With their themed clothing lines and eclectic atmosphere, summer music festivals such as “Coachella” and “Bottlerock” seem to take over the internet starting in spring. Music festivals have been around since the 1960s, but in the past few years, they have gained a tremendous amount of traction, partially due to their widespread media coverage.
Typically, these festivals set up multiple stages around a large open area and have multiple performers go on at once, until the headliner, or main act, performs at the end of the day. Most of these are multi-day festivals, but there are some one-day events like “IDI0T”, a new festival being held this June at the Shoreline Amphitheatre.
The appeal of these festivals is different for everybody. Sophomore Kai Shelton attended “Coachella” 2017 Weekend 1 in April. He says, “For most people, I think it’s the atmosphere, [because] everyone wants to be in that situation where they see the beauty of ‘Coachella’ … and the whole hype of the music and happiness that’s there.”
Festivals are usually held in more secluded locations, such as the Coachella Valley or Golden Gate Park, providing a isolated and singular experience to those that decide to be whisked away to a serene atmosphere for the weekend.
“Outside Lands” attendee and junior Katie King reflects on her experience, “It’s very relaxing to meet, spend time with and be surrounded by people and to forget about your worries.”
While “Outside Lands” was a pre-school stress reliever for King, “Coachella” was Shelton’s weekend break from reality: “It was kind of like my escape. I felt like I was so stressed out about school and I took a one-weekend break to go party and just hang out until 3 a.m. everyday at ‘Coachella’, and then I came back and went right back to school.”
This opportunity for release and relaxation is part of what makes festivals so widely popular, especially among high school and college students.
Music is, of course, at the core of every festival and the essential element its vibe. While there are festivals such as “Van’s Warped Tour” or “Bottlerock” that are centered around rock and punk vibes, the set lists for most well-known festivals are comprised of music from pop and alternative bands, like J. Cole and Radiohead.
A fan of chill R&B, junior Julianne Millare describes her favorite moment at J. Cole’s concert, “When you’re there in the middle of someone performing and everyone is totally vibing and you look around and everyone is singing to the words to the song and people are on each other’s backs and just everyone is coming together and listening to the music.”
Shelton found the fashion of “Coachella” be one of the best aspects of the festival. He explains, “I myself wore a tank top, bandana, shorts and nice shoes but there were also beautiful ladies that wore their flower headbands and long skirts, and it was just really beautiful to see everyone in different styles.” Many clothing brands targeted at teenagers launch spring collections titled “Festival Fashion” in order to attract festival goers to their work.
This fashion aspect has also led to an increase in social media coverage and celebrity appearances at these festivals. “Coachella” is especially known for its celebrity appeal partially because of the physical proximity to Los Angeles and partially because it is seen as the most popular festival to attend.
One downside of festivals is often the cost, seeing as the three day tickets typically run around $450, food and parking permits are often expensive, and if it’s an away concert, hotel costs are also steep. Millare justifies the cost of going one day to ‘Outside Lands’ by saying, “It was my first festival, and yeah it was expensive, but I thought it was worth it because I got to see the artists and I got to see the music live, which I think is the best way to listen to music.”
Another generally disagreeable aspect is the substance abuse at festivals, since partying with anything from alcohol to hard drugs is common at these events. Shelton remembers, “I did see substance abuse but I tried to distance myself from those overusing substances and I still had a great time.”
Although the widespread media coverage and hype of festivals is omnipresent during the spring and summer, thanks to the cost, the actual level of feasibility of going to these festivals for those in high school is relatively low. Still, going to a festival is a common stepping stone for teenagers, so as Shelton puts it, “Hope to see you at ‘Coachella’ 2018!”