Top 10 Best Coachella Performances

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Top 10 Best Coachella Performances

VOICE OVER: Phoebe de Jeu WRITTEN BY: Mimi Kenny
These Coachella sets blew minds and left a lasting impression on music lovers the world over. For this list, we'll be looking at the most memorable showings by bands, groups, and solo artists at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. Our countdown includes Madonna, Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg, Beyoncé, and more!
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Top 10 Best Coachella Performances


Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Best Coachella Performances.

For this list, we’ll be looking at the most memorable showings by bands, groups, and solo artists at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.

Which of these performances thrills you the most? Let us know in the comments!

#10: Pixies (2004)

The Pixies are one of the most important bands in alt-rock history, and their 2004 reunion sent fans into a ticket-buying frenzy. While they were more of an underground act in the ‘80s and ‘90s, they were bonafide rock stars at Coachella. They didn’t have any new material to play, but that hardly matters when you have classics like “Monkey Gone to Heaven” and “Where Is My Mind?” Even after being away for over a decade, these Pixies hadn’t lost their magic. This was also reportedly the first Coachella to sell out and make a profit, which we hardly think is a coincidence!

#9: Madonna (2006)

This might sound baffling now, but when Madonna performed at Coachella in 2006, she wasn’t listed at the very top of the lineup. That’s probably because the festival leaned more toward alt-rock acts like Tool and Radiohead in its early days. However, her performance at the packed Sahara dance tent was so incredible, it proved Coachella could – and should – be open to all genres. Of course, we wouldn’t expect anything less from the Queen of Pop, who had the same energy in 2006 that she did 20 years prior. The set was short and largely focused on her then-most-recent album, “Confessions on a Dance Floor,” but it delivered and thrilled all the same!

#8: Jay-Z (2010)

Another Coachella milestone was reached in 2010 when Jay-Z became the first solo rapper to headline the festival. And with so many hits under his belt, it was sure to be a great show. But “great” is an understatement when it comes to this performance. Fresh off of releasing his hit 2009 album, “The Blueprint 3,” he packed his set with classics both old and new, like “Izzo,” “Big Pimpin’,” and “Empire State of Mind.” There were also plenty of great surprises, like a cover of Oasis’ “Wonderwall” and an appearance by superstar spouse Beyoncé. He’s got 99 problems, but this set ain’t one.

#7: Roger Waters (2008)

While Pink Floyd never performed at Coachella, we did get an amazing performance from founding member Roger Waters in 2008. He gave Coachella what was essentially a Floyd set, which included a full performance of their album “The Dark Side of the Moon,” as well as timeless classics like “Wish You Were Here” and “Comfortably Numb.” And no one will forget his inflatable pig floating away at the end of “Sheep.” So whether you fell in love with Pink Floyd in the ‘60s and ‘70s or discovered them decades later, this set showed everyone what a genius Roger Waters truly is.

#6: Rage Against the Machine (2007)

Another hotly anticipated reunion that sent Coachella into a frenzy was Rage Against the Machine. While the rap-rock icons had headlined the first Coachella back in 1999, this was the band’s first performance in years. And they drew an absolutely massive crowd of spectators, probably eager to hear furious hits like “Bulls on Parade” and “Killing in the Name.” This was apparently intended to be a single show and not the start of a full-on reunion. But they continued playing shows for quite a long while, before going on hiatus and reuniting again in 2019. We’ll never be upset to see Rage Against the Machine perform.

#5: Kanye West (2011)

Kanye West makes headlines for so many things besides his music, but this Coachella set certainly showcases his talent. After releasing his acclaimed album “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,” he delivered a spectacular performance, complete with ballerinas and appearances by famous collaborators like Pusha T. But the star of the show was, of course, West himself. He packed his set with classics from his catalog, ending with a beautiful performance of “Hey Mama” as a tribute to his late mother. Say what you will about West as a person, but there’s no doubt he knows how to put on a show.

#4: Prince (2008)

The 2008 Coachella lineup was already strong, but the late addition of a certain superstar made it legendary. While a Prince show composed only of songs from his repertoire would be great, he took things even further and performed spellbinding versions of songs from other acclaimed artists. Of course, festival-goers heard him slay his classics, like “Little Red Corvette,” “1999,” and “Purple Rain.” But Coachella was also treated to covers of such tracks as “Creep” and “Come Together,” among others. We’re pretty sure Prince could cover “Cotton Eye Joe” and make it sound spectacular. Name aside, with this performance, the late legend proved himself a king.

#3: Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg (2012)

This wasn’t just a powerhouse performance from two of hip-hop’s most legendary names. It was also a showcase for some of the genre’s greatest artists, including one who was no longer with us, even then. Dre and Snoop gave us hits like “The Next Episode” and “Nuthin' but a 'G' Thang.” We also got to see titans like Eminem and 50 Cent do their thing. But the absolute highlight of the performance – and Coachella as a whole that year – was the appearance of the Tupac hologram. Pac wasn’t actually back, but in the moment, it felt like he was.

#2: Daft Punk (2006)

Madonna wasn’t the only artist at Coachella 2006 who turned the Sahara Tent into a dance party for the ages. French electronic legends Daft Punk gave a show impossible to stand still for. The tent was packed – seemingly beyond capacity – with excited fans who got to hear bangers like "One More Time" and "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger." They also got to experience Daft Punk's incredible light show. Even though they were dressed as robots, the duo still forged an incredible human connection. They didn’t just show up and press play, either. They gave their songs new energy, and made the performance feel like a full-body experience. There have been plenty of electronic sets at Coachella, but it’s hard to imagine any ever topping this one.


Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

M.I.A. (2005)
A Performance So Good, an Encore Was Demanded

The Cure (2009)
The Goth Icons Just Kept Playing

The Stooges (2003)
The Punk Legends Reunited for a Brilliant Set

LCD Soundsystem (2007)
The Indie Icons Blew the Roof off the Place

Björk (2007)
The Art-Pop Legend Delivered a Mesmerizing Performance


#1: Beyoncé (2018)

Beyoncé had to cancel her 2017 headlining set at Coachella due to her pregnancy. But she headlined the following year in perhaps the greatest rain check of all time. Making history as the first Black woman headliner, her set felt less like a concert and more like a religious experience. Commonly referred to as "Beychella," it was full of fiery performances of solo classics like "Partition," "Single Ladies," and “Formation," as well as many iconic collabs. Fans were even treated to a Destiny's Child reunion, with hits like "Lose My Breath" and "Say My Name" making an already-perfect show even better. And we can’t forget to mention her amazing outfits! Beyoncé’s career is full of highlights, and this is undoubtedly one of her greatest.
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