From The Cure breaking curfew to Madonna dazzling the dance tent to Tupac's on-stage resurrection, these are the 10 moments that helped make Coachella the king of all U.S. festivals
On April 12 -- and then again on April 19 -- thousands of sun-worshipping music fans will head out to the desert in Indio, Calif. for the start of the 14th Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. Phoenix, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Stone Roses and Blur headline the two-weekend event, while Yeah Yeah Yeahs, New Order, Passion Pit, Wu-Tang Clan, Vampire Weekend, How to Destroy Angels and dozens more indie bands, and dance and and hip hop acts will keep the tunes going nonstop on the festival's five stages.
As we gear up for this year's six long, loud days on the Empire Polo Field, spread out over a pair of weekends for just the second time in the festival's history, we look back at 10 of the most memorable moments from Coachella's past.
10. Kanye West Brings the 'Power'
Coachella wasn't known for booking mainstream hip-hop acts, but organizers threw the crowd curve ball in 2006 festival when, 24-hours before the gates opened, organizers announced that Kanye West would perform on the main stage. 'Ye returned to the California stage in 2011, bringing along a troupe of dancers, guest appearances by Bon Iver and Pusha T, and enough pyrotechnics to light up the field. He performed everything from the early hits like "Jesus Walks" and "Gold Digger" to "Dark Fantasy" crowd-pleasers like "All of the Lights" and "Power."
9. The Cure Can't Be Stopped
British goth kings the Cure are known for their marathon live sets, but in 2009, the band's show was literally cut short by the Coachella crew. After playing for more than two-and-a half hours, frontman Robert Smith began the band's third encore by informing the crowd that they'd had been instructed to play only one more song. The band played two more tunes without incident. But as the Cure broke into its 1980 hit "Boys Don't Cry," festival organizers cut the main-stage speakers. The band continued to play through their stage monitors, causing the crowd to rush the stage and join in an unprompted sing-along.
8. Roger Waters' Pig Takes Flight
Pink Floyd founder Roger Waters brought all of the fog, pyrotechnics and props he could carry to Coachella for his 2008 headlining spot. One of those included a giant inflatable pig that hovered about the crowd during the song "Sheep." But Waters was surprised to see the graffittied swine -- which boasted the word "Obama" on its underbelly -- floating off into the night sky at the song's conclusion. "That's my pig," Waters uttered before leaving the stage (only to return to play "Dark Side of the Moon" in its entirety. Coachella organizers offered four free lifetime passes and $10,000 to anyone who found the pig, whose vinyl carcass was recovered in a Palm Springs country club several days later.
7. Arcade Fire Blows Minds With Beach Balls
For their third Coachella appearance, indie kings the Arcade Fire partnered with the Vice/Intel-powered Creator's Project and took the festival beach-ball-cliche to stunning and psychedelic new levels. During "Wake Up," the peak of the band's headlining set, thousands of LED-enhanced beach balls were dropped onto the unsuspecting crowd, whose squeals of delight intensified as IR transmitters Inside each orb began a syncopated light show that stretched across the field. After the show was over, many audience members left with the coveted party favor, some of which were sold for as high as $1000 on eBay.
6. Madonna Rules the Dance Tent
Coachella purists raised their eyebrows when organizers announced the addition on Madonna -- the most mainstream act the alt-rock-leaning event had ever booked -- as the Sahara dance tent's headlining act in 2006. But Madge proved that she belonged in the desert as she delivered a dynamic 30-minute set of club hits that had everybody but the Tool fans shaking their asses.