How Kanye West's Coachella Gig Was Resurrected as Easter Sunday Service

RB/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images
Kanye West is seen at Jimmy Kimmel Live! on Aug. 9, 2018 in Los Angeles.

The gospel-inspired 9 a.m. performance will take place at "The Mountain" inside the festival's campgrounds.

On April 21, Yeezus will walk again at Coachella when Kanye West brings his Sunday Service to the Southern California festival for a special Easter presentation. The announcement last week came just months after news the hip-hop star had pulled out of a Coachella headlining performance because promoter Goldenvoice refused to build him a giant dome for his set, saying it couldn't be done within the polo grounds. But a mountain for a spiritual morning performance it apparently has. 

Coachella co-founder Paul Tollett tells Billboard the deal for West's special weekend two performance came together after the artist's camp approached him earlier this year asking if he was familiar with the Sunday Services events West had been hosting in Calabasas, California, and posting to social media. Tollett said he was, noting for months friends had been asking if he could help them get in to the gospel music-themed events, which have included celebrities such as Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom as guests. (Tollet told them he couldn't and hadn't even been himself.)

The next question for Tollet on the call: Was the there any way West could bring the spiritual musical experience to Coachella's second weekend?

"We said of course, instantly," says Tollett, noting the videos of the performance and his long relationship with West convinced him the idea was a great fit for Coachella. It was also a chance to deliver a one-of-a-kind music experience to the 125,000 fans who attend each weekend of the festival.

"It's challenging for us because we've never done this before," says Tollett. The series will start at 9 a.m. on "The Mountain," a hillside inside the Coachella campground area that has become a popular spot to watch sunsets. 

"It was suggested, 'Why don't we try this in camping, since it's in the morning and all the other campers are already there?'" Tollett explains. "Other people going to the show can come early, if they want [and they'll be allowed in]."

Tollett said his team at Goldenvoice is currently figuring out how to pull off the massive show outside of the main festival grounds for tens of thousands of fans, telling Billboard, "We've got some challenges production-wise and we've got a team on it right now to try and do something really special. We feel this is going to be a really big moment of the show."

Coachella organizers first announced the Sunday Services show on March 31, posting a video on Twitter with West telling the audience at one of his services, "We were out in Palm Springs and they took us to a little campground, because we were thinking about a little performance in Palm Springs, just a little one. Then they had a mountain. He had a mountain waiting for us."

"Kanye has always done great at Coachella for us," says Tollett, who booked West for Coachella in 2006 and 2011, as well as FYF Fest in 2015 and Camp Flognaw in 2018. Tollett couldn't release many details of what the performance would look like, but did say the "Jesus Walks" rapper would take advantage of the site's unique topography.

"There's different heights that Kanye is going to play with," Tollett says. 

Tollett added that shuttles will run early to transport fans to the site in the morning, and that anyone with a Coachella ticket will be able to get in to the camping area, although the festival area won't open until 1 p.m.

A limited number of tickets will go on sale Friday for weekend 2 so that "some hardcore fans can get in," noting that he's releasing tickets that had been held for music industry professionals and friends and family.

"There's been some sacrifices for us to make this happen," Tollett says. "It might be hard for the industry to call us to buy tickets because I have to make sure Kanye fans are there."

Tickets for weekend 2 of Coachella go on sale April 5 at 3 p.m. PST. More at coachella.com/sunday-service.