Danielle Dorky has compiled a list of comparable (and in some cases better) music festival alternatives for fans who are unable to attend Coachella Music Festival this year.
I won’t be joining many of my friends next month when they pile into hybrids that smugly declare CARPOOLCHELLA on their rear windows and trek towards that musical desert haven we all know as Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.
Part of the reason is of course, finances. The holidays were expensive, stressful, and busy, and when whispers of the Coachella line up began to circulate shortly into the new year I knew there was no way I could spring $400 for a ticket (and let’s not even get started on the additional costs of lodging, food and booze).
Then I thought, hey, wait a minute, I have a blog now and I cover concerts and such, maybe I can get a press pass! I even spoke it into existence. When friends discussed plans and hotel accommodations, I’d eagerly pipe in that I’d get back to them just as soon as I received word from Coachella’s press person, which might not be until mid-March, less than a month before the festival. I wasn’t so lucky; I received a brief, mass-emailed rejection less than two weeks after I sent my request. Bummer.
While some of my friends planned ahead and saved or got on a ticket payment plan around this time last year, many more of my friends and I did not. Many of us will compensate with local, spin-off festivals or catch some of the Coachella artists solo on tour.
As music festivals grow in popularity and border on becoming a culture, there are a lot competitively priced alternatives with similar line ups, some even catering to fans of specific genres.
I put together a list of six music and art festivals that I believe are comparable (or better) alternatives to Coachella, taking into account price, line up, location and the overall mission of the event. In no particular order:
I found out about Lightning in a Bottle when I began following the Do Lab after seeing them at Coachella in 2010. Although I wasn’t able to go to Lighting in a Bottle that year, I was drawn to their commitment to collaborating with their festival-goers, offering them the opportunity to perform, create installations, sell merchandise or volunteer to gain entry to the event. They make the festival almost a retreat by offering yoga, motivational speakers and hands-on workshops. It’s not just about discovering music, it’s about elevating your consciousness. Festivals often get criticized for littering and polluting the cities they’re held, but LIB practices sustainability and is the only festival in the US to win the “Outstanding Award” from A Greener Festival three years in a row.
If you’re more interested in the music, the line up’s not bad either. It definitely favors experimental and instrumental artists, but offers a good variety; Little Dragon, Phantogram, The Gaslamp Killer and Tokimonsta are just a few of the artists scheduled to perform this year.
Tickets are fairly priced at $260 for the entire 4-day weekend or $195 for 2 days and both of those prices include on-site tent camping. Lightning in a Bottle runs from May 22nd through May 26th and takes place in Bradley, CA. For more info, visit their website.
If you favor calm morning fog to dry desert sun and if beanies and hoodies are your preferred festival attire, you might want to try Treasure Island Music Festival on for size. The 2-day weekend festival takes place on the man-made landform of Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay in the middle of October and although falls in the Bay Area tend to be a bit moody and overcast, the weather lends to the overall experience. You might actually feel a bit like a pirate as you pile into a shuttle with other bundled concert-goers and chug across the Bay Bridge in quest of”treasure.”
The line-up, which isn’t as overcrowded as most and allows you to see almost every artist on the bill, is continuously impressive, in 2013 boasting acts such as Little Dragon, Atoms for Peace, Major Lazer, Danny Brown and James Blake. Last year, tickets were decently priced at $150 for 2-day GA and $85 for single-day GA, and both prices include a shuttle to and from Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco. Treasure Island’s 2014 line up has yet to be announced, but you can sign up for announcements on their website.
If California is not your scene and you don’t mind a little Southern humidity, 38-year-running Beale Street Music Festival consistently brags one of the most eclectic festival line ups in the country. It’s also a great opportunity to celebrate and discover the history of blues and rock-and-roll music in the city that raised some of the genres’ most influential names.
Although there are a few questionable acts on the 2014 line-up (Kid Rock, really?), I will admit it has something for everyone, with artists like Alabama Shakes, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, Snoop Lion, Foster the People, Patti LaBelle and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony slated to perform. Single day passes are $25 and a 3-day GA pass to the festival is only $85 with fees. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster.
I might be slightly biased towards FYF Fest since I’ve seen it grow from a tiny half-day event at The Echo to one of the most popular annual music festivals in Los Angeles. Either way, it’s a very LA concert, and even though it typically takes place on one of the hottest weekends of the summer, concert-goers don’t let that deter them from draping themselves in breezy, paper-thin layers and tip-toeing through the rock-strewn park in Jeffrey Campbell platforms.
The first FYF Fests in 2004 and 2005 consisted mostly of undiscovered Los Angeles bands and the festival continues to support local talent, providing a tempting mix of indie and well-known musicians and comedians. Last year, FYF Fest charged $120 for a 2-day GA pass and the line up included Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Crystal Antlers, Antwon, Toro Y Moi and Solange. The 2014 dates and line up are expected to be announced soon. You can sign up for updates through FYF Fest website.
I have to admit jealousy of my brethren on the opposite coast who’ve been able to hop on the subway and attend one of the best free festivals in the country year after year. The two-day festival is one of the most diverse and inclusive, and fans appreciate Afropunk Fest for bringing both emerging and well-established to their stages each year.
Afropunk Fest takes place at Commodore Barry Park in Brooklyn, NY during the last weekend of August, serving as the perfect farewell to summer. For a price tag of Free 99 concert-goers can indulge in endless amounts of music, art, and food, and even keep the party going after gates close at nearby Afropunk After Dark events. Last year’s line up included big names like Death, ?uestlove, Saul Williams and Danny Brown.
For 2014 Afropunk dates and line up, sign up for updates at their website.
Brokechella began, as the name might imply, as a bit of a joke. cARTel Collaborative Arts were putting together a Spring community event when they realized it landed on the same weekend as Coachella. They decided to take a chance and didn’t move the date, changing the event’s name instead. The first Brokechella charged a paltry $5 and in return gave their 400 attendants plenty of art, music and food trucks to enjoy.
Brokechella has since outgrown their old space and and this year on April 19th they will command four stages in a Downtown Los Angeles warehouse with interactive art, music and comedy. Brokechella isn’t about having a shiny, celebrity line up; the event promotes networking and discovering new art and music at an affordable price.
Brokechella is coming up quick and $10 GA day passes can be purchased through Eventbrite.
The goal of any festival should be to bring people together in appreciation of a common interest, and while costs of the event’s crew, talent, assembly and other accommodations must be taken into account, there should be (and thankfully are) options for a variety of budgets. Don’t let missing out on one big (and to be honest, kind of overrated) festival deter you from finding a comparable alternative.