At a little before 8:30 p.m., like a lightning bolt striking a Joshua tree, the annual music festival season commenced with a tweet. Promoter Goldenvoice had spoken, and lo: Childish Gambino, Tame Impala and Ariana Grande would headline the 2019 Coachella Music and Arts Festival.
Joining them will be an exuberantly broad undercard that includes Spanish flamenco-pop breakout Rosalia, Nashville singer and songwriter Kacey Musgraves, Compton rapper YG, British electronic music innovator Aphex Twin, R&B breakout H.E.R., singer-songwriter Mac DeMarco, next-wave pop innovator Janelle Monae and dozens more.
The event will take place in Indio with identical line-ups across the weekends of April 12 and April 19. Below, five takeaways from the news.
1. Talk of the roster’s announcement began late Wednesday afternoon with a trickle of vague posts that teased a few lesser-known artists: the 78-year-old Tobago calypso artist Calypso Rose; the striking Oxnard artist Cola Boyy (see above); the South Korean band Hyukoh. The tweets followed a few hours of misguided social media speculation regarding rapper Kanye West’s possible performance, which ended with the arrival of a bill that rendered him unnecessary.
2. Ariana Grande’s Sunday headlining gig marks the big-stage arrival of the most discussed pop star of 2018. Grande, who has overcome more hurdles in the past few years than most artists face in a career, will close the festival. One of only a few women to ever headline Coachella, she’s part of a gender-friendly roster that seems to finally reflect the balance of power in contemporary popular music.
Among them are Musgraves, Solange, Monae, Sofi Tukker, Clairo, Lizzo, Rosalia, Ella Mai, Maggie Rogers, Hurray for the Riff Raff and more.
3. Where are the reunions? Those hoping for a Smiths return long ago resolved that their day would never come. An Oasis announcement seems increasingly unlikely (and irrelevant). The Stone Roses thing at Coachella was a disaster. The Strokes aren’t on the bill, and never really broke up anyway. With LCD Soundsystem shooting their shot way too early and emo nostalgia about a half-decade away, is the reunion era over? (Does the return of Aphex Twin count?)
4. Those who looked at the small-font artists listed Saturday might have stumbled upon seeing Idris Elba’s name. Surely that’s a punk band with a joke moniker? Wrong: The actor Idris Elba is indeed performing at Coachella. When he’s not on the screen, Elba doubles as DJ Big Driis.
5. Is it possible that Goldenvoice forgot to send invitations to Soundcloud rappers? It wasn’t too long ago that a bunch of insurgent artists seemed destined to upend the whole game. That movement’s not happening in Indio: Absent from the bill are chart-busters such as Kodak Black, Trippie Redd, Rich the Kid and Lil Xan. And, thank God, Post Malone will be nowhere near the Coachella Valley. Right? Right?