Wednesday, March 29

Kanye West Replaced by Swedish House Mafia and the Weeknd at Coachella

Nine days before the return of Coachella, the festival has confirmed reports that Kanye West has dropped out as one of the event’s three headliners, and has been replaced by Swedish House Mafia with the Weeknd.

No explanation was officially given about the departure of West, who was booked as the top performer for the third night of the festival, which repeats its lineup over two successive weekends. (Harry Styles and Billie Eilish lead the first two nights.) But the change, noted only in a revised lineup flier posted to the festival’s social media accounts on Wednesday, followed West’s ban from performing at the Grammy Awards, after weeks of unpredictable and troubling behavior online.

The news of West’s apparent withdrawal was first reported on Monday by TMZ, and was quickly followed up by reports in the music press that the festival was seeking a replacement. Swedish House Mafia had been announced months ago as being part of the festival, though the group’s position in the lineup was left unclear. In October, the group released a track, “Moth to a Flame,” featuring the Weeknd on vocals.

The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, which was one of the first major events to be canceled by the spread of the coronavirus in 2020 — and was then postponed multiple times as the pandemic continued — will be held April 15-17 and April 22-24 at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, Calif. It is being closely watched by the music industry as a symbolic moment for the full-scale return of the multibillion-dollar touring business. In February, the festival announced that attendees would not have to show proof of Covid-19 vaccination or a negative test to enter; masks are not required.

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West, who now goes by Ye, was nominated for five Grammys at Sunday’s ceremony, including album of the year for “Donda.” He won two nontelevised rap categories, bringing his career total to 24, but did not attend the show.

The subject of a new Netflix documentary that coincided with the release of a new album-in-progress exclusively on a proprietary $200 speaker device, West had taken to posting extensively and combatively online about his divorce from Kim Kardashian, her dating life and their ongoing child custody battle.

When Trevor Noah of “The Daily Show,” who was set to host the Grammys, said in a segment last month that West’s behavior was tipping into harassment and abuse, West responded in a post that referred to Noah with a racial slur. West was subsequently banned from Instagram for 24 hours and has not posted online since.

Coachella’s 2020 event would have featured headlining performances by Rage Against the Machine, Travis Scott and Frank Ocean. A crowd surge at Scott’s own Astroworld festival last October left 10 people dead and many more injured, leading the rapper to withdraw from most public appearances. West indicated in an Instagram post in February that he planned to bring Scott, his onetime protégé and erstwhile brother-in-law, to the Coachella stage as a special guest during his set.

Coachella is expected to welcome up to 125,000 attendees per day.

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