The Evolution of Coachella

Anabel Sanchez

Online Editor


The California desert, music, and people. This exhilarating combination is the makeup of the U.S. indie music festival known as the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, otherwise known simply as Coachella.

From humble beginnings to a global phenomenon and entertainment staple in the yearly worldwide circuit of festivals, Coachella started out as a significantly smaller festival, which was conceived by rock band Pearl Jam. That initial event was held on Oct. 9 and 10 1993 at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, California.

The decision to choose Indio over Los Angeles was due to Pearl Jam’s then dispute with Ticketmaster. Promotion company Goldenvoice booked the venue and Pearl Jam performed to around 25,000 fans.


Some years later, in 1997, Goldenvoice’s head, Paul Tollett, was actively searching to compete against bigger competitors. After revisiting Empire Polo Club’s idyllic scenery and approving of the site, in 1999 on October 9–10, the first official Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival was held. The headlining acts were Tool, Beck, and Rage Against the Machine. In order to avoid the intense heat, the festival was then permanently moved to April in 2001.

Since then, the festival has grown, integrating up-and-coming indie artists and big mainstream acts, with the latter becoming more of a staple as the festival’s notoriety grew worldwide.

Acts such as Beasties Boys, The Weeknd, Lady Gaga, Snoop Dogg, Janelle Monae, Radiohead, Madonna, Beyonce, Coldplay, and a memorable, life-like hologram of deceased rapper Tupac Shakur are just some of the major artists that have performed over the years.


More notably, Coachella has become a cultural and social-media event hub. Inspiring whimsical “bo-ho” festival fashion and photography, the festival is somewhat of a treat to the eye with colorful settings. It even live-streams (typically) through three channels via Coachella’s official Youtube channel.

It’s also a place where music-wise, fans go to check out new artists with the festival’s several stages and noon-to-middle-of-the-night schedule. Don’t wanna watch Ariana Grande? No problem. You can go dance at one of the tents where a DJ is playing house hits and remixes. Or you can go check out a rap or r&b act at another stage. There’s pretty much something for everyone.

Inarguably, Coachella has become a cultural pulse in the music industry, converting Indio, California into a worldwide destination. Consistently featuring an ear-catching mix of artists who you’ll grow to love and artists you’ve loved for some time, Coachella is a stellar event that stands toe-to-toe with other festivals such as Warped Tour, Rock in Rio, and Glastonbury. So, whether or not you ever end up attending, you’ll undoubtedly wind up hearing about it.

Images courtesy of and Parkwood Entertainment.