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Remembering the Only Other Time a Woman Headlined Coachella

This year Beyonce will headline Coachella so let's look back at the last woman who came through a full decade ago: Bjork in 2007.

by Sarah MacDonald
Jan 5 2017, 9:50pm

Earlier this week, Coachella, a music festival in California that also doubles as a flower crown convention, announced its line-up for this year. For what it's worth, it is actually a very good line-up. Consider that the headliners Beyoncé, Radiohead, and Kendrick Lamar are also billed with acts like Stormzy, Warpaint, Mitski, Arkells, Tory Lanez, and  Hans Zimmer. Wild! But the biggest news was that Beyoncé, pop culture's queen, would fill Saturday's headline slot. This is a big announcement for two reasons: Beyoncé is the first black female performer to headline and she is also only the second female headliner at the festival in its nearly 20-year history. The only other woman to headline Coachella is Bjork, who headlined in 2002 and 2007. Bittersweetly fitting how, a decade later, Beyoncé would be the one to assume a headlining mantle. Not like she hasn't deserved it earlier than 2017, and the same can be said about many, many other female performers.

We can lament all the ways in which Coachella fucks up nearly every year by choosing tired bands to headline (Guns n' Roses, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Roger Waters) or famous DJs who rely on the women they bring out during their performance to hype the crowd. But we can also look at Bjork's last headlining performance in 2007, which—long before the festival was a two-weekend endeavor—was fantastic and a singular experience that couldn't be replicated.

Bjork and Beyoncé share a few similarities: they are both calculatingly precise with their music and performance, having a literal hand wherever they can; their works are both raw and heartbreaking details of the female experience; and they both put on visually and sonically gripping live performances. Both have, also, been problematic faves: Bjork's liberal use of the n-word in reference to sound and music, as well as the utilization of sweatshops for Beyoncé's athleisure apparel, Ivy Park.

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