For two weekends every April, the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival takes over the small desert town of Indio, California. The word ‘festival’ may conjure up images of sodden fields and mud-splattered boots, but over at Coachella, it’s a classier affair. The two three-day weekends of the festival (this year it spanned April 15-24) consist of flower crowns, daisy dukes, non-stop music, fashion and fun.
For those who missed it this year – because they were busy with school, work, or live on the opposite side of the world – the highlights included: Guns N’ Roses performing with AC/DC’s Angus Young; Halsey hosting a mini Panic! At the Disco show; Lorde and Sam Smith singing with Disclosure; and “Sia’s concert performance of a generation.” Not to mention the surprise appearances by Kanye West, Rihanna, Kesha and even Bernie Sanders.
Off-stage, the fashion and revelry are as much a part of the festival as the sounds. Most celebrities and supermodels attend Coachella, so the chances of meeting your favorite famous people are pretty high. Gabriella Opagi, a student in Kenya and a fan of the festival said, “I love the idea of the celebrities mingling with non-famous people without it being a big deal, it’s like an unspoken word to not freak out-as everyone is trying to have a good time. It would be cool to have that in other places”.
So far, it all seems pretty glamorous, right? But how much does it cost? For the 2016 festival, general admission tickets were $399, or $459 with a shuttle pass included. VIP admission is $899, and VIP parking is $150. But scoring tickets to the festival is only the beginning of the challenges that await potential Coachellers. Essentials like travel to the festival, lodging, and dining during the weekend usually command the larger part of a festival-goer’s budget. “By the time you get into the show, you’re broke,” says Ross Gerber, CEO of LA-based financial firm Gerber Kawasaki and a long-time festival attendee.
When we think Music Festival, we might imagine non-stop music and partying with thousands of strangers crowded together, like at Coachella, Tomorrowland or Lollapalooza. We also might think of the “West” (i.e. America or Europe). We do not often connect music festivals to Asia, Africa or even Australia, unless they are focused on traditional or cultural music. But, there are non-cultural music festivals that take place in countries like Kenya, for example, they are just not as popular and publicized.
“Sunglasses At Night” is the brainchild of 6:AM Entertainment Kenya Ltd. It’s the one party of the year where the venue is washed in some of the most sophisticated lighting ever seen on the Kenyan scene. The bright lights make the sunglasses necessary for the ravers as they enjoy the colorful effects of the professional light installation. Other music festivals in Kenya include –Beach Life, Kikoy Culture and Earth Dance. All cost around 1,500/- 3,500/, which is about 15-35 USD. Relatively cheap, right? However, there is a slight problem. To be able to attend, you have to be over 18 or 21. This is a problem, as teenagers want to go, and as they can’t, they get fake IDs and get in illegally. It is actually sad that kids have to go to such lengths to have a fun night out, as there aren’t any “teen-friendly” non-cultural music festivals for them to attend.
What would it be like to have a “Coachella” in Kenya? Opagi, on the benefits of a music festival becoming a reality in Kenya said, “If you would Africanize Coachella, because not many Africans listen to all-American music per se, people would go and have fun, and learn more about American music. It would also be a great opportunity to showcase Kenyan talent for all ages”.
Promoters out there: are you listening?