1/7/2019 0 Comments
I'm sitting at my desk with a piping hot coffee and my credit cards laid out in front of me. It's 11:16 a.m. on the fourth of January; the long-awaited onsale date. I just made it through the arduous "waiting room" process on coachella.com and there are two bright, shiny new 2019 Weekend Two GA wristbands in my shopping cart. I hesitate... doubt strikes. The clock counts down. Do I really want to sink this much cash into a Coachella weekend? Is this going to be worth it??
Coachella is a bucket-list festival for many, but it's also become too a little big for it's britches. For many years it was the scene to been seen, but these days it's getting a little old. Festival options are evolving, and the money-pit desert behemoth becomes less and less appetizing every year. Ten years ago, you were the dying envy of all social circles if you nabbed a pass to Coachella and the others didn't. You didn't mess around. You waited in that virtual waiting room and you bought your damn pass, pronto. The lineup was barely the priority item; you didn't risk missing the 'chella. In 2019 though, Coachella FOMO is barely a thing.
...The clock passes 2:00. 1:59... 1:58. I'm hit with an underwhelming sense of meh.
Without hesitation, Coachella also seems to just grow and grow every year. From adding an obscene number of extra tickets and expanding their footprint (yet again), to another reasonable but not stellar lineup and an initial required outlay of over $500 for the most basic of GA pass and shuttle . And that's before you figure in travel, overpriced food, drinks and festival swag, camping and survival items and the insane ordeal it really is to get in, get set up, and simply navigate the festival grounds. Here was my estimated budget for Coachella 2019:
$429 - GA wristband
$80 - weekend shuttle pass
$370 - return flights
$756 - crap hotel in Indio, 4 nights at $189 a piece
$400 food & beverage (allowing me a modest $100 per day)
$35 A souvenir shirt
That's $2070. Over two thousand dollars for the BARE MINIMUM. In a hot, dirty, dusty field with $18 beer that can't wash down the headache it is to attend a festival of this size.
..0:45 left on the clock.
To spend three days packed like a sardine, craning to spot my favorite artists from a quarter mile away as I fight crowds, gasp dirty dusty air, dodge drunk glitter-and-bikini-clad sorority girls and attempt to keep blisters and exhaustion at bay? While waiting in a 75-minute line for a refreshing 4oz $19 house white or an underwhelming slice of greasy $12 pizza? But of course I could camp instead... that's relaxing, time- and money-saving, right? I could set up home base in a flimsy canvas fortress with a leaking cooler and zero alternate shade on three square feet of dusty hard plateau surrounded by 295,207 other rowdy campers per square mile.
With no further hesitation, I close the browser window. I will skip Coachella this year. Saying I've lost interest would be an understatement. There's so much more I could do with those two thousand dollars. I resolve to set out to better research the lesser-known fests, to spend my dollars wisely, and to find a more unique and less overrated festival experience to share with my readers. Here's my initial list.
March: South by Southwest - unofficially
March 8-17, 2019
SXSW is certainly not just a music festival. It's huge and spans two weeks and pretty much the entire downtown of Austin (in one way or another). I'd be lying if I said I planned to pay for a festival pass, expecting to get by with less of a painful investment than Coachella. SX passes run in the thousands and while it is a momentous and significant purchase (and no doubt worth it), it's also probably not in the cards for me this year.
But the secret sauce for SX? You don't need to buy a pass to partake in significant portion of the multi-week event. Austin does well by hosting and promoting so many SX-related showcases, events, dinners, cruises, galleries, popups and other interesting must-sees - that DO NOT REQUIRE a pass. For a resident of Austin, attending something SX is a no-brainer. But my out-of-town friends have also discovered that if you can stay with a buddy or find an AirBnB near town, you can take part in a satisfying quantity of SX-related revelry, get your fill of Austin music and spend almost nothing. All it requires is a little stealthy googling and you can RSVP for any number of unofficial SX events (and stay tuned/follow our IG, because we'll share what we can). For those official events that don't reach capacity, you'll also find you can line up and attend the show once pass-holders have been admitted, in somewhat a tiered system. I saw a number of great acts in 2018 for absolutely nothing, including some great cocktail parties, DJ appearances, a couple of alt rock shows, a sunset river cruise and about 18 different popup galleries and features. I plan to repeat that in 2019. Who's joining me?
