As one of the biggest festivals in the world embarks on its second weekend of live music, the question is, what has happened to the music?
Last weekend it was difficult not to stumble over an article covering Coachella, the annual live music and arts festival held in Indio, California. With headline acts including Guns ‘n’ Roses, Calvin Harris and LCD Soundsystem, the festival had coverage from hundreds of newspapers, magazines and blogs. The reportage, however, was a mixture of reviews of the performances, which so called ‘celebrities’ attended and, most importantly, what they were wearing.
Festival fashion is not a new thing, with high street stores annually guiding you what to wear to the biggest live music events of the summer. Bum bags, flower hair garlands, see through rain macs – we’ve seen them all, but shouldn’t the focus be on the music and not the fashion?
People were often quick to point out the lack of music coverage, with some top tweets suggesting that the festival was purely a fashion event. Radio 1 DJ Clara Amfo tweeted, “Click here to see our Top 10 flower crown, frayed shorts and crochet top looks now now now! #CoachellaFashyaaaaaawn”. And Alt-J drummer Thom Green’s tweet was short but sweet, “Urban Outfitters The Musical #Coachella”.
Twitter came into its own when the odd gem appeared in the form of a sarcastic and light humoured tweet pointing out the differences between British and American festivals. The pictures comparing sunny Coachella to muddy, rainy Glastonbury were priceless, with Brits often adding that American fans had not experienced a real festival until they had woken up to find their camping chairs floating on water and watched mosh-pits turn into 100-strong mud parties.
As one of the biggest festivals in America, why is there so little coverage of the music? The line-up consists of some big acts, so it’s not that the names aren’t drawing people in. It seems that the only time the music is mentioned is when a surprise guest is brought on stage, like Rihanna during Calvin Harris’ set. The only other major coverage of an act during Coachella was Sia’s performance on the main stage last Sunday.
Celebrity culture has become so big in America thanks to elite families such as the Kardashians and the Beckhams. This has now overshadowed the real reason Coachella is put on each year – for the music. It has become secondary to lifestyle and culture and if this continues, what will be the point in laying on music at a festival?
Americans need to take a note from the British and exchange their tassled cowboy boots for wellies and ditch their $200 manicures for mud under their nails, as that is what a real festival looks like.