Music, Opinions

Kanye vs. Coachella: What happens when headliners pull out?

Are you still going?

words by: Natasha Marsh
Apr 11, 2022

“It’s official, Kanye is out.” “Bruh, do we still go?” “Screw Coachella, I’m selling my wristband.” I received a variety of these texts (and more) when Coachella announced Kanye (Ye) stepping down as a headliner from the coveted festival. As a Coachella fan who has attended every single year since 2012 — apart from 2020 and 2021, the COVID closures — I understand how exciting the weeks leading up to the major festival can be, especially when it is someone as big as Kanye.


I still remember what it felt like being front row as a Black woman at Beyoncé’s “Homecoming” set in 2018. Between the tribute to HBCUs, the unapologetic Black energy, the love of the culture, and her insane voice — it was a moment that will stay with me forever and one of the reasons why I love this festival. Coachella always features the best of the best musical acts with art installations to match.


I also understand the financial commitment that goes into attending the weekend-long festival. Wristbands start at $503 for general admission (without shuttle passes) and $1,003 for VIP passes. Every single year I’ve purchased 4 tickets for my siblings and I and have had to do a payment plan each time. It really is no small ask.


Although I am not a Kanye fan, I can appreciate the fact that a lot of people (hundreds of thousands, to be exact) had planned to go to his set on the final day of the festival. As someone who even attended while at grad school in London, I understand strongly the amount of planning and money that goes into traveling to Coachella Valley outside of America. In short, it is a lot. Not only is it hard on your bank account, it’s also time- and energy-consuming.


And the excitement is (was?) even bigger this year, after 2 years of a global pandemic with lots of tragedy, the crisis in Ukraine and Russia, terrorist shootings and racial injustice everywhere. Typically us music goers flock to the festival for fun, to see our favorite bands, and reconnect with friends. But this year, Coachella is needed and even therapeutic for a lot of us. It’s the sense of normalcy so many of us are craving in an upset world. So what happens when the potential reason you are going (Kanye) is taken from you? Do you still go? Do you ask for a refund? And are you even excited for his replacement: Swedish House Mafia and The Weeknd?


Coachella of course has kept a rather tight-lip on commenting about the Kanye situation. But according to other news sources, the Grammy award-winning artist gave up $8 million+ by pulling out of his 2022 Coachella commitment. Sources also claim the mega star has been thinking of dropping out for quite some time to “work on himself.” Others believe he pulled out after Billie Eilish refused to apologize on a comment she made at a recent show that according to West, was unkind to Travis Scott (his performance guest). Loads of speculations, but no one really knows what happened. All we know is that he will not be there.


To make matters even worst, The Weeknd has been rumored to drop out if he doesn’t receive the same payment as Kanye. Which, of course, didn’t sit right with the senior board of AEG Live (Coachella’s overarching company) who quickly caved and agreed to the same money in fear they would have another headliner act pull out. Coachella declined to release the news on their social pages but very quickly put up an IG post and new poster stating the new headliners. Comments rolled in: “Somehow it got worse,” “Is this a joke,” and “This ain’t it” being the main ones.



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For many Kanye fans I’ve recently spoken to, Swedish House Mafia and The Weeknd don’t even come close to the ex-Kardashian loving performer. I hold that same sentiment. If this was back in 2018 and Beyoncé pulled out, I would simply not attend. That was the entire reason I went.


So what do you think? Will you be attending the festival now that Kanye won’t be there?


Here’s a lineup of other 2022 music festivals and also a history of Ye and the Stem player.


Photo via MEGA/GC Images via Getty Images