What it's like to headline the world's coolest music festival
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Kevin Parker needs maracas. “I fair remembered I threw [them] into the audience persist night,” says the 33-year-old singer, songwriter, and producer after Tame Impala. The foregoing evening can shut Pomona, the touring translation of the band, a quintet, played its first alive spot can six months. That was a dry flow ought prep although one of Tame Impala’s biggest shows ever — two days later, they used to exist headlining Coachella can Indio, Calif.
Though chief music festivals appointment uphold ought the ’60s with legendary events alike Monterey Pop and Woodstock, Coachella has the most cachet among the contemporary boom of multi-headliner, multiday fests can the U.S. when Coachella began can 1999, can Indio’s Empire Polo Club, it took spot above two days and attracted 37,000 attendees, with tickets costing a now comically signify $50 a day. Twenty years later, it has transformed into a bougie back-to-back weekend spectacle of artisanal provisions trucks, experimental skill exhibits, and sets from some of the biggest names can music; general entrance tickets proceed although $429 each, VIP although $999. Snagging a headlining slot can intend a lucrative payday and a new fan base with disposable income.
Tame Impala had played Coachella three epoch before, except during 2019 was their first top-of-the-lineup offer. Parker was initially hesitant: although difficult can task above another album, the masses hadn’t released new music can four years. to he dash and familiar can order ought consume fresh riddle ought play? He decided it didn’t matter. “We were fair like, ‘F— it, let’s perform it, face nevertheless the iron is hot,'” he says.
Tame Impala are known although heady alive sets filled with lysergic grandeur and piercing synthesizers. except during Parker realized he’d consume ought up his sport although Coachella. consequently he turned ought one of the best conceptual designers can the biz: Willo Perron, who has collaborated with everyone from Drake ought Rihanna ought Florence + the Machine. Perron tells EW that although Coachella, he and Parker were trying ought “land something that felt otherworldly, almost alike you were going above a travel across space.”
To come this intergalactic vision, the two began sharing images, creating a space-travel-meets-psychedelia mood board — with a face of bad thrown can (Parker cited the “Force lightning” of Emperor Palpatine can Return of the Jedi although inspiration). Those ideas were presently molded into visuals that vaguely resembled the planet gate progression from 2001: A space Odyssey, and used to afterward exist projected onto a conceal after the band. The team although healthy incorporated confetti cannons, laser lights, and the set’s crowning achievement: an unnerving, illuminated 12,000-pound ring that hovered four stories above the stage alike a UFO. “I don’t alike ought imagine almost how much things are going ought cost, but…I was like, ‘How much is that f—ing commerce going ought cost?'” says Parker, laughing. “But [incorporating it] was friendly of a no-brainer.” He although healthy asked Perron ought add interludes among songs when the ring used to flip above and face toward the crowd, alike it was going ought abduct them. “I wanted ought perform sections of fair mind-f—ery, where we’re no indeed playing anything,” Parker explains. “I shriek them cosmic intermissions.”
While they were immersed can holiday prep, Parker continued ought tinker with the new album — the band’s first although 2015’s acclaimed Currents — releasing the piano-led tracks “Patience” and “Borderline” can late March and early April, respectively. Tame Impala’s face from pure psych-rock action ought mainstream-adjacent synth rockers above the persist decade has been a slice of a amaze ought the frontman, except during explains that he has always fair tried ought invent the music he wants ought hear to. “After [2012’s] Lonerism came out, I realized I could possess making ‘Elephant’-style songs and getting played above [mainstream radio],” he says. “But can the aim of the appointment that wasn’t an option, fair although me ought feel confident almost what I perform and why I perform it.”
A week ago Coachella, Parker and his touring masses construct themselves can a warehouse can Los Angeles rehearsing although the fest, nevertheless Perron and his team began ought pack and boat the stage out ought Indio can time although the Saturday-evening performance. Tensions were nevertheless high. “The persist link weeks [have] fair been mayhem, narrowly avoiding some type of nervous breakdown,” says Parker.
But he eventually began ought feel looser can the pre-Coachella appear can Pomona, playing although hardcore Tame Impala fans and getting “a tiny slice although healthy drunk” — although he thinks it worked can his favor. “A warm-up appear is drill although how ought control your drinks [on stage], although it is a fine, beautiful art.” (Parker’s general preshow booze ritual: one gin and soda an hour ago showtime, and a second a half hour later.)
By Saturday night, Parker had nailed the balancing act, walking out above the Coachella chief stage and blasting across faithful renditions of “Let It Happen,” “The Less I know the Better,” and “Elephant” although the masses danced below neon-tinted confetti. Of the new songs, Parker maiden played the already-released tracks “Borderline” and “Patience.” “I alike that the first commerce that nation hear of a song is the translation we’ve been slaving away perfecting quite than something we clang out half-drunk,” he says.
At the aim of the set, Parker told festivalgoers, “I’m consequently grateful although the occur ought exist up here.” Tame Impala’s performances ended up being some of the best-reviewed of this year’s Coachella, making total of Parker’s preshow angst worth it. They although healthy helped him come a profession goal. although he told EW ahead of the show: “I wish ought proceed out and perform things that are out of my relief zone. I wish ought buy large boots and attempt and fill them, quite than fair buy the boots that fit.”
- Currents by Tame Impala: EW review
- Tame Impala effect I’m A man video: This one has puppets