The Evolution of Coachella

The Evolution of Coachella

The month of April has taken on a new meaning in recent years. It has become festival season—mobs of Gen Z flock to the desert for musical festivals such as Coachella and Stagecoach. In 1999, when the first Coachella took place, diverse groups traveled to Coachella Valley to experience a broad variety of artists and bands. Now, Coachella and Stagecoach are often referred to as “the influencer Olympics,” and the focus is now on one’s outfit and Instagram feed, rather than experiencing the music. 

Martin Hennessy is a Coachella alumnus; he has religiously attended since the first show in 1999. Over the years, he has noticed significant changes in the festival, pointing to that when Coachella first began, “it was really an opportunity to get bands together that didn’t do big tours… music enthusiasts could see a bunch of bands that normally would be very difficult to see.” The people who were at Coachella the first few years were the true music enthusiasts who would come solely for the purpose of seeing as many bands of possible. Martin notices that “as the more popular Coachella became, the more pressure there was on the promoter to start pulling in more mainstream acts. I think that’s the most major shift at Coachella from when it first started to now; there seems to be a lot more emphasis on getting pop artists”. 

In recent years, Hennessy has observed how Coachella “has turned into more of a fashion show…it’s really a lot of work, so if you were there all day, people dressed more comfortably”. Jude Lifeset, an LBHS sophomore, attended her first Coachella this year and has her own remarks on the fashion aspects: “I think Coachella is a way for people to express their style without feeling ashamed of it. There were a lot of unique styles, so there was not really one trend. Yet, throughout, there were thousands of people constantly taking photos in front of the art exhibits throughout the whole night”. Shifting from the music towards the social media aspect in recent years, people come to see the headliners, take a quick pic (or thousands), and leave.  

One thing both Jude and Martin can agree on is how Coachella brings attention to newer and less well-known bands. Jude states that she thinks “artists like Suki Waterhouse gained a lot of attraction because people walk by, hear her, like it, and come listen” Despite the increased focus on the headliners, smaller artists have been able to spread their music and passion through Coachella. Martin makes a similar statement saying that “the wide variety of music really gives people the opportunity to experience music that they might not have ever listened to and I think that is the real magic of Coachella”. The ability of the festival to bring all these different kinds of music and people together is what makes it a great experience. 

Over the last 24 years, Coachella has had some significant changes. Whether it’s the new art installations, the increased focus on fashion, or its growing popularity, Coachella is a great place for everyone to unite and bond over their shared love for music.

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Kate Hennessy
Kate Hennessy, Features Editor

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