As a Coachella attendee of 2009 and 2010, every couple of years I tell myself that this year will be the year that I pony up the cash and go back. Yet every year something happens – the festival doesn’t line up with my spring break, the lineup isn’t particularly up to snuff, expenses build up, my sanity and rational thinking kick in – jejune stuff. When I saw this year’s bill, I’ll have to admit, I wasn’t all too impressed. Having already seen headliners Muse and Arcade Fire (two advantages of the entitled music snob) at Coachella and Outside Lands respectively, Outkast was the only real draw for me, aside from Haim, Chance The Rapper, Frank Turner, and a small handful of others. Personally, I can’t quite justify spending $400 on a ticket alone to see artists I’ve either already seen, especially when that $400 equates to my grocery spending for almost 5 months.
When the lineup was released last Wednesday, I thought I might nonetheless ask some of my concert going friends if they were thinking about attending. I received mostly mixed and unsure responses and perhaps rightfully so – a comparatively unspectacular lineup at that price isn’t something many people jump the gun for.
Before I could even try to organize a group, however, the tickets went on sale that following Friday. I would’ve theoretically only had two days to plan a trip before doling out the cash and attempting to get tickets. Furthermore, for any of those in the cultural know, to even attempt to purchase tickets is an event in itself. You have to be steadfast and vulture-like to even get a ticket for weekend one of the two-weekend event, lest you be subjected to the astronomical $435 second weekend ticket with mandatory inclusion of a shuttle pass. Tickets sold out in three and half hours and the time seems to dwindle to less and less every year. Needless to say, I didn’t score a ticket even if I had wanted to.
I wasn’t so much bummed as I was upset at the entirety of the situation. That is to say, I was upset at how brilliant concert promoter Goldenvoice’s tactics are. Coachella has come out of relative obscurity to represent the nexus of everything de rigueur in contemporary society. Coachella attendance bragging rights alone are enough to incite jealousy in your FYF-junkie friend. Sure, there are some truly great musical acts and awesome artistic displays, but for the most part I think a lot of people are entering Empire Polo Club and saying “I’m here! I’m finally here! … What is this?”
The “Coachella Experience” is something to be coveted and to ascribe to – but is it truly all that magical? Sure, I’m very glad that I got to experience the festival two consecutive years, but at the same time it was rough. The Coachella Valley can easily get to a sweltering 105 degrees, the food prices are outrageous, and by the time you reach day three, it can almost become grueling. I’m not personally involved in the drug culture surrounding festivals, so I’m strictly in it for the music. That being said, I can’t account for someone’s experience when on various substances – that’s a different beast. For me personally, music nerd and analyst at heart, Coachella can get tough.
Then again, I’m probably being thickheaded. Maybe people like being in attendance for a large amount of bands, and could care less about who they’re seeing. It’s a beautiful venue filled with other like-minded folks, which is a great thing. What I can’t get behind is the amount of money required and competitiveness for tickets Goldenvoice provides. For music fans, flower-headband wearing and mushroom consumers alike, we can’t deny it’s somewhat apprehensible.
To those who were lucky enough to grab tickets, I wish you a good time at the reunion of Andre and Big Boi. To Goldenvoice, knock off those shuttle passes and maybe we’ll talk. To Beck, congratulations on playing yet again, I hope you wear another floppy hat on stage.
Born and raised on classic rock and oldies, Jake Tully consumed music voraciously growing up in Central California. He has his wonderful grandparents to thank for his love of music, as well as the amazing luck to have seen hundreds of concerts in his lifetime. He considers himself an eclectic consumer of all media, and further reading can be found at his blog.