Let me start this post by saying this; music is my first love and passion in life. For me, music connects on the deepest and most personal level. Nothing can ever compare to the way music makes me feel. However, as I've gone to Coachella over the years, I feel its become less and less about the music.
I attended Coachella for the first time in 2009, and have gone almost every year since. I've been there simply to enjoy the festival or I've worked it doing either production or catering. The first year I attended it was only 1 weekend and I bought single day tickets (yes, you could do that back then) to see Paul McCartney on Friday and The Killers on Saturday. I vividly remember sitting on on the grassy polo field, watching TV On The Radio as the sun was setting. The painted desert sky and picturesque palm trees as the backdrop, and thinking "this is what life is all about." But as the years have gone on, those moments seem to be few and far in between for me. Coachella nowadays seems to be more about what party you're going to attend or making sure your outfit is on point so you can get the best Instagram photo. Spending all day in the Sahara tent dancing to the same beat instead of checking out some new band you've never heard of.
Add those things to the blistering heat (this year wasn't too bad), the over priced everything, the crappy sound, the long lines, and it gets to be a bit overwhelming for me. I would much rather watch any of these bands in a 1,000 capacity room than in a field, outside in the heat, with 70,000 other people. It's a much more intimate experience for me and connects on a deeper level. Granted, I've worked in the music industry for a long time and at this point I've pretty much seen every band. So it's not like I'm looking to see a bunch of people in one place. The few highlights for me though were ACDC, Alabama Shakes, and Brand New. Its been years since I've seen Brand New and they blew me away.
What I love is the fact that so many of my friends end up in the desert for the annual gathering and we get to all run around together as kids. There's nothing like spending quality time with the people you love, even if there are 80,000 other people with you.
Coachella is certainly an experience. It's a well run festival and when the music and environment hit just right, it's unlike anything else. If you have never been to Coachella, by all means go at least once. It's certainly worth checking out. As for me, this will most likely be my final year. And please, if you are going to drink/do drugs, be responsible about it. I saw too many people overheated and lost out there. Take care of each other and communicate, it makes a better experience for everyone.