On the weekend of April 15, the Empire Polo Club in Indio, California, held the 16th annual Coachella Music and Arts Festival that brought in the largest crowd the festival has ever seen.
Massachusetts resident Kendra Day attended the festival this past weekend.
“I have been dying to go to Coachella for years now, and the increase in social media coverage like Snapchat only made me want to go more. We bought tickets when they first went on presale ages ago. I had three computers open at once trying to get through; it was crazy,” Day said.
Day said that from the moment she got on the shuttle bus the atmosphere of the entire festival was amazing, everyone was so excited to be there and see everything. Day added that even the people working the festival seemed to be happy in the desert heat, giving high fives and cheers.
“One thing that stuck out to me was how awesome people were when you asked them to take a photo. Taking multiples, making sure the angle and lighting was right. No matter who you asked, they all understood the importance of documenting Coachella with good pictures. Also, the food was amazing. My favorite was the Afters Ice Cream sandwich with blue Cookie Monster ice cream and crushed Oreos in between a warm donut,” Day said.
She said the festival was surprisingly easy to get around after the first day. “There are two big main stages outside and a few stages inside tents. I definitely preferred the outdoor stages, as they tended to feel less crowded depending on who was performing. There are separate areas for drinking with beer, cocktails, food and toilets. In order to get in you have to have your ID checked at one of the booths around the festival where they give you a wristband. It seemed like a hassle at first, but when you think about how many times you would have to take out your ID and the lines…it’s worth it.”
As far as music went at the festival, Day said that, although she was most excited to see Guns N’ Roses because it was their “big reunion,” she was most excited to see A$AP Rocky.
In addition to her favorite performances, Day said that she loved Coachella fashion, especially the 90s inspiration and the flowers. “It is certainly common to take more risks with fashion at Coachella and festivals overall. My own outfits were nothing crazy compared to what I saw,” Day said. “I saw pieces I would wear at home mixed with items I bought specifically for Coachella. I tried to have fun with my hair and accessories. It is tough to dress for the heat during the day then cool at night without having a lot to carry.”
Day said that she thinks her generation sees the festival culture and atmosphere as a more acceptable form of partying.
“You are paying for a ticket to see your favorite artists as well as new artists and art, but of course drugs and alcohol are rampant…As far as social media, festivals get a lot more exposure because it is like a massive party with surprise musical guests, celebrities, amazing food and plenty of overpriced beer,” Day said.
She continued, “The festival culture and atmosphere encourages creativity and risk taking. You do not have to worry about being the most outgoing or revealing.”
Although unable to attend, Keene State College students weighed in on their thoughts about the festival and the culture that comes with the atmosphere of such a large-scale event.
Sophomore Caroline Campano said that she first heard about Coachella four years ago when her friend planned on attending the festival. Campano said that, while her friend’s plans fell through, she showed her what Coachella was and asked if Campano would be interested in going.
Although she has yet to attend Coachella, Campano said the music is what grabed her attention the most about the festival. Campano added that she annually keeps up with the performance line-up because the music is the reason she would attend the event.
This year, Campano said that a few of her favorite artists such as Baauer, Major Lazer, The Chainsmokers, Sia, Flume, Miike Snow and Calvin Harris performed at the festival.
In terms of the fashion trends that are present at Coachella, Campano said that she loves them because they are unique to each person.
Many people will wear typical clothes such as shorts and t-shirts, but others wear personally designed bralettes or skirts or tutus and crazy boots with fur. Each person has a different personality, and it is often reflected in the clothing they wear, especially to festivals such as Coachella,” Campano said.
Senior Jordan Crowley said that Coachella is not her type of music scene. “I am not too interested in the music, nor the fashion,” Crowley said. “I kind of just wear what is comfortable and make things work, but…I feel like sometimes attendees of Coachella make a huge effort to make a statement. I am just used to a different music scene and being around happy and friendly people for the most part. Being at a festival in Palm Spring, California is probably very different from being at, say, a little festival in New Hampshire or Vermont.”
Crowley said that she first heard about Coachella during her last years of high school through celebrity gossip because its popularity landed the festival on every social media platform.
“Coachella is most definitely on Snapchat because I think it is more of a party first and then a festival. When my friends and I go to festivals, we go for the music. Social media influences certain people because they see all this fun going on in a cool atmosphere with their favorite pop artists, so people dream of going to events like this. But for other people, the best music events are the smaller ones that a small group of people know about, because their favorite artists are performing on the same stage and you’re surrounded by similar people,” Crowley said.
She continued, “If it is a bigger festival, it is all over social media being talked up. However, it is not necessarily like that for smaller festivals. The biggest festival I am going to this year is Peach Festival in Pennsylvania, and the biggest hype is the public relations part of the festival, posting pictures to the Instagram and Tweeting, just to get their attendees hyped and excited, and a little preview of who will be performing.”
Like Crowley, Campano said that she also feels that the people who solely enjoy the music should be the ones who are able to go these types of festivals because the artists are usually there to showcase what they have put their whole lives toward.
“I think that more people are focusing on what it looks like they’re doing in other people’s eyes. Many people say ‘do it for the snapchat.’ Also, many adults are seeing these festivals as a gateway to any and all types of drugs. A lot of people think intoxication of any sort as a ‘must have/do’ in order to enjoy things such as festivals so when a party or gathering has a ‘festival vibe’ people instantly think ‘oh here is a place where it is acceptable to wear as little clothing I want and be as messed up as I want without any type of judgement,’” Campano said.
She continued, “I think that social media makes Coachella look as if it is a drug-doing, naked, hippie-people party where the people who are there for the entertainment aren’t shown as frequently. I think the culture of the festival has turned into more of a free-for-all for people, and often I find that people are going there less for the music and more for how it looks to other people.”
Brogan Wessell can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org