Coachella to return in April with Billie Eilish and Kanye West

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Coachella to return in April with Billie Eilish and Kanye West
Billie Eilish at the Met Gala unofficial after-party at the Boom Boom Room in New York early on Tuesday morning, Sept. 14, 2021. Krista Schlueter/The New York Times.

by Ben Sisario

NEW YORK, NY.- Billie Eilish, Harry Styles and Kanye West will headline the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in April, as the music industry takes hopeful steps toward the return of festivals and touring in 2022.

Coachella, set for its usual two-weekend format, April 15-17 and April 22-24, at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, California, will return after two years mothballed by the pandemic. On Wednesday, after weeks of speculation and leaks in the music press, the festival announced its complete 2022 lineup, which will also feature performances by Megan Thee Stallion, Lil Baby, Doja Cat, Phoebe Bridgers, the reunited electronic dance group Swedish House Mafia and dozens of others. (West is billed on the official festival poster as simply Ye.)

The event is expected to run at its full capacity of up to 125,000 concertgoers a day.

Coachella has long been the country’s most influential festival, hosting viral moments like Tupac Shakur’s hologram in 2012 and Beyoncé’s 2018 tribute to the marching bands of historically Black colleges and universities.

It has usually been the first big festival to announce its lineup each year, ushering in the touring season. But this week Coachella was scooped by the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, Tennessee, which on Tuesday said that it would return in June with Tool, J. Cole, Stevie Nicks, the Chicks, Machine Gun Kelly, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, and others.

Coachella was one of entertainment’s first major casualties of the coronavirus. Its 2020 edition — which was to have featured Rage Against the Machine, Travis Scott and Frank Ocean — was shut down by health officials March 10 of that year, two days before Broadway and the concert business at large went dark.

Goldenvoice, the promoter that puts on Coachella in partnership with corporate concert giant AEG Presents, had hoped to bring the festival back that fall, then this past spring. But each time, the pandemic forced the plans to be kicked further down the road. Bonnaroo, which is presented by Live Nation, AEG’s corporate rival, had scheduled a full-scale return in September, but it was canceled after heavy rains flooded the festival grounds.

About half of the ticket holders to Coachella’s 2020 edition requested refunds, Paul Tollett, one of the festival’s founders, said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times in August. Tickets cost $449 and up, not counting fees.

Despite a slew of recent cancellations related to the coronavirus, such as Dead & Company’s Playing in the Sand festival in Cancún, Mexico, the music world is viewing Coachella with hope as a bellwether for the full-throttle return of the multibillion-dollar touring industry. Major tours by Dua Lipa, the Weeknd, Elton John, Bon Jovi and Justin Bieber are expected this year.

As recently as this past summer, Goldenvoice had hoped to bring back most of the headliners planned for 2020. But while Rage Against the Machine has an extensive tour planned this year — with five dates booked at Madison Square Garden in August — it is not playing Coachella. Ocean will return to Coachella in 2023.

And since the disaster at Scott’s Astroworld festival in Houston in November that left 10 people dead, the rapper has largely withdrawn from public appearances, canceling his performance as a headliner at the Day N Vegas festival, which is also presented by Goldenvoice.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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