Coachella 2015 , a retrospective Coachella 2015 , a retrospective

Coachella Weekend 2 photos and words

In the last decade the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival (or “Chella” as its become known to many) has in the last decade become the Woodstock for the millennial generation, but a more decadent and extravagant event than anyone could have envisioned a music festival to be 40 years ago. What started as a humble gathering in the California desert in 1999 has grown into a cultural phenomenon that extends past the musical sphere of influence. Fashion brands design collections to cater exclusively to the pseudo-bohemian fashions of festival goers. Corporations flock to Coachella every year with sponsored tents, offering free swag and an oasis of air conditioning to lure people in. Gourmet food stands, wild after parties, special VIP entrances—all the glamorous perks that have been added on in the last few years of the festival have only increased it’s notoriety and reputation as a celebration of excess and freedom. Coachella is no longer just a pilgrimage for hardcore music fans—everyone with access to the internet sees #Coachella as nothing more than a celebrity packed party where the EDM never stops, and the drugs flow like milk and honey. It’s this misjudgment that’s annoying to those who’ve been attending for years now, because this pioneering festival should be better known for the quality of the artists it assembles every year, rather than for the peripheral garden parties.

The demographic of Coachella now seems split down the middle—devoted fans who are willing to scrimp and save for their chance to trudge through the dust, bake in the sun, and run from stage to stage until their feet are sore, and the privileged VIPs who put more effort into their outfits than picking the bands they want to see. The segregation is ever-present, what with the “very important people” having their own cordoned off section in the audience and exclusive paths around the grounds to shorten walking distances from the parking lots to the festival. For an event that is pretty expensive for the average person to attend, VIP or not ($375 for GA passes, $800 for VIP), it’s no surprise that Coachella has become known as the “festival of the one percent.” People with disposable incomes are now willing to drop thousands of dollars on tickets and accommodation to be a part of what is essentially the biggest party of the year.

Every year it gets harder and harder for music fans to reconcile their desire to witness such an awesome lineup of bands with the rising costs and the changing attitudes surrounding the festival–who wants to spend $400 to be surrounded by spoiled wannabe models and fist-pumping bros in Native American headdresses? Despite all of it, people of even the most modest means still flock to Coachella, and for most of them, it’s because the positive experience of being able to see acts as wildly different as AC/DC, Lil’ B, Drive Like Jehu and St. Vincent in the same place tend to outshine the negatives. The number of great bands that come through Indio every year is staggering, and Coachella has become a model for what most major festivals want to be, both logistically and musically. Say what you will about the people, Coachella still promises to be a tremendous and overwhelming experience every year.

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