The Top 10 Greatest Coachella Performances of All Time
Founded in 1999, the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival has gone from a humble weekend of music, arts, and hangouts to a two-week-long mega-festival. Coachella lineups were full of artists whose daring was rewarded with public acclaim and industry recognition. Read on to learn more about some of the greatest Coachella live acts in the festival’s history.
The all-time greatest Coachella performances
Creating a memorable performance at Coachella is a goal for many artists. With a 2017 attendance of 250,000+ and more than $110 million in revenue, this festival is an extravaganza of artistic visibility and shiny outfits. What happens at Coachella does NOT stay at Coachella — so as an artist, performing at this California desert venue could be a highway to elevating their music and style and leaving an imprint on the industry.
The Pixies (2004)
As one of the most important bands in alt-rock, The Pixies reunited after an 11-year break for a 16-date North American tour culminating with their headlining performance at Coachella. The event built so much hype that Coachella sold out all its tickets for the first time.
In 2005, M.I.A. took the Gobi Stage by storm with her first Coachella live performance. The young newcomer electrified the crowd, succeeding in delivering not only a career-shifting moment, but also the first-ever Coachella encore set in a tent.
Daft Punk (2006)
On the heels of the release of Humans After All, Daft Punk wowed the Coachella crowd at the Sahara Tent with a performance that included some of the duo’s greatest hits. The show was a sensory overload of lights and sounds, which brought fans into a dancing frenzy and solidified the French group’s status in dance music history.
The sex appeal! The dance hits! The atmosphere! Madonna set the Sahara Tent on fire with her performance of old hits and new bangers from Confessions on a Dancefloor. In 2006, Coachella was mostly focused on alt-rock headliners, so Madonna’s name wasn’t even at the top of the list. However, her performance was so powerful that it paved the way for Coachella to promote headliners from all genres.
In 2002, Björk became Coachella’s first female headliner, delivering a mesmerizing performance. In 2007, the art-pop queen enchanted the crowds again, bedecked in her memorable “bone dress” and performing hits like “All is Full of Love.”
In 2008, Prince became Coachella royalty when he delivered one of the most spell-binding performances in the festival’s history. The star not only performed hits like “1999,” “Purple Rain,” and “Little Red Corvette,” but also enchanted the crowd with unique covers, including Radiohead’s “Creep” and The Beatles’ “Come Together.”
Roger Waters (2008)
Pink Floyd may not have made it to Coachella, but Roger Waters (one of its founding members) did. And, oh boy, he delivered. Essentially performing Pink Floyd’s album The Dark Side of the Moon — plus a few other timeless classics like “Wish You Were Here” — Waters’ show was a complete experience. It delivered all the way to the last detail — a flying inflatable pig that floated above the crowd at the end of “Sheep.”
Jay-Z was the first solo rapper to headline the Coachella music festival. That alone could be enough of an achievement, but it wasn’t the only reason the show was memorable. Together with a live band, he performed hits like “99 Problems” and “Empire State of Mind.” The cherry on top was when he brought his superstar wife, Beyoncé, out on stage for a memorable duet of “Forever Young.”
Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg (2012)
The Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg show was more than just a reunion of two of the greatest hip-hop artists of all time. 50 Cent, Whiz Khalifa, and Eminem were among the special guests, but the honorary presence of the night was none other than 2Pac — revived in hologram form. Talk about making history post-mortem.
The first Black woman to headline Coachella, Beyoncé delivered a show that was a sight to behold. Queen B had to postpone her 2017 Coachella headlining performance due to her pregnancy, but came back in 2018 with a fully-developed show that celebrated Black pride and featured stunning costumes and mind-blowing dance crews. Among her stage guests, you could count her husband, Jay-Z, and her former Destiny’s Child sisters, Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams. Who run the world? Girls!
Craving more Coachella artists’ performances? Check out Deezer’s Coachella playlists.
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