GoldenVoice’s Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival, where modern day Woodstock music merges with new art and fashion providing a mind-blowing experience. This experience combines so many of the senses that your head spins and your body moves, and you are – sometimes – lost in the music. Additionally, the energy of you and others around you makes you remember why people go to concerts instead of just listening to the music on their headsets.
Coachella doesn’t disappoint, which is not to be confused with having moments worth considering in evaluating where the art of live music performance is going. The venue and experience creates a landscape where the bands and DJs show us who they are and how they perform through their music.
Because I’m all about the music, I want to talk about what is starting to be lost in extravaganzas like Coachella. Make no mistake, it was awesome and I loved every single minute of it. That’s #1 and I would recommend everyone to go, expanding his or her horizons or just have an awesome time experiencing the music. What I found missing from some performances was the story telling and creation of dynamic set lists. When an artist has an hour set to tell their story, it has to unfold and have a through line. Performers must consider how to build the energy of a set: what act was before them, which is to follow, what’s the time slot, etc. All of this matters, especially when you have tens of thousands of fans that have traveled from all over the world and paid over $400 for a ticket and $9 beers to experience their music. I believe the “I buy songs on iTunes” culture is the cause of poorly planned set lists and why some groups don’t know how to play for audiences today. Before iTunes, bands had to be thoughtful in a different way about their albums and the tracks they made. They had to tell a story through the progression of those tracks and present the story through naming the album. This might be a lost art for a lot of artists who are trying to sell hit singles instead of an album.
Take Rubber Soul, one of the most listened to albums of all time. The entire album told a story, a sad story, but each track of the album is a piece of a journey. Is it possible that the art of storytelling might be lost to the art of 140 words?
Who are a few (but not the only ones) that did it right at Coachella? Calvin Harris, Aloe Blacc, Kid Cudi, Girl Talk and Chromeo prepared for all the elements of a huge festival. They took everyone one of us on a thoughtful journey full of energy, and told their music’s story. That’s what I want and I believe that is what you want too.