Coachella returns to it's stride
The dynamic event combines top-tier concerts, camping, yoga, parties
and time to relax over a three-day experience
Coachella is one of the most legendary festivals on the schedule each year. Held nearly 100 miles east of Los Angeles, the event is back again after the pandemic and returning to it's stride. The data we share in this post is derived from research and testimonials.
The Coachella Journey
On November 5, 1993, Pearl Jam performed for almost 25,000 fans at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, California. The site was selected because the band refused to play in Los Angeles as a result of a dispute with Ticketmaster over service charges applied to ticket purchases.
The show established the polo club's suitability for large-scale events; Paul Tollett, whose concert promotion company Goldenvoice booked the venue for Pearl Jam, said the concert sowed the seeds for an eventual music festival there.
Reflections of the Coachella journey
The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival was officially announced on July 28 with a preliminary lineup of 40 acts and tickets went on sale on August 7. Coachella's announcement came just one week after the conclusion of Woodstock '99, a festival in July 1999 that was marred by looting, arson, violence, and rapes. Goldenvoice's insurance costs increased 40% as a result and the company faced uncertainty regarding Coachella's tickets.
Organizers were already aiming to provide a "high-comfort festival experience" for Coachella but rededicated themselves to those efforts after Woodstock '99. Advertisements boasted free water fountains, ample restrooms, and misting tents. Retrospectively, Tollett called the decision to announce a new festival just two months prior to staging it "financial suicide".
The first Coachella was hosted under October skies. Palm trees dotted the main stage performers’ sunset backdrop and the story began.
On October 9–10, 1999, the inaugural Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival was held featuring Beck, Tool, and Rage Against the Machine; other acts included the Chemical Brothers, Morrissey, A Perfect Circle, Jurassic 5 and Underworld.
Originally, promoters had hoped to make the event three days (Friday to Sunday) by booking acts based on artistry rather than radio popularity, Coachella earned the title of "the anti-Woodstock".
Tickets sold for $50 for each day; about 17,000 tickets sold for the first day, and 20,000 for the second, falling short of the overall attendance goal of 70,000.
Attendees were offered free parking and a free bottle of water upon entrance. The event went smoothly, with the well-behaved crowd starkly contrasting with the violence that plagued Woodstock '99; the biggest challenges to Coachella concertgoers were temperatures exceeding 100 °F and the decisions of which of the 80-plus acts to attend.
Coachella officially becomes a "hit festival"
The festival was well regarded among attendees and critics; Pollstar named it festival of the year, and Robert Hilburn of the Los Angeles Times said that it "laid the foundation for what someday may be a legacy of its own". However, Goldenvoice lost $850,000 on the undertaking, forcing the promoter, in Tollett's words, to "struggle for almost two years to survive as a company". Prominent acts, including the headliners, agreed to receive deferred compensation.
Daft Punk The legendary electronic producer duo’s Coachella performance marked the debut of their iconic pyramid stage. Their performance set a new standard for production technology at an electronic dance music show.
The 2020 festival was originally scheduled to take place on April 10–12 and April 17–19 with Rage Against the Machine, Travis Scott, and Frank Ocean as the headlining acts. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival was initially postponed.
Coachella: The return
Coachella returned in 2022 on April 15–17 and April 22–24. The headlining lineup initially comprised Harry Styles, Billie Eilish, Kanye West, and Swedish House Mafia. Less than two weeks before the festival, West withdrew. The vacancy in the Sunday night headliner slot was filled by Swedish House Mafia who previously had not been scheduled for a specific day – for a joint performance with the Weeknd. While not advertised as a headlining act, Arcade Fire were added to the official 2022 schedule on April 14, a day before the festival's first weekend.
Amy Winehouse - The late English sensation was listed on the bottom line of the billing poster yet was one of the most attended performances of the weekend. Amy Winehouse marked a point in Coachella's history where fans were coming to the festival not just to see the big headliners but also all of the smaller acts that may not have been known at the time.
Jay Z - The rap icon made history as the first rap artist to headline Coachella, helping usher in a new era of hip-hop headliners.
