We've all talked ad nauseam about how music festivals have changed. We've reminisced (and bragged) about the good old days when FYF was at the L.A. Historic Park and before Coachella ever sold out. We've gushed about the days when the biggest bands in the world weren't headlining, but rather the up-and-coming artists who had a strong, yet intimate following.
But is the indie music festival really dead? Is the fact that people now swarm these festivals, many of them very young with their trendy "non trendy" outfits who want to see the bands that they hear "are cool," ruining it for those that should actually be considered "indie?" And is that even a proper category of people?
Yes, the lines at FYF were grueling on Saturday. Yes, they fixed many of these problems by Sunday, and yes many people didn't get to see the bands that they coughed up about $130 to see. Yes, FYF and Coachella have gone mainstream. They have lost their intimate, un-commercialized appeal. They have become populated with people screaming and running to see a band that they've never even heard a song from before. Yes, there are those people. But there are also some die-hard, true fans. There are also some people that genuinely enjoy these festivals for the music, not to be seen and show off on a "hip" Instagram filter or to sneak in drugs and brag to their college classmates next semester. There are people that come for the music and the community.
I'm the first to admit that I haven't been to Coachella or FYF (until last weekend) since 2010 and I like to talk about the good old days. Of course I can blast my favorite band at home or driving in my car, and I can even have a sing-a-long with friends and feel the magic of that song. But seeing a band live, one that you've listened to over and over for years, to see them perform, feel their presence, and share that with people equally stoked around you -- that is a feeling only music festivals can create. Even more so, the chance to stumble upon a band jamming out that you've never heard before, the ability to soak up and relish in that firsthand exposure can be the beginning of a long romance between you and that artist. Where else can you really fall in love with a new band? Because while Spotify suggestions are great, nothing can beat seeing and feeling and tasting a performance that is happening right in front of you.
The highlights of my years spent at Coachella and FYF come down to the performances I heard and the people I saw: my elementary, middle, high school, and college friends that I had the pleasure of running into. When you're from L.A. and you go to a festival here, you get to bump into these people. You get to reconnect, you get to share something, an experience together, and when that experience is a favorite band that you can dance and sing along with -- that bonding, that one moment when you're experiencing the same heart pounding, elating beauty together -- that's a once in a lifetime opportunity. There really is no other event that caters to that sensation.
Yes, people are going to rip these festivals to shreds. But the thing is that these festival goers will always come back. Yes, they might complain, but they also can't stay away; because no matter how mainstream, now matter how annoying the people, there will always be memories to be made. There will be teenagers in full '90s inspired outfits who are starting their own movement; who will be the only student in their biology class who stood in line for Johanna Gruesome. There will be people who fly across the country to be reunited with their high school friends and dance their hearts out to Phoenix and Mac Demarco and Flying Lotus. And there will be people like me who will complain about the "long lines" and "distance between the stages" in a Daily News article and realize that at the end of the day the indie music festival is not dead. It's not dead to the people that love them, and those are the ones that are going to keep coming back, the one's that will keep the music festival scene alive and well.
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