Merely headlining Coachella? You’re doing it wrong. These days, the festival’s biggest past and present stars are hacking it.
From new films by Donald Glover and Beyoncé to a one-morning-only Easter performance by Kanye West, this year’s fest in Indio, Calif., comes with a shadow billing of bonus, semi-sanctioned content aimed far beyond the main stage.
The extracurricular activity signifies the evolution of one of the country’s largest music festivals from a mostly self-contained arbiter of status — able to confer cultural relevance in a font size on its lineup posters — into something more like an all-purpose tool for today’s globally minded performers, accustomed in the digital age to serving many audiences at once and on their own terms.
For fans, more off-platform programming at Coachella means it’s easier than ever to avoid FOMO without coughing up a half-grand and trekking to the desert. Here’s a short guide.
See the premiere of Childish Gambino’s new film, ‘Guava Island’
The rapper Childish Gambino, alias of the entertainer Donald Glover, is unveiling a new movie and has a headlining set this weekend. A mysterious trailer for the film, called “Guava Island,” had its premiere at Glover’s PHAROS festival in November, crediting the co-stars Rihanna, Letitia Wright, Nonso Anozie and the director Hiro Murai (“Atlanta,” “This Is America”), and sending internet sleuths into overdrive.
The secrets of “Guava Island” were revealed Thursday night at an early screening on the Coachella campgrounds, and it debuted during Childish Gambino’s set. The movie is neither a visual album à la “Lemonade,” as some fans predicted, nor a traditional feature, but something in between. Kyle Buchanan of The New York Times attended the screening and described it as “a music-driven fable” set in Cuba that pairs refurbished Gambino hits, including “This Is America” and “Summertime Magic,” with a slight plot concerning love, music and capitalism.
The film will be available to stream free on Amazon for 18 hours, from 3 a.m. to 9 p.m. Eastern on Saturday and will remain available for Prime Video members. Saturday, April 13, 3 a.m. Eastern
Wake up early for Kanye West’s Sunday Service
All year, Kanye West has been hosting a roving, informal, invite-only Sunday morning concert series — Sunday Service — featuring a gospel choir and sanctified renditions of his songs and others.
Guests have reportedly included Katy Perry and David Letterman, but the Coachella crowd (and viewers watching on the live stream) will get to hear the gospel on the second Sunday of the festival, which falls on Easter this year.
In January, Billboard reported that West had originally been set to headline both weekends of the festival, but he pulled out at the last minute because of a dispute over his desire to perform in a custom dome. It’s unsurprising, then, that he’s chosen an equally nontraditional venue for the Sunday Service show — a hill (or “mountain,” as West called it in an announcement video) on land usually reserved for campgrounds. Sunday, April 21, Time T.B.A. (West has said 9 a.m. Pacific.)
Relive Beychella on Netflix
One of the most disruptive Coachella performances in recent memory took place last year, when Beyoncé — the first African-American woman to headline the festival — transformed her set into a robust, kinetic survey of the collegiate traditions and musical lineage of black America. That show is the subject of “Homecoming,” a new, behind-the-scenes documentary debuting on Netflix the Wednesday between the two weekends of this year’s festival.
The original performance was the most-watched Coachella live stream ever, with more than 458,000 concurrent viewers. Now, the artist will deliver a remixed, 360-degree view of the experience to Netflix’s millions of subscribers. Wednesday, April 17
Bonus: Watch a master cut of the entire festival on YouTube
For the first time, Coachella will live stream its second weekend on YouTube in addition to Weekend 1. Tune in for a special at-home viewing experience featuring short documentaries on, and original commentary from, top-billed performers. April 19-21