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Why it wasn’t worth the hype, from a festival goer

  • I’m a music journalist and festival enthusiast who first attended Coachella in 2022.
  • All in all, I didn’t think it was worth flying across the country and paying thousands of dollars.
  • Although I loved the performances, many were marred by listless, chatty crowds.

This weekend I went to the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival for the first time, an event I was looking forward to attending since i was 15.

It’s the reputation that Coachella has cultivated over decades of celebrity endorsements, landmark performances, and its own kind of fashion — a reputation for excellence, yes, but more specifically, FOMO-inspired. Desert trekking in Indio, California is touted as something to be envied without a doubt.

But after experiencing it for myself, I think its iconic status is overdone.

I began my love affair with music festivals while in high school in Connecticut, starting with New Jersey’s emo-era staples Warped Tour and Bamboozle.

Now, as a Brooklyn-based music journalist, I’ve been to a variety of major festivals over the years, from New York’s Governors Ball to Chicago’s Lollapalooza and Dover, Delaware’s Firefly. I’m well used to the demands of these activities: long lines, expensive food, sticky weather, sore feet.

Even so, after sharing a collection of photos I took throughout this weekend revealing some of the downsides of Coachella that you don’t often see online, I received dozens of messages calling me bitter or delirious (or worse).

I understand the impulse because if you accept that an event wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies, it’s much harder to justify the money and time spent excitedly anticipating it. .

Coachella 2022

Coachella is a destination for influencers and Instagram enthusiasts.

Callie Ahgrim


As one fashion critic put it, “Coachella is the perfect example of how capitalism sells us the promise of unforgettable experiences, community and music, all under the guise of participating in capitalism. the vehicle, and the destination is ‘fun.'”

Of course, that’s not to say Coachella isn’t fun, or anything less than an expertly crafted event. I always felt safe, which is the most important thing, and very lucky to be there.

But Coachella just isn’t the extraordinary experience its oversized legacy and social media presence would have you believe.

While most of my gripes could be attributed to other festivals, the fact is that Coachella claims to be second to none – a divine pillar in a sea of ​​imitators. In reality, it’s a music festival like any other, equal parts fun and fatigue.

Sadly, even my happy moments – seeing some of my favorite artists perform, like Billie Eilish and Phoebe Bridgers – were marred slightly by circumstance. As my editor and attendee Courteney Larocca wrote, the surrounding audience can make or break your experience at a concert, and the majority of Coachella crowds failed the vibe test.

In terms of priorities, enjoying music was clearly secondary for many people we met. The elegant concept of “being at Coachella” was much more important.

billie eilish coachella 2022

Billie Eilish was Saturday’s headliner at Coachella.

Beth Saravo / Courtesy of Coachella


Coachella shines with the promise of bragging rights and palm-studded Instagram photos. People come from all over the world to attend.

I flew across the country and spent literally thousands of dollars on the trip – an expense that was subsidized by my company, and yet an expense that I still couldn’t justify again when there was has closer festivals which I have enjoyed just as much (if not more), especially when the queues across the country tend to have similarities.

More than anything else, Coachella seems designed to benefit VIP patrons, whether they’re influencers or fans with cash to spare.

There are restricted areas everywhere with luxurious lounges and fountains. Celebrities pose in private but rarely venture out into the wild (the festival provides golf carts to transport them backstage). Sponsored pool parties and after-hours haters take place all weekend and are closed to the general public.

For the typical floor-to-ceiling music lover with a general admission bracelet—hiding from the sun, trying to feed himself on a $13 hot dog—it can often feel like he’s suspended in amber, vaguely asking if you’re having a good time.

Follow Insider’s Coachella coverage here.

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