Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

Coachella kicks up more than dust in the desert

Does the overall feeling of ‘meh’ about last weekend’s Coachella festival signal a turning of the tide when it comes to big outdoor events?

Fri, Apr 18, 2014, 09:53


Is this a festival backlash we see emerging from the Californian desert? Last weekend’s Coachella festival caused more moans and groans than an Alan Shatter speech in the Dáil. Some were even in place before the gates were open and the beautiful people began to arrive.

There were plenty of bum musical notes over the weekend, from OutKast’s underwhelming main stage appearance (bet there were some anxious European festival bookers after that) to the fact that Justin Bieber was allowed anywhere near a stage. Reviews and reports from the site were equally haughty and huffy about the audience, the VIPs and the general bro-ness of the whole thing. Perhaps the hacks had to pay for their tickets.

But where Coachella leads, others follow. The festival season is now in full swing and you wonder again just how can the damn thing continue to motor along without a care in the world.

We’ve probably said much the same thing every summer for the last decade but it bears reiterating that it’s nothing short of miraculous that so many events return summer in and summer out. There must be a lot of generous bank and credit union managers out there.

The main problem at the moment is the dull homogeneity of the big events. There is a paper-thin difference, if that, between the line-ups at the main festivals around Europe. Much of the add-ons are now copied and pasted from event to event. Gourmet food? A fun fair? A comedy tent? Readings and talks? We have them too along with the expensive ticket price.

Take it back a step or two and it’s a much different matter. Increasingly, it’s the smaller events which catch the eye and show signs of real artistic creativity and intrigue. Time will tell if this will change but, right now, it’s time to go small, not large.