In Defense of Coachella

Joe Hanson
Apr 14, 2015 · 3 min read

It may be trendy to hate, but I appreciate the festival for the pure spectacle and grandeur of it all


Getting away keeps us sane. It’s an escape from the mundane, our normal, rigid schedules, obligations, and 6 a.m.-10 p.m.’s. We find ways to withdraw from the norm whether we know it or not. It may be a mental withdrawl, an emotional withdrawl, or a physical withdrawl. It can be as simple as lying in a hammock with a book and allowing your imagination to take you to another world. Or going out for a really, really, really long run. Or watching a movie and eating an entire pint of Half Baked. It could even be getting half-baked.

In the aftermath of another Coachella, the yearly explosion of snobbery and haughtiness has been back in full force. We had our wonderful “journalists” from horrible websites mocking the attendees with poorly written blog posts and lists. We had our flood of Facebook statuses and tweets looking for cheap pops and likes. As with other mainstream successes, it’s become cool and trendy to hate Coachella.

But take off your blinders and walk with me for a minute in a Coachella-goers’ sandals.

For some, Coachella is about a weekend of freedom from our regular lives. It’s three days where we can take our minds off everything we dwell on day-to-day and unwind, accompanied by talented musicians and artists. Going to Coachella is no different than going on any other vacation. Substitute your Hawaiian lei with a flower headdress, your beach with a field of grass in the middle of the desert, and your ocean with big machines that blow a wonderful mist upon you.

For some, Coachella is about getting to be somebody else. It’s not “pretending” to be somebody else, it’s actually living the experience of being somebody else. Maybe you don’t want to completely reinvent yourself, but want to just dabble with a different identity. The festival can feel like an extended Halloween, a long Bay to Breakers. It’s the same as city-slickers and country folk alike heading to Stagecoach to pretend to be cowboys.

And for some, Coachella is about not giving a shit. It’s about fostering a community where all are accepted and none are judged. You can wear whatever you want, dance however you want, and enjoy whatever you want. And that’s a pretty cool experience to have.

“But Joe, I think it’s dumb that people spend money on outfits just for Coachella.”

People can spend money on whatever the hell they want. If buying an outfit for a festival adds to their overall experience, more power to them. If it makes them happy and makes the weekend that much more enjoyable, more power to them.

Angus Young rocking the schoolboy outfit like it’s 1979

And lastly, Coachella is a spectacle, and that’s why it’s one of the most popular music festivals on Earth. The Tupac hologram. Arcade Fire releasing those light-up balloon things. That giant spaceman. Daft Punk’s pyramid stage that looked like the ending scene of 2001: A Space Odyssey. AC/DC’s Angus Young, still rocking the schoolboy outfit like it’s 1979.

These are highly-planned, massively-scaled, and beautifully-executed feats of human spectacle. It’s why we love the Superbowl, Wrestlemania, the World’s Fair, Cirque du Soleil, and the Fourth of July. If you disagree with everything I’ve written so far, appreciate the festival at least for the pure spectacle and grandeur of it all.

As humans, we seek experiences outside our normal lives, and which experiences one chooses is entirely up to the individual. Instead of hating on your fellow man, try to empathize and truly understand that we’re all stuck on this little planet together.


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Follow Joe Hanson on Twitter @ToeJamson
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Joe Hanson

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