April 14, 2023

With the buzz about Coachella starting in just a couple of days and showcasing some of your favorite music artists,  I wondered if people knew the origins of it.

Coachella is a music and arts festival that started October 9, 1993. It is held at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, California, in the Coachella Valley in the Colorado Desert. Coachella was co-founded by Paul Tollett and Rick Van Santen. It was organized by GoldenVoice, which was known for promoting hardcore punk shows in the 80s, but in 2001 Coachella was bought by AEG. 


The music festival’s uprising was mostly about anti-pop. It was about grunge, punk, and underground music that wasn’t mainstream. Coachella promoters tried to find what they deemed a “Coachella artist.” For example, music artists and bands who had a cult following but still had mass appeal, like The Cure, Radiohead, Beastie Boys, Bjork, etc. These certain artists rejected the conventional sound of music and created subcultures without catering to what record labels wanted. They refused to be labeled by one style of music. 


But then, slowly over the years, Coachella had become more commercialized and less anti-pop.


In 2012, Coachella started to reach its peak and this was the first year that the festival was held over two weekends instead of one. It was also the second year they decided to live stream the event. Instagram was exploding in popularity, EDM music was at its peak, and thus it became this influencer haven. The same year, Tupac appeared as a hologram during Dr. Dre and Snoop Dog’s headlining set, which was definitely internet-buzz-worthy. Kanye West also headlined the first hip hop set to close the festival, and his set was very memorable amongst the past years of Coachella.


But, Beyonce’s Homecoming performance in 2018 can be considered Coachella’s peak just by the numbers alone. People afterwards even started calling the event “Beychella.” By 2018 Coachella had become fully mainstream. Hip hop and pop music were officially not a bad word among the indie rock people anymore. 


But on the flip side, because of the rise of Tik Tok and how people can go from zero to a million followers, Coachella has kind of lost its value in music and has now become an event for influencer photo-ops. 


An associate professor of apparel and merchandising at Baylor University stated, “People realized cool people go to this event. And then, once people started realizing ‘ If I go to this event and I stand out, I can get my photo taken.’ So it’s become more performative because you’re going to dress in outlandish clothes in the hopes of being noticed, and in the hopes of being seen, and in the hopes of being photographed.” 


People look forward to seeing the fashion and clothes celebrities and influencers wear at this music festival more than the artists headlining it. Now, people are getting paid on Instagram just to look good to go to Coachella.


So do you agree that Coachella has became overrated? Or does it deserve the hype? Let me know in the comments!

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About the Contributor
Karsen Thompson is a Writing and Publishing senior at Lincoln Park. This is her 5th year attending LP and is the creator of What’s Poppin’ on the Siren! She loves music, fashion, movies, and all things pop culture!

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