Coachella Expands (2007)
In less than a decade, Coachella went from losing nearly $1 million on its inaugural edition to celebrating its financial and critical success with a pair of pivotal growth moves. In 2007, Coachella caught up with its burgeoning competition in Chicago, extending to three days the year after Lollapalooza made the move. That year, Goldenvoice also launched Coachella’s sister festival, Stagecoach, which reached a completely different audience (in this case, country music fans) while maintaining Goldenvoice’s foothold at the Empire Polo Club. Both of these moves heralded ones yet to come, from the festival’s purchase of land adjacent to the venue and expansion to two weekends in 2012 (more on that later) to the launch of 2016’s Desert Days festival.
Björk: The First Female Headliner (2007)
Festivals are only now starting to catch up to music’s gender gap, so it’s no surprise that it took Coachella a few years to book its first female headliner. They finally broke up the boys’ club in 2007 with Björk, the Icelandic art-pop sprite who brought her singular vision to the Indio desert. Clad in a bone-covered dress wild with multi-colored fibers, Björk put on a show that The New York Times’ Ben Ratliff praised as “visually beautiful;” 11 years later, Noisey’s Sarah McDonald elaborated: “Her songs are odes to the feminine and act as modern chants in tribute. A decade removed, you can still get chills listening to her literally jump through her catalogue.”
McCartney Blows Past Curfew (2009)
Coachella’s always had a curfew; in 2009, the music was supposed to be over by midnight. That didn’t stop ex-Beatle and the festival’s heretofore biggest booking, Paul McCartney, from taking a look at that time limit and blowing right on past it. McCartney wound down around 12:54 a.m., an overrun that skirted a potential fine of $1,000 for every minute over (or $3,000 for a performance of “Get Back”, which, in those terms, sounds downright reasonable). McCartney wasn’t the only scofflaw that year, but he was the only one who got away with it; The Cure ignored their own time limit on Sunday night and had their sound cut in response. These overruns might’ve been worth the price; starting in 2010, Coachella ‘s curfew was extended to 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights.
Single-Day Tickets No More (2010)
The divide between daytrippers and weekenders closed in 2010, with the latter declaring total and decisive victory. In 2010, Coachella eliminated the $99 single-day ticket option, leaving festival attendees with the $269 three-day pass as the most affordable option. In defending the move to the L.A. Times, festival founder Paul Tollett cited lower camping costs, limited area hotel space, and improving the festival experience for existing three-day pass holders as justification for the move. For many fans, however, the move signaled another shift towards ever-rising prices; a general admission pass to Coachella 2019 without shuttle service costs $429, a 59% increase since 2010 alone.
Jay-Z: The First Hip-Hop Headliner (2010)
It took Coachella 11 years to book its first hip-hop headliner, but they made up for their tardiness by snagging the biggest player in the game. At the time, we summed up our review of Jay-Z’s set (which included, among other things, a 10-piece band, an Obama cameo, and a Beyoncé appearance) by stating the obvious: “The Jigga Man used his whole arsenal Friday night and did it bigger than anyone could have expected.” Hova’s appearance opened the door for a steady stream of hip-hop headliners to come, from Kanye in 2011 to Outkast in 2014 to Kendrick Lamar in 2017.