Wednesday, May 27

Coachella’s 2012 lineup is nothing to rave about

Last Friday, all the tickets for the Coachella Music Festival sold out within the day they were released, with both weekends selling out in less than three hours.

Yet, as soon as the lineup was released, the Monday before, my Facebook and Twitter feed exploded with mixed results at best. Some people were enamored with the lineup and totally enthused, others dissented that it was terrible.

So what went wrong with Coachella’s lineup? For many, it seems that the lineup features too many electronic dance artists.

Swedish House Mafia, Afrojack, David Guetta, Kaskade, Avicii and Calvin Harris are just half of the slew of electronic DJs performing, leaving little room for other artists of different genres to be featured. So many electronic acts make me feel as though the festival is changing in its nature. As someone who has gone to Coachella before, I’ve always considered the festival to have a melange of acts from many different genres and music influences, with each tent representing a nuanced form of rock, alternative, indie and yes, electronica.

While I do enjoy electronic music, I also believe that this particular genre has a specific time and place, such as a rave or a fraternity party or even at the gym. It’s fun, it’s provocative, it gets the people going, but it’s also not for everyone.

Coachella in the past has recognized that electronic music was its own niche market and its own culture and that’s why it’s usually reserved for one tent out of five. The expected schedule hasn’t been released yet, but I doubt that all of these huge electronic acts will be confined to one tent, especially with so many performing on the same night.

Indeed, it seems odd that this year’s lineup features a lot of repeated acts as well, especially The Black Keys, who are not only headlining, but they were also featured in last year’s festival. In fact, the band’s name was the first to appear after Kings of Leon, who were the Friday headliners last year, indicating that they were still a big act. Even within the same weekend there’s overlap, as Swedish House Mafia member Sebastian Ingrosso will also be performing his own set the day after Swedish House Mafia performs.

So what’s to blame for this sudden shift into rave territory? My best guess is because of the fact that Coachella is now two weekends, and with Goldenvoice promising the same experience, art and musical acts, it must have been difficult to find artists who were willing to commit to two weekends instead of one, especially when most of these bands tour around the world. As a result, it seems that there are fewer rock and rap acts.

Coachella also went wrong with how it sold its tickets. By releasing pre-sale tickets as early as last June, without the lineup, many people scrambled to buy tickets because they felt that it would sell out quickly.

As a consequence, there were fewer tickets to sell once the lineup was released, which caused more people to anxiously wait at their computers as they tried to buy tickets, only to wait on standby for hours and find out that the festival was already sold out.

It almost seems cruel that Goldenvoice caused all of this hype over ticket purchasing because even though the lineup was not as great as in past years, the public still felt compelled to rush to buy tickets. After all, it is Coachella.

Maybe that’s what we need to remember when thinking about this festival. Coachella has always been a forum that embraces all kinds of genres and never adheres to a specific music type. While there are over 30 recognizable electronic acts, there are still over 130 acts total, meaning that there’s still some variety and a chance to discover new artists.

The festival still has the promise to be just as great of an experience as in previous years, and maybe the changing nature of the festival reflects the changing nature of music and culture in general, whether music fans like it or not.

Are you thrilled or disappointed with this year’s Coachella lineup? Email Palumbo at

[email protected] with your thoughts. “What Went Wrong” runs every Friday.

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