The TRUTH About Coachella

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The TRUTH About Coachella

Natalie Meins, Copy Editor

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Once a lively occasion known for its wide array of musical concerts and celebrity appearances, Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, California has now moved away from what made it unique and is well on its way towards being somewhat of a joke.


The festival’s beginnings in 1999 were based on a fun, community-centered venue with entertaining music. Today, scantily-clad college students high on LSD pose for the perfect Instagram photo while raucous drinking parties crop up in the background. Festival-goers are cheated out of their hard-earned money; artistic appreciation has snowballed into a cash-grabbing, drug-induced social media fest.


When confronted with the idea that Coachella is no longer focused on what it should be (the music), many advocates argue that there is ample evidence to the contrary. And they have a bit of a point, given that more and more attendees are present each year; in fact, 250,000 people spent their weekends at Coachella in 2017 as opposed to the meager 50,000 in 2005. Also, others may point out that important headliners such as Beyoncé and The Weeknd have become increasingly common at the festival. However, this does not lessen the fact that the music is still not where the emphasis is. “… The music, these days, is really more of a backdrop when it comes to Coachella. It’s about the scene and being seen,” says reporter Marlow Stern, who experienced the raving display of lights and over-excited partiers first hand in the summer of 2014.


Clairemont High student Emily Hascall states that “… Coachella is a fad for people in their twenties. It’s something you go to just because it’s popular, not because it’s important or fun.” This image-focused aspect of the festival has taken an alarming precedence over Coachella’s original design. People who go to the festival try to catch the biggest names in the line-up only so that they can say, “Look, I saw Eminem in concert, and I have a picture to prove it!”  There is too much of a competition between fans regarding how fashionable they look for social media. After all, if there aren’t pictures, did it really happen?


For such a superficial event, Coachella manages to rake in the dough in ever-increasing amounts each year.  The festival’s promotion company Goldenvoice made a whopping $114 million in sales according to Grammy Awards journalist Reneé Fabian. This is largely due to the astoundingly overpriced tickets sold to attendees, with costs jacked up to about $400 for one ‘basic admission’ pass.


This doesn’t even begin to consider the higher fees when purchasing a $900 VIP admission. Hopeful participants are cheated out of hard-earned money; their bank accounts are unnecessarily emptied in the name of an event that, at its best, can only offer brief social media recognition and a bad hangover. According to Marc Ballon of OCWeekly, “Even the grungiest, tattooed bro camping in a tattered tent and subsisting on booze, dope, cigarettes and dust can expect to spend around $500.” While these attendees certainly have every right to make their own decisions on how to spend money, the reward is laughable when compared with the ridiculous prices.


Almost twenty years of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival have come and gone. During that time, a deplorable shift from the enjoyment of music and community to a cash-grabbing, social media frenzy has taken place. While it began as an innocent project dedicated to providing good music, the festival has moved away from that and is now a place where people can drink, party, and get ‘clout’ for Twitter and Instagram. Coachella is a ridiculous fad that, despite people’s protests, is nothing more than a way to show off and cheat people out of their money.