Though it typically lands annually in early spring on the lawns of Indio's Empire Polo Club in Southern California, what the Coachella Music Festival really signals is the start of the summer festival season. As the weather warms up, all kinds of acts begin crisscrossing the U.S. or else flying in for one-off appearances on the festival circuit. Since 1999, Coachella's been not only one of the first fests of the season but also one of the biggest and best, consistently landing the year's big names, up and coming acts and historic reunions.
2012's lineup features reunions from Brit-poppers Pulp, Swedish punks Refused and Texas post-hardcore firecrackers At the Drive-In, as well as headliners Radiohead, the Black Keys, and original G-Funk super-duo Snoop Dogg & Dr. Dre. Previous years' fests, showcased in this "Best of" playlist, have been just as impressive. If you can't make it out for a long weekend of live music and partying in the California sun—or if you didn't get tickets (both weekends of this year's fete sold out in record time)—enjoy the next best thing: a playlist of Coachella greats past and present, and album picks for 2012's best bets.