What You Need to Know: Coachella

What is Coachella? Brief history of the music, arts festival

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Here are some facts about the music festival:

First tickets were $50 a day

In 1999, handing over a Grant for one day of a festival was expensive for a trip to the desert to see Beck, Morrissey, Tool, Rage Against the Machine, Moby and others in the indie rock, electronic dance and pop rock space who were popular at the time.

Festivalgoers attend the 2019 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival Weekend 1 Day 3 on April 14, 2019 in Indio, California.
Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for Coachella

There was no festival in 2000

Money issues from the first festival, which saw a decrease in sales because of violence from Woodstock ‘99 months prior, meant there was no Coachella 2000. Goldenvoice, the company headed by concert promoter Paul Tollett, lost money. Tollett later said the first gathering cost $750,000.

Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails perform at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival at the Empire Polo Fields May 1, 2005 in Indio, California.
Photo: Karl Walter/Getty Images

The festival was two days

Except for the return of Coachella in 2001, which was only one day, the music festival started out as a two-day event. It has since grown to go across three days.

Rap and pop has taken over electronic and rock music 

When Prince headlined the festival in 2008, the top-billed headliner tide turned toward more mainstream acts and away from mostly experimental electronic and rock acts. Jay-Z headlined the show in 2012 and that same year, a holographic image of Tupac performed with Snoop Dogg. 

Rapper Snoop Dogg with a holographic image of Tupac Shakur is seen performing during day 3 of the 2012 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival at the Empire Polo Field on April 15, 2012 in Indio, California.
Photo: Kevin Winter

Still, alternative artists across multiple genres continue to perform at the festival, including Major Lazer, Erykah Badu, My Morning Jacket, James Blunt, Cardi B, M.I.A., Broken Social Scene, the Chemical Brothers, The xx and others.

Related: Photos: Coachella through the years

The first female headliner wasn’t until 2017

Beyonce was initially announced as the history-making first female headliner for Coachella 2017, but when she dropped out when she was expecting twins, Lady Gaga stepped up.

Beyonce Knowles performs onstage during 2018 Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival Weekend 1 at the Empire Polo Field on April 14, 2018 in Indio, California.
Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Coachella

Beyonce became the first black woman to headline the festival at Coachella 2018, a feat that is chronicled in a Netflix documentary directed by the singer herself.

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