Entertainment Weekly
What Its Like To Headline The Worlds Coolest Music Festival Image Credit: Entertainment Weekly
What Its Like To Headline The Worlds Coolest Music Festival Image Credit: Entertainment Weekly

What It's Like To Headline The World's Coolest Music Festival

It takes more than popularity to play the top spot at Coachella. TAME IMPALA’s KEVIN PARKER on how the psych-rockers brought sci-fi spectacle to the desert.

Alex Suskind

KEVIN PARKER NEEDS MARACAS. “I just remembered I threw [them] into the audience last night,” says the 33-year-old singer, songwriter, and producer behind Tame Impala. The previous evening in nearby Pomona, the touring version of the band, a quintet, played its first live set in six months. That was a dry run to prep for one of Tame Impala’s biggest shows ever—two days later, they would be headlining Coachella in Indio, Calif.

Though major music festivals date back to the ’60s with legendary events like Monterey Pop and Woodstock, Coachella has the most cachet among the current boom of multi-headliner, multiday events in the U.S. When Coachella began in 1999, at Indio’s Empire Polo Club, it took place over two days and attracted 37,000 attendees, with tickets costing a now comically low $50 a day. Twenty years later, it has transformed into a bougie back-to-back weekends spectacle of artisanal food trucks, experimental art exhibits, and sets from some of the biggest names in music; general admission tickets go for $429 each, VIP for $999. Snagging a headlining slot can mean a lucrative payday and a new fan base with disposable income.

Tame Impala had played Coachella three times before, but 2019 was their first top-of-the-lineup offer. Parker was initially hesitant: Though hard at work on another album, the band hadn’t released new music in four years—should he rush and finish in order to have fresh material to pla


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