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Coachella is not worth it

Photo credit: Grant Garnsey
Photo credit: Grant Garnsey

Coachella kicks off April 15 in Indio, California, and the stress of not being able to attend this music-powered, euphoric drug-fest starts to set in. It may seem as though not going to Coachella is the end of all experience, but Coachella isn’t really that great anyways.

Here’s how it goes. First you see the lineup. Oh my god, the lineup. It’s constructed to give every type of music listener an orgasm. From EDM to alternative to mainstream pop, the lineup has the most popular music artists of every genre.

Simply seeing the lineup can set people into depression from not being able to see all these artists. But it’s important to remember that even if you do go to Coachella, you won’t be able to see every artist. There are multiple stages, so if you were planning on making the trek between shows to catch a glimpse of simultaneous artists, don’t bet on it.

Even if you do get to the other show, you will be stuck watching way in the back with the weirdos that dance with hula hoops.

Then you start to see the posts about people planning to go. People tweeting pictures of their outfits or their tickets. Photos from last year’s Coachella.

Remember that Coachella is all about appearance and relevance. The more people posting about it, the more people want to go. Not because they gain any insight into what Coachella is actually about, but because they see everybody else doing it.

The fan pages and forums start to pop up online, leaking rumors and supposed guest appearances. It is all meant to get people excited.

Before you know it, Coachella has officially arrived. Soon we’ll be seeing the videos of the first concerts, live streams of the most popular shows and most certainly pictures on top of pictures. Guys wearing tank tops to soak up the hot desert sun. Girls wearing flower headbands and high-waisted skirts.

But to be honest, I don’t think Coachella is worth it, at all.

Music festivals are extremely fun to go to, don’t get me wrong, but they are more about the experience and less about the music. You can drive to the middle of the desert, take some psychedelics and listen to “Dark Side of the Moon” for an equally enjoyable, yet free experience.

These big festivals make it impossible to foster a personal connection with the music artist. Concerts are like dates between you and the artist. You need to give them your time and attention to truly enjoy what they are putting out there.

A one-band concert is like a romantic walk on the beach or dinner at an Italian restaurant. Coachella is like speed dating at a Pizza Hut.

Sure, it is an interesting experience to be part of something that is so popular. But for the amount of money that it costs to participate, attending Coachella is not a smart financial decision.

Coachella has become a pilgrimage for high school and college students. Somehow they are able to conjure up enough money to actually pay for this experience.

Ticket sales start around $400 but are immediately sold-out to private vendors. They then resell the tickets for a much higher price, getting more expensive the closer it is to the festival. Added on is the living situation. People are going to be there for a few days so they are left with either camping out in the desert, paying for a hotel or renting out a home. All of which are in extremely high demand for such a small city with so many people.

Not to mention food and recreational drug use. People are spending upward of a $1,000 for just one weekend.

You can find plenty of amazing concerts for a much cheaper price. All of which invoke the same euphoric experiences. In fact, you can find other festivals for much better deals. You could buy a ticket to the Lollapalooza in Brazil for just around $100, which had an incredible lineup.

I think that most Coachella attendees are driven by the fear of missing out. But in reality, they’re not considering the financial hit. I would be pounding drugs the whole weekend too if I was spending almost $1,000 on just one weekend.

Sam Rios can be reached at [email protected] or @theeemessiah on Twitter.

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  • M

    Maiz Lee // Dec 26, 2018 at 7:44 pm

    UGH this article is 100% true – most of the hype is being people see Emma Chamberlain going and so ofc they have to go too! It’s so stupid, how much are you paying to be overwhelmed with all the things you might be missing – you can’t just settle back and enjoy, because there are too many things you might be missing that you spend half the night wondering whether there’s something better to see that you might be unaware of. Everyone posting about it definitely has an effect on whether you want to go or not, I agree.

  • D

    Dugan Nash // Jan 10, 2017 at 4:57 pm

    “Many of the people who goes are well aware of the costs and still return year after year after year.. why?”

    …because a laughably large number of boring people in their late teens/early twenties just want to say they went to Coachella and post it all over social media? It’s not as if the lion share of Coachella attendees are deeply invested in the music or something. Coachella and similar festivals are marketed with these kinds of people in mind and its organizers count on people in that age group observing it as some sort of “can’t miss” event, lest they feel left out.

    It’s almost the exact same lineup every year. Flush $300 down the toilet, pop a pill and put on the Deadmau5 Pandora station if you want the same experience without forfeiting your rent money in the process.

  • N

    nik // Apr 16, 2016 at 8:40 am

    Sounds to me like the person who wrote this article is just mad because he shelled out a lot of money (which he probably shouldn’t have spent in the first place) on going to something he knew nothing about but because ‘ it was simply the thing to do.’
    Just because it didn’t live up to his expectations doesn’t mean everyone is going to be just like him. A very bitter and angry person. Many of the people who goes are well aware of the costs and still return year after year after year.. why? Because they probably have that kind of money to spend on doing something that they enjoy. When the tickets are $300+ and are still sold out in a matter of minutes ( about 20 ) then obviously the coachellafest is worth it.

  • D

    Dante // Apr 7, 2016 at 11:28 am

    Your article seems to be skewed to the point of view of someone on the outside looking in. As someone who has gone a countless number of years, and to a number of different festivals across the country, from Pitchfork to Bonnaroo and back again, Coachella remains my favorite. The euphoric feeling of being on the fields surrounded by the mountains, the great music, the mesmerizing art, and best of all being surrounded by people who, at least for the weekend have nothing to worry about, is why I make the pilgrimage year after year. If you are going to liken Coachella to speed dating in a Pizza Hut, imagine you met the love of your life in that Pizza Hut, and every year you go back together to relive the experience of discovering each other for the first time. You can’t put a price tag on that.

    P.S. I, and the majority of people get their tickets first hand from Coachella. It’s not THAT hard.