Reasonable, grown-up people are not supposed to like music festivals.
I want to go to Coachella.
So, I have a dilemma. I want to be one of those people who's above feeding the rampaging corporate festival monster. I also want to be one of those people camping out and partying for three days, getting a lot of music for my money. Then again, it's a lot of money. I don't have a lot of money.
I did Coachella in 2010, at the tail end of my senior year of college. It broke the bank, caused me to nearly fail a final exam and I lost several pounds from not really sleeping or eating. Four years later, only the weight loss sounds like an acceptable consequence. I'd pretty much settled with not returning to that kind of festival. South by Southwest might be exhausting, but at least I can do that for free. (Thanks, press badge and employers.)
Here I was, smugly declaring "I'm grown!" in the face of festival hype, until OutKast had to go an reunite.
I am very mad at Andre 3000 and Big Boi for choosing this venue for their perpetually rumored and denied comeback. Witnessing this is a privilege for people with a lot of disposable income and free time. A three-day Coachella pass costs $375, then there's a camping fee and travel expenses. As one-off reunions go, this is pretty standard, but no less sad for anyone who can't afford the pass, take off work and travel to the California desert. (It was just announced that they'll also headline New York City's Governor's Ball in June, which presents similar problems.)
And here's the kicker: If you do go, you might not get anywhere near the stage. The biggest problem with Coachella — or Bonnaroo or whatever — is that getting your fill/money's worth of music is exhausting and difficult.
In 2010, nearly every single person who bought a festival ticket showed up for Jay-Z's show. From where I stood, he was a speck in the distance, and I was in the middle of the crowd. Being up front means waiting through other acts you maybe don't care about, forgoing things you do like, just to worm your way up close.
Now I sound like a cranky old ex-hipster, so, let me admit that I'm still not above this festival madness. I keep telling myself I don't want to walk around half-dressed and intoxicated in the sun for three days, but I totally do. I'm utterly confused about Muse holding a headline spot, but damnit do I want to see OutKast and the spectacle of Arcade Fire, not to mention at least 30 other bands on the lineup.
I've got a couple months to acquire a trust fund and quit my job in the name of this nonsense. I'm embarrassed, but maybe I need five more years before I really grow out it. Sorry, I'm part of the problem and I'm too in love with OutKast to care.