WRITTEN BY MICHAEL CHRISTOPHER
The 2015 music festival season has officially kicked off with the surprise lineup announcement Tuesday of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. Coming as no surprise is AC/DC headlining the first night, Jack White the second and Drake the third.
Taking place over the weekends April 10-12 and April 17-19 at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, Calif., the long-running destination event turns 16 this year, with this being the fourth that it’s been held over two identical weekends. Other notable acts on the bill are Interpol, Kasabian, Bad Religion, reunited shoegazers Ride, Tame Impala, Philly’s The War on Drugs, Florence and the Machine, Ryan Adams and St. Vincent.
Still, Coachella isn’t without its criticisms, many of which are spot on. What was once an indie festival in the middle of the desert that featured cutting-edge acts and always had one big-name artist reuniting for the first time in many years has become a bloated, expensive hipster paradise. Over the course of the last several years, it’s become the place for celebrities to hangout — usually in outrageously priced VIP areas — to the point where the talent booked is almost secondary to everything else.
There was a time in the not-so-distant past when AC/DC would never be considered to be a performer at Coachella, their classic rock vibe the antithesis of what the festival represented. Now, they are kicking off the event, with none other than Steely Dan just below them on the bill. It just doesn’t make sense, and it’s a blurred line in trying to see what demographic organizers are aiming to reach.
Maybe there is no target audience anymore, because both sets of three days are already sold out — before an artist was even announced. Sure, there are some single-day tickets left and VIP packages available, but there was never a chance of Coachella being a bust. The hype alone is enough to push it to a top moneymaker, evident as last year brought in more than $78 million according to Billboard Boxscore.
There also is little, other than location, to differentiate Coachella from its competitors like Lollapalooza and Bonnaroo. It used to be that some of the smaller acts would end up at multiple festivals, whereas these days, it’s not surprising to see the headliners repeat, which steals away the uniqueness of the event. You can bet that by the time Bonnaroo announces its own lineup, there will be few — if any — surprises in terms of who shows up.
This isn’t complaining about how things used to be “back in the day” either. Coachella will still be oppressively hot. There will be too many people sweating all over each other in too close of a proximity — that’s a given. But gone are the days when it used to be worth it because you never knew if it was the last time you might see a particular artist or because you might miss something big. Now the unexpected has become expected, and there’s nothing new to see.
More information at www.coachella.com.
To contact music columnist Michael Christopher, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, check out his blog at our sister publication www.delcotimes.com