Since 1999, Coachella has seen 1000’s of musicians come and go and despite this fact there are a few performances that have undoubtedly changed the course of history at Coachella. This poll is an attempt by me to narrow down the 10 artists I believe that have made said impact. I’m probably one of the last people from this forum that should be doing this, as my selection of acts is mostly academic (I’ve only been part of this for 5 years, some of you have been here from the beginning and have seen the changes of this festival first hand). That said, here are the 10 artists that I would argue that have made the greatest impact. Feel free to add any act that you feel I have snubbed, maybe we could revise this thread into something better.
Pixies: The reunion act of all reunion acts. Pixies were the first big name reunion act that chose Coachella as the location for their 10 year reunion. Considering their influence on musicians today, Pixies gave goldenvoice, or more importantly, Coachella the nod as being the place to start your reunion. If it weren’t for Pixies coming together, radiohead wouldn’t of played creep and Coachella probably would never have gained the reputation for being THE festival that can bring anyone back together.
Daft Punk: 2006 was when the legend of daft punk and the infamous pyramid began. Not much left to say
Rage Against the Machine: Reunion that had everyone lose their shit. If I have my facts right, 2007 was the first year Coachella sold out, which was directly caused by RAGE headlining.
Prince: Wasn’t there in 2008 but everyone keeps praising his set. I don’t really have an argument on how he’s had a lasting impacted Coachella but I can argue that he saved 2008 from bankrupting this festival.
Paul McCartney: 3.5 hour set at Coachella with a living-breathing beetle. Macca headlining was HUGE at the time. No festival in North America had been able to land him at the time. Friday sold out that year, and ever since then, Coachella has seen good fortune.
Chemical Brothers: 99, 01, 02, 05, 09, 11. They have played six coachellas and were the biggest EDM act billed for every Coachella they’ve played. They are EDM legends and one of the biggest reasons why EDM has been successful at Coachella.
Jay-Z: When Jay-Z headlined in 2010, he redefined what a Coachella headliner could be. The scope and demographic of what Coachella could attract changed the moment Jay-Z walked onto stage. His set was a huge success and one could argue that he put Coachella on the map for the average music fan. Since he played, Coachella has sold out 4 consecutive years, with each year highlighting the biggest names in hip hop. I’m not saying that his set was the best of all time, but it’s clear to most of us that he set the precedent for the “new rap headliner formula” and he has brought a new crowd to Coachella.
Swedish House Mafia: These guys had the biggest negative impact on Coachella. Ever since they came the sahara has been full of cheese house and SHM is the archetypical group that had brought this disease to Coachella. Brochella has gone to a whole new level and I blame it on ingrossoaxwellandwhoeverthefuckthelastguyis making some fucking noise.
Dre & Snoop: Considering the amount of guests that played with Dre and the fact that the tupac hologram debuted here is what makes this set legendary. Mainstream media couldn’t stop talking about the hologram. That sort of buzz cannot go unnoticed here.
Arcade Fire: Coachella’s indie rock Cinderella story. They’ve worked their way from the bottom of the poster and have now (or are going to) headline Coachella twice. Their impact on Coachella is indirect, as they are more of a representation of what Coachella is all about. Rather than changing the demographics of the festival, they have kept its integrity. It would have been awesome seeing them play the outdoor in 2005 to the ball drop in 2011.