Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival 2019

Posted on April 16, 2019 by UNITED PHOTO PRESS MAGAZINE


The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival (commonly referred to as Coachella or the Coachella Festival) is an annual music and arts festival held at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, California, located in the Inland Empire's Coachella Valley in the Colorado Desert. It was co-founded by Paul Tollett and Rick Van Santen in 1999, and is organized by Goldenvoice, a subsidiary of AEG Live.
The event features musical artists from many genres of music, including rock, pop, indie, hip hop, and electronic dance music, as well as art installations and sculptures. Across the grounds, several stages continuously host live music. The main stages are the: Coachella Stage, Outdoor Theatre, Gobi Tent, Mojave Tent, and Sahara Tent; a smaller Oasis Dome was used in 2006 and 2011, while a new Yuma stage was introduced in 2013 and a Sonora stage in 2017.

The festival's origins trace back to a 1993 concert that Pearl Jam performed at the Empire Polo Club while boycotting venues controlled by Ticketmaster. The show validated the site's viability for hosting large events, leading to the inaugural Coachella Festival being held over the course of two days in October 1999—just three months after Woodstock '99. After no event was held in 2000, Coachella returned on an annual basis beginning in April 2001, as a single-day event. In 2002, the festival reverted to a two-day format. Coachella was expanded to a third day in 2007 and eventually a second weekend in 2012; it is currently held on consecutive three-day weekends in April, with each weekend having identical lineups. Organizers began permitting spectators to camp on the grounds in 2003, one of several expansions and additions of amenities that have been made in the festival's history.

Coachella showcases popular and established musical artists, as well as emerging artists and reunited groups. Coachella is one of the largest, most famous, and most profitable music festivals in the United States and all over the world. Each Coachella staged from 2013 to 2015 set new records for festival attendance and gross revenues. The 2017 festival was attended by 250,000 people and grossed $114.6 million. The success of Coachella led to Goldenvoice establishing two additional music festivals at the site, the classic rock-oriented Desert Trip in 2016, and the annual Stagecoach country music festival in 2007.

Art

Two art installations from Coachella 2014: Lightweaver and Escape Velocity. The latter piece was one of several giant moving art installations designed by Poetic Kinetics for past Coachella festivals.

In addition to hosting live music, Coachella is a showcase for visual arts, including installation art and sculpture. Many of the pieces are interactive, providing a visual treat for attendees. Throughout the years, the art has grown in scale and outrageousness. Paul Clemente, Coachella's art director since 2009, said, "I think the level of detail and finish and artistry and scale and complexity and technology, everything is constantly getting notched up, ratcheted up. We're obviously constantly trying to, for lack of a better word, (to) outdo ourselves and make it better for the fans."

In Coachella's early years, art was mostly recycled from the previous year's Burning Man festival, due to smaller budgets. Between 2010 and 2015, Goldenvoice shifted its focus from renting pieces to commissioning them specifically for the festival, increasing their budget. Artists are given access to the grounds just 10 days before the festival, giving them a tight timeframe in which to assemble their pieces. Due to the high cost of re-assembly, only about half of them appear again outside of Coachella. Describing the festival's importance to art, Cynthia Washburn of art collective Poetic Kinetics said, "With all the exposure here, I think Coachella is becoming as attractive for artists as it is for the musicians. In 2013, Clemente considered about 300 art proposals, the most in the festival's history for the time. Poetic Kinetics has designed several giant moving art installations for past Coachella festivals, including a snail in 2013, an astronaut in 2014, and a caterpillar that "metamorphosized" into a butterfly in 2015.

Some of the works have been featured at Art Basel, and involved participants from architecture schools, both local and international. A few of the visual artists, such as Hotshot the Robot, Robochrist Industries, the Tesla Coil (Cauac), Cyclecide, and The Do LaB, alongside avant-garde performance troupe Lucent Dossier Experience, have appeared for several consecutive years. Poster artist Emek has produced limited edition posters every year since 2007.