Today marks the first day of Coachella, which is currently ushering sport-wagons of tank-topped college students masquerading as music lovers (or vice-versa) to the California desert to escape the monotony of higher education and entry-level jobs. Coincidentally, today also marks the beginning of my first year at the festival, though I’ve already grown tired of seeing or saying the word “Coachella.” It makes me think about Instagram filters and retweets of that stupid Oscars selfie.
Musically, this year’s line-up is every bit as loaded as it should be, with a spattering of exciting up-and-comers mixed with old favorites that most attendees will no doubt labor to associate themselves with (e.g. Silent Shout is such a chill album). It’s difficult to see the music itself as the main attraction, simply because it’s difficult to imagine a lineup that would prevent the event from selling out. (It is, however, a lot of fun to hypothesize about such a scenario.)
After watching more than an hour of YouTube “documentaries” made by American twentysomethings (there are dozens for each year), I have to admit that I feel relatively confident that I know what to expect. Do I expect Coachella to be fun? Yes. Do I expect it to change my life? No. The bar has been set somewhat low for life-changing experiences at ‘Coachella-esque’ venues thus far, though. (Except for this one time at a Warped Tour in Denver, where I got severely bitten and received my first emergency tetanus shot.)
“It’s just different,” one Indio resident told me in the parking lot of a freshly opened (or ‘launched’) Hard Rock Hotel in Palm Springs earlier this spring. “Everyone is there to have fun, there’s no negative energy. Everyone is sharing everything.” In a post-Deltopia world, it’s fair to wonder how that could be possible, but having seen the impact made in that area during that same weekend visit (all of which felt like the perfect prelude to the festival), its hard to not believe the sentiment.
The energy from the festival is inescapable, even in the months preceding it. In a pocket of the country that would almost certainly be otherwise depressed, there is now a generation of kids who have grown up going to Coachella, purchasing the tickets allotted exclusively to locals by promoter Goldenvoice. That dazzlingly decorated Hard Rock Hotel, complete with a lobby that turns into a night club, has taken the place of a once derelict high-rise hotel on Palm Springs’ main strip. Meanwhile, the price of antique mid-century furniture has exploded as a direct result of the annual migration of millennial super-consumers.
To expect the experience of Coachella to change lives by miosis seems naive, simply because nothing seems to reach people like that anymore. From here, Coachella seems to be made up of tank tops and a lot of complimentary products aimed at speaking to me and my generation.
My only hope is that, in a world already overwhelmed with information and online posturing, we can discover what it is about Coachella that makes it “different.”