The Coachella Valley and Music and Arts Festival, one of the largest music festivals in the world, is also notorious for its large, crazy and rowdy crowds and expensive ticket prices. But is the hype of the experience and talented performers really worth it?
There have been countless stories from both positive and negative perspectives, some encouraging, and others warning those who haven’t attended the festival themselves. In addition to mixed assessments of the festival from visitors across the globe, the popularity of the festival over the years has substantially increased ticket prices.
In the first year of Coachella in 1999, tickets were $50 per day, and the festival lasted for two days. Around 25,000 people attended the event, and Coachella lost a million dollars that year. Because of their loss of income, Coachella was not held again until 2001.
Meanwhile, as of this year, General Admission passes start at $540 and can reach up to $1,080 for VIP passes. The festival now lasts for two weekends, with a record high of 250,000 people attending and a gross income of $114.6 million in 2017.
Sarah Eichler, dance and English teacher at Sage Creek High School, attended Coachella in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2018.
“I bought my first Coachella ticket for $250, and now they are closer to $600-700 after camping,” Eichler said. “If you factor it out thinking of it as concert tickets, if you are seeing maybe 15-25 artists on average over the weekend, then it doesn’t seem that much per show.”
But the change in popularity and ticket prices of the event is not the only thing that has changed. Since the growth in the use of social media over more recent years, some argue that Coachella has become more reliant on influencers publicizing the event.
Rather than having what is considered headliners that are actually “groundbreaking,” it is completely possible that in the uptick of social media propaganda, Coachella has taken advantage of the hyperfixation of current trending artists.
Of course, all of these artists are still extremely talented, but how is one to know that they are truly culturally significant, or just “one-hit wonders?”
While describing his experience at the 2023 festival, Diplo, who performed at Coachella in its earlier years and now its recent event in April, specifically stated that he thought that “‘Coachella is the Influencer Survivor.’”
Instead of having headliners that will actually draw in large crowds, influencers have populated the scene of Coachella, turning it into a space where they can market both their “amazing” experience and themselves at the same time.While Coachella was once an event that people longed to go to to see artists that have made history with their work, it is likely that more people today choose to go due to the way influencers influence their audiences to want to go and have a “time of their life.”
In addition to Coachella’s music and social media appeal, attendees are also often involved in fashion.Over the years, the way people have
dressed when going to Coachella has evolved enormously. From the style of dress to hairstyles and how people do their makeup, Coachella has been an outlet to showcase and spawn loopy fast-fashion trends.
In recent times, it is not uncommon for influencers to create “get ready with me” videos, especially on the days they attend Coachella.
Loren Gray, a social media personality, has exposed the fact that influencers oftentimes fake actually going to the event, despite looking like they are really going to Coachella.
“‘Get, like, an Airbnb, stay with someone, get their outfits, get their hair, get their makeup. Post up ‘Coachella Day 1, Coachella Day 2.’ And they don’t go to the festival,” Gray said. “They don’t have wristbands. They just drive their little butts out to the desert to take Instagram photos, make TikToks, ‘get ready with mes,’ whatever. Then they drive back and that’s it.”
So how many influencers who are seen “hyping up the event” really go to Coachella?
As all the information seen is on social media, nobody will ever really know.
However, even though Coachella may not be what it once was, that does not necessarily mean that people who go will have a bad time.
“I have to say, over the years Coachella changed a lot,” Eichler said, “The first year I went, everyone shared everything; there was easy access to resources like food, water, and showers; people didn’t shove one another.”
Despite Eichler’s good experience from 2010, the atmosphere had completely changed after a few years.
“By 2018, it felt like a college frat party –showers took hours in line, water fountains destroyed or disgusting, people wandering onto our campsites…it felt like the energy changed from more like a Woodstock to a rave,” Eichler later stated.
Regardless of concerns and changes in the atmosphere from Cochella’s past, Coachella can be a fun and enjoyable experience for attendees who appreciate the hype of big crowds.
This article originally appeared in: The Sage
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons Licensed by CC BY 2.0