May: Kaaboo Texas
May 10-12, 2019
Kaaboo is a brand new festival concept that is steadily winning over loyal fans. Promising a mature, cleaner, amenity-rich version of our typical music festival experience, this one is held in an indoor-outdoor mode at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX. Read: no dust, lots of seating, air conditioned areas, shade and a distinct absence of filthy porta-potties and festival nasties. Kaaboo promises to be everything a typical festival is not. It's a grownup version of the festival experience and I just can't wait to try this one out. If you don't believe me, check out sister festival Kaaboo Del Mar 2018(yeah, that's a holy shit from me, too...). Speaking of which, we can also add Kaaboo Del Mar, Sept 13-15, 2019 to this list, because I'm pretty sure after Kaaboo Texas I'll be needing round two. GA passes start at a modest $259 for all three days (for both Del Mar and Texas) and with a killer location in the greater Dallas/Forth Worth area, you will find endless travel, transport and hotel options catering to every budget. Their lineup drops January 16th and we're on pins and needles to see who they'll draw for their 2019 debut in Texas.
May: Shaky Knees
May 3-5, 2019
Tickets are just $179 for all three days. The lineup is killer. Southern food and the gorgeous location of Central Park in Atlanta; comparatively intimate, well-organized and wholly appealing. A gorgeous green amply-shaded park, Beck, Tame Impala, Tears for Fears, Interpol, Cage the Elephant, Incubus, Tash Sultana and Foals adjacent to shaded picnic areas, photo booths, ice cream stands and giant human-size games. There are nice, affordable quality hotels within walking distance (Woohoo! no shacking up six-to-a-room at Motel 6!) in the downtown area. Atlanta airport, as a major hub, sees excellent airfare rates and flights from just about anywhere. This is one festival that promises an incredible three days without breaking the bank. Shoot, for all the money you save attending this one, you can add another festival weekend into your calendar for the year!
June 21-23, 2019
This is the lineup to end all lineups. I don't even know where to start... Panic At The Disco, Tyler the Creator, Awolnation, X Ambassadors, Zedd, Louis the Child - and that's just the first day. Then we're on to Travis Scott, Kygo, Young the Giant, Death Cab for Cutie, Alison Wonderland, Bishop Briggs, Dashboard Confessional and then Sunday includes Post Malone, Vampire Weekend, Walk the Moon, 3Lau, and my homie Yungblud. Plus the whole thing is a camping weekend with options to try glamping (dare I?). Seriously fo serious, I cannot WAIT to check this one out. I'm breathless just thinking about it.
July: Float Fest
San Marcos, TX
This is an amazing little low-key camp-float-fest experience held every year on the river in sleepy San Marcos. The pinnacle of the experience is crawling out of your tent in the morning to grab a cooler of beer and float yourself down a refreshingly cool river before hitting the festival grounds for a truly flawless mixed lineup of Texan and national talent. With initial permit troubles in 2018, this festival (miraculously) went off without a hitch and we were lucky to make the most of this weekend experience. Nothing has been announced for 2019 quite yet, so we definitely have our fingers and toes crossed that a 2019 festival will happen. Keep yours crossed, folks, and join us on the river in July.
Bottlerock Napa Valley - Napa Valley, CA
May 24-26, 2019
Who could resist a festival held in a beautiful valley, home to incredible scenery, food and some of the best wine on the planet? The lineup hasn't *quite* been announced yet, but this is another one we just can't afford to miss. Previous lineups included Bruno Mars, The Killers, Muse, Chainsmokers, Halsey, Snoop Dogg, Incubus and Earth Wind & Fire... to name a few. They also have a culinary stage and did I mention the wine? Check in with them on the 7th of January for their 2019 lineup. Talk about a Californian alternative that's much more affordable and less of a headache than Coachella, right?
Here you'll find archived band, festival and concert stories... plus blog entries from Team dRiFFt as they travel, photograph, interview and adventure!