I had a French teacher that taught us that Americans tend to use the words “love” and “hate” like “like” and “dislike”. We have a tendency to overstate.
So in a purely American way, I love the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. It’s a $400 excuse to do whatever you please for three days within the bounds of the law and festival gates. Just be sure not to start thinking about the number of sweaty humans you will brush up against over the course of the day in the 100-degree weather. And don’t read too much into the $15 dollars you spent on lunch, and the $9 12oz beer you bought to wash it down. Forget about showering. And sleeping.
Apart from those financial and hygienic details, however, the only thing one really has to worry about at a music festival is seeing the bands one wants to see. That is-if there are bands one wants to see.
In the past, Coachella and its host, Goldenvoice, have pulled through in a big way when it comes to headliners. They’ve served up The White Stripes (a personal favorite) as well as Weezer, Beck, Paul McCartney, The Beastie Boys, The Cure, Radiohead, and even Prince. With a repertoire like this, Coachella worshippers expected a lot from the music festival gods when the 2013 lineup came out. Without even being an avid Coachella forum troll, headliner rumors tickled my ears like a soft, mid-April breeze. Daft Punk (despite playing at my house) was supposed to be there. Goldenvoice played with Rolling Stones fan’s hearts when they posted a picture of a “stone” “rolling” around on the Empire Polo Field in Indio, CA (Coachella festival grounds) on Instagram. The “stone” turned out to be just a polo ball on the polo field with no ulterior motive… a trait most stones and polo balls tend to have.
I know I’m biased because I would rather sever my left pinky toe than listen to an entire Red Hot Chili Peppers album, but the 2013 headliners are absolutely blasphemous. Phoenix isn’t bad, and they’re certainly above average live. Blur has that one song that I love, and I know The Stone Roses from Guitar Hero and the playlist at Urban Outfitters. But they’re no Radiohead. Honestly, I’d rather see Kanye West.
It should be said that this might not be Coachella’s fault. Despite the snooty but lucrative double weekend move they made last year, I don’t think the Coachella fat cats are all bad. With such high lineup expectations from fans, hearts were bound to be broken. After all, high expectations are just newborn disappointments.
Now, it’s not like the 2013 Coachella lineup is a complete flop. Tegan and Sara, Franz Ferdinand, and the Postal Service are all great bands and all had a coveted place in my iPod in 2007. I love Hot Chip, and New Order and Lou Reed are classics. They got Moby to DJ, for crying out loud. If I had succeeded in getting past the “finding tickets” waiting page last Tuesday morning when tickets came out, I would be beyond excited. And there are plenty of people who are.
The folks pulling the strings for Coachella seem to sincerely understand the ubiquitous response received when you ask the average person what kind of music they like: “I like everything”. From Passion Pit to Social Distortion to 2 Chainz, you will get what you wish for… Unless you wish for country. They save that for another weekend.