Culture Magazine

Coachella + The Lumineers

By Modernartandstyle @modernartstyle

Spread out over two long weekends (April 12th-14th and April 19th-21st) the festival brought some of the most compelling rock, pop, hip hop and electronic music from around the world to play for fans willing to make the music lovers’ Hajj to Indio, California. The festival was marked with surprise guest appearances, upstart acts outplaying the headliners, bewilderingly wonderful interactive art projects, and the best acts around — all happening in a gorgeous desert landscape.


I came across this Lumineers’ performance from this year’s Coachella. It’s folksy essence fits in perfectly with what most outsiders believe the aesthetic of the festival to be. I think it best embodies the spirit of the concert’s audience. Young, a bit quirky, just a tad outside of mainstream which means it’s popular enough to garner success but cool enough to appeal to the hipsters.

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As the camera pans and zooms over the large crowd, it got me to thinking about  a column by Bob Leftwitz on Coachella. It’s a great read in its entirety, but I’ll point out two paragraphs that I think goes to the heart of the experience.

1. Be on the cutting edge. The reason Coachella is the granddaddy of U.S. festivals is because it was first. Its promoters took a risk. Want to succeed in today’s world? Take chances! Only one problem, if you take the road less travelled, you’re gonna hit roadblocks. Even the audience may not be up to speed. Yes, it took years for Coachella’s audience to catch up with it. And now it’s running on that good will, especially this year, with lame headliners that wouldn’t draw this crowd anywhere else. Also, unlike Bonnaroo, Coachella didn’t try to recreate Woodstock. Very few people like to camp in the mud. Provide that option, but don’t emphasize it. You want to stay in a hotel or condo, very few like to rough it. And Coachella/Palm Springs has a built-in lodging infrastructure. Give ultimate credit to the refashioned Lollapalooza, which realized that you could bring the mountain to Mohammed, instead of forcing everybody to jet to the middle of nowhere, you could get them to come to you. Lollapalooza also succeeded by plunking itself in an underserved market. People love the coasts and ignore the heartland, where the people are just as hip as they are by the ocean, as a result of the Internet and cable TV.

5. Don’t believe anything you read about Coachella. A movie could possibly capture it. But no one writing for a newspaper or magazine gets it. It’s not about the music! It’s not about who was good and bad, it’s about the AUDIENCE! The girl who was too high and kept falling down while dancing… It’s about the stories, not the tunes, months later telling all your buds what you saw. If you think it’s about saying how good x or y band was, unless it was a deejay, you grew up in the Fillmore and don’t understand today’s culture whatsoever. Coachella is where you drive your own car (hell, did Daddy buy you your own automobile in the sixties, OF COURSE NOT!), to a pre-approved place where your parents have no idea what’s going on. It’s like summer camp without counselors. Where you spread your wings and fly for the very first time. Come on, who other than youngsters wants to walk around in ninety plus degree heat with no shade other than in tents where you’re so close to other people you can smell their b.o?

Bob Lefsetz

And to further hit that note of cynicism, this article by Todd Martens questions the identity of a maturing Coachella brand:

… But Coachella is so far from unpredictable these days that entering the Empire Polo Grounds where the 14-year-old festival takes place can almost feel like entering a protective bubble. It hosted 180,000 attendees over its two weekends, yet badge holders who arrived for the second run of the event Friday were greeted with everything but the unexpected.

When Coachella began more than a decade ago, the festival was not only more affordable than its current $379 weekend-pass-only incarnation, but it was something of a statement. It was proof that underground dance and independent music could draw thousands and had an audience that was underserved. It was also proof that risks paid off.

PHOTOS: Desert Chic | Week 2 highlights

But as the geek has become the mainstream, Coachella promoter Goldenvoice finds itself trying to have it both ways. The company, once an independent L.A. upstart that is now owned by AEG, is trying to cater to a more mainstream crowd while also trying to maintain the curatorial nature that adventurous music fans demand.

LA Times

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