Kanye West was just days away from being announced as the headliner of 2019’s Coachella festival when he reportedly pulled out of the concert after its organizers refused to build him a giant dome to perform in. Billboard reports that Kanye had big plans for a custom-built dome that would have allowed him to perform his set against a backdrop of 360-degree immersive video—which, in all honesty, does sound pretty cool. But Coachella organizers nixed the idea, saying they wouldn’t be able to construct the set by the festival’s April 12th start date, and that even if they could, building a structure large enough to house most of the concert’s 125,000 attendees would require the festival to get rid of a lot of portable toilets. According to Billboard, West wasn’t having that. He apparently “became irritated, declaring that he was an artist with a creative vision who shouldn’t be spending his time talking about port-a-potties.” This isn’t even the only festival that hasn’t been into Kanye’s idea—New York’s Governors Ball reportedly also parted ways with Kanye over his dome demands. Ariana Grande was quickly slotted to replace Kanye as festival headliner, and while she may not yet have the back catalog West has amassed, she’s definitely the timelier pick. Grande was among the top 20 best selling artists of 2018, while West barely cracked the top 50. And while festival goers won’t get to enjoy an immersive video dome, they’ll be spared the sight of West performing in his MAGA hat. West wasn’t Coachella’s only lineup problem this year—Justin Timberlake was also bumped from a headlining slot after tour dates he rescheduled in the wake of a bruised vocal cord found him playing arenas across California in February and March, violating a contract clause that forbids Coachella performers from gigging in the area surrounding the festival near the dates it occurs. In Timberlake’s absence, Tame Impala was pushed to a headlining slot. This is isn’t West’s first failed concert in recent years. In 2016, his Saint Pablo tour was cut short due to personal issues that included the gunpoint robbery of his wife Kim Kardashian and the performer’s own mental health struggles. In 2009, a planned tour with Lady Gaga was also cancelled due to what Lady Gaga’s choreographer called “creative differences,” amidst rumors of poor ticket sales. Kanye’s dome request may ring of diva antics, but he’s far from the first musician to be notoriously controlling when it comes to their performances. After concerts, Prince reportedly forced his band to watch footage of their performance, chiding musicians for each bum note. And these kinds of exacting performance standards aren’t just limited to the pop world—the late classical pianist Glenn Gould was infamous for his demands, and insisted on performing in a specific chair on pianos that had been elevated to a particular height, sometimes with the use of wooden blocks. Gould was so enamored of the absolute control afforded by the recording studio that he abandoned live performance entirely—something Kanye seems in danger of doing if someone doesn’t let him build his damn dome.
Glenn Gould, in his signature low chair.