NOchella: Why Do Music Festivals Evoke a Social Media Backlash?

Hashtag #THISSHITISEXPENSIVE

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Apr 17 2015, 5:00pm

Here in Los Angeles, hating on Coachella is as popular as the event itself; at this very moment, there are 20,000+ Instagram posts with the hashtag #NOchella and I'd wager a guess that a similar contingent exists in Austin around SXSW, in Miami during Ultra and wherever the hell they have Burning Man. I'm the first to admit that I'm totally guilty of this festival hating; Coachella Culture bugs the shit out of me. I don't even like the way people pronounce the word "Coachella." Ugh. However, I've been evolving and lately wondering what really lies at the root of all this naysaying? I'd say it's time for some highly scientific research.

*pulls adding machine out of drawer*

*crunches some numbers*

I've narrowed music festival hatred down to three major beefs:

1. The Music

What percentage of this year's Coachella attendees could name one AC/DC song? OK, bad example because seriously WTF with that booking? Regardless, it would appear that a vast number of festival goers are more on a party tip with the music itself taking a backseat and that rubs a lot of people the wrong way. Particularly with artists who rarely perform or pull out some special shit like holograms and lapdances.

When Outkast played last year, social media was ablaze with banal livetweeted criticism that the group possibly sounded a little rusty and played some lesser known songs in addition to "So Fresh, So Clean" and "Ms. Jackson." The rest of us screamed at our Twitter feeds: "Are you fucking kidding me with this?! Outkast is a national treasure! I'd sell both ovaries just to watch them play 'Chopsticks' on a Casio!" Or maybe that was just me.

Of course, tons of folks do go specifically to see artists they love but the number of Instagram pics and Facebook posts featuring Palm Springs pools and girls wearing bindis making heart shapes with their hands (that's the 21st century peace sign, apparently) do seem to eclipse those of genuinely epic musical moments.

2. The Shitty Fashion


Photo via Novum Crafts,

Fashionwise, Native American motifs reign supreme at Coachella, even if there are fewer headdresses now than before. You can rent an actual teepee for chrissake. Within the crowd there is a sprinkling of quasi-Central and South American flair, the aforementioned Indian bindis on non-South Asian faces and a fairly significant faux Gypsy delegation this year reflected an expanded repertoire of cross-cultural adoption. It's gross. but American culture is and always has been one giant glut of cultural appropriation. It's pretty much who we are—that whole melting pot thing. I'm not saying it's cool for some drunk bro-dog to walk around in an knockoff Sioux headdress but if you're gonna crucify him for that, put down that taco you're eating and cancel this afternoon's yoga class while you're at it.

The more egregious Coachella fashion choices have been highlighted here recently, but what is it about festivals that makes people feel like they can dress like wild animals? Does your mother know you're wearing that? I didn't think so.

3. The Money

Music festivals are basically pop-up corporations at this point; clothing brands, tech companies, car makers, cell phone providers and virtually anyone with something to hawk adhere themselves to the event, further burying the music under a capitalist orgy. Coachella in particular seems to be the ultimate display of wealth and privilege, made ironic by the accompanying hippie garb. Even doing it on the cheap is insanely pricy. Here's a quick breakdown:

General Admission Pass: $375

Tent Campsite Rental: $85

Gas: $100

Drugs: $100

Free Spirit romper: $150

Sparkly headband thing: $60

Food: $0 (see: Drugs)

*gets adding machine back out*

That's almost $900 for a bare bones experience. That's not even factoring in the $750 VIP Pass option, Safari Tent rental for $7000 or the four-course Rose Garden dinner for $225! Can you blame the have-nots for getting a little salty about being inundated via social and regular media by this level of conspicuously indulgent spending?

It's true, smack about Coachella is starting to seem a lot like one of those elitist contrarian things like hipster fucks who brag about not having a TV. While there's no way to explain how annoying it is to scroll through endless photos of girls being all whimsical in their daisy crowns and boho outfits, wasted on molly and dancing to a hip-hop group they've never heard of. What's wrong with a bunch of people gathering together and partying their faces off? This year in particular, electronic music is everywhere and it's a good look, regardless of whether or not Kylie Jenner knows who Bonobo is (she doesn't).

Alright, good talk guys, but I gotta get back to crying in the shower. Still can't unsee that Madonna kiss.

Malina Bickford is mocking your poor and music choices in Los Angeles and on Twitter.

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