Well, I’ve already gone on the record as not being interested in going to Coachella, not because the lineup of bands wasn’t exciting but because I wasn’t interested in the discomforts involved in the crowds, heat, overpriced food, lines for port-a-potties, mobs waiting to get on shuttles back to the expensive motel/condo and general fatigue involved with spending 8 hours a day watching bands. This first weekend of Coachella, my decision was cemented when I plugged my laptop into my TV to watch the almost-live-stream of Coachella Live on YouTube, what some in the internet snarkosphere have dubbed “Couchella.” Get it? Couch instead of “Coach.” I know! Puns! Anyways, Couchella essentially eliminated the one reason I might have wanted Coachella: the fear of missing out on a big cultural event in real time.
Before getting into all the BIG CULTURAL EVENT experiences I had this weekend, from the comfort of my living room, I should describe what the footage was like. I was immediately impressed by the production value of the streams. Expecting to get a webcam, mounted on the soundboard, YouTube viewers were instead treated to a full production, of the kind you’d expect from a regular cable network. Four or five cameras, from different parts of the stage gave you a closer look at the performance than you would have had if you were actually in the audience. It’s like the difference between being in the nosebleeds for a basketball game or watching it in HD on your 42-inch flatscreen. You see more from home. The music quality was great, you could literally see the beads of sweat on performers faces, AND there were three streams going at once, so you could bounce around from show to show with the click of the mouse, instead of walking a half mile from stage to stage. Whoever had the idea of doing this gets a bonus! (I wish I had some sort of say in the compensation GoldenVoice or YouTube’s employees)
So yeah, if you didn’t check it out this weekend, a lot of it should be online this week, though, that’s no substitute for watching it live (not live in person, just live on stream, suckers!). It was a really nice background to the weekend. My girlfriend and I had a couple friends over for dinner Saturday, so we put it on in the background. The next day, we were perusing the Sunday Times (#bourgeois) and also had it on. We made a point to turn it on to check out a couple of the headliners. Instead of finding out what was happening at Coachella through the tweets and blog posts and Facebook updates and Instagram photos, we got to just watch it as it happened.
My favorite thing I saw was Azealia Banks breakthough performance. Banks is a 20-year-old female rapper from Harlem, who had a hit video (on the internet) with her single “212”, just signed with a major label and has all kinds of swirling buzz around her. She’s got a ton of raw charisma and is actually really good at rapping, but early in her set, she announced she’d never performed live in front of so many people and was clearly nervous. Instead of withering away in the face of the challenge, she rose to it, completely rocking the crowd with an ebullient, vital performance. And from midway through her set, on to the end, you could see tears of joy streaming down her face. Yeah. I know. Unreal.
My least favorite thing, not just of the Coachella Live weekend, but of just things, overall, was the 2pac hologram that came out during Snoop and Dr. Dre’s otherwise pretty awesome Sunday night set. This was sci-fi post-modern satire come to life. I’m pretty sure no one wants to see a holographic video-game caricature of a dead person “performing” during a concert. Maybe that shit flies in Japan, but this is America.
I wasn’t there to get a sense of crowd reaction, but I have to assume that everyone was like, “Whoa, that’s weird. But not cool”.
And that’s why our generation has officially transitioned (apologies to anyone writing a book on “The Facebook Generation”, “Reality TV Generation” or “The Cyborg Generation”) to the Couchella generation. We can experience and react to these big, cultural events, in real time, without being there all. All we need is an internet connected device and we’re there. Sorry Coachella, you kind of blew it.
Henry Goldman is founder of yr an adult and is tired from just thinking about Coachella.
Photo credit: Flickr user Ultra5280, used under CC license