Coachella: A Cultural Icon

Syd Smith

Earlier this month, thousands of people flocked to Indio, California to attend Coachella, one of the largest music festivals in the nation. After the first week, artists such as Tyler the Creator, SZA, The Weeknd, Migos, and most notably Beyoncé took the stage. Coachella