Fests Moving Forward: Coachella, Bonnaroo and More Reveal 2022 Lineups
Rich Fury / Getty Images – Eilish Ascendant
In her biggest billing yet, Billie Eilish will headline Coachella in April. Here, she headlines Texas’ Austin City Limits in October 2021.
Even as coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in the U.S. surge to record highs, driven by the disease’s highly contagious and vaccine-resistant – though reportedly less severe – Omicron variant, the festival industry seems to be planning on a relatively normal season in 2022.
Several major festivals unveiled lineups in early January, chief among them Southern California’s Coachella and Tennessee’s Bonnaroo, booked for April and June, respectively.
Coachella, long a bellwether of the festival sector and the live industry, shared its lineup Jan. 12, marking its return to Indio, Calif., for the first time since 2019. Harry Styles, Billie Eilish, and Ye (better known as Kanye West) will headline both weekends, April 15-17 and April 22-24, representing a sharp turn from Frank Ocean, Rage Against The Machine and Travis Scott, who were booked to headline the ill-fated 2020 edition. (In August 2021, Coachella co-founder Paul Tollett said Ocean will headline the fest in 2023.)
Neither Styles nor Eilish has headlined Coachella before; Styles has never even played the festival. But both young artists have already defined themselves as live heavyweights, with Styles’ massive “Love On Tour” ranking No. 2 on Pollstar’s year-end chart in 2021 and Eilish set to embark on a sold-out arena tour, postponed from spring 2020, in February. On the other hand, Ye has deep history with Coachella, including headlining in 2011 and an elaborate staging of his “Sunday Service” in 2019.
Reunited EDM supertrio Swedish House Mafia, which played Coachella in 2012, is largely billed below each daily lineup on the event’s poster with an intriguing tagline: “Returning To The Desert.”
Further down its bill, Coachella remains a leader in booking caliber and diversity, with deep rosters of hip-hop (Megan Thee Stallion, Lil Baby, Doja Cat, Run The Jewels), electronic (Flume, Disclosure, Jamie xx), R&B (Ari Lennox, Daniel Caesar) and rock (Phoebe Bridgers, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard), and some curveballs (reggaeton artist Karol G, composer Danny Elfman, Mexican groups Grupo Firme and Banda MS).
The day before Coachella’s announcement, Bonnaroo shared its lineup, topped by J. Cole, Tool and Stevie Nicks, and featuring The Chicks, Illenium, Flume, 21 Savage, Machine Gun Kelly, Roddy Ricch, Billy Strings, The War On Drugs, Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, Disclosure and Herbie Hancock, among others. After two years away – one due to the pandemic, the other due to good ol’ Mother Nature – the Manchester, Tenn., festival, scheduled June 16-19, will seek to recapture the momentum it had after 2019, when it sold out for the first time since 2013.
As Coachella and Bonnaroo speculation swirled, two California staples revealed lineups Jan. 10. Napa fixture BottleRock shared a bill topped by Metallica, Pink, Twenty One Pilots and Luke Combs, and rounded out by the likes of The Black Crowes, Kygo, Pitbull, Greta Van Fleet and Mount Westmore (the supergroup of Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, E-40 and Too $hort). Down the coast, BeachLife will return to Redondo Beach, Calif., with headliners Weezer, The Smashing Pumpkins and Steve Miller Band, and other bookings including 311, Black Pumas and Sheryl Crow. Both fests will reclaim their traditional May calendar slots after staging 2021 events in September.
Coachella, Bonnaroo, BottleRock and BeachLife follow a bevy of 2022 festival lineups revealed since Thanksgiving, among them Alabama’s Hangout, Southern California’s This Ain’t No Picnic and Primavera Sound L.A., Kentucky’s Forecastle and Florida’s Okeechobee.
The 2022 festival season is taking shape amid uncertainty. While the Omicron variant has fueled previously unseen rates of cases and hospitalizations, data has indicated its relative mildness, with the CDC promoting a study Jan. 12 of nearly 70,000 patients that found Omicron is 91% less likely to cause death and 53% less likely to cause hospitalization than the Delta variant, risks further mitigated by vaccines. Experts still suggest the Omicron wave could recede within weeks.
But, in the immediate term, some concerts have postponed or canceled out of caution, most notably Dead & Company’s two-weekend Mexican destination fest Playing In The Sand, which called off its January event.
However, several arena tours, including Kacey Musgraves, Dua Lipa and Tyler, the Creator, remain poised to begin within the next month – a sign that the festival sector isn’t the only part of the live industry banking on a swift end to the Omicron wave.