16 Artists Who Played The First Coachella Music Festival That'll Make You Wish You Could Travel Back To 1999

On Oct. 9, 1999, Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival was born. Nestled in the bosom of the Empire Polo Fields in Indio, CA, the music festival spanned two days and attracted tens of thousands of rock, hip-hop, and electronica fans. With tickets priced at $50/day, a stunning location, plenty of sunshine to go around, and a lineup that still seems too beautiful be true, the first Coachella must've been a slam dunk, yeah?

Nah, man. Nah.

According to Ancient Coachella Lore, not only was it brutally hot that October weekend (I mean, it’s 100 degrees in Palm Springs as I write this, so I believe the Lore), but that inaugural weekend almost sunk Goldenvoice entirely: According to Businessweek, the first concert promotions company that started Coachella lost $800,000. Headliners Rage Against The Machine, TOOL, and Beck waited as long as five months to be paid; employees' paychecks bounced; and when the folks at Goldenvoice gave it another go in 2001, the festival couldn't afford a headliner, so Jane's Addiction accepted deferred payment. Like water in a drought-plagued desert, the cash was not flowing.

Let's fast-forward a bit, yeah? A few years and some major changes later (e.g., AEG bought Goldenvoice, the festival was moved to the slightly-cooler month of April, there is on-site camping, it's now two three-day weekends), it went on to establish itself as one of the largest music festivals in the world. And yes, it generates serious dough: In 2014, Coachella raked in over $78 million. In the words of a beach ball-sized diamond-wearing Daffy Duck, the festival is now "comfort-a-buh-ly well-off."

The now-lucrative festival didn't have the smoothest of financial beginnings, but do you know what that weekend in '99 did have? A wicked list of bands, that's what. Great glittering ferris wheels, the maiden voyage's lineup is something to behold. Shall we check out some of the notable artists that graced the Coachella stages on the ninth and tenth days of October of 1999? We shall! Onward!


The alt-rocker played forever hits such as “Loser,” “Where It’s At,” and “The New Pollution.” HITS THEN, HITS NOW.

Years played: 1999, 2004, 2014

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The Chemical Brothers

Hello, “Block Rockin’ Beats.” It’s been far too long. Let’s boogie.

Years played: 1999, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2008, 2011

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In addition to playing some of his solo stuff, Moz treated the crowd to Smiths classics “Meat Is Murder” and “Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me.”

Years played: 1999, 2009

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Perry Farrell

Perry “Lollapalooza” Farrell is an Empire Polo Grounds fixture. As founder Paul Tollett told The Desert Sun: “It wouldn’t be Coachella without Perry Farrell.” Dude’s played the festival a bunch of times:

Perry Farrell — 1999, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 Jane’s Addiction — 2001DJ Peretz — 2002, 2003, 2004 (both days), 2005Hybrid — 2006Satellite Party — 2007

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Modest Mouse

Modest Mouse’s seven song set included fan faves such as “Dramamine” and “3rd Planet.” Can’t stop looking at that stupid-good setlist. Experiencing serious ‘99 Coachella FOMO right now.

Years played: 1999, 2013

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At The Drive-In

Whoa. It would’ve been something else to see pre-breakup At The Drive-In at ‘99 Coachella. (And duh, the same can be said about seeing a reunited ATD-I at the festival in 2012.)

Years played: 1999, 2012

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A Perfect Circle

<3 <3 <3 APC <3 <3 <3

Years played: 1999

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Jurassic 5

Hot on the heels of their first full-length album, J5 brought the jams to Indio.

Years played: 1999, 2002, 2013

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DJ Shadow

This is probably my favorite detail from Choler Magazine’s account of the first Coachella: DJ Shadow told the crowd they were free to look at each other instead of looking at him. I mean, Coachella is a great place to people-watch. Shadow gets it.

Years played: 1999, 2007, 2012

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Thievery Corporation

Gettin’ groovy in the desert.

Years played: 1999, 2003, 2009

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Rage Against The Machine

As if RATM’s perfect setlist wasn’t totally perfect, Maynard James Keenan joined them onstage for “Know Your Enemy.” Don’t mind me as I seethe with envy in a corner.

Years played: 1999, 2007

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You mean to tell me Coachella ‘99 attendees could’ve seen A Perfect Circle on Saturday and TOOL on Sunday? UGHHHH if someone invents time travel, I now know my first stop.

Years played: 1999, 2006

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Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals

Welp, now “Steal My Kisses” is stuck in my head indefinitely. Not mad at it.

Years played: 1999, 2003

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Gil Scott-Heron

According to Choler Magazine’s account of the festival, the legendary poet/musician/spoken word performer stopped “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” after a verse and joked that he couldn’t keep all of the different versions of that song straight.

Years played: 1999, 2010

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One month after the Coachella ‘99 performance, Pavement broke up. (Coachella is something of set of bookends to Pavement’s breakup: The band reunited and played the festival again a decade later.)

Years played: 1999, 2010

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Rock, y’all. No stop, ya’ll. To the beat, y’all. The bodyrock, y’all.Years played: 1999, 2013

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