The Coachella festival can actually trace its roots back to a legal dispute over ticket sales.
In 1993, a feud had broken out between Ticketmaster and the grunge rock band Pearl Jam. Pearl Jam had long objected to the large service charges added to ticket prices that were part of the Ticketmaster operation. In protest, Pearl Jam refused to play in Los Angelas at venues that used Ticketmaster. Instead, the played a show for nearly 25,000 fans at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, California. Located in the Coachella Valley, the club was not necessarily seen as a concert venue. However, the success of the Pearl Jam show demonstrated that the club could host outdoor events of a size that rivaled nearby LA venues.
The first festival was organized by the Goldenvoice promotional group. The group had decided that, to increase viability, they would book trendier and less well-known acts that cost less, so they could compete with other promoters, and use a festival format outside of typical city venues to cut costs. Since Pearl Jam had proven that the Coachella Valley could host large concerts, they choice that spot for their new festival, the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. Despite the disastrous Woodstock ’99 taking place a mere two months prior, they were able to launch their festival in the valley.
The initial show hosted rock and roll greats like Beck, Tool, Rage Against the Machine, and many, many others.
Because Woodstock had left such a bad taste in everyone’s mouth (with reports or arson, violence, and rape during sets from bands like Limp Bizkit and Korn) Goldenvoice worked to make the festival more peaceful and relaxing. This meant offering plenty of amenities like food, water, rest areas, and cool-down tents. As such, Coachella became known for its comfortable approach to festivals.
As time went on, the festival continued to move away from mainstream acts of questionable talent, and would host underground favorites or talented mainstreamers who wanted to perform more ambitious music and sets to an appreciative audience. in 2006, Daft Punk played a show in a pyramid-shaped stage that has been called the most memorable of the festival. The festival itself is regularly hosting or headlining esoteric acts like Tool, Arcade Fire, Snow Patrol, and Kraftwerk. Mainstream acts like Prince, Paul McCartney, Jay-Z, and Outkast would continue to headline over the years.
Coachella Lineup in 2019
This year, Coachella is running over two consecutive weekends: April 12th-14th and April 19th-21st.
The headlining acts are Childish Gambino (aka Donald Glover) on the first night of each weekend, Tame Impala on the second, and Ariana Grande on the third. Grande has the distinction of being the youngest artist to headline the festival.
Additional acts for each day include bands like Weezer, Apex Twin, Billy Eilish, Bassnectar, Solange, Diplo, Pusha T, and many, many more.
For a full lineup, see the official lineup page here or just scroll below.