Public Service Announcement: this weekend, your Instagram feeds and Snapchat stories are going to be full of people in denim cutoffs and crocheted dresses, casually having the time of their glossy young lives. Which can only mean one thing. It’s Coachella time.
What is Coachella?
Official Title: Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival
Unofficial title: Where All the Famous People Go in April to Look Like Bohemian Dreamboats
Basically, it’s a music and arts festival that takes place at the Empire Polo in a pretty deserted part of California – home of all the cool. Think Glastonbury, but warm. Plus, it’s *vaguely* near LA, which means that each year loads of celebrities end up making the pilgrimage to the three-day festival.
The allure of seeing celebrities in their natural habitat is a huge draw card for the festival. After all where else can you see Taylor Swift in a moshpit or Rihanna on her security guard’s shoulders? Where else can you queue behind Shay Mitchell for the loo or have Kylie Jenner spill her drink on your shoes?
Last year alone Rihanna, Leonardo DiCaprio, Ke$ha, Bella Hadid, Brooklyn Beckham made an appearance. As did the Jenners…
…most of the Liars…
And a depleted version of T Swift’s #squad.
The combo of celebrities on performing on stage *and* celebrities in the crowd essentially turns the festival is a next level celebrity safari experience.
Give me the basics
Straight up, can we just say the website is weird? Why you advertise a music festival with wind turbines and a cargo train is beyond us. No one in the history of the world has ever looked at a wind turbine and thought “I’m going to have the time of my life”. But anyway.
There are two, three-day-long festivals with identical line-ups over two consecutive weekends. This year Lady Gaga, Lorde, Two Door Cinema Club and Radiohead are just some of the acts that will be performing. Tickets will set you back a cool $399 (£320) and that’s before you work out where you’re staying. If you want to go full-on glamping with fancy tents and VIP treatment, you’re looking at $5,200 (£4175) for four people.
But despite releasing about 198,000 tickets each year, they tend to sell out within the first 20 minutes – so it basically comes down to how fast you can click ‘Refresh’. Or how famous your parents are.
Um, why is there a huge music festival in a dessert?
Great question. It all started because 90s grunge band Pearl Jam was boycotting venues controlled by Ticketmaster, and booked a gig at the venue, literally in the middle of nowhere, where Coachella is now held. The gig was a massive success, proving that people will go enormously out of their way for music they really care about and also that people are insane.
One of the founders commented: “We wanted it to be far. So you surrender. So you can’t leave your house and see a couple bands and be back home that night. We want you to go out there, get tired, and curse the show by Sunday afternoon.”
It’s a strange tactic – but hey, it worked.
Tell me more about the music
Almost every major artist has played at Coachella at some time or other; from Radiohead to Coldplay to the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Daft Punk and Madonna. Tupac’s *hologram* even played at Coachella. This year Beyoncé was meant to be headlining, but her doc advised against it since she’s growing two new humans and all. Ok fair enough.
Coachella makes a point of having headliners that are ever-so-slightly out of mainstream, which helps the counter-culture vibe that it’s spent years cultivating. This sort of hippy, barefoot sunflower baby vibe. Obviously Beyoncé is an exception to this rule, but then again Beyoncé is an exception to every rule.
Ok now tell us about the fashion
People might go to Coachella for the music, but they Instagram it for the outfits. You know the what I’m talking about: denim cut-offs, long flowing bohemian dresses, flower crowns, crocheted crop tops, anything with daisies on it. Of course, these are now considered the unofficial uniform of any festival, but Coachella did them first.
The festival goers have also been culturally appropriating outfits for years – especially from Native American culture, with feathered headdresses and tasselled outfits, which has caused a fair amount of controversy. Not cool, guys.
But dodgy choices aside, Coachella has expanded from a musical festival to a 198000-person strong catwalk. It’s the reason that Snapchat has a flower crown filter, it’s the reason that you can literally search Coachella into Forever21 and watch fringed outfits appear before your very eyes, and it’s the reason you’re shivering wearing denim cutoffs at V festival – because this uniform was designed for sunny California. Drizzly England be damned.
For the last few years, Coachella has been *the* place to be seen and come this weekend, everyone there will take to Instagram to prove it.