YouTube Reinvents the Livestream (2011)
You could livestream Coachella before 2011; usually, that process involved interacting with some #branded #gum #content on social media. That changed for the better in 2011, when Coachella launched its first multi-channel, a la carte webstream in partnership with YouTube. Reviews at the time were breathless; at CNet, reporter Daniel Terdiman heaped praise on the “low lag, few technical glitches, and fairly unobtrusive advertising” that stood between fans at home and the full festival experience, and declared “if you didn’t catch [it] last weekend, you missed a chance to see the music world changing before your eyes.” Even in 2019, Coachella’s still adding to its streaming experience; this year marks the first time that the festival’s second weekend will be streamed live in its entirety, in case you want to compare Childish Gambino sets from the comfort of your couch.
Two Weekends, One Festival (2012)
If one life-changing spring festival weekend is good, two identical life-changing festival weekends in a row must be even better, right? That was the calculous for Paul Tollett and company in 2012, when Coachella doubled its fun in the form of a newly added second weekend. The move followed Coachella’s acquisition of 280 acres of land near Empire Polo Club, and both signaled the festival’s intention of staying in Indio for the long haul to local politicians who’d only granted the fest a two-year contract in 2011. The moves, though risky, both paid off; Coachella 2012 sold out both weekends in a matter of hours, and Coachella’s future in Indio would soon be cemented.
The Tupac Hologram (2012)
Much like Daft Punk’s appearance in 2006, Coachella created more instant mythology six years later during the Sunday night headlining set from Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg with a festival first: a performance by the deceased. The hologram-like apparition of the late Tupac Shakur shocked audiences with performances of “Hail Mary” and “2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted” and instantly ignited a wider media discussion (as well as one of the most buzzed-about attractions for the second weekend). In the wake of the Coachella appearance, there were even rumors that the Tupac hologram would go on tour (a proposition that The Mercury News’ Tony Hicks called, “a bad idea whose time has come”) but seven years later, that festival cameo remains a twice-in-a-lifetime experience.
Poetic Kinetics Arrives (2012)
There’s always been art at Coachella, but in the early years, those installations were often repurposed from previous engagements (Burning Man, in particular). That rent-a-sculpture system had almost completely vanished by 2012, replaced by a dedicated budget for exclusive or first-run artwork. That was also the year that the LA-based installation artists at Poetic Kinetics made their Coachella debut with the towering lotus flower known as Solitary Inflorescence. In the years since, Coachella’s art spending has continued to run high, and Poetic Kinetics has continued to delight; some of their subsequent pieces include the roving snail (Helix Poeticus) of 2013, the towering astronaut (Escape Velocity) of 2014, and the metamorphosing caterpillar/butterfly combo (Papilio Merraculous) of 2015.
Coachella Signs Contract Through 2030 (2013)
Sometimes, the festival’s most important moments happen far away from the Empire Polo Club. Such was the case in 2013, when the biggest news out of the festival was probably the announcement that the city of Indio reached an agreement with Goldenvoice to keep Coachella and its sister festival Stagecoach in their desert home through 2030. Taking the festival on the road isn’t a totally foreign idea (remember 2013’s Coachella cruise?), but Coachella’s identity is so intertwined with its environment that making a permanent move would feel a little like blasphemy.