I am pretty sad that I didn’t get to go to Coachella this year, so sad that I am even referring to myself as a FOMO. In fact, I am gutted anytime there is a huge festival on overseas that I am not attending: Lollapalooza, Tomorrowland, or Glastonbury. I honestly wish I could attend them all, but the reality of limited leave and funds often strikes me with the pressure of a backhanded slap across my head.
Let’s face it, often the desire to attend these events is not necessarily about being able to see the performances of bands you’ve been playing on repeat for months but rather it’s the escapism, the spontaneous shenanigans, the layers of dirt that no makeup wipe could remove, the abysmal attempts at campfire cooking, making best friends with the neighbouring tents, playing cricket on the pedestrian roads and, of course, the chance to show social media that you are cool and do cool things.
So, as I quietly wallowed in my choice to be a 9-5-er, my appreciation for the internet blossomed, and I was finally thankful for everyone’s need to share everything in excess. Over the two weekends of Coachella, I’ve never felt so there-but-not-actually-there. Facebook was going off, Instagram went into a festival-related hashtagging frenzy, YouTube and Spotify were streaming live, fashion bloggers were going nuts at all the faux pas’ and I was generally feeling so immersed with this constant feed of real-time information that my multi-tasking skills were on complete overdrive at home and at work.
Before I even properly woke up, I would review the #coachella 2014 hashtag on Instagram only to have the option of viewing over 100,000 photos and counting (now there are 191,084 tagged). Did you know that usernames and handles have been reserved for the future Coachella festivals to come?! The #coachella2015 hashtag on Instagram, an event of the future, already has 870 photos associated with it.
In the mornings at work, I actually enjoyed trawling through my favourited news sites because I knew the articles I wanted would be front and centre. Pedestrian, Mashable and Junkee helped me believe that the articles were actually tailored to my interests, for me only, definitely not for those other hundreds of thousands that are responsible for ensuring it was a trending topic.
At night, I would come home and read a few blogs on celebrity fashions for that day and rate my current level of trendiness. Then as I was cooking dinner I would stream performances online with video included this time. I could access all the tunes and performances I wanted and thanks to YouTube, play the sweetest moments over and over. Including that time when Beyoncé spontaneously joined her sister Solange on stage for that totally unrehearsed but completely synced and 100% groovy dance routine during her performance of ‘Losing You’. You know, only the best moment at Coachella in 2014. I was thrilled by the level of access I had to the festival despite being thousands of kilometres away.
As I enjoyed all that the online world had to offer to me, I do believe Coachella is one of many music festivals that is actually modernising the overall experience. Apparently there were Wi-Fi spots “as common as beer stands”, which is no wonder some even posted during the act they were watching. Now that is timeliness, albeit in snippets. In fact according to recent stats, 32% of the audience send Facebook updates about or tweets from a show. Because of smart technologies, and everyone’s shameful attempts to always look busy and cool, I can be connected to content that has been created by my peers that applies directly to my cultural interests, and it’s just handed to me in a couple of clicks.
In all honestly, I probably had a better experience of Coachella online. There were no bathroom queues, I didn’t miss any of the bands I wanted to see because of line-up clashes (or bathroom queues), I could stream videos which showed me more of the band than I would’ve seen because of my short stature, and I could silent disco my way through work hours across all of my favourite music portals.
With this is mind, we are still not quite able to capture the entire experience of a music festival online, but we’re definitely getting closer. So what’s next? As smart technology moves beyond the practical and into more subjective scenarios I believe we’ll see digitally augmented live music performances that will be sure to enhance the experience and deliver even more entertainment, particularly to online audiences. Oh and who knows, wearable technology may come a long way between now and #Coachella2015.