Music festivals used to be a place for people to gather to listen to their favorite bands, make some love in the mud and maybe get stabbed to death by the Hells Angels, but sadly, those wholesome days are over. These days, festivals (and their attendees) are less focused on enjoying music in a communal space and more interested in advertising, fashion, MDMA and giving entitled shitheads an opportunity to do what they do best: act entitled and shitty.
Nowhere is this more evident than at Coachella, the two-weekend festival that kicks off its 15th year next Friday. Like Burning Man without the camaraderie and Lollapalooza without the genuine appreciation for music, Coachella places an excellent lineup of musicians in the middle of the desert and invites the world's wealthiest 20-somethings to come out and enjoy them — not that that's what they do.
Over the years, 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 Indio, California to do Molly and hide in the Pop Chips-sponsored V.I.P. 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.
Attend with the right group of people and sure, the festival could be a lot of fun. And like I said before, this year's lineup has a lot to offer. But I think we should also own up to the fact that Coachella has become (or always has been) as much about the scene as it is about the bands. It has a particular culture — one of white kids in Native American headdresses, neon face paint and fringed short-shorts — that's particularly deserving of mockery.
It's getting worse, too. Today, several websites have reported on the Coachella Diet, a new "health" trend that sees young women rushing to get in shape in time for next weekend's festival. And no, the Coachella Diet isn't just subsisting on cocaine and juice cleanses until you're small enough to be mistaken for Vanessa Hudgens.
From Well + Good:
Kirsten Potenza and Cristina Peerenboom, the creators behind the Pound Rockout Workout (where drumsticks stand in for weights), who've both attended the festival, say that their clients "definitely" intensify their fitness regimens for Coachella and that many of their students begin to make healthy recipe swaps as it approaches.
This year, they introduced "Cut by Coachella," a 30-day competition that includes a workout calendar and prizes for participants. But Peerenboom says they're careful to not "focus overtly on weight loss," and Potenza characterizes their program as being centered on the "effort and exhilaration of each workout" rather than a "body-centric weigh-in mentality."
The article also features a quote from a 22-year-old Coachella attendee who, next weekend, will be attending the festival for the seventh time.
"There's more competition style-wise now. The number of Coachella virgins increases every year, and, if anything, they're really into the image aspect."
"Cut by Coachella"? "Coachella virgins"? Oh, god. Coachella is an actual hellscape, isn't it? (Assuming, of course, that hell is filled with frat bros in tank tops who carry girls with floppy hats around on their shoulders...which it probably is.)
To those of you who think that A.) Coachella is fun and/or B.) I'm just a hater, you're absolutely right. But the scary thing? I used to be like you! I used to go to music festivals and pay $8 for a can of beer and paint Adam Ant stripes across my face, but something changed. I got older and wiser. Also, the last festival I went to ended with me soaked in a stranger's blood (true story!) and, unsurprisingly, that can really really sour an experience for a person. My time came and so will yours — either that or you'll turn into one of those festival hippies who devotes their lives to mastering devil sticks while wearing a belly dancing costumes. For your sake, I hope your future is the latter. Those people always seem very happy.
Image via Getty.