Music Festival Madness: The Origins of Coachella

palmtrees2Despite the fact that Coachella is the trendy “it” thing to do now, it’s actually been around for quite some time. The annual two-weekend, three-day music and arts festival held in Indio, California has been around since 1999. In October of that year, three months after Woodstock, the very first Coachella festival was held for one weekend and approximately 10,000 people attended the event. Headlining acts included Beck, The Chemical Brothers, Jurassic 5 and Rage Against the Machine. Camping wasn’t allowed until 2003, however, due to the fires and riots that occurred at Woodstock.

In 2001, the next Coachella (they skipped the festival in 2000 due to the financial troubles and lack of a headliner during the inaugural Coachella) was moved towards the end of April, due to the complaints about the lack of heat the previous year. Then in 2004, Coachella sold out for the first time, with over 50,000 tickets purchased for both days.

As the years passed, more and more well-known artists joined the lineup and big names such as Red Hot Chili Peppers, Kanye West, Paul Oakenfold and Damian Marley were sharing the stages. In 2010, Coachella’s organizers got rid of the single-day ticket sales and made it so that concertgoers could only purchase three-day tickets instead. The number of attendees also increased, with 75,000 people or more showing up per day that same year.

In 2012, the festival transitioned from being a one-weekend event to a two-weekend event, and tickets sold out within hours after they were available. For the upcoming 2014 Coachella festival, tickets sold out in a record three hours. Camping was introduced to Coachella in 2003 to provide another alternative for lodging, and now more than 17,000 people camp there every year.

Besides the music, Coachella is also dedicated to visual arts and includes installation art and sculptures. Many of the pieces that are on display are interactive, and there are also visual artists and performance troupes that entertain the crowds between the main stages.  Coachella has set the golden standard for other music festivals such as Lollapalooza, which have mimicked its format in terms of stages, attractions and art.

Coachella has turned into a lifestyle and mainstream trend these days, with fashion bloggers covering the event and featuring all of the bohemian-style outfits that people wear, and celebrities such as Vanessa Hudgens and Kate Hudson flock to the event as well. It has turned into a place to see others and be seen, and it seems to be only growing more popular as the years goes by, transforming into a cultural obsession and social phenomenon. And yes, I will be there as well, waving my hands in the air under the Sahara tent wearing my high-waist shorts, crop top and cross body bag with fake tribal tattoos – ‘cause that’s what we do at Coachella.

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