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Coachella turns to “couchella” as coronavirus demolishes the plans

23:55 | 10/04/2020

2020 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, which was supposed to rock this Friday, is rescheduled for the weekends of October 9-18 as the US is likely to concern more over the coronavirus developments, which upends every travel plans and daily life. 

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April’s Coachella festival may be rescheduled for Oct. 9 and 16 due to coronavirus.(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Coachella is one of the most anticipated music fests in the US with thousands of revelers every each of its editions in April. This year's event slated to take place at the Empire Polo Club in Indio features more than 150 acts, with Rage Against the Machine, Travis Scott and Frank Ocean as headliners. Set for April 24-26, Stagecoach touts a lineup led by Thomas Rhett, Carrie Underwood, and Eric Church, according to the Sandiego Union Tribune.

Long considered the kickoff to the spring and summer concert season, Coachella and Stagecoach have pumped both cultural and commercial energy into the Southern California music scene for 21 years. Palm Springs-area merchants work the April festival windfalls into their budgets. Thousands of temporary workers relocate to the area to service the 250,000 festival attendees, who inject well over $700 million into the region’s economy.

Coachella is like nothing else in the American live music business. It’s the most profitable festival in the country, netting, as one insider familiar with its finances said recently, $75 million to $100 million annually. “Everybody we talked to — agents, promoters, managers — expected this would have been a record-setting year,” LA Times cited Andy Gensler, editor of the concert-industry trade publication Pollstar as saying.

“We’re not ready to pull the trigger on anything, but we want to make sure we can protect the community,” Saruwatari said. “This virus is changing day by day, hour by hour. We’re monitoring it very closely. We’re going to do our best to give advance notice, but it’s a fluid situation, and if we have to make a decision late we’ll do that.”

The possible postponement by Goldenvoice is the latest in a series of disruptions related to the virus’ spread. In addition to the cancellation of SXSW, the Ultra Music Festival in Miami postponed its annual electronic music showcase earlier this month. On Monday, rock band Pearl Jam postponed the North American leg of its upcoming tour.

coachella turns to couchella as coronavirus demolishes the plans
Beychella: Beyoncé performs at Coachella, 2018. (Andrew White)

The fate of Coachella is being watched closely by the promoters of the season’s other major outdoor music festivals, including the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Electric Daisy Carnival, Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza.

Coachella’s cancellation was one of the first big signs that the virus would shatter the entertainment and hospitality industries for the year, along with almost everything else in the Before Times, pre-COVID-19. In Indio, the eerie stillness of the sculptures and white tents at the half-built festival site is a monument to Southern California life on pause.

It’s also the most culturally significant event in the annual touring calendar. Marquee acts like Beyoncé and the late Prince have used the festival to play perhaps the best shows of their lives (Beyoncé turned hers into a Netflix documentary). Breakthrough performances at Coachella have helped propel rising artists like Billie Eilish into arena stars and the festival has provided lucrative reunion settings for hallowed acts like Guns N’ Roses and OutKast.

“It’s the centerpiece to the U.S. festival season, and the fact that it’s not happening this week is very surreal,” Mookie Singerman, a manager for indie acts Purity Ring and Caroline Polachek told LA Times.

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