Should I Stay or Should I go: Coachella Edition

The Coachella lineup was released Tuesday night, and as you would expect, the knee jerk reactions from hardcore music fans (including myself) ranged from “OMG I have to go!”* to “what a lineup!”* to “I would DIE if I can’t make it!”* Given the usual rush of emotions that comes when a music festival lineup is announced, I’ve decided to write a little article about whether or not you should go to Coachella. For the record, Panic Manual members have been to Coachella in 2004, 2006 and 2010.

Let’s start with the obvious – Can You Afford Coachella?

Let’s say you have 3 other friends interested in going. You are on the East coast in a major city with an international airport, then here are some costs. I am assuming you are going to take Thursday off, and Monday off. Here are some rough estimates:

YYZ – LAX: 400$ if you book early
Car Rental: 30$ a person if you are over 25, and someone has a credit card with collision insurance
Gas: 20$ a person
Accomodation: 125$ a person for four nights stay at a reasonable hotel
Coachella ticket: 280$ (absurd)
Food, Merch, Drinks: 150$ (assuming you don’t go nuts)

This ranges out to about $1000 a person for a five day trip. Not insane prices, but definitely will make you want to assess your plans. Some people might suggest you go camping. I don’t know about you, I don’t really want to camp in a desert. Maybe I’m old, but the weather at Palm Springs varies wildly (as would any place in a desert climate) from day to night. The other thing you have to realize is that music festivals are draining exercises, and the last thing you want to do after a night of music festival going is to wander into your campground, finding your tent, realizing your sleeping bag is in a weird angle and then having to fend off any potential drunk/high neighbors. If you are going to Coachella or anywhere far, might as well drop a few more dimes and get yourself a cozy hotel room with a hot tub, so you can get fully recharge for the next days adventure.

Still, music festivals are a great adventure, and as someone who does go to these things, it comes down to the music. So here is my general assessment:

Reasons to Go#1: OMG bands

Anytime I assess a music festival lineup, you pretty much have to find a few bands there that are in the “oh my god, this is something I won’t ever be able to see” zone. These are either bands that are reuniting after a long period (not DFA 1979, who broke up not even 3 Harry Potter movies ago) or bands who rarely tour. Looking at the list, these are the only bands that come to mind:

Duran Duran
Suede (reunited in 2010)
Chemical Brothers
Lauryn Hill (released from mental institution)
Big Audio Dynamite (reuniting)
Leftfield (reunited in 2010)
Empire of the Sun (apparently put on mind blowing shows, but excessive drug use means they sometimes schedule two concerts on the same date in different cities)

Now if you are a hardcore fan of any of these bands, then by all means you should go, assuming they also don’t schedule a North America tour at the same time, or recently just flew to England to see them.

Reason to Go #2 – Haven’t seen many of these bands

Sometimes I forget that I go to a ridiculous amount of shows, and so basically, I’ve probably seen a majority of the bands playing at any festival so if you have never seen bands like Interpol, Animal Collective, Mumford & Sons, The National, PJ Harvey before and you want to somehow wrap up all those experiences in one weekend, then by all means, go. However, you must realize that festival time slots means that each act other then the major headliners will only play about 40 minutes. Do you really want your first time seeing the National to be a 45 minute affair? What if it conflicts with another band you want to see? (That will happen). Still it’s a great way to see a lot of your favorite new bands for a reasonable price. I am guessing you will see about 10 bands a day, 30 bands in total if you go there day and night.

Reason to go #3 – Never been to Music Festival

If you haven’t been to a music festival, Coachella is a pretty sweet first time festival, it’s warm, there are a lot of pretty people everywhere, they all speak English, you get to go to LA, you might run into drunk celebrities and it’s also a pretty good lineup.

Reason to Not Go #1 – You live in Toronto or New York

Let’s face it, most of these bands are going to roll through here at one point or another. You have your own music festivals in which all the bands in size 12 point font will play two or more shows and really, you’ve probably seen these bands before. The Arcade Fire played Toronto 3 times last year and aside from the OMG bands, every band on the list will be here at one point or another if they are touring/and are smart. There are better ways to spend $1000

Reason to Not Go #2 – Most bands only play ~30-40 minutes/ Crowds / Overlap

The two massive drawbacks of overpopulated music festivals is that most bands play a short set and also some major act will be stuffed in a tiny tent that will be too crowded and you’ll get pissed that you didn’t see them (ie Beck in 2004). There will also be at least one instance where you wish you could be at two places at once, although none will be as bad as having Lady Gaga play opposite the Strokes at Lollapalooza. Either way, these are probably the major setbacks of any festival, if you are one to get frustrated easily, then music festivals might not be for you at all.

Reason to Not Go #3 – Propensity for Heatstroke

It gets hot in Palm Springs. There are also thousands of thousands of people. This will raise the heat further. If you are the type who can’t handle heat or a crowd, then this is probably not a great festival for you, unless you are only interested in seeing the bands in size 10 font.

Conclusion

Going somewhere is always fun. Coachella is always fun. It also has the benefit of being the first North American festival, keep in mind there’s also Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, Osheaga, Sasquatch, some thing in San Fran and pretty much every major city that happens every summer, so while you are frantically messaging your friends trying to convince yourself you need to be in Indio, remember that there are other options and it’s not the end of the world if you don’t go. Which you should..probably. I don’t know, I’m not your father.

* I just made those up, didn’t bother looking for references, assumed it to be true. Real Journalism, yo.

Be Sociable, Share!

Posted on by Ricky in Concerts, Music

About Ricky

Britpop lovin Chinaman, consumer of all things irrelevant. Toronto Raptors fan.

One Response to Should I Stay or Should I go: Coachella Edition

  1. Miss Kris

    Thanks for this. As someone who has shelled out the cash for sxsw twice I keep thinking coachella should be my next logical step. But yea, I think I prefer small venues over a blistering hot festival of epic proportions. Your suggestions are all duly noted. I think I’ll stick with Austin, even if it is more expensive.

Add a Comment

OpenID

Anonymous