Another 2021 festival has bitten the dust, Coachella. The 2020 version of the festival was initially pushed back from April to October, and then pushed again to this April. Now, California public health officials have announced the event will not take place in April.
The festival was scheduled to take place in two iterations, on April 9th – 11th and April 16th – 18th, with Rage Against the Machine as one of the headliners.
"Due to the pandemic, Public Health Officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser today (Jan. 29) signed a public health order canceling Coachella Valley Music and Arts, Stagecoach Country Music festivals planned for April 2021. We look forward to when the events may return." read a statement from Kaiser, the local public health officer.
The organizers of the festival, AEG, have not made any comments. The Coachella social media accounts have not posted any updates in 2021.
Coachella is one of the first major US festivals to cancel this year. We have already a huge summer festivals in England, Glastonbury, cancelled, with promoters from France's Hellfest "pessimistic" that the event could happen this year.
The issue is getting the right amount of insurance. Marc Geiger is the co-founder of Lollapalooza and the former global head of music at talent agency William Morris Entertainment, one of the largest global talent agencies in the world, said last year on The Bob Lefsetz Podcast that there are "probably 20" roadblocks preventing live music from returning nationally. Besides the obvious of the virus, spacing and density, he points out that a huge hurdle will be insurance and libality. “With [COVID], there’s infinite liability,” adding that it will add incredible risk for promoters to put on shows, and even finding a willing insurer. Currently, no insurance company offers COVID insurance. Geiger notes that some of the larger promoters can likely self-insure, but for independent promoters, they will have to wait longer." He predicted shows wouldn't return until 2022.
Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci said in an interview earlier this month that he believed vaccines in the U.S. may provide enough herd immunity to allow live music to resume this fall.
"If everything goes right, this is will occur some time in the fall of 2021," Fauci said, "so that by the time we get to the early to mid-fall, you can have people feeling safe performing onstage as well as people in the audience."
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said he wants to begin testing larger scale events in the city as soon as February 2020 with the hopes that rapid testing would expand enough to hold outdoor events in the summer.