This feature originally appeared in January 2016
It’s doubtful that when Coachella was designing its first lineup poster leading up to the inaugural 1999 edition of the world-famous festival that they had any idea how iconic it would become. Well, that’s not true. That first poster is decidedly not iconic, and they drastically changed the design for future events. But the Coachella poster, as a whole, is hanging on countless walls, its release anticipated by music geeks for months. It’s a thing of symbolic significance beyond just a list of bands playing a concert.
The current poster design has been in place since the fourth installment of Coachella in 2003, except for a one-year diversion in 2008. The idea is simple: The festival lineup is broken up by day, with font size getting smaller as that day shifts from marquee acts to lesser-knowns. Over the years, bands like Muse, The Killers, Kings of Leon, and Calvin Harris have climbed out of the tiny-font status into the largest font possible, and likewise, a band like Jane’s Addiction or a groovy laid-back dude like Jack Johnson would never be considered headliner status in this day and age, like they were in 2001 and 2008, respectively.
And so evolved this project. We’ve taken every past Coachella lineup poster and rearranged the bands so that they appear as we’d bill them today. Some lineups reveal themselves to be remarkably strong in this light, while others have not faired well against the cruelty of time. We’ve also gone ahead and placed them in order of worst to best because, well, we’re Consequence of Sound and that’s what we like to do.
So flip through the 17 posters, re-ordered by our staff and re-designed by Art Director Cap Blackard to reflect modern-day popularity, and feel free to take over the comment section and let us know how you’d do things differently.