You’re slightly off about Bonnaroo… it’s just over an hour (less time than OC to Coachella) from Nashville, one of the largest centers of music-oriented folks in the nation. Those people have always had to make the tough call of all-or-nothing in terms of tickets and camping (they don’t sell single day tickets, and the rigorous schedule/distance from the closest major city are just significant enough that most will opt to camp anyway instead of commuting and waiting in a 2-hour car line each day).
That said, if Tollet envisioned Coachella as a Bonnaroo-like fest from the get-go (which seems unlikely), he never should have spoiled locals with the one-day option in the first place. Like you said, Jeff, “Coachella is no Bonnaroo”… I couldn’t agree more. Perhaps Tollet’s move is too late in the game…
But here’s another perspective – from a native Austinite who now lives in California and has made it to only a few Coachellas…
…I grew up with SXSW and ACL (which also historically has had a one-day ticket option), and for the past 6-7 years, I’ve gone to great lengths to make annual treks from OC to Coachella, to Chicago (for Lollapalooza), to Tennessee (for Bonnaroo), back to Austin twice yearly for SXSW in the Spring and Austin City Limits in the fall, to San Francisco in August (for Outside Lands), and last year, to the Gorge Amphitheatre in Washington state (to witness the glory of Sasquatch). In addition to those, I once traveled to San Francisco to see Rage Against the Machine perform alongside Wu- Tang Clan, EPMD and some of hip-hop’s other greats at Rock the Bells.
Having dedicated myself to these travels for nearly a decade (extending my number of festivals per year as I go), I’ve been in similar positions to those you listed – the man trying to escape to an oasis, the 22-year-old that can’t possibly afford it, the 18-year-old with mountains of homework tumbling down on me… and in my experience (as cliche as it sounds), if you put your mind to it, you can get there. Going to a three-day(+) fest requires financial planning, tapping connections (for shelter,rides, etc..) in different cities, getting all your work done for the next two weeks ahead of time, and in rare cases (if you’re driven enough by the “collective high” you know you’ll get), making extreme compromises (AKA using 100% of my ingenuity) to get out of/ or reschedule a pervious obligation (like a test).
I’ve done this for many years, and will likely do it until “I can’t,” as you put it. So, I must conclude that the all-or-nothing scheme does more good than harm – the most dedicated music fans will find a way to make it happen and endure the desert environment at Coachella, a pattern that is likely to magnify the emotional experience exponentially from here on out.
My prediction: some Coachella fans will be pissed this year, but the new ticket parameters will provide more motivation to plan for the entire experience in coming years.
My advice: if you know you want to be there next year, start planning and saving now… ask off of work at least 6 months in advance… and if you’re worried about the lineup not being worth the three-day price, remember that there thousands of people on craigslist who will take the ticket off your hands should the lineup fail to please you (so, theoretically, you can always get your money back – it’s like an extra tax return!).
Long live multi-day music festivals!