Octavio Ruiz Cervera/flickr
Justice performing at the Coachella Valley Music Festival in 2008.
Earlier this week, concert promoter Goldenvoice announced its newest twist on the Coachella Music Festival: a Coachella-themed cruise. They're calling it the S.S. Coachella, and it will make two trips to the Caribbean in December. Guests will dish out anywhere from $500 for a shared 200-square-foot cabin to $9000 for a luxury suite with balcony, bar and piano. Apparently some bands will also play some music.
When I heard about the cruise on Tuesday, something strange and kind of amazing happened: I finally saw my most perfect image of hell. In this vision, Satan, a tattooed indie drummer with a devilock haircut, summons a mob of aviator and American Apparel tank-top-wearing minions to wave their arms and sing out of key. I stay near the perimeter of the ship to avoid them, but when Satan starts crowd-surfing, the mob pins me to the stern and I crumble under a sea of sweaty armpits. It's awful.
I've always been ambivalent about music festivals. Who doesn't love putting on some shorts and sunscreen and seeing live music outdoors with thousands of happy, sweaty people? On the other hand, once you get there, the fun can end really fast. Heat and exhaustion play a part, and you can end up spending hours shifting between two very long lines: one to buy a $10 water, the other to pee. And when it finally cools off a bit and you're ready to catch one of your favorite bands, you suddenly see your friend's true colors and as he drags you to see some dubstep guy instead.
Now, while music festivals are certainly not all created equal (San Francisco's annual Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, for one, is consistently both fun and easy, and free of charge) many are becoming more bloated and obnoxious year after year. This latest Coachella cruise could be the writing on the wall. The ship, called the "Celebrity Silhouette," is a brand new, 122,000-ton beast of a vessel. It's got a country club on the top deck with a half acre of grass. It has a dozen restaurants and even more bars and lounges. It has hundreds of premiere suites, with what an online review describes as "gently undulating light-brown walls" and "framed pieces of modern something-or-other for some color." It has its own Apple store.
Not too long ago, teenagers across the country would pile into their parents' old minivans with sleeping bags and Doritos and forego showering for 3 days just to be at a music festival. Now they'll be spending thousands of their parents' dollars so that they can have a hair dryer at Coachella. Thanks, Goldenvoice.