fFor the first time since 2019, the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival returns with a lineup packed with the best and brightest in contemporary music, from headliners Harry Styles, Billie Eilish, Swedish House Mafia and The Weeknd to fiery young upstarts like Koffee, Amyl and the Snoops and Rina Sawayama.
We’ve already rounded them up 12 acts not to be missed if you’re heading to Indio this year for either weekend 1 (April 15-17) or weekend 2 (April 22-24), but now is the time to step back to previous editions of the festival and the music’s high bar looking back at legends who have taken the stage in years past.
Here are the wildest moments in Coachella’s 23-year history.
Rage Against The Machine got off to an explosive start in 1999
The first Coachella in 1999 was headlined by Beck, Tool and Rage Against The Machine. It was the latter band, fresh off the ill-fated Woodstock ’99, that made the biggest and loudest impression. The group broke up the following year shortly after the release of their fourth album renegades. Where did you decide to meet again in 2007? The main stage at Coachella, of course.
Jane’s Addiction reunion – 2001
Jane’s Addiction frontman Perry Farrell is best known as the founder of touring festival extravaganza Lollapalooza, but he also found time to help the fledgling Coachella festival in 2001 by reuniting his band for the first time since the ’90s and a delivered a set filled with hits.
Iggy and the Stooges together again at last – 2003
Prior to the 2003 edition of Coachella, Iggy Pop had not played with brothers Ron and Scott Asheton for 30 years. After headlining sets by The White Stripes and The Beastie Boys, it was the reunited original Stooges line-up that brought the festival to an insane climax with a timely delivery of raw power.
Wayne Coyne crowdsurfing in a bubble – 2004
Coachella sold out for the first time in 2004, helped by the long-awaited reunion of the mighty pixies, but that wasn’t the weekend’s only memorable performance. The Flaming Lips set is fondly remembered for the moment when frontman Wayne Coyne surfed over the crowd in a man-sized plastic bubble.
New Order honors Ian Curtis – 2005
Coachella play just a month before April 25th On the anniversary of the tragic death of bandmate Ian Curtis, New Order did something they hadn’t done in almost two decades – they played Joy Division songs. Powerfully moving performances of “Love Will Tear Us Apart” and “Transmission” provided the heartiest moments of the year.
Daft Punk’s Groundbreaking Pyramid – 2006
Probably the most famous and influential Coachella performance of all time – at least before Beyoncé. Landing in the festival’s Sahara tent in a pyramid eerily resembling a spaceship, Daft Punk delivered a suitably out-of-this-world performance that changed the course of dance music. It proved so influential for a generation of young producers that this show was to EDM what the Sex Pistols at Manchester Free Trade Hall were to punk.
Amy Winehouse defines an era – 2007
2007 saw headlines from Björk, Red Hot Chili Peppers and a reunited Rage Against The Machine. However, it was a British soul singer much further down the line-up that captured the audience’s imagination. When Vice wrote, “Amy might not have headlined the festival, but she was the definitive Coachella performer of 2007, the axis of cultural elite and chaotic starlets that defined that era.” Winehouse not only performed at the peak of her powers, but also partied with Paris Hilton and Kelly Osbourne and even found time to pose backstage with Danny DeVito.
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Roger Waters proves pigs can fly – 2008
2008 will be remembered for a stunning Prince headline set and for Roger Waters, who did double duty by playing his own set and a full run of Pink Floyds The dark side of the moon. During “Pigs,” he launched a two-story inflatable pig into the air. The pig icon had the words “Don’t be led to the slaughter” painted on it, next to a caricature of Uncle Sam with two bloody cleavers, lest Waters be accused of subtlety.
Morrissey storms off stage after smelling ‘flesh on fire’ – 2009
The former Smiths frontman, who performed just before fellow vegetarian Paul McCartney on Friday night, ended his show early after smelling the smell of meat in the air. “I can smell burning flesh…and I hope to God it’s humane,” Morrissey ground out before gagging halfway through “Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others” and walking away. He eventually returned to the stage, stating, “The smell of burnt animals makes me sick. I just couldn’t take it.”
