Would you like a little Arcade Fire with your carpaccio di radicchio?
Pour yourself an overpriced half-spilt plastic beaker of tepid, watered-down beer and go to youtube.com/coachella, where the US version of Glastonbury and Electric Picnic is being streamed live all this weekend from Indio, California in something of a technological festival first.
Full sets, pre- and post-band interviews, behind-the-scenes nonsense and assorted audiovisual bells and whistles from one of the world’s great music festivals are all being put together by Jason Bentley, who hosts NPR’s Morning Becomes Eclectic, one of the world’s best radio shows. It’s the Full Virtual Monty for an event that has continually impressed as a progressive and innovative festival force.
It cuts both ways, though. On one hand, you can admire how Coachella was the first to get around the problem of rich socialites pricing real fans out. There are now actually two identical beanos over two consecutive weekends, so supply goes somewhere to meeting ticket demand.
Years ago, Coachella also put in place a popular “layaway” pricing plan, where you pay 20 per cent of the ticket price down, followed by six additional monthly payments.
Coachella has incrementally improved in terms of customer care and service. It helps, naturally, that the weather and Californian desert backdrop ensures that you’ll have a good time regardless of whichever corporate rockers are sulking their way through the headline slot.
But Coachella has also become the hipster nightmare from hell. From the “Get Cut for Coachella” 30-day gym programmes that precede the festival to the craft beer enclosure where they tell you – with a straight face – that the line-up of brews is as important to some people as the main stage line-up, Coachella is Portlandia in a field.
As Jezebel.com had it this week: “Coachella has become less about music and more about being seen, with celebrities, style-bloggers and a whole bunch of white girls with a crocheted crop tops and their parents’ AmExes flocking out west to California to do Molly and hide in the Pop Chips-sponsored VIP tent alongside the actresses from Pretty Little Liars as the Very Unimportant Persons outside get pelted by a sandstorm while attempting to listen to Outkast”.
The “high-end cocktails” and “Isaan-style food” at Coachella have gotten more coverage this week than the actual line-up. As has been noted: “Coachella places an excellent line-up of musicians in the middle of the desert and invites the world’s wealthiest twentysomethings to come and completely ignore them”.
The Coachella Festival in southern California