NOchella

NOchella

Photo Credits: CAITLYN SAMPLEY / AGGIE

Go to any other music festival that’s not Coachella

Excitement for Coachella seems to be divided in 2019. In the 20 years of its busy life, Coachella has undergone some changes that have proven to be not so great. Rising costs and a CEO with questionable intentions have something to do with it, but so does climate change and the inevitable battle festival-goers will face in the extreme weather of the California desert.

Home to some of the most iconic musical acts of the twenty-first century, Coachella has become one of the most famous music festivals in the world, yet most attendees don’t spend copious amounts of money on a wristband just for the music. The art shows and crowds of people add to the mass appeal of the desert gathering, turning it into the year’s biggest can’t-miss party.

For those that have already purchased their tickets, be sure to consult the endless libraries of vlogs on Youtube by former festival-goers stressing the importance of getting those Instagram posts in before the sun takes center stage and melts those carefully positioned face gems. But if you’re still on the hunt for those sold-out tickets, there is hope yet — at other music festivals.

To be a part of Coachella is to be one of the same breed: a young and inclusive crowd of modern-day hippies. Lose the hedonistic social media tendencies, and this crowd can be referred to as authentic hippies. Despite the inclusivity of the crowds every year, the same cannot be said for Philip Anschutz, the owner of The Anschutz Entertainment Group (which owns the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival). The billionaire has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to pro-gun, pro-life and anti-gay organizations and individuals.

And the list is long to entertain, for Anschutz’s donations have been taking place since pre-2015. But the most recent donations include $30,000 to the Family Research Council and $110,000 to the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which fights against LGBT equality in court. Plus, he has made smaller contributions to Senator Cory Gardner, who is pro-gun, and Congressman Scott Tipton, who opposes same-sex marriage and abortions.

It’s Anschutz’s own prerogative to donate to whomever he desires, but with the crowd he entertains at Coachella both on stage and off, one would image a different approach. Anschutz did make an attempt to clear his name with a million dollar donation to the Elton John AIDS Foundation LGBT fund. Anschutz said at the time of his donation, “My gift to the Elton John Foundation is intended to emphasize that we support freedom of all people to live their lives peacefully, without interference from others.”

Despite Anschutz’s monetary repentance of all binary dispositions, his wallet has still been opening up for GOP state party organizations. Rather than cashing out donations to politicians who are more open about their bigotry — such as Paul Ryan and Orrin Hatch (both of whom received substantial donations from Anschutz, though they returned it after no longer seeking re-elections) — Anschutz is now focused on the National Republican Senatorial Committee, to whom he has made a $134,400 donation.

It’s donations like these that have musicians and music-lovers alike taking up the call sign #NOchella. But what are the options for those who need music festivals in their lives?

Since the middle-of-the-desert theme seems to be so popular, take Desert Daze, for example, a three-day music festival set in Joshua Tree, Calif. during the month of October. In 2018, Tame Impala (who is headlining Coachella 2019) was the main act at Desert Daze, performing a psychedelic set next to a waterfront area that allowed the attendees to swim while jamming out to Kevin Parker’s angelic vocals. Although their set was cut short due to an unexpected rainstorm, it was a memorable fourteen minutes nonetheless.

And what about Outside Lands? Another three-day festival that has hosted a near similar lineup to that of Coachella in its most recent years — Gorillaz, Kanye West, Elton John. Taking place in a chilly-summer setting in San Francisco, there are a number of stages that host musicians, artists and even political discussion (last year the Barberry Stage hosted a Q&A with then-Gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom). The entertainment runs plenty, and so does the food and drink, all at a fraction of the cost of Coachella.

There is also Snowglobe in Lake Tahoe during the winter months, which features more of an electro and rap feel for their venue. Bottlerock in Napa Valley occurs during the month of May and is a three-day festival that offers more performers than wine selections. Last year, names like Billy Idol, Bruno Mars and Earth, Wind & Fire headlined.

Another notable mention is Lightning in a Bottle, which is a five-day festival in the San Antonio desert during the month of May. The music stays in the realms of electro, but the art structures and the overall aesthetic of the festival look like an extra trippy version of Coachella — a real psychedelic dreamscape.

Sure, Coachella is the one and only; the music festival has entertaining acts that have secured their place in history. From Prince taking the stage and performing Radiohead songs, to Rogers Waters from Pink Floyd performing all those classic existential hits, to Snoop Dogg standing side-by-side with a Tupac hologram, these performances would not have been possible without the outdoor stages of Coachella.

But iconic as these performances may be, is it worth the steep $500 ticket plus the cost of all the accompanied expenses, including travel, lodging and parking, to attend such a weekend in the desert? Possibly not. Consider this: Childish Gambino (one of the headliners of this year’s Coachella) recently performed at the Oracle arena in Oakland and tickets went on sale for under $100. At this Oracle show, Bam-B was unveiled by two other big name rap groups and then proceeded to perform with the original recording ensemble that produced “Awaken, My Love.” The show was out of this world. The tickets were cheap and the water was not $9 a bottle.

One way or another, in attending any big name concert there’s a possibility of inadvertently funding elitists who contradict the political morale of the future. However, the owner of Coachella unequivocally wears his morality on his sleeve, which is but another factor to consider before cashing out a lump sum of money to attend the famed festival. Ultimately, Coachella funnels its profits from the hands of its attendees to the pockets of those who work to advocate a detrimental and hypocritical political agenda.

Written by: Clay Allen Rogers — arts@theaggie.org