More than 200,000 people will descend on Indio, California, this and next weekend for the 19th annual Coachella Valley music and arts festival, one of the year’s biggest draws for live music fans.
Traditionally seen as the kick-off for the summer music festival season, the festival boasts an illustrious group of headliners: Eminem, last seen torching the president in a freestyle at the BET Hip Hop awards; the Weeknd, whose latest EP has just topped the charts; and Beyoncé, who was meant to headline last year’s festival but was replaced with Lady Gaga after revealing her pregnancy. The lineup will then be repeated the following weekend.
Last year, the festival expanded substantially to accommodate a seventh stage after local authorities approved a plan upping the festival acreage from 601 to 642 and its capacity from 99,000 to 125,000. Dirt roads were replaced with boardwalks and palm-tree-lined walkways, and a higher influx of hip-hop acts, including Kendrick Lamar, Future and Gucci Mane, packed the schedule.
This year will see Beyoncé’s first major performance since giving birth to twins last June, and she’s apparently been rehearsing through 11-hour days in preparation. The star recently announced dates with Jay-Z for their On The Run II tour, kicking off in Cleveland this summer, leading many to believe the singer’s husband will be making a surprise cameo at the festival. Major, unannounced guest spots are a time-honored tradition: last year, Drake, Pharrell and Lauryn Hill all showed up to assist.
Beyoncé recently posted a teasing image of herself with dancers on Instagram (her set will reportedly feature at least 100 of them). “[Her Coachella performance is] going to change the game,” the star’s lead choreographer, JaQuel Knight, . “Be ready for a good time. A good ol’ time.”
The Weeknd, whose surprise My Dear Melancholy EP is his third US No 1 in a row, is headlining on Friday night while Eminem will take the reins on Sunday. The rapper of his rehearsal earlier this week.
It will mark his first appearance at Coachella since 2012, when he appeared alongside Dr Dre, Snoop Dogg, and a hologram of Tupac to close out the festival. With the release of his ninth studio album, Revival, he’s become one of hip-hop’s most vocal critics of Donald Trump, with further jabs at the president expected on Sunday.
His set will follow on from Cardi B, whose debut album, Invasion of Privacy, met with a string of rave reviews when it was launched this month. She revealed to the radio show Hip Hop Nation that she was spending nearly $300,000 on her stage set. “I have to invest so much money on my stage set – my own money that I gotta go to Wells Fargo and write a check,” she said.
The festival will also see sets from Tyler, the Creator; Miguel; Haim; David Byrne; SZA; Fleet Foxes; and Jamiroquai. The first weekend’s major performances will also be live-streamed on the festival’s YouTube channel.