Live music is as much about the audience as the performer. All great bands will tell you they play differently depending on the energy of the crowd in front of them. And some will tell you, that on rare occasions, the crowd is part of the band.
Coachella Music and Arts Festival gets inside you like a song lyric. Like the Hotel California, “You can check-out but you can never leave.” Each year I go to Coachella, I leave a little piece of me there. But I return with more than I left with. That’s what’s amazing about art, in its purest sense, it gives back to you more than it takes from you. At the festival, I get to hear and see things that make me feel. Extremes clash with your senses. I really enjoyed the Black Keys; I did not enjoy Snoop, but Tupac was dope. I loved the windmill sculpture; the Asia Shrine… not so much. And the reason it’s such an amazing festival is that in the truest sense of Woodstock, the people at the festival, are all part of the performance. We are one huge piece of moving, cart wheeling, flip-flopping, head-bouncing, body-painted, art.
People will tell you they feel a “vibe” about the festival. Not just “peace, love and rock & roll.” but a tangible vibe of happiness. That’s not to say you won’t find unhappy, angry people. Or pick-pockets, thieves and gypsies. It’s 120,000 people who attend Coachella, but my opinion is you’ll find more debauchery per capita at the Young Life Camp at Lost Canyon in Williams, AZ.
Art and music fuel the soul, and nowhere is it more perceptible than standing deep in the crowd, watching a band. The artists on stage feel it. Performers crave that drug of applause, it’s the juice that keeps them going on the long bus rides from El Paso to San Diego. It’s the little hug from a stranger that’s pushes them to write one more song for the new album. In this era of digital, synthesized, pre-programmed technology, it’s refreshing to hear a guy like Andrew Bird strum a violin and whistle. A few years ago, I was standing next to Matt Bellamy from the band Muse watching the crowd fill the field in front of the main stage. I said to him, “I love Coachella.” He smiled and said, ” And Coachella loves you back.”