For the first time in a decade, I opted out of Coachella this year. There were a bunch of reasons: maybe it was the weak lineup, maybe I'm going through concert fatigue (three shows a week for 10 years can do that), maybe (gasp!) I'm really just too old for the neon and the Native American appropriation that happens in the desert for six days each April.
If my husband weren't going I would've totally forgotten that the festival was happening this weekend. Still, in keeping with my propensity to hashtag everything instead of actually being in the moment, I figured I should check out Coachella's live streaming YouTube channel to see what I was missing out on.
As it turns out, #Couchella2014 was the best idea I've ever had. Let me break it down by listing the pros and cons of NOT going to Indio this year.
•CHEAP: Did you hear that tickets were going for $1,800++ this year? WTF. That's not even including 3 nights of $500-a-night hotel accommodations, food, supplies such as sunblock and hats, and transportation. Not only did I spend $0 watching the stream from my couch, I didn't even have to take any vacation days.
•EASY: The first day of the fest, I set it up Coachella's YouTube service -- which now consists of three channels -- at work. I opened three browsers for each of the channel and listened/watched the sweet sounds of Aloe Blacc, the generic GroupLove and snoozy ZZ Ward while finishing a presentation.
•PORTABLE: At 5 p.m., I shut down my computer and prepared to carpool home. I set up the channels on my Android, and prepared for a shitty on-and-off experience from a moving vehicle. Instead, what I got was TOTALLY unexpected: the reception was fantastic on my phone, and the sound was great. In an air-conditioned car, the concert experience felt ... tangible, more like we were there than anything else. My carpool mates and I discussed the parts of Coachella we hated -- annoying bros and girls who planned their outfits to watch the shows -- and were amazed by Goat's performance. T-Mobile is hosting the livestream, which may explain the FANTASTIC delivery -- not once did it buffer from my phone!
•WORKING-MOM and A.D.D. FRIENDLY: Once at home, my 3-year-old wanted to watch Frozen while I wanted to watch Haim, so I set up the stream on my iPad. There's a no-electronics rule at our dinner table, so I placed the iPad on a shelf within glancing distance and ate in peace. Did I lose any of Haim's searing intensity watching them that way? No. In fact, that brings me to my next point...
•BETTER ACCESS TO ARTISTS: I'm 5-foot-flat, so unless I had a photo pass at Coachella, I was relegated to watching the bands on the big screens adjacent to the stage. With #Couchella2014, I could see each and every one of Este's snarly bass faces up close, in HD. YES! Not only could I concentrate on the artists and what they were doing, I could also focus on the overall music better because the songs were all being streamed in such good quality. No leaking through of music from other stages, no annoying bros singing at the top of their lungs beside you.
•COMFORTABLE: At the real festival, I'd have to zip around from tent to tent to try to catch bands in 100 degree heat. My feet would hurt, I would get sunburnt, get beer spilled on me and have to squeeze in with 10 other people in a hotel room. At my #Couchella2014, I could play Plants Vs. Zombies, go in my own flushable bathroom, sleep in my king-sized bed, wear pajamas, eat dessert from my fridge and be in air-conditioned bliss the whole time. I didn't even have to stay up to watch Outkast -- I fell asleep when they showed the snoozefest that was Girltalk on the main stage. Not that it mattered -- I woke up at 8 a.m. and found Outkast's whole set already uploaded on YouTube. Watched it with my oatmeal this morning!
BUT, there is one major CON to Couchella...after the jump
•NO ART, NO POLO FIELD: Honestly, this is the only thing I really miss about Coachella now. (I kept texting my husband "What is that helix in the background?" "Where is the astronaut?") The large-scale installations are fantastic, and even the special items for sale in the Coachella boutique are not to be missed. Coachella used to be the only thing my friends and I talked about on Facebook ... now the only stories that get passed around are on "Coachella Drug and Band Pairings." No one even talks about the music anymore. And who needs bragging rights when you were at the original Pixies reunion in 2004?
So now I'm getting ready for Day 2 of #Couchella2014, which I can stream from my laptop, TV, iPad, or phone; from the bathroom, in my bedroom or with my kid on my lap. I can't wait.
So this is what happens when you eliminate all the inconveniences at Coachella. No more neon, no more feathers in your hair, no heat, no dehydration, no $10 beer = A way better musical experience. Thank you Internet!!!
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See also: Coachella 2014 Lineup Announced