Thursday, April 22, 2010


I have some friends who went to Coachella last weekend and had a great time. I haven't asked them about their accomidations, but since they both have industry connections, I am not sure if they had the total "consumer" experience of camping in the desert. Financially, the festival had a great year, selling only three-day passes (no single day passes) and selling out of them. 75,000 three day passes at $300 a pop. But reading this "Open Letter to Coachella" at the Phoenix Times,  makes me wonder if the festival is forgetting about the second most important thing that made it become such a success.  The first, of course, is the music booking: this year had a lot of great acts, including Muse, Faith No More, Dead Weather, Them Crooked Vultures, de la soul, The Specials and Les Claypool.

But the second hallmark of Coachella (I thought) was that they treated their attendees with respect.

In 1999, I remember attending Woodstock '99 with my girlfriend (now wife). Great lineup, we saw Metallica, Mike Ness, Willie Nelson, Rage Against The Machine and The Red Hot Chili Peppers. Well, you know how that ended up. In my mind, the inclusion of bands like KoRn, Kid Rock, Limp Bizkit and Creed attracted a more jock-ish, violent crowd than they were able to handle. Add that to the fact that they treated attendees like prisioners, and you had a recipe for disaster. And that's what happened.  Lots of people thought that that was it for U.S. festivals.

But just a few months later on the west coast, the first Coachella festival took place in the desert.  A more hip, less macho lineup ensured a calmer crowd: Beck, The Chemical Brothers, Spearhead, Moby, as well as Rage Against The Machine, Tool, and one of the first appearances of A Perfect Circle.  But what also ensured a calmer event was the fact that the organizers treated the attendees with respect. Woodstock was over, but Coachella has been going on for eleven years now. They've booked bigger and bigger bands, and even put some big money into legendary non-indie acts (like Paul McCartney and Roger Waters, for instance). And I think people were fine with that. I just hope that they take note of complaints like this "Open Letter." Although I've never attended and am not likely to, I think Coachella is great for music (despite the fact that it's fans and the media make a bigger deal over a pavement reunion than a Faith No More one), and I hope it is around for years to come.

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