Indio, California, USA
XXL – 50k+
Coachella is the world-famous A-lister music hub, one of the biggest music festivals currently.
Beginning in 1999, it was founded by music promoters Paul Tollett and Rick Van Santen.
The annual event, also dubbed as The Coachella Valley Music and Arts festival, takes place at the lush field of Empire Polo Club – a 78 acre polo club in Indio city, in southern California.
The music festival brings in the biggest acts across genres, showcasing the best of rock, pop, indie, hip-hop, and electronic music.
Coachella is celebrated for its Insta-worthy fashion statements, larger-than-life installations, and a crowd made up of the most popular celebs (this is your chance to see Kendall Jenner in flesh and bone), making it America’s ‘it’ music festival.
Here is everything you need to know about Coachella.
The idea of Coachella started almost three decades ago in 1993, after a conflict took place between the band Pearl Jam and Ticketmaster. The reason? Service fees, of course. The rock band started boycotting certain Ticketmaster-operated venues in Los Angeles as a sign of protest.
Goldenvoice, the promotion group who created Coachella, managed to book a successful concert for the band for a 25,000-people audience.
The original Indio location – as well as the event’s success – made it clear to the founders that hosting events for large audiences was possible at the polo club fields.
Years later, the first Coachella Music and Arts festival was held on the same grounds.
Despite bringing in some of the biggest names at the time, such as Morrissey and Rage Against the Machine, the music festival found itself with an $850,000 loss. Ouch.
Although the event attracted 20,000 fans, Goldenvoice’s CEO Paul Tollet said the founders bit off more than they could chew. In an interview with The New Yorker, he said:
“We needed a longer campaign to get word out. It was extravagant—five stages for a start-up show….We lost between eight hundred and fifty thousand and a million. We knew we were dust.”
Tickets sold for $50, which caused such a substantial financial loss that Coachella shouldn’t have returned for a second show.
The tides have turned from the festival’s very first show. Now, Coachella is one of the highest-grossing festivals in the world – if not the biggest, that is.
Its 2017 edition, headlined by Radiohead, Lady Gaga, and Kendrick Lamar, had record-setting earnings of $114 million. This was a $20 million increase compared to its previous year.
Unlike other festivals, such as HARD Summer, that changed locations frequently since their inauguration, Coachella stayed true to its home location of Indio, California where its shows still take place today.
The world-class polo facility is situated near Palm Springs, in the desert region of California.
Across the club’s 500 acre grounds, the festival could adapt to its exponential growth, by maximizing capacity to hold hundreds of thousands of revellers.
These days, it’s common for the festival to sell out (and quite quickly, for that matter). However, in the first few years after its launch, the festival was yet to have a sell-out show.
It wasn’t until 2004, when Radiohead and The Cure headlining alongside 80 other performers rocked the stage that Coachella sold out for the first time.
Rather than catering to one specific genre of music, Coachella bends the boundaries and hosts all kinds of influential and popular acts.
The stage has welcomed the biggest stars, from Pink Floyd’s legendary Roger Waters to the rap king Eminem. Pop icons like Ariana Grande and alternative favorites like Tame Impala can headline alongside Childish Gambino – all in the same weekend.
Reunions are one notable aspect of Coachella’s shows. Bringing bands out of their hiatus allows fans to see their idols perform together once again.
Rage Against the Machine took to the stage in 2007, regrouping for the festival after breaking up seven years earlier. Other notable reunions include The Pixies in 2004, Pulp, and Mazzy Star in 2012.
Bold fashion statements are no strange sight at Coachella. Possibly the most Instagrammable music event out there, Coachella is one of the most influential trendsetters when it comes to style and festival fashion.
The festival has been credited with bringing back bohemian hippie attire and vintage-inspired outfits – even beyond festival outfits.
The festival has upgraded from the initial five stages to a total of eight today, each displaying different talents and genres simultaneously throughout the course of the event.
Ladies and gents, we have the Coachella Main Stage, Outdoor Stage, Sahara Tent, Yuma Tent, Mojave Tent, Do Lab, Gobi Tent, and the Sonora Tent.
Revellers are spoiled for choice, as each stage features distinct vibes to ensure that everyone gets the chance to attend the shows they love the most.
Music isn’t the only big thing at this festival. Iconic visual art installations are part of what makes Coachella a mesmerizing experience. Unlike Burning Man’s visual art – which allows participants to showcase their work – Coachella gives selected studios the opportunity to create pieces for the fest.
The installations act as a way to promote the artists and designers, as well as markers to help navigate around.
One of the most iconic pieces featured at Coachella is Poetic Kinetic’s ‘Escape Velocity’, which featured a mobile astronaut – complete with radio-controlled animatronics.
Now that you’re well-acquainted with just how Coachella became one of the biggest names in the music festival industry, it is time to take the step and cop a ticket for their next show – if you can get your hands on one in time.