After a three-year, pandemic-induced hiatus, the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival made its highly anticipated return at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, Calif.
The iconic music festival– which took place over two weekends in mid-April– boasted headliners Harry Styles, Billie Eilish, Swedish House Mafia and The Weeknd.
The festival, is known for its fashionable crowd, unique art exhibitions, and incredible music talent, is put on by Los Angeles-based entertainment company Golden Voice. It draws in crowds of up to 125,000 people a day, which means nearly 750,000 people attend the festival across the two weekends. Festival goers from across the world were ecstatic to be back after waiting patiently through three postponements and subsequent cancellations of the massive event due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Jasper Conacher, a student at New York University, has attended Coachella three times previously and was overjoyed to return this year.
“Of all of these festival [I’ve been to], Coachella has always been my favorite due to their superior lineup, amazing food, the elevated fashion of fellow attendees, and the outdoor art. As cliche as it may be to say, Coachella is more than just a festival… it acts as an insight into upcoming fashion trends, an art show and amazing food experiences,” Conacher explained. “And because I attend college in New York, while most of my friends attend college in California, it served as a reunion with my best friends, too! All of these reasons contribute to why I was thrilled to be able to go this year after their hiatus… and why I willing to fly across the country to attend right before final exams.”
But not all Coachella regulars were as excited as Conacher to return to the Indio Polo Fields, especially after the festival announced it was dropping all of its COVID-19 precautions in February of this year. The updated guidelines included neither proof of vaccination nor a negative test to enter the festival grounds and zero mask requirements.
Will Davis, a ticket holder whose been to every festival since 2009, told the Los Angeles Times that he was reconsidering his attendance because his wife is immuno-compromised. Another high-risk festival goer told the Times she wished that Golden Voice had warned attendees that changes to Coachella’s COVID-19 protocols may be changing before they made the formal announcement.
Despite backlash from some fans, Coachella stuck with its announcement to not enforce any COVID-19 health and safety measures and the festival went on this month without a mask in sight.
Aside from the festival’s COVID-19 protocols or lack thereof, many attendees were thrilled by not only the musical lineup for this year but also the wide variety of food options. Vendors included Los Angeles favorites Ronan Pizza, Ggiata Deli, Sweetfin Poke and Kazunori Handroll Bar, to name a few.
“I was obviously so excited to see some of my favorite artists perform, but the amazing variety of food vendors really took my excitement to the next level,” one attendee said. “The fact that I could get handrolls from Kazunori followed by ice cream from Van Leeuwen while attending the amazing festival that is Coachella… that is really what makes it such an incredibly well-rounded experience.”
But the weekend wasn’t a walk in the park for all guests. Revolve, a Los Angeles-based online clothing retailer, hosted its annual “Revolve Festival” that coincides– but is not affiliated– with Coachella. The Revolve Festival is an exclusive event hosted at a venue near the festival grounds to which invitations are extended to celebrities, content creators, and micro influencers.
However, it was not the social media paradise that it was chalked up to be as many guests were stranded in the desert heat without water for hours as they waited for the buses to bring them to the event. One TikTok creator, Hannah Kosh, told ELLE Magazine she witnessed “three people pass out in line” as they waited for their transportation. Once news of the chaos hit social media platforms, many users dubbed the event “Fyre Festival 2.0.”
Revolve issued a statement to E! News sincerely apologizing to the attendees affected by the lack of transportation and attributed it to COVID-19 concerns, saying the festival was nearing capacity so shuttle access for guests was limited.
Apart from the mayhem that the Revolve Festival caused to its guests, the rest of the festival appeared to unfold seamlessly, with surprise appearances from Shania Twain, Gorillaz and Justin Bieber adding to the weekend’s deep musical lineup.
As the end of the COVID-19 pandemic is in sight, Coachella fans should not have to fret about any more postponements or cancellations before its return in 2023. Until then, they’ll have to get their festival fix in by attending those planned for this summer, such as Governors Ball in New York City in early June, Glastonbury Festival in England in late June, Chicago’s Lollapalooza or San Francisco’s Outside Lands in August.
BRETT CHODY TRENDS CONTRIBUTOR POLO LIFESTYLES 2022