A History of Your Favorite Festival

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The popular music festival begins again this weekend in the Coachella Valley of California. This year will make the 16th Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival since 1999, when it was a one-weekend event in October. In fact, they still sell water bottles at $2, the same price they did in 1999. A year that actually failed to generate any profit despite the immense popularity it achieved.

The valley adopted the town’s name, which was intended to be “Conchilla,” the Spanish word meaning “little shells,” after the many shells found in the area. The name was changed after a printer misread returned the name as “Coachella,” and to avoid delay of the town’s announcement, the name was accepted and Coachella was born.

The location of the festival, Empire Polo Field, was discovered six years before that first weekend as a result of the Pearl Jam and Ticketmaster feud. Pearl Jam was boycotting the monopolization that Ticketmaster had over the music industry, and refused to play in any venues sponsored by them. As a ploy to get Pearl Jam to Southern California, Paul Tollett, founder of Coachella, found the huge field for them to play. After a successful show, the idea for the music festival grew and the search for a venue began. Failing to find what they were looking for, they realized they already had. “But then we thought, ‘Why not go back out there?’” explained Paul in an interview with Billboard. He went on to say, “We wanted it to be far. So you surrender. So you can’t leave your house and see a couple bands and be back home that night. We want you to go out there, get tired, and curse the show by Sunday afternoon. That sunset, and that whole feeling of Coachella hits you.” I’m sure many today will agree that that vision has become reality. Today the festival is more than just a musical experience. Filled with art exhibitions, food vendors, vintage record and clothing boutiques, Coachella is a unique adventure.

Take a look at the very first Coachella lineup in the 1999 poster below:

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For more information on this year’s festival including lineups, times, policies, and general FAQ, visit their website at www.coachella.com

And if you haven’t already seen it (but we’re sure you have), here’s this year’s festival poster. Go ahead and stare at it some more and get ready for this year’s venture into the Valley.

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-By Suzanne Koch

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