Coachella 2022 has just wrapped up, and…it seems like nobody really cares. That’s spectacular, considering how massive it is—so massive that it’s now a 9-day festival, as opposed to other fests that are 2-3. It used to make noise, from the (culturally appropriating) styles to the celebrities in attendance, and the biggest music acts being headliners. But now…crickets.
In its first year, Coachella was celebrated for being safe, where attendees could enjoy live music without fearing for their lives. Diverse by way of music and attendees, Coachella even had basic resources (water, food, safety guidelines). This sounds like a “duh,” and should be. But this was right after the disastrous Woodstock ’99—a desperate, lazy attempt at recapturing (capitalizing on) the “magic” of equally disastrous Woodstock ’69. Both events lacked all of these elements, and ended in sexual assault, riots, fires, and even death.
Coachella’s ebbed and flowed, but one thing has remained consistent—you didn’t want to miss it…until now. So, what happened?
It’s too expensive
Part of popularity is almost always exclusivity. Coachella is no different. Unless you’re repping a company, you’re shelling out if you want to go to Coachella. More, if you want the VIP experience and lodgings sponsored by the festival.
Listen, times are hard, and not many people can justify spending $500-5,000 to go to a hot campground for multiple days with overpriced fair food and less-than-comfortable accommodations, just to see sets they can now access in other ways. When you take away the exclusivity, music, food, and amenities, what are you paying for? I mean, maybe you can catch Timothee Chalamet at a Port-o-Potty, if you’re a handful of people among thousands.
Celebrities are super accessible
If I want to see what The Weeknd is doing, I’m going to IG. Same with the rest of the lineup…but celebrity culture is so wrapped up in Coachella. It used to be a culturally-appropriating fashion show with tons of models and A-listers present. But now that they’re accessible via social media, why pay thousands of dollars for the off-chance to see them? And they likely don’t want to be mobbed, but relax and have a good time.
Some celebrities even boycott Coachella because of its culture shift. It went from being chill to being pretentious—or, too outwardly pretentious for celebs. Alexa Chung, 2010s fashion icon, hated that Coachella became a cliquey, same-like fashion show, so she stopped going. Others followed suit.
There are more fests than ever
Saturation is another hit. Not everyone likes popular music, or at least, enough to go. Depending on the music you like, there’s likely 3-4 different, more affordable fests you’d rather attend. Maybe Rolling Loud, Bonnaroo, Pitchfork, Afropunk…and that’s off the top of my head. For hundreds of dollars less, you get music you enjoy, thanks to the accessibility of music discovery. The locations are easier to navigate (unless you live in Chicago during Lolla—pray for me), and you can have a breathable time. And trust me—hot fest sets, squished against people—aren’t fun. Stay hydrated, folks.
You can watch from your couch
Coachella is super accessible now. I watched Beychella live from the comfort of a residence hall desk shift in college. For free. And post-Beychella, streamed sets have become the norm—due in no small part to COVID.
So many popular tweets were circling around when Coachella went on sale, and when it started, about how people would be catching the sets from YouTube. YouTube literally has a marketing campaign going on right now about catching Coachella from your couch. For free, or cheap—in conditions you’re more comfortable with.
Safety is a top concern
We know that COVID changed everything. Even now, two years in, with new variants coming out every other month, things still look pretty bleak. With seemingly no end in sight, many aren’t going to spend thousands to go to a super spreader event…that they can just catch online.
There’s no mask mandate at most fests, and some don’t require negative COVID tests for entry. With such lax safety measures for such high-profile and highly-populated gatherings, it sounds like a better choice to many to either sit this one out or see what YouTube is doing.
In short, Coachella lost its exclusivity. The culture shifted, making me wonder: Is there even a need for it anymore? I mean, it was initially a safe alternative to Woodstock ’99, but that’s not a thing anymore. Then, it found prominence with being a celebrity-heavy event. But now, many don’t even care, or fans don’t. Then, it rode the Beyoncé wave, but now mostly every celebrity is trying to have an insert-name-here-chella this year. Plus, apparently, artists are getting their sets cut short in the middle of songs due to scheduling. So…?
I mean, Kanye even dropped out of Coachella this year.
Photos via Rich Fury/Getty, YouTube