Memoirs of a Couch Festie
I was rather impressed with the live feed of Coachella this past weekend and, as a person who is part of the strange YouTube community of people who like to watch other people’s videos of concerts (and who uploads their own), I found it almost revelatory watching these acts bringing the stage into my home in a visual form that was as good as a music video. Sure, the stages were amazing and the production quality was top notch but it the quality of the footage that really made it feel like you always had the best seat in the house. That combined with the fact that there were three channels, all offering different acts (if not an interview for a minute or three) that you could flip between made it just too easy and it begs the question to be asked: will we ever prefer to watch concerts at home?
Now, I should start off by stating my bias because I couldn’t be more against such a pussy-ass concept. I believe everything is better in person, authentically absorbed, felt in your balls (vagina), to the most visceral nature because that is the true experience to me, and I think it always will be. The thing is, this was fucking awesome as an alternative, to say the least. I was only able to watch on Sunday but I started off in the mid -afternoon with a Run the Jewel set, followed by Beabadoobee, followed by Orville Peck, followed by Fred Again.., followed by Finneas, finally finishing with Vince Staples. This sounds fairly nominal but to me it felt like I’d had somewhat of a festival experience. I’d gotten to see some people I’d been hoping to see, Beabadoobee and Finneas, had some unexpected discoveries, Fred Again.. and Orville Peck and some old standards, Run the Jewel and Vince Staples and it really felt like a lazy version of going to a festival.
Now, we may very well have people in the future that prefer this lazier experience but I think with that you take away much of what is great about the experience because going to a festival is so much more than the sets that you see. It’s similar to the difference of the immersive experience you get going to a camping festival and why it almost always outweighs that of one where you can stay in hotel and while you may avoid shitting in a port-a-potty, you loose so much of the comradery, but that’s not what this argument is about. It’s about the fact that seeing something live and being in the crowd can never be out done, it’s the most intimate experience and the people you are with is what makes it even more special. Case in point, I loved ODESZA for a solid year or two. Now, nothing against ODESZA but it is a little out of my usual spectrum for preferred genres. The reason I loved them was because we saw them play an amazing live set and had a total bro down to it, there music has lived on in my mind as something that is sacred, when they really are just not quite on that level to me now.
I don’t think live streams will ever take the place of real festivals but I do think they will offer an alternative for those unable to make it and, if anything, help to make these festivals even more important. It seems to me that these live streams will probably immortalize these festivals even more and make them even more of a destination. I can’t say I understand what kids will prefer in forty years but I have to think that the human element will still be the draw and while it may be fun to watch festivals and concerts on a screen, it will always be more fun to experience them in person.