coachella-wheel

When did Coachella become a divisive subject? Somehow we can’t even agree on whether or not a three-day music festival in the middle of the desert is a good idea. Andy Verderosa doesn’t think you go, Sasha Bortnik does.

Andy:

I feel like the general momentum of the internet has swung my (the negative) way. This article from last year really put it well for my camp. Why do you think this is?

Sasha:

Like anything that becomes popular — musicians, clothing brands, restaurants etc — people love to hate on the mainstream. Sometimes it’s because they actually hate it, and most of the time it’s to say something about themselves, to tell others that they’re not giving in and not part of the mainstream trend, that they have their own unique perspective/hobbies/taste. And while that may be true, why so much hate for Coachella? Is it the festival you hate or the people that attend it?

In regards to that article from last year, what exactly is the “authentic music experience?” When I hear “music festival” I think multiple musicians performing, food, drinks, and whatever else you bring, and the point is for people to enjoy it the way they want to, not how a certain group thinks it should be enjoyed.

Andy:

I think the difference between hating on mainstream clothes, restaurants, etc and hating on Coachella, is that the very nature of Coachella is one that shucks the mainstream. Okay, I know that when you have Daft Punk, Jay-Z, and Kanye West headlining, you’re not very underground, but the indie bands were originally the draw. What I think a lot of people hate about it is that it’s become this packaged experience branded as something that is very exclusive and about the music, when everyone knows that’s not the case. But people still get to act like it is.

Sasha:

The indie bands were the original draw before the festival got big, and when it became popular it became a mix of big names and underground names. What’s the real issue with it? Girls in Indian head dresses? Because I agree with you there but that won’t stop me from attending. I think it is about the music for some people, and for some people it’s more about drugs and drinking and socializing and the parties. No one’s acting like anything, I just think that the people hating on Coachella-goers decide that these people are pretending when they’re actually just enjoying it the way they want to enjoy it. No one can control the way people are going to experience something — and there are other festivals out there that are more “indie” and underground if Coachella isn’t your thing. My main issue is that everyone who’s hating on it is deciding that everyone attending is pretending to really care about music, but how could you possibly know that and feel confident enough to make that judgement on everyone?

Andy:

I don’t think that everyone is really not about the music. I’m sure Jimmy Kimmel’s crew spent a lot more time than they led on finding people who believed that Chelsea and the Clinton’s were a real band.

I guess I just want to call music festivals like they are. They are part music, sure, but they’ve developed their own identity as weekend party experiences. Again, that’s fine. But let’s just call it like it is. Even if you’re totally about the music, how are you supposed to ignore all the people harshing your vibes? I went to a concert this weekend and people were making out HARD in front of me instead of watching the show and I was totally distracted. They were also taking selfies the whole time and dressed like it was a rave. This is a good time to note that I’m a super cranky old man.

Sasha:

Feeling the old man vibes. Ok — well you say to “call it like it is,” but doesn’t a music festival imply music, dancing, drinking, making out if you want, and essentially partying for that weekend? Also, people making out can be annoying but nothing can be done about that, just need to avert your eyes. I agree that there are many annoying people who attend, and the culture has become really intense with specialized Coachella clothing stores in Venice Beach, but my question is why does that certain crowd, which is just one type of crowd that attends, ruining the entire festival for you? You say that we’re not calling it like it is, but from my understanding a music festival is exactly a weekend of partying with music. You’re listening to the music, and I agree a lot of your motivation to attend should be the music, but the reason people love festivals is because they’re not just music concerts — they also include parties, drinks, activities, and meeting new people, hence the “festival” part.

Andy:

So most people then realize it’s not just about the music, but instead the experience. I’m cool with that. I’m also cool with people doing whatever they want. As long as I’m not there. It’s just if I’m going to pay $600 all told, I don’t want my “experience” to be at the mercy of the crowds, drugs, teenagers, lines for bathrooms, Skrillex. But don’t you think the experience is about who goes? Festivals have come to be defined by who goes to them. That said, just for myself, the entire experience seems pretty miserable. I hate camping, I can’t drink like I used to, and I have contacts that make my eyes tired after a long day. Am I just not cut out for Coachella or do I need to suck it up?

Sasha:

I’m with you on the camping, particularly in that dry heat, and I’ve been to Coachella but have never camped. You’re not required to camp and I too wear contacts so I definitely understand, but I do think you just have to suck it up for these things — everyone gets uncomfortable at some point.

I think maybe you’re putting too much weight on the people attending, and while the people who go definitely have something to do with defining the experience, you’re relinquishing a lot of control and basically not allowing yourself to define your own experience.

And I agree that a lot of the experience is defined by who goes, but mostly who you go with, and if it’s not for you it’s not for you. It seems that you’re disappointed with how the festival has grown and manifested itself over the years, and not the concept of Coachella? Or are you also not down with the idea of a lot of bands performing simultaneously throughout the day and night in the desert while people run around, drink, make out, camp, and have parties?

Andy:

There are better, cheaper, cleaner ways to catch these acts. Never mind the fact that there are too many bands playing. It’s stimulus overload. Like focusing on only one episode of House of Cards when you have the entire season to go through, it’s hard to place deserved importance on one artist when you are seeing 30 in a weekend.

Sasha:

Well, in terms of House of Cards and the general binge-watching trend, I’m a fan and don’t think it takes away from individual episodes, but I have gone to Coachella and been overwhelmed by how many people I want to see who are playing at the same time or one after the other, and I do agree that it’s physically impossible to see everyone you want at Coachella and it is really hectic, but as you said before, it’s not just about the music. If it doesn’t meet the requirements of music festival for you, what would you call it?

When I’m there I’m not really focused on the girls with Indian head dresses, it’s such a huge crowd that I don’t need to be, I can just focus on what I want to focus on, and when you have that many people in one place you’re bound have a handful, or a shitload, of idiots.

Andy:

Idiots aside, is this year’s lineup “insane” or just “killer?”

Sasha:

I would say it’s more “epic.” I’ll be missing out this year, dreaming of dancing, drinking, maybe making out, and doing all those standard music festival activities we crazy kids enjoy, and I also don’t want us to forget the time you noted that you’re a “super cranky old man,” because that may just be the bottom line here.