Living in a Music Festival — Together

I’ve found that festivals are a relatively painless way to meet people and make a few points that need making, without having to hit them over the head with too many speeches.
Pete Seeger (1919 – January 27, 2014 at 94!) American folk singer and activist.


Imagine the Les Schwab Amphitheater, tripling the audience to about 25,000 and then taking the stage, the space and the audience and quadrupling it and you might have something close to the size of Coachella…. the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, an annual two-weekend, three-day music and arts festival held at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, California, near Palm Springs.

The event attracts about 90,000 people from all over the world and features many genres of music including rock, indie, hip hop, heavy metal, blues and electronic dance music as well as a spectacular light show, art installations and untamed sculptures. Across the grounds, six different stages continuously host live music. (It’s nothing really, in 1969 Woodstock drew nearly 500,000. The world’s largest festival is the three-day Donauinselfest in Vienna, Austria with 3 million spectators.)

Everyone gears up for Coachella with their own version of festival fashion though most of it is skimpy, cropped and flashy.  The well-clad hipsters rush from stage to stage like a sea of ants spreading across the hot desert to the music of their choice. You can’t possibly see or hear it all (with nearly 200 bands), the technical schedule is tedious, tight and never tentative.

The festival is the Ritz of Burning Man…lots of celebrities, sunshine, VIP perks, fabulous cuisine…and music, it’s suppose to be about the music. But in case you haven’t heard bands like Neutral Milk Hotel, Title Fight, Flatbush Zombies or Duck Sauce you won’t be disappointed because the people watching is mesmerizing.

However, the main focus of the festival offers what even the musically challenged would love such as The Replacements (revitalized), Beck, Broken Bells, Dum Dum Girls, Pharrell Williams (with guest stars JayZ and Usher) and surprise: Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Fishbone and Trombone Shorty & Orleans Venue. It does not matter where you are in the huge Polo grounds you can hear music, usually more than one band at a time.

There are no chairs or bleachers on the grounds, everyone sits on the grass; blankets are not allowed. In the VIP area you might be able to find a step to sit on and inside the VIP tent there are a few couches, coveted by worn out festival goers who walk miles and miles to get to the festival and then strut back and forth to the various venues.

The other portion of the festival is dedicated to interactive art, the Ferris Wheel and food and beverages (the food is healthy, delicious cuisine and the bars plentiful). Most of the art pieces are interactive, providing a visual treat to the attendees walking around the venue that is security tight.

My first trip to Coachella was enhanced by participating in yet another art adventure with some courageous girlfriends who not once complained, looked like rock stars, danced like 19 year olds and bravely went where our kids wished they could go!



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