Has Coachella Gone Downhill? | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

Has Coachella Gone Downhill?

Madeleine Bourne suggests Coachella has strayed too far from its roots with the festival's 2017's lineup

It’s 1999. Promoter Goldenvoice announces plans to launch a new festival on a mere polo field in Indio, California. The two-day event is set to invite 35,000 people per day to roam the four stages, and thus Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is born. Now, cast your mind forward, not to the present day but to just a few months ago, back to late November 2016. A couple of months before the headliners begin to be tantalisingly released for all major festivals, the rumour mill goes into overdrive. 'I’m pretty sure Beyoncé, Kendrick Lamar and Radiohead will be headlining', everyone said. 'Wouldn’t that be, like, such a good line-up?', those who worship Queen B’s’ throne exclaimed. I now want you to flash-forward to the present day. The lineup for 2017’s Coachella has been released and the headliners are… oh, they actually are Beyoncé, Kendrick Lamar and Radiohead.

The majestic allure of the ‘big reveal’ that music festivals place upon acts is something that excites us.
California’s harsh sun’s rays have put a spotlight on some of the most contemporary, popular names in the music industry to date, and not even the shelter of a palm tree can deflect attention from that. The majestic allure of the ‘big reveal’ that music festivals place upon acts is something that excites us - the rumour-mill is there for contradicting. However, when we’re in fact proven right in our guessing game, it all just feels a little underwhelming to say the least. As much as those Beyoncé worshippers prayed for their queen to grace the stage, the fact that their premonition rang true makes their Lemonade taste just a little flat.

So first of all, the long-awaited, highly-anticipated announcement was slightly overrated. You cast your eyes over the poster, desperately squinting to read the names that are actually worthy but usually written in writing even 20/20 vision needs glasses for, and all your eyes seem to rest on are the headliners in bold, black font. You sigh and think, ‘Coachella has gone downhill’.

Why has Coachella gone downhill? For a festival whose mission statement was to bring the more underground, cutting-edge musicians to a mass audience, it’s obvious to even the least clued-up-on-music, dad-dancing, fifty-year-old father that Beyoncé is as good at cutting edges as he is at cutting shapes on the dance floor. Coachella started back in 1999 with the aim of bringing a diverse mix of talents to an eclectic showground that defies the norm; defies what’s in the charts and what’s on the radio. Last time I checked, Beyoncé wasn’t exactly struggling for a bit of dosh and a dose of media attention. The fact that Coachella is bringing out a lineup so far from what the festival professes to be about is testament enough to why so many are thinking California’s flagship music festival offering should now come with a warning on the poster, above Beyoncé’s headlining title, saying the word ‘overrated.’

Coachella was supposed to be a festival that defied the norm, but not this year.
Something else that has been at the core of Coachella’s style over the last few years, albeit not to everyone’s taste, is EDM. However, Coachella was supposed to be a festival that defied the norm, but not this year. We see the likes of subtler electronic music on the bill, such as Nicolas Jaar and Four Tet. Lorde is making a highly-anticipated return to the stage, but quite frankly, Coachella isn’t as excited about this as it should be, placing her below contemporary man-of-the-moment Kendrick Lamar. Throw in a bit of Hans Zimmer for a Lion King throwback, placed alongside DJ Khaled on the line-up, and you’ll see, shining glaringly obvious under California’s all-revealing sun, that Coachella’s attempts to still stake a claim as a festival that boasts an eclectic mix of talents are half-hearted at best.

English & Creative Writing student | Writer for Redbrick & The Tab | Host of The Request Show at BurnFM | Absolutely awful at writing remotely interesting bios (@maddiemae_xo)


28th January 2017 at 5:15 pm

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