The Have (Weekend One) and The Have-Nots
There is no greater proof to Coachella selling out than when it went from one weekend to two in 2012. This is not uncommon for big festivals such such as Jazz Fest in New Orleans, but what made it unprecedented was that organizers would book the same talent for consecutive weekends, effectively putting on the same show twice. Cash grab much? This “supply and demand” theory works for the bands and businesses making a buck, but has created a cultural riff that Bernie Sanders should make a talking point. Weekend One’ers get the lay of the land first, pillaging the grounds, humble-bragging about the too cool pool parties and spoiling guest music appearances on social media. The Weekend Two’ers feel the burn of essentially showing up to a party late. Sure, it’s still a good time, but there’s a “been there, done that” vibe permeating through the air. Or maybe that’s just the smell of the clogged up Porta Potty’s.
Nothing is sacred at Coachella. Not even your flower-powered, hippie bullshit, pseudo-statement outfit, which has been co-opted by fashion brands who now produce their own line of "Coachella couture". Your girlfriend has probably been perusing “festival collections” for weeks and looking at floppy-brimmed hats and feather earrings the last four weekends straight. The result is a bunch of pseudo-fashionistas trying to be unique snowflakes, but all looking like slutty Pocahontas on Halloween. Then again, maybe there is something to that.
To riff on the classic LCD Soundsystem song, “Daft Punk is more likely to play at my house” than Coachella. The robotic dance music duo’s 2006 appearance is said to be the greatest Coachella performance of all-time. And, every year since, the rumor of the Grammy-winning Frenchmen showing up for an unannounced gig has made the rounds like Leo DiCaprio sightings. Arcade Fire even got in on the joke in 2014, when they invited “Phat Dunk” on-stage to play a wedding band cover version of “Get Lucky.” Those Canadians were clearly laughing AT us, not WITH us. Whatever the rumor-du-jour is this year, there’s something ridiculous about feeling let down by some preposterous rumor that never comes true. Well, that and $14 water.
Very Important Pricks
Every year Coachella gets more bougie with ever-expanding VIP areas, pop-up meals and now UBER chopper, which is exactly what it sounds like. Then, there’s the corporate-sponsored parties with their free swag, celebrity sightings and wristband gatekeepers. It’s as if there’s two festivals going on at the same time, a tale of two Coachella’s. An ironic twist of fate for a festival that sells itself as free-spirited affair. The Coachella Main Stage brought to you by Farmers Insurance? Wow Coachella, super edgy sponsor, what is this a PGA event?
Line-Up Let Down
The Coachella lineup announcement used to be like for waiting for Christmas morning when we were kids, but now it’s like getting pajamas when you wanted the web-shooting action figure. Take this year’s headliners as Exhibit A. Sure, the LCD Soundsystem comeback is a nice score, but they’ve already embarked on a tour and they called it quits five years ago. Guns ’n Roses is the classic OMG reunion that Coachella is known for (Rage Against the Machine, Dre & Snoop, the Pixies), but this one feels more like a stunt casting than a return to glory. We’ve got $20 on an hour and a half passing before Axl lumbers on stage to wheeze through “Paradise City” like a washed up cover band lead singer. Closing the show with Calvin Harris is a dick slap to the face when you can hit up Vegas any weekend and see the same button pushers for 1/25th the price.
Tupac Lives. Coachella dies.
The Tupac hologram was Coachella’s death knell. The late, great rapper’s digital resurrection blew up the internet, while sinking whatever credibility this music festival had left. A tech-savvy parlor trick overshadowed an epic reunion of Dre & Snoop, the final show of Swedish House Mafia (no tears were shed) and the introduction of the Weeknd, proving once again that the festival was more about style than substance.
Selling the Experience
You almost need a vacation after coming back from Coachella. You’re beaten down from a three-day binge and coming down from whatever the guy in the white hoodie sold you. The standard recovery time for your body, mind and bank account is about a month. You’ve barely gotten your voice back, have enough money to not brown bag a lunch and finally rid yourself of the dreaded “‘chella cough,” when you get the email alert reminding you not to miss out on next year’s pre-sale tickets. Not only that, but they won’t even be announcing a music line-up for another six months so you’re essentially putting a down payment on the Coachella “experience,” which is EXACTLY what this has become to them and us. No thanks, we’ll pass.