé (2018) - Often referred to as "Beychella", Beyoncé's performance was historic as she was the first Black woman to headline the festival. Her set included a reunion with Destiny’s Child and was highly praised for its celebration of Black culture and historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs).
  9. Tame Impala (2019) - As modern psychedelic music's standard-bearers, Tame Impala's headlining slot featured a visually and sonically immersive show that solidified their status at the top of the indie music scene.
  10. The star-studded cameos of 2022: Coachella 2022 was packed with memorable moments and remarkable performances that marked its grand return after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The festival was alive with surprise appearances that thrilled attendees. For instance, Justin Bieber joined Daniel Caesar for their hit 'Peaches', and Shania Twain appeared during Harry Styles' set, performing 'Man! I Feel Like a Woman' and 'You’re Still the One'​​. Billie Eilish also had several guest appearances during her performance, including Khalid and Damon Albarn​​.
  11. Brockhampton's farewell (2022): The group Brockhampton performed their second to last show ever, adding a touch of poignancy to the festival's energetic atmosphere​.
  12. Blackpink Making History (2023): Blackpink made history as the first K-pop group to headline Coachella. Their performance was a high-energy spectacle with elaborate costume changes and a setlist that had the crowd dancing throughout.
  13. Bad Bunny's historic headline (2023): Bad Bunny also made history as the first Latin music artist to headline Coachella. His set included special guests and multimedia presentations that celebrated the history of Latin music, further showcasing his influence and the genre's growing prominence in mainstream music festivals.
  14. Doja Cat brings out South African acapella group The Joy (2024): This partnership highlighted Doja Cat's versatility and her appreciation for diverse musical styles, introducing the unique sound of The Joy to the global audience of Coachella.
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  1. Jane's Addiction (2001): Perry Farrell, the festival's co-founder, reunited his band for Coachella, marking one of the festival's earliest notable reunions.
  2. Siouxsie and the Banshees (2002): The band reunited for a tour in 2002, which included a stop at Coachella, marking their first U.S. performance in nearly a decade.
  3. The Stooges (2003): Iggy Pop reunited with the original members of The Stooges for a powerful performance at Coachella, which was part of their reunion tour.
  4. Pixies (2004): Their appearance at Coachella was part of their first reunion after breaking up in 1993. The band's set was a major draw for the festival that year, cementing Coachella's reputation as a venue for monumental musical comebacks.
  5. Rage Against The Machine (2007): One of the most famous reunions, the politically charged rock band came back together after a seven-year hiatus to headline the festival.
  6. The Jesus and Mary Chain (2007): Alongside Rage Against The Machine, Coachella 2007 also featured the reunion of this Scottish alternative rock band, who performed with Scarlett Johansson as a guest vocalist during their set.
  7. My Bloody Valentine (2009): The influential Irish-English shoegaze band reunited and performed at Coachella following their comeback album, 'm b v', their first in over two decades.
  8. Refused (2012): Swedish hardcore punk band Refused reunited for Coachella in 2012, their first performance since their break-up in 1998.
  9. The Reunion of OutKast (2014) - The return of André 3000 and Big Boi at Coachella marked their first performance together in over a decade, kicking off a full-fledged reunion tour that year that covered over 40 festivals.
  10. Guns N' Roses (2016): One of the biggest headlines of Coachella 2016 was the reunion of Axl Rose, Slash, and Duff McKagan from Guns N' Roses, marking one of the most anticipated performances at the festival in recent years.
  11. Destiny's Child (2018): Beyoncé, Kelly Rowland, and Michelle Williams came together for a nostalgic performance that featured iconic hits like 'Say My Name', 'Soldier', and 'Lose My Breath'. This performance was part of Beyoncé's historic headlining set.
  12. No Doubt's reunion at Coachella 2024: The band, known for hits like 'Don't Speak' and 'Just a Girl', performed together on April 13, 2024 after a long hiatus, adding a nostalgic and energetic vibe to the lineup.

This content was generated by an AI model and verified by the author.

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