The States might have hundreds of festivals each summer, but few can compete with the gargantuan line-up that descends on the desert each April for Coachella Festival. It might have a reputation as the fest for celebs and influencers, but throughout its 24 year history, there’s no doubt that Coachella has consistently pulled together a pretty impressive array of artists. Want to relive some of its past magic? Enter our Coachella time machine and kick yourself about the ones you missed…
As inaugural festivals go, a headlining duo of Beck and Rage Against The Machine is tough to beat – especially with Pavement, the Chemical Brothers and Underworld not far behind.
A drought in 2000 meant the festival was postponed for a year, but they bounced back a year later with a slightly scaled-back line-up with Jane’s Addiction headlining the one-day event.
The two-day event was back in 2002, with Björk headlining the Saturday, and a mammoth run of The Strokes, Foo Fighters, The Prodigy and Oasis on the Sunday.
The mainstage was dominated by big names like Beastie Boys, Red Hot Chili Peppers and The White Stripes – but it was also one of the first opportunities for US music fans to witness the shambolic beauty of The Libertines as they headlined the Mojave Tent.
Radiohead made the first of many headline appearances back in 2004, with The Cure, Pixies, Kraftwerk and Muse all appearing across the weekend.
Just months before their massive third album ‘X&Y’ was released, Coldplay cemented themselves as one of the world’s biggest bands with their first ever US headlining slot. Also appearing lower down on the bill were future festival headliners all over the globe, including Four Tet and Kasabian.
Depeche Mode and Tool were the mainstage draws, but it was French duo Daft Punk‘s comeback show in the Sahara Tent that proved to be the weekend’s most memorable moment.
The festival’s first three-day event saw the return of previous headliners, Björk, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Rage Against The Machine, but an undercard of Justice, Arctic Monkeys and Amy Winehouse and The Black Keys made this jaunt in the desert one to remember.
Jack Johnson and Roger Waters may seem like slightly limp headliners, but when you get an unannounced slot from Prince on Saturday night – that’s easily forgotten. His legendary headline show has gone down in history as one of the festival’s finest sets, partly in thanks to his daring cover of Radiohead’s ‘Creep’.
Time was an issue for headliners in 2009 as Paul McCartney played a whopping 54 minutes over curfew and The Cure’s set was cut 30 minutes short on the Sunday. The Killers were bang on time on the Saturday, mind. Good lads.
In 2010, the festival got rid of day tickets for the event, offering only three-day passes for attendees. Response was mixed, but a whopping 225,000 punters still turned up to headline sets from Gorillaz, Jay Z and LCD Soundsystem.
The festival expanded its grounds slightly in 2011, and that expansion was reflected in the bill – with huge acts like Kings of Leon, The Strokes, Arcade Fire and Kanye West all taking the top slots.
In 2012, the festival first trialled its two-weekend event with identical line-ups performing a week apart. Radiohead were back to headline alongside The Black Keys – but it was Dr Dre and Snoop Dogg’s joint performance that provided the story of the weekend as they utilised a 3D hologram of late rapper Tupac Shakur in their set.
Britpop ruled the 2013 edition as Blur and the Stone Roses co-headlined on the Friday (yet both to modest crowds), before Phoenix and Red Hot Chili Peppers topped the bill on Saturday and Sunday. It also featured one of the final festival appearances from Lou Reed before he died in October 2013.
Hip-hop heroes Outkast returned, but 2014 also became the year EDM triumphantly took over, with Calvin Harris, Disclosure, and Skrillex all taking massive slots across the festival.
Tickets for the 2015 edition sold out in less than 20 minutes and no wonder, boasting a headlining collective of Jack White, AC/DC, The Weeknd and Drake. The latter’s set was of course most remembered for Madonna’s guest appearance, where the pair shared a surprise smooch on stage.
Palm Springs played host to two huge reunions as LCD Soundsystem got back together, while Axl Rose and Slash buried the hatchet to perform as Guns N’ Roses for the first time in decades.
After Beyoncé withdrew from Coachella 2017 due to her pregnancy, Lady Gaga stepped up to take on her Saturday night slot. Radiohead returned for a third time, and Kendrick Lamar made his first-ever headline appearance.
Solo artists snagged the headline slots in 2018, with appearances Eminem, The Weeknd and Beyoncé. The latter’s celebrated ‘Homecoming’ performance has since been released as a Netflix special and a live album, and has also been immortalised as a wax work in Madame Tussauds in Las Vegas. Talk about legendary.
A global pop party descended upon the grounds of Empire Polo Club in 2019, as the likes of J Balvin, BLACKPINK, and Bad Bunny played to some of the biggest crowds of the weekend. Coachella also welcomed three new headliners in Ariana Grande, Childish Gambino and Tame Impala.
Well, we all know what happened here. 2020’s event was initially postponed to October due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, before the event was scrapped entirely by the summer. We can only dream of how brilliantly chaotic Rage Against The Machine’s return to the desert could have been…
Coachella was called off – again. In January 2021, before a line-up was even announced, the state of California delivered a public health order cancelling the festival due to ongoing concerns surrounding the global pandemic.
Rejoice! After a two-year pause, the festival returned at full capacity in 2022, with a mega line-up to boot. Billie Eilish and Harry Styles touched down at the double-weekender with bombastic sets, while Sunday’s headliner, Kanye West, pulled out less than 10 days before the event. He was swiftly replaced by a team-up between The Weeknd and returning EDM trio, Swedish House Mafia.
As we look forward to Coachella 2023, this year’s festival boasts an illustrious group of headliners: the record-breaking Bad Bunny, K-pop sensations Blackpink, and Frank Ocean, who was meant to top the bill in 2020. Kicking off the summer festival season, the elusive Jai Paul will perform his first-ever live show, while Kali Uchis, Glorilla and Wet Leg are set to make appearances across the weekend.