Phoenix survives a volcano – 2010
In 2010, a series of volcanic eruptions in Iceland grounded flights across the Atlantic. That meant many bands, including The Cribs and Gary Numan, just couldn’t make it to Coachella. French indie rockers Phoenix managed to show up on time, but their lighting technique didn’t, leaving them with no choice but to perform to plain white lights. It turned out that was all they needed, and their set was so well received that they were asked to headline again in 2013.
Kanye touches the sky – 2011
The news that Kanye West dropped out of this year’s Coachella will come as a disappointment to anyone who witnessed his triumphant first headline hit back in 2011. West set the bar by appearing 30 feet above thousands of awestruck fans on a luminous crane above the main stage. There was only one rhetorical question on his lips: “Can we go much higher?”
The resurrection of Tupac – 2012
During a festival closing set by Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg magically appeared to rap icon Tupac to join them, undeterred by the fact that he had died in 1996. His hologram performance shocked fans and divided critics, but Tupac’s performances of “Hail Mary” and “2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted” were certainly unforgettable.
Fall Out Boy make a surprise appearance during the 2-Chainz set – 2013
As far as unlikely collaborations go, rapper 2 Chainz is certainly at the forefront, bringing in emo-rockers Fall Out Boy to perform “My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Remix)”. The Georgia artist’s fans were largely amused by the whole incident, despite his onstage assertion, “I didn’t just come to save hip-hop, I came to save rock and roll.”
NAS celebrates Ilmatic with Jay Z and Diddy – 2014
Nas knew that the 20thth anniversary of his genre-defining rap album Ilmatic was something worth celebrating, so his midnight 2014 set was joined by a few icons: Jay-Z made a surprise appearance on Dead Presidents, while Diddy took the stage for Hate Me Now came.
Madonna kisses Drake – 2015
Drake’s closing set on Sunday night at Coachella 2015 will be best remembered for the moment when Madonna herself interrupted a performance of the Canadian artist’s song “Madonna” by strutting onto the stage, singing a few of her own songs, and then a long, the headliner made a passionate hickey. Drake looked nervous and could do little more than giggle, “What the hell just happened?”
Axl Rose and Slash bury the hatchet – 2016
Coachella has built a reputation for bringing bands back together long after they’ve seemingly called it quits. In 2016 they not only brought back LCD Soundsystem but also Guns N’ Roses, with frontman Axl Rose, guitarist Slash and bassist Duff McKagan playing together at a major event for the first time since 1993. Unfortunately, Rose had to perform from a seat straight due to a fractured metatarsal game of Thronesbut in better news, fans enjoyed a cameo appearance from legendary AC/DC guitarist Angus Young.
Lady Gaga tops the bill, and a movie star is born — 2017
Lady Gaga’s 2017 headline set showcased the pop icon at her best, seamlessly transitioning from massive, club-ready dance-bangers to heartbreaking, emotional piano ballads like “Edge of Glory,” which proved to be a real tear-jerker. After that, she dusted off and filmed scenes with Bradley Cooper to be used in 2018 A star Is Born.
Beyonce (and her marching band) conquers Beychella – 2018
Beyonce was scheduled to play Coachella in 2017 before discovering she was pregnant. She finally took the stage in 2018 for a performance so dazzling that the festival ended up being temporarily renamed Beychella. The whole production was so epic that it formed the basis of her own documentary homecoming, illuminating the eight months of choreography and rehearsals it took to bring the historic concert to the stage.
Kanye takes Coachella to church – 2019
When Kayne West returned to Coachella for his Sunday service performance in 2019, he delivered a truly religious experience. Not only were there gospel singers and celebrity guest appearances from Donald Glover and Chance The Rapper, but it all took place on a purpose-built grass hill built at the festival’s campsite. Rumors circulated that West could have performed on one of the festival’s main stages, but apparently this was a hill West was ready to die on.
https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/features/coachella-headliners-best-kanye-beyonce-b2055328.html Coachella’s 23 Biggest Headlines: From Kanye’s Sunday Service to Daft Punk’s Groundbreaking Pyramid