Coachella Behind Instagram’s Lens

What does one of the biggest events of the year look like through Instagram’s lens?

 

PHOTO COURTESY / Youtube Coachella

Headliners Harry Styles, Billie Eilish and The Weeknd took center stage along with a variety of artists at Coachella from April 15 to April 24. The Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival has been held in Indio, California, for 20 years. Known for its fashion, art and music trends; thousands of celebrities, brands and influencers travel to the desert for the event. 

Tickets for the event can range anywhere from a general admission ticket for $449 to a VIP ticket exceeding over $1100, according to Goldenvoice, the organizer of the festival.

Styles headlined the first night and featured special guests Shania Twain and Lizzo. He danced around the stage in head to toe Gucci, and sang many hits including “Sign of the Times” and new single “As it Was.” 

Eilish took to the stage the second night and sang hits “NDA” and “Therefore I Am.” She also brought along guests Paramore singer Hayley Williams, Khalid and Carly Rae Jepsen.

The final night’s headliners were Swedish House Mafia and The Weeknd, who were announced weeks before the festival after original headliner Kanye West dropped out amid controversy. The House music trio sang hits such as “Don’t You Worry Child,” accompanied by fireworks and pyrotechnics. After their set, The Weeknd took the stage and accompanied the group before The Weeknd sang “Sacrifice” and “How Do I Make You Love Me” to finish off both weekends. 

The Weeknd headlined night 3 of Coachella
PHOTO COURTESY / YouTube golden

Other artists including Doja Cat, Phoebe Bridgers, Baby Keem and Big Sean performed at the festival.

Coachella provided a livestream on their YouTube channel to ensure those not in attendance can watch. Accompanied by the wide social media coverage, viewers at home get a glimpse of the actual festival. Is it better to watch at home or experience in person? On April 15, the Coachella livestream was scheduled to start at 4 p.m. PST/ 7 p.m. EST, but experienced a half-hour delay. The YouTube schedule was completely different than the advertised schedule. For home viewers who rely on YouTube for coverage, the miscommunication was problematic. 

Aside from the music, it also included food and art installations. The many vendors “ranged from chef-driven concepts to artisanal ice cream shops and crave worthy street food.” However, the food was very expensive, according to Insider. A slice of pizza sold for $11 and a grilled cheese was $14, not to mention the long wait times to actually get the food. 

Singer Doja Cat performed at the festival.
PHOTO COURTESY / Youtube Coachella

While Coachella looks fun through the lens of Instagram, it is riddled with controversy. From its role in the rise of cultural appropriation in festival fashion, intense celebrity drama and its comparison to the deadly 2021 Astroworld Festival which led to the death of ten people due to crowd control issues. Reports of unhelpful security and unmanageable crowds caused Coachella 2022 to be a “logistical nightmare.”

Billionaire Philip Anschultz, owner of the Coachella brand, has faced numerous allegations of donating to extreme conservative political and religious groups. He donated over $1 million to Colorado Christian University and the Sky Ranch Christian camping organization, “two organizations that made public statements against LGBTQ people,” among many others. 

Anschultz has also funded pro-gun and anti- LGBTQ+ political figures, along with anti-marijuana and anti-abortion causes. In response to growing pressure, he made a $1 million donation to the Elton John AIDS Foundation. 

With this in mind, does Coachella sound like the “perfect” festival? Amid the lengthy controversy, thousands of festival-goers flock to the Coachella Valley every year. Will there ever be a time where the festival becomes accessible to more people and not support shady causes?