A History of Coachella

4.11.2014

By Neal Broverman

Coachella, the country's most famous music festival, celebrates its 15th year in 2014. As its first weekend kicks off, take a walk down memory lane.

Although the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival takes place at the Empire Polo Fields in Indio, Calif., about 20 miles east of Palm Springs, it plays an integral role in greater P.S.'s spring event season, which includes iconic LGBT parties like White Party and Dinah Shore Weekend.

In honor of the 15th Coachella, which has grown very profitable (and expensive), Palm Springs' travel organization created a timeline of the event's history. Its early days trace back to 1993 when Pearl Jam performed at the polo fields as part of a protest against Ticketmaster, which controlled most concert venues at the time. The polo grounds proved a great place for staging huge music shows and the first Coachella occurred six years later. The first event was a financial failure, but garnered positive publicity for an eclectic mix of acts like Moby, Beck, and Rage Against the Machine! The next Coachella wouldn't happen until 2002, but the event soon gained a reputation as a well-organized party that featured top-notch performers. In the following years, the event would include huge acts like Madonna and Paul McCartney, lead to numerous reunions of bands like Siouxie and the Banshees and Outkast, and stretch to three days, and then two weekends.

While many feel the event has gone too corporate, with fashion, media, and automobile sponsors hosting area parties and tents at the actual festival, excitement for the event has never dipped. In fact, 2013's event set records for the most profitable music festival ever, raking in $67 million.

Tags: Palm Springs
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