Like PointFest did sometime in the early 2000’s, Coachella has become too big for itself and started to require more than one festival per year. The main festival (the real one, because I’m old and grumpy like that) happens in the summer, while the secondary one (the fake one, because the lineup isn’t nearly as good and come on, famous people hipsters) took place over the weekend. I have never been to either Coachella. First of all, California is a ridiculously long way to drive for maybe six or seven bands I really want to see. Second, it’s crazy expensive because it’s less about music and more about famous people wearing ridiculous clothes. Third, it’s in the Mojave. Do people like me belong in the Mojave? No. People like me like potatoes and shade and shows about science. We don’t like tripping balls in the desert because the Black Keys told us to.
But then there’s Tupac, because OH YEAH, COACHELLA GOT TUPAC.
So concerts are doing holograms now. Not just Disney Haunted Mansion-style holograms, either, I mean advanced, super-realistic, creepy/awesome as fuck holograms. I’m not even into Tupac and I find this legitimately impressive. I’m also enjoying how I imagine the crowd to have reacted, you know, considering that Coachella is already made entirely of cocaine and hallucinogens. Just please think about that for a second, about what it would feel like to be bombed out of your head on drugs at night in the desert and Tupac fucking rising from the stage. I just imagine a sea of terrifyingly blissed out eyeballs peeled way back, as well as some stoner moron who wanders out of his tent sometime the next day going “duuuuude, I can’t believe I missed it.”
I don’t so much worry about the future of music and live performances, as several mental midgets of the Internet have already started whining about. If paying to see a holographic projection gets some people excited, then fine. They can go do it. I have no more of a problem with them than I do with people who pay to see the Dave Matthews Band or ice skating extravaganzas. I mean, I wonder why they do things like that, but so far nobody’s forced me to come along, so I ultimately don’t care.
If I’m going to see live music, I’m going to see live music. I already prefer to see smaller shows by lesser known bands because it feels more like music and less like a production. This is not to say that I deny the powers of Springsteen or the Stones in person, or that I did not “SQUEEEEEEE!” for several consecutive seconds when I saw Stevie Nicks stroll onstage to play with Tom Petty. I experienced all of these things, and they were incredible. But when a squadron of Teamsters are dangling a hundred feet above my head in specially-designed chairs to manipulate lighting cues and I look at a projection screen more than I do at the actual stage, it’s just not as satisfying to me as seeing someone play for not a ton of money and trying to sell a little bit of merch to make the rest of the tour. Possibly this is just because Bruce never Courteney Cox-ed me by pulling me up onstage to dance, but I like what I like.
I much prefer seeing local live bands vs a big name performer. As much as I may love big name performers, I just hate the fact that you have to pay an arm and a leg to be close enough to see them in person rather than on a jumbo-tron. One of my favorite bands is a local band that has been around for over 15 years. They have the best shows. The music is great, the crowd is great and there is more of a personal connection with the fans. I just want to see a band play, I don’t need smoke and mirrors to enjoy the music.