Is Five Coachellas Too Many Coachellas?

09/12/2012 1:03 PM |


We have a few more clues today into the shape of the future expansion of Coachella, the big-and-getting-bigger music fest that both starts and sets the tone for the ever-expanding summer music festival season. Yesterday, the Los Angeles Times sifted through a stack of municipal documents, released by the city of Indio, California, which may telegraph the swelling form of Coachella through the next couple of decades. And as it just so happens, festival promoter Goldenvoice’s did not file permit requests to “just chill out for a while.”

Beyond expanding capacity for the multiple weekend fests upward to 99,000 per, and cementing that the related Stagecoach country festival will stay put in Indio until 2030 (there was talk that they might split), the documents seek permission to put on 5 festivals a year, in addition to other brand expansions like the equally mocked and desired S.S. Coachella boat cruises happening this December. So, is this a good thing?

It is more music for more (affluent) fans. More money for the music industry in general, in a time when big-ticket festivals have proven to be one of few reliable revenue streams? But are we losing the feeling of specialness? When there’s a festival every weekend, will any of them actually be memorable? Does a one-in-a-lifetime weekend feel cheaper when its lineup is Xeroxed exactly onto the following week? The meaning of the term “special event” can only be diluted, right? How long until regular touring concert gigs start getting sparser, sucked up into the continual travelling circus? Will small-town basement shows start going the way of indie record stores, with the Coachellas of the world becoming the metaphorical Virgin Megastores? I DON’t KNOW. But, we are going to have lots of time to think about it, because the trend isn’t going anywhere.

This planned expansion is dampened by the news that Digital Domain, the makers of this year’s creepy, undead Tupac hologram is filing for bankruptcy. You mean they’re going to have to fill 5 full festivals and two cruises with not-long-dead, still corporeal performers? Why even bother?