Coachella postponed until October over coronavirus fears

Concerns continue to affect live music industry, with Madonna, Pearl Jam and Neil Young among those changing plans

Coachella, the most celebrated music festival in the US, has confirmed plans to move from April to October over coronavirus concerns.

“At the direction of the County of Riverside and local health authorities, we must sadly confirm the rescheduling of Coachella and Stagecoach due to COVID-19 concerns,” the festival said in a press release on Tuesday. “While this decision comes at a time of universal uncertainty, we take the safety and health of our guests, staff and community very seriously. We urge everyone to follow the guidelines and protocols put forth by public health officials.”

It is the latest in a number of cancelled and postponed tours, with Madonna, Pearl Jam and Neil Young also changing tour plans.

Sources have told the industry publications Variety and Billboard that agents are looking to rebook artists for the delayed Coachella, held in Indio, south-east California beginning on 9 October. The festival, which hosts 250,000 people across two weekends, was due to begin on 10 April. It has not yet announced any changes to the lineup.

The postponement follows the equally high-profile South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas, a music, arts and tech festival for over 400,000 people, which was cancelled last week for the first time in 34 years.

The Miami EDM festival Ultra, due to begin on 20 March, was also called off last week. Another major dance music event in the city, Winter Music Conference, is now to be rescheduled from its original date of 16-19 March. “We are profoundly disappointed, however, there is nothing more important than the health, safety and physical wellbeing of our attendees and employees,” festival organisers said in a statement.

Madonna has cancelled the last two dates of her Madame X world tour in Paris due to coronavirus, as part of the French government’s decision to ban gatherings of more than 1,000 people.

Madonna performing on her Madame X tour.
Madonna performing on her Madame X tour. Photograph: Ricardo Gomes

The rock band Pearl Jam spoke of their “deep frustration and regret” as they postponed the first leg of their Gigaton tour of the US. They wrote on Twitter: “It certainly hasn’t helped that there’s been no clear messages from our government regarding people’s safety and our ability to go to work. Having no examples of our national health department’s ability to get ahead of this, we have no reason to believe that it will be under control in the coming week.”

Neil Young – who yesterday endorsed Bernie Sanders for president – wrote on his website that he had been lining up a tour with his longtime backing band Crazy Horse but was putting an announcement on hold due to the disease. “We are all super ready to go, and the last thing we want to do is put people at risk, especially our older audience,” he wrote.

No major music festivals have been cancelled in the UK, where the festival season begins later than in the US. The Association of Independent Festivals, which represents 65 major UK events including Victorious, Bluedot and Field Day, told the Guardian “there is no rationale” to cancel events yet, but – as Glastonbury, the Great Escape and other festivals have also affirmed – they would continue to monitor government advice.

In Australia, Miley Cyrus has pulled out of performing at a bushfire relief concert due to the spread of the disease. The singer said she was “so disappointed” but she would be “back soon”, adding: “I have to do what is right to protect the health and safety of my band and crew. I will still be making a donation to help the victims of the Australian bush fire.”

Coachella, which is held on consecutive three-day weekends, will now take place on 9, 10 and 11 October and on 16, 17, and 18 October 2020.


Ben Beaumont-Thomas

The GuardianTramp

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