I am officially done with people talking trash about Coachella. As someone who’s attended almost every (Austin City Limits, Bonnaroo, Firefly, Electric Forest, Hangout, Lollapalooza, Outside Lands, Sasquatch, Voodoo) mega-festival in North America (including 10 trips to Coachella), I’m here to set the record straight. Coachella is not a massive corporate festival put on by people who only care about making money. It’s not a festival where people go just to be seen. It is the best festival of its kind, and no other festival besides Electric Forest (and maybe Hangout) comes close to the experience it provides.
Let me start by squashing some common sayings you hear from people about Coachella.
“Coachella is too corporate”
This is laughable. The ONLY brand that has a true presence at Coachella is Heineken. They provides value to fans by hosting a 3,000+ foot air-conditioned club stacked with headliners like Warren G, Diplo, and Bro Safari. Seeing these massive acts in an intimate setting while getting out of the sun is awesome. Other sponsors are limited to the outskirts of the festival, and they do not have their logo posted anywhere. If you compare this to festivals like Lollapooza or Austin City Limits, which sell out their stage names (IBM, Samsung, Bud Light), Coachella doesn’t seem corporate at all.
“Coachella people just want to be seen.”
I can tell you that the Coachella crowd is better looking than the crowd at any other festival you’ll find, but these people are not doing it only to be seen. The reality is that the rest of the country sends their best-looking people to LA and they in turn attend Coachella. The dress at Coachella is a little fancier than it is other festivals, but this concept is spreading to other festivals– and it’s a good thing. Who wouldn’t want to look and feel great when meeting new friends?
“Coachella is filled with bros.”
After spending six of my last ten days at both weekends of Coachella, I can tell you that I didn’t have a negative interaction with a single person. Everyone there has just as much fun as everyone at the festivals other I go to. Coachella used to be more bro-oriented, but the crowd improved as the lineup has shifted over the last few years. As at many mega-festivals, the Coachella crowd is not the best with tending to their trash, but the second weekend crowd gave me some hope (as they were much better than the first weekend attendees).
Here are some questions we need to ask about other festivals
“Why does Coachella get to stay open until so much later than other festivals?”
Many festivals like Lollapalooza, Austin City Limits, and Outside Lands can only be so much fun because the acts stop playing at 10pm. Once it gets dark and the magic starts to happen, it’s over. These festivals make up for this tragedy by offering after-parties, but it’s just not the same as seeing the big stages all lit up. Bonnaroo wins this category by having music that plays until the sun goes up. Coachella goes until 1:30 am – but sunset is at 7:30 pm, meaning that you get four and a half hours of lights and lasers. By the time 1:30 am rolls around, you’re exhausted and ready for a location change.
“Why are Coachella music viewing experience so much better than other festivals?”
I can honestly say that the shows you see at Coachella are on a level that no other mega festival even comes close to. Each stage is approachable and the sound and visuals are as good from the back of the crowd as they are at the front. There isn’t a bad spot in the entire venue, and everyone stays spread out because you can see and hear the music from everywhere. The artists also know that this is their biggest show of the year so they are most likely to play their very best show and bring out a special guest to make their show even more epic. I don’t want to be negative, but this is where Bonnaroo really falls short. Their stages are old and have been the same since I started going in 2011. They also lack speaker towers which makes it really hard to hear from the back of the crowd forcing everyone to smash together to try get a closer spot. This makes it hard to get from stage to stage.
“Why don’t other festivals commit to filling their festival with art and lighting like Coachella?”
The art and lighting at Coachella is a major part of its magic. Walking from one stage to the next is an adventure, as the larger-than-life art installations change color. Many mega festivals are rather dark and bland. Why don’t they bring in massive art installations for everyone to check out and enjoy like Coachella does?
“Why do you see more music at Coachella than any other festival?”
This answer is simple. Coachella is a wide open polo field that doesn’t have anything blocking you from one stage to the next. Your longest walk is about 7 minutes making it super easy to move from one stage to the next and spend your entire day watching music. The stages at many other festival are spread out, forcing you to spend your valuable festival time walking long distances to get to the next stage. There isn’t a single other festival that feels as jam packed with music as Coachella does.
Stop the nonsense!
The next time you hear someone talking trash about Coachella, take a minute to ask them why. Are they jealous that they didn’t go? Are they trying to talk themselves up because they think they’re cooler than the people who go? Or do they just have no idea what they’re talking about and are jumping on the bandwagon? It has to be one of these, because Coachella is what every mega-festival should strive to be.