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The Weirdest Things We Learned About Coachella



This weekend kicked off the music festival, Coachella, which runs through this weekend. Coachella is billed as a music festival “in the desert” (just outside of Palm Springs) where regular people and celebrities alike flock to listen to performers, camp and do other art activities. 

Coachella has been around for a long time. It was a big deal in the Millennial generation and apparently, Gen Z is keeping with the tradition. Average hard-working Americans have come to imagine the event as the cringiest of all the music festivals, set aside for elitists and youths and elitist youths. But what do we really know about it considering most of us wouldn’t dream of going?

Here are the weirdest things I either accidentally or intentionally learned about Coachella this weekend: 

  1. Most of the influencers who say they’re at Coachella mean they’re just near Coachella

Apparently influencers just pick out a bunch of bohemian outfits, rent houses in Palm Springs near the event and say they’re “there” despite not having purchased or received wrist bands to actually go into the event. Wild. 

  1. Coachella’s origins were about a beef with Ticketmaster. Life has come full circle.

In 1993, Pearl Jam was boycotting Tickermaster operated music venues and opted to perform at the then unknown Empire Polo Club (now the location of Coachella). The massive concert proved the event could handle big crowds and large scale events and lead to the inaugural one day Coachella event in 1999 that is the 2 weekend extravaganza now. 

The Ticketmaster boycott is interesting. Pearl Jam was one of the biggest bands of the early 90s and when they went around Ticketmaster for sales in order to provide a lower cost (lower fee) option to fans, Ticketmaster organized a boycott of their tour essentially banning venues from working with Pearl Jam. In turn, Pearl Jam decided to boycott Ticketmaster venues which lead to the Coachella we know today. An antitrust complaint was filed with the DOJ and Congress even had hearings. Flash forward to 2022 with a new feud between Taylor Swift and Ticketmaster. 

  1. If you don’t know most of the bands: that’s on purpose 

While Coachella has gone through a few iterations in terms of what performers they invite, the original intention of the festival was to invite one or two  big headliners and then dozens of smaller great bands who did not have chart success but did have a loyal core following. The financial gamble was that a group of the smaller bands together would bring as many or more fans as the more expensive big name bands. The structure paid off and the festival became one of the most well attended in the country. 

This year the main headliners were Bad Bunny and Black Pink, then tiered headliners like Calvin Harris and vintage headliners like Blink 182, The Chemical Brothers and Blondie and then dozens upon dozens of bands that have not “made it big” but have loads of talent and their own healthy professional following. 

  1. This year there is a “Coachella island” in Fortnite – who is this for? 

Coachella partnered with the wildly popular video game Fortnite. My understanding of Fortnite, limited as it may be (I like video games but I don’t tend to play online multiplayer), is that it’s a game where users have an avatar that is dropped onto an island with nothing but their wits. Each user must forage for materials including weapons to take out other players and defend themselves until they’re the last person standing. My understanding of the game is that it is primarily (not exclusively) enjoyed by young men and boys and there is pretty distinct language and culture which is rooted in playful aggression and formatted for cartoonish battle. 

So when Coachella’s website describes a Coachella island in Fortnite where users can “hang out” play dance competition mini-games and play music I found it pretty confusing. Since the Coachella demographic seems to be primarily indie music lovers, female and LGBT celebrities and influencers and party hounds – I’m grappling with where any crossover in fandoms exists. 

Some reviewers say its neat but I found very limited chatter about it and I’m still really confused by it’s existence at all except just as a platform to create a virtual Coachella which is wholly unrelated to the actual game Fortnite outside of its advanced virtual space capabilities. 

  1. This list of what you can and cannot bring into the venue is wild

You CAN have parasols, Naloxone and lighters. You CANNOT have stuffed animals, flags or blankets. Those are some bizarre rules. 

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