Coffees for $20 and a lukewarm lineup, has Coachella passed its peak and entered its flop era?

By Charlie Sawyer

Published Apr 18, 2024 at 11:33 AM

Reading time: 2 minutes

It’s Coachella season baby and while I’d love to spend the next week or so dissecting every second of Lana Del Rey’s weekend one performance, I think my time might be better spent delving into why this once-legendary music festival might truly be in its flop era. Don’t worry Lana, this has nothing and I mean nothing to do with you. Call it too much dust or too high prices, it’s clear that Coachella isn’t bringing in crowds like it once used to. Let’s dive in.

It’s that time again kids. Welcome back to Explained By a Blonde, a series where I often form opinions on people who have no clue I exist and events I’d never ever get invited to—it’s a fun time, I know.

This week, we’re looking into the reasons as to why Coachella might have slightly dipped in popularity over the past few years. Now, you might be thinking ‘my entire FYP has been choc-a-bloc with people at the festival, it’s still a massive vibe’. And you wouldn’t be completely wrong. Influencers and celebs alike are still showing up at the desert in troves to film a 30 second outfit check vlog for their TikTok accounts.

@alixearle

The groups last night together 😭 @Ashtin Earle @sallycarden @kristin konefal @patrick ta @zz

♬ Tell Ur Girlfriend - Lay Bankz

However, it’s also true that the primary reason half of those influencers are even at Coachella is because they were invited by a brand. When it comes to actual general ticket sales, the numbers don’t lie. For example, in 2023, it was the first time in 11 years that the festival didn’t sell out both weekends and this year it took one whole month to sell out the first weekend.

For context, usually, it only takes around 40 minutes to an hour for the entire festival to sell out—major Glastonbury vibes. Some netizens on Reddit mused over whether or not the lineup had put people off, with one user writing: “Love them or hate them, the past two years had headliners that people paid thousands to see literally weeks prior. This year, they’re big names but not exactly artist[s] that you could justify the price tag when their solo concerts arguably go for way less.”

Others questioned whether the cost of living crisis might have also put people off: “Coachella is just about the most expensive festival in the country to attend if you consider costs for those coming from out of the state or Southern California. With a meh lineup, why spend $1000s going?”

The Coachella prices are truly wild. From tickets and merch to food and drinks at the festival site, this is no quick and cheap weekend. People are practically taking out mortgages just in hopes that they’ll get a sneak peek at Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce boogying.

A coffee could set you back as much as $20, while a simple burger or taco could cost an easy $35. I know, insane.

@skzzolno

would you have bought this? #coachellafood #coachella #coachellafoodie #coachelladrinks #coachellavlog #nokiamobileus #nokia2780flip #dotheflip

♬ original sound - sammy k
@pinkhorchata

I thought disneyland was bad😭 #coachella #coachellafood #festivalseason #fypシ

♬ Just A Girl (From "Clueless") - Soundtrack Wonder Band

Lots of people on TikTok have even been providing expense lists for nosy viewers. I mean, personally, I think it’s so fun to judge someone’s festival spending habits while I sit at home and re-watch Criminal Minds for the 14th time.

@ttylerwells

Replying to @Shelbs #coachella #expenses

♬ original sound - TYLER WELLS
@liv.fazari

I honestly thought it was gonna be a lot worse 🥲 #coachella2023 #coachella #coachellaoutfits #coachellaprices

♬ vlog, chill out, calm daily life(1370843) - SUNNY HOOD STUDIO
@liv.yah

Coachella is sooo expensive 😳 #coachella #coachella2023 #howmuchispendinaday #frankocean #blackpink #burnaboy #palmsprings

♬ Monkeys Spinning Monkeys - Kevin MacLeod & Kevin The Monkey

Other 2024 Coachella complaints included: crappy amenities, lacklustre crowds, and horrible organisation. Coachella’s high price tag used to feel justifiable because of the perks and overall magical experience you were guaranteed. It was so much more than simply a music festival—it was a total vibe. But things have definitely changed, and people are now feeling like they’ve been sold short.

So, is Coachella truly in its flop era? It’s hard to say. I mean, if you ask influencer James Charles I think he’d probably tell you it was still a “sister slay.” But if you asked quite literally anyone else, they might just agree that this once-iconic music festival has officially lost its sparkle.

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