Coachella 2019 lineup: 19 surprises and snubs from this year’s poster (Photos)

“DJ” Idris Elba and news-machine Ariana Grande as a headliner are amongst the surprises on this year’s Coachella poster. Here are more hits and misses for the lineup in Indio this April.

SHOCKER: Idris Elba

The last time we caught musician Idris Elba, he was DJ’ing a small party for an indie film at Sundance. He wins this years “Hans Zimmer” bizarro booking award. Sidenote: The Elbas are having a good year. His daughter is the Golden Globes Ambassador this weekend.

SURPRISE: K-Pop Girl Group BlackPink

That hand gesture is correct. They landed on the coveted second line. Huge around the world with 14.4 million Instagram followers, they’re not a force in U.S. music…yet.

SNUB: No Marshmello, No Chainsmokers

No two artists’ careers have exploded more since last playing than these two, in 2017 and 2016 respectively. Both have crossed over in to massive mainstream pop radio and carpool mom success, with the Chains mounting multiple worldwide arena hard ticket tours.  Both likely craved a jump up from their prior second line status and may have been competing with each other, but the economics of booking these six figure  acts who are abundantly available in Vegas every weekend at the Wynn doesn’t make sense on an otherwise stacked house and techno lineup. If anything, Ariana Grande stole their pop-star spot.

Scenes from Coachella 2018
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Scenes from Coachella 2018

SURPRISE: Jaden Smith

If anything, I would have thought his dad, Big Willie, would have wanted to sniff the polo fields. And he still could….


Will Smith got a taste of the modern festival scene when he showed up with the aforementioned Marshmello on the main stage at Ultra in Miami last March. He continues to hike through youth culture, pulling off the biggest stunt on YouTube in 2018 and hosting the annual YouTube Rewind. With ’90s nostalgia in bloom, he would have been a strong bizarro booking, and feels like a lock for a “surprise” guest appearance.


Since he last played in 2017, the “Let Me Love You” producer has scored 7 billion streams of his debut album on Spotify, ranks number eight in the world, played on top of the Arc de Triomphe (pictured), accepted French President Macron’s invitation to join the country’s World Cup champion celebration, and launched “Taki Taki” to number one in territories around the globe. As an associate of his manager, Amy Thomson, the stats support my bias that the spectacled producer deserves his spot on what has been called the most important stage for an electronic producer.

SNUB: Everyone in Kanye’s Clique, but Kanye

Kanye was rumored to be a headliner for months, until news broke hours before the lineup reveal that he was out of the running. The “what if?” of a “Kanye and Friends” headliner-by-committee show checks out. A huge slice of Kanye’s orbit – Kid Cudi, Pusha T, Sheck Wes, and even his former creative director Virgil Abloh (right)  – are headed to Indio, without the boss.

WHAT?: Cola Boyy

A 28-year-old disabled activist / disco marxist from Oxnard was the first artist announced, arriving on Goldenvoice’s twitter hours before the lineup reveal. (His 230 twitter followers had risen to only 254 hours later. The attention economy is harsh!) “Is this a hack?” live music analyst @TheFestiveOwl tweeted. Later when Childish Gambino was revealed as a headliner, one reddit user joked of a coming “Cola Boyy x Paper Boi” collaboration.

SNUB: Pearl Jam

If Pearl Jam hadn’t picked a fight with Ticketmaster in the early 1990’s and staged the first concert at the Empire Polo Grounds in protest – proving the venue’s viability – there’s a fair chance that there would not be a Coachella today. For the 20th anniversary, this “forefather” that still sells out tours could have been a worthy wink at the origin story.  However in 2019, Vedder and company are a demographic mismatch.

Best performances at Coachella 2018
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Best performances at Coachella 2018


The UK funk act drew a massive crowd in the Mojave tent for their first US concert since 2005 — no small feat, since they played opposite Friday headliner The Weeknd — and didn’t disappoint, bringing out Snoop Dogg for a revised version of “Gin and Juice” before running through hits such as crowd favorite “Canned Heat” and “Cosmic Girl."

(Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images for Coachella)

Greta Van Fleet

Don’t tell these guys that rock doesn’t have a place at Coachella anymore — Greta Van Fleet filled every inch of the Mojave tent on Friday. The Michigan quartet has been dubbed the modern successors to Led Zeppelin, in part thanks to how frontman Josh Kiszka’s voice has an uncanny resemblance to Robert Plant’s. But Kiszka’s bandmates showed they too have the chops to make classic rock fans out of a new generation.

(Photo by Scott Dudelson/Getty Images for Coachella )
St. Vincent

St. Vincent leader Annie Clarke shredded throughout her magnificent Friday night set, highlighted by back-to-back renditions of “Los Ageless” and “New York” from last year’s Masseducation album, cementing her status as a bona fide rock star. 

(Photo by Scott Dudelson/Getty Images for Coachella )

Jean-Michel Jarre

A very sparsely attended set as it kicked off, the French electronic music pioneer’s intricate laser show and progressive synthesizers quickly drew a bigger audience at the Outdoor Stage. Never one to shy away from political statements, he devoted a couple minutes to a short message from Edward Snowden about the importance of online privacy, imploring the crowd, “If you aren’t going to stand up for it, who will?"

(Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Coachella)

Vince Staples

The Long Beach native took over the main stage — or in his words, the “white people” stage — as the sun set on Friday night for an electrifying performance that featured perhaps the most notable special guest of the weekend in Kendrick Lamar. His visual setup, segmenting the three screens behind him into more than 50 miniature ones to display different images, was also one of the most entrancing ones of the weekend.

(Photo by Scott Dudelson/Getty Images for Coachella )


This Belgian trio has been active since 1995, but they seem perfectly made for the current phase of electronic music where live instrumentation is all the rage. Their live setup gave listeners a thrilling mix of rock and dance music to provide an energetic segue into Friday night’s headliners. 

(Photo by Gus Stewart/Redferns)

The Weeknd

Three years after he let surprise guest Kanye West take over his set for a solid chunk of time, Abel Tesfaye kept the main stage all to himself this time for his Friday night headlining set. The talented singer put on an emotional performance that brought himself to tears and oscillated between contemporary hits such as “Can’t Feel My Face” and “The Hills” and fan favorites from his earlier EPs that preceded his rise to superstardom. 

(Photo by Scott Dudelson/Getty Images for Coachella )

Moon Boots

Moon Boots’ melodic yet throbbing selections from behind the decks stood out among the many DJs populating the Yuma Tent, an air-conditioned haven that serves as the de facto warehouse party venue of Coachella. 

Credit: Instagram/@moonbootsmusic

Nile Rodgers & CHIC

Rodgers, a legendary musician who’s helmed albums for David Bowie, Madonna, Daft Punk and more, showcased the absurd depth of his production catalogue alongside his disco group CHIC. Sister Sledge’s “We Are Family” and Diana Ross’ “I'm Coming Out” had the audience grooving, as did CHIC’s own hits “Le Freak” and “Good Times.” Their slowed-down, piano-driven take on “Get Lucky” — which Rodgers wrote about his battle with cancer — was a beautiful, poignant moment amid a dance-heavy set that proved to be an ideal main stage opener for Day 2.

(Photo by Scott Dudelson/Getty Images for Coachella )


This Australian former pro surfer turned DJ had the Do LaB at its wildest on Saturday afternoon with 75 minutes of riotous house selections, including his breakout singles “Stop It” and “Crowd Control."

Credit: Instagram/@followthefishtv


The three Haim sisters effused awe at being tasked with playing on the main stage directly before Beyonce at the festival they grew up attending as fans, then proved they deserved that lofty billing with a shimmering performance as imagery of their native San Fernando Valley glistened on the giant screens behind them. This year might’ve marked the first year Coachella didn’t feature a rock headliner, but it’s not hard to imagine this trio eventually returning to fill that role.

(Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Coachella)

Maceo Plex

A techno stalwart, Maceo Plex delivered a rare live performance from the Gobi Stage on Saturday night to satisfy festival goers who were pining for a grimy, minimalistic electronic set rarely seen outside of the festival’s Yuma tent.

Credit: Instagram/@maceoplex


The pop queen delivered a performance for the ages during her only scheduled live show in 2018, with some critics declaring it to be the best Coachella has ever seen. From Destiny’s Child reuniting to the stunning choreography and tribute to HBCU marching bands, Beyonce put on a spectacle that even had the notoriously mellow Coachella crowd ready to join the BeyHive. 

(Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Coachella)

David Byrne

The 65-year-old showed off impressively synchronized choreography with his live band and had the Outdoor Stage bouncing with the tracks that sprung him to stardom in “Psycho Killer” and “Burning Down The House.” It was as close to a Talking Heads reunion as anyone could hope for.

(Photo by Scott Dudelson/Getty Images for Coachella )


Electronic producer ZHU pulled the biggest crowd of the six surprise performers at the Do LaB stage throughout the weekend, and he kept every last person dancing on Saturday night with a techno-heavy set that included his standout tracks “In The Morning” and “Dreams.” 

Credit: Instagram/@Zhu

Fleet Foxes

Like many guitar-driven acts these days at Coachella, this folky band from Seattle didn’t draw much of a crowd to their nighttime set at the Outdoor Stage. But their warm sound and relentlessly positive stage presence made the Polo Grounds seem like an intimate venue, not an outsized one.

(Photo by Scott Dudelson/Getty Images for Coachella )


The Korean producer/rapper might’ve seemed like an odd fit for the dance-heavy Yuma tent, but she showcased her DJ chops and expertly mixed in the throbbing beats at the heart of her innovative tracks, which proved to be club-ready in the dark confines of the Yuma. 

Photo credit: Instagram/@kraejiyaeji


British rock group Alt-J came out of the gates firing at the Outdoor Stage on Saturday night with energetic tracks such as “Deadcrush” and “Fitzpleasure” and didn’t let up from there, ensuring their fans would stay throughout their third Coachella appearance — even if it meant missing the beginning of Beyonce. 

(Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Coachella)


The 14-man rap collective that’s branded themselves as “The internet’s first boy band” enthralled the packed Mojave tent with a high-energy set featuring songs such as “GUMMY” from their first three albums, all of which were released in 2017. Each member wore a black police vest adorned with a different identifying word, ranging from “Fiend” and “Maestro” to more controversial terms such as “N*****” and “F*****” — presumably an attempt to reclaim the expletives thrust upon them over the years.

(Photo by Scott Dudelson/Getty Images for Coachella )

Cardi B

Rap’s newest breakout superstar paid homage to late TLC front woman Lisa Lopes with her giant pigtails -- and to her pole-dancing past by employing nearly a dozen voluptuous women who performed acrobatic moves on a monkey bar-like structure. Chance the Rapper, YG and G-Eazy all dropped in to perform their features on Cardi’s new album “Invasion of Privacy,” and a crowd-pleasing twerk from the pregnant tour de force showed she can still get down, even with a bun in the oven. 

(Photo by Scott Dudelson/Getty Images for Coachella)


The two-man electronic act warmed up the main stage crowd for Eminem on Sunday by providing a visually striking show -- complete with a drone fleet used to form a painting in the sky -- that perfectly aligned with their atmospheric sound. They didn’t bring on USC’s marching band as they did three years ago in the Gobi tent, but a dozen drummers lined up across the front of the stage for several songs and provided extra depth to a performance that already would have been quite the spectacle.

(Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Coachella)

Kamasi Washington

Washington, whose profile rose after providing saxophone for Kendrick Lamar’s album “To Kill A Butterfly,” proved the Coachella crowd knows how to appreciate modern jazz by drawing a healthy crowd to the Outdoor Stage for a graceful performance that was the perfect vibe for Sunday evening.

(Photo by Scott Dudelson/Getty Images for Coachella)


The final show of the weekend sent fans home on a high note, as Eminem exhibited the same airtight flow that helped skyrocket him to the top of the rap game nearly 20 years ago. Nate Dogg stayed by his side throughout nearly the entire show and essentially served as his MC, while 50 Cent, Skylar Grey and Dr. Dre each stepped out and shared the spotlight with Slim Shady for a few songs. 

(Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Coachella)

SNUB: 20th Anniversary Pageantry Overall

Because Coachella skipped a year early on, 2019 is both the 20th edition and the 20th anniversary.  A throwback stage, a sprinkle of bookings from still active artists, or even a small “20th” on the poster would have been a cool angle. It doesn’t look like Goldenvoice has any intention of marking the occasion. Sorry, Moby and Beck.

AS PREDICTED: Billie Eilish

The 17-year-old “Ocean Eyes” singer blew up sometime between Coachella 2018 and Lollapalooza last summer. She doesn’t play the KIIS FM Jingle Ball circuit. She has to be there.

BUSTED RUMOR: Mumford and Sons

“A Coachella-sized hole in their 2019 touring schedule,” redditors said.  Those people must have been living in “The Cave”.


Every spring, there’s one melodic producer who rockets up a level through new material, a theatre tour, and then marquee festival performances. Last year, it was Illenium. This spring, it’s going to be L.A. local Dan Griffiths.  In November, he debuted a new live show at the Palladium in Hollywood, turning a Friday night crowd in to gunpowder. Based on that “oh, this song!” reaction, there’s an engaged audience ready to wake-up to his fandom. Add this to your schedule.

MISSED OPP: Miley Cyrus

It’s not just recent hit “Nothing Breaks Like a Heart.” Cyrus has seven songs with super-producer Mark Ronson in the can. As she peeks out what from she has called “the blackout,” a prominent Coachella set felt like the right launch pad.

ON BRAND: Maggie Rogers

With a new album in mid-January, Rogers has felt like a lock for months.  As they often do, SNL nailed her on the front of this arc when she sang “Fallingwater” barefoot on this past November’s Jonah Hill episode.

SURPRISE: Bassnectar

Producer Lorin Ashton’s visual-heavy sets are a hypnotic religious experience for “Bassnectar Buddies,” like these folks in the front row.  This is the set that will max out the new and improved Sahara tent production.  Bring your sunglasses.


“Sonny” has been out-of-cycle in a way that DJ’s don’t really turn down. Over the last few months he’s been quietly playing festivals abroad, but tip-toeing around a significant U.S. solo show. As a multi-Coachella vet, he could have gone as high as co-headliner.

MISS: LSD (Labrinth, Sia, Diplo)

From the moment this supergroup debuted last spring with a string of catchy hits, fans had them penciled in to a sub-headliner spot . Because they haven’t performed together live, the time, expense, and logistics of producing a joint stage show without a tour probably just was not worth it for these three.  We still get Diplo’s best bud Dillon Francis, whose 2017 set is still straining neck-bobbing muscles on YouTube years later.

Check out our “Coachella 2018 Final Report Card” for a sneak peek on what else is coming back to the festival in 2019.

Read original story Coachella 2019 Lineup: 19 Surprises and Snubs From This Year’s Poster (Photos) At TheWrap

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