For those living under the rock when it comes to music festival culture, it is easy to miss what is happening at Coachella so far, as it has commenced its annual weekend full of high profile musicians, and a plethora of festivities for its attendees to enjoy. This year, the festival features a reunion for beloved hip-hop outfit Outkast, as well as Arcade Fire, Lorde, Beck, and the recently reunited Neutral Milk Hotel. The best and brightest of the music industry come to perform at the weekend festival. It is a good predictor for who will come out on top of year end lists for major magazines like Rolling Stone and Pitchfork, as many have released an album within the past year or plan to do so this year, with a spate of concerts in tow.
Much attention has been cast toward OutKast’s performance at Coachella this weekend, where they performed Friday night. Since breaking up, Big Boi and Andre 3000 have both kept busy, with collaborations with bands like indie-rock favorite Modest Mouse, and R&B artist Frank Ocean. Earlier this year, however, they announced that they would be reuniting for live shows. At the festival this weekend, the hip-hop duo performed classic favorites such as “Ms. Jackson” and “Hey Ya!” Janelle Monae, an up and coming and prolific artist herself, joined the two as a surprise guest.
Coachella, located in Indio, California, is only two hours away from Los Angeles, so it often attracts a wide array of celebrity attendees. In 2013, Clint Eastwood and Katy Perry were both in attendance. The festival, currently in its 15th year, is also focusing more on the arts, not just musical performances. This year, they have art installations and sculptures from renowned international artists.
Another opportunity Coachella offers, to better understand what is happening so far, is an expansive culture of free spirited, and often rambunctious behavior among festival attendees. More often than not, people see the festival as a spring break getaway, and care less about the musical performance and more about hanging out in air conditioned tents, getting their make-up touched up at a Sephora unit, prepared four course meals, boutiques, and craft beer breweries. Many of these services run the cost of over $6,000.
One aspect of the festival that many see as a downside, however, is the drug policies in place. To combat the smuggling of drugs into the weekend-long event, numerous security checkpoints are used in good measure. However, attendees still find creative ways to smuggle in drugs to enjoy the festival. Many safely tuck drugs in their shoes, bras, and their hair.
It is difficult to address completely what is happening at Coachella so far, but a glimpse inside musical performances, and videotaped experiences from attendees, as well as personal stories, offers a look inside the bizarre cultural event. Whether or not people agree with how the festival operates, it is always memorable, if not at least for the high profile musicians that grace the stages. From OutKast, Pixies, and Neutral Milk Hotel reunions, to Tupac holograms and Billboard 100 favorites, Coachella is bound to offer something to everyone.
Opinion by Tyler Collins