The Coachella moment heard around the world - Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg brought out the late rapper 2Pac, in the form of a hologram, for a one time special guest performance.
After surprise dropping his Grammy award winning album DAMN on the Friday morning before Weekend 1 of Coachella, Kendrick Lamar closed out on Sunday (2017) night performing his hit "HUMBLE" live for the first time ever.
2018 Beyonce made history as the first African-American woman to headline Coachella. Raising the bar for production and performance standards around the world, her performance was the highest attended Coachella performance to date.
Coachella takes place in Indio, California, located in the Inland Empire region's Coachella Valley within the Colorado Desert. Temperatures during the festival's history have ranged from 106 °F (41 °C) on April 21, 2012, to 43 °F (6 °C) on April 14, 2012. The festival is hosted at the 78-acre Empire Polo Club; when accounting for land used for parking and camping, the event covers a footprint of approximately 642 acres. The site is about 125 miles (200 km) east of Los Angeles. During the festival, several stages continuously host live music. Two outdoor stages are used, along with several tents named after deserts.
In addition to hosting live music, Coachella is a showcase for visual arts, including installation art and sculpture. Many of the pieces are interactive, providing a visual treat for attendees. Throughout the years, the art has grown in scale and outrageousness. Paul Clemente, Coachella's art director since 2009, said, "I think the level of detail and finish and artistry and scale and complexity and technology, everything is constantly getting notched up, ratcheted up. We're obviously constantly trying to, for lack of a better word, (to) outdo ourselves and make it better for the fans."
At left is Idris Elba spinning the turntables and pumping out the sounds as he kicks off his set. Anytime you get a global movie idol/DJ to appear on your lineup, you're doing the right thing. Since 2011, YouTube has live streamed the opening weekend of Coachella. Viewers can choose from three channels of performances to watch. In 2014, AXS TV began broadcasting the second weekend on television; over 20 hours of live performances from the 2015 festival were broadcast on AXS TV. Performances from the 2015 festival were also broadcast live on Sirius XM satellite radio for the first time. In 2019, YouTube expanded its content for the festival livestream, which included a stream of both weekends of the festival for the first time. Weekend one included a premiere of Donald Glover's film Guava Island, while weekend two featured Coachella Curated, programming hosted by radio personality Jason Bentley that took "a deep dive into the festival experience" by offering "encore and live performances, artist commentary, mini-docs, animated adventures and more". Coachella Curated was reprised for the 2022 festival's second weekend.
Yoga, fitness and sound baths in the mornings, Water Balloon Fights at High Noon on Sundays, non-stop dance parties by night (starting at 8pm) and even the famous Silent Disco after midnight. The Dome has become the energy center of Camping. A living breathing piece of art, step inside the Dome and allow your mind and body to connect with everyone around you.
According to a 2015 ranking by online ticket retailer Viagogo, Coachella was the second-most in-demand concert ticket, trailing only the Tomorrowland festival. Coachella is considered a trendsetter in music and fashion. Singer Katy Perry said, "The lineup always introduces the best of the year for the rest of the year."
Coachella has become known for the variety of distinctive apparel worn by attendees, which primarily include eclectic combinations of colors, materials, and stylings. Although cultural appropriation in many cases has resulted in justified backlash particularly for non-natives wearing Native American-inspired headdresses and body paint. This issue has been addressed within the community to an extent, primarily through social media but we will see how those changes are made to reinforce those cultural boundaries going forward.
According to a 2012 economic impact study, Coachella brought $254.4 million to the desert region that year; of that total, Indio received $89.2 million in consumer spending and $1.4 million in tax revenue. Goldenvoice's other festival at the Empire Polo Club, Stagecoach, has been called a "cousin" of Coachella, but it has grown at a faster pace, eventually selling out for the first time in 2012 with 55,000 attendees. Together, the two festivals were estimated by experts to have a global impact of $704.75 million in 2016; approximately $403.2 million of that was expected to impact the Coachella Valley,$106 million of which would go to businesses in Indio. The city was expected to gain $3.18 million in ticket taxes from the two festivals in 2016.
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