Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Fuck it, let's all go to Coachella

Blog piece for The Skinny, published in February.

I just passed a thirty yard queue of people outside a ticket shop in Edinburgh, waiting to buy tickets for T in the Park. They go on sale at 9am – that’s in 13 hours. There’s no doubt that, 14 hours from now, the £160 passes will be sold out, and thousands of frustrated music fans will be flooding internet forums and auction sites with desperate pleas and offers of cash for spares, mostly to no avail. [T in the Park tickets sold out in 1 hour].

Meanwhile, you now have to register your details in February to enter a lottery for Glastonbury tickets, months in advance of any line-up details, and are still more likely than not to be refused. The last few years has seen dozens of new, smaller festivals spring up to try to quench this almighty thirst UK audiences have developed for festival fun, and still people can’t get enough. What is this peculiarly British obsession all about? Every summer, more and more people are choosing to fly to sunnier climes for their fill of festival frolicking, with the likes of Benicassim and Sziget, the usual cross-seas destinations. Then there's Coachella, all the way towards the West coast of America – but, if you’ll excuse just a moment of self-referential soul-searching - isn’t it quite bizarre that a Scottish music rag like The Skinny should be previewing a festival 5000 miles away in California because some Scots might actually want to go?

It’s especially strange because there are millions of Californians who might otherwise be expected to be festival-types who won’t be going, despite the idyllic setting and quality line-up, and despite it being somewhat less than 5000 miles away for them. The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival might not even sell out its capacity of 65,000 tickets, but it boasts many advantages over the way we do things in the UK. For a start, it’s held in a flat green desert, so you’re virtually guaranteed the kind of glorious sunshine that’ll give you a whole-summer tan in ten minutes and a sizzling red charring in thirty. There won’t be any rain, or mud, or floods, or newly birthed rivers, such as Glastonbury-goers discover running through their tents every couple of years. Secondly, Coachella isn’t attended by rampaging rockets in tracksuits and tilted caps, swilling Buckie and pissing in other people’s tents; it’s attended by blonde bikini-clad beach babes, and dudes who can legitimately wear baseball caps because they’re cool. Third, it’s got a 2008 line-up that is chock-full of hot new things and established demi-legends to see. In the first category there’s Vampire Weekend, MGMT, Battles, Chromeo and The Field; in the latter, think of [Prince], Portishead, Kraftwerk, the Breeders, the Verve, and Roger Waters performing Dark Side of the Moon. Somewhere in the middle of that spectrum, you can certainly find room for M.I.A., the National, Animal Collective, Justice, Modeselektor, Hot Chip and Les Savy Fav. Who the hell is Dwight Yoakam? Let’s find out!

It’s only (ahem) £400 for return flights to Los Angeles, if you’re quick, and the festival itself costs around £160 for a three-day ticket and camping pass. Of course, as desirable as sunny weather, beautiful people and Kraftwerk live might be, you might think that’s not enough to justify nearly £600 spent per person before spending money. But then, when does a holiday ever make fiscal sense? I used to think, as a kid, that I’d always choose to spend my money on Super Nintendo games rather than holidays, because after a holiday you’ve spent hundreds of pounds and got nothing palpable at the end of it – whereas I could keep playing Mario Kart for ever! But we adults know that’s not what life is all about; it’s far more enriching to explore the world and seek memorable experiences than it is to achieve better high-scores on the TV in your bedroom. And as enjoyable as they are at the time, all your T in the Parks, Connects, Rock Nesses and Glastonburys will merge into one as you get older: but a festival like Coachella will likely be a once-in-a-lifetime trip for a Scot, and it will always be especially memorable in its own right.

Well, that’s our justification anyway. The Skinny will be there, on duty of course, dilligently working hard to keep you informed about the music world, while trying our best to justify flying half-way across the world cos we didn’t fancy queuing for a T ticket. Sometimes you’ve just got to say “fuck it".

No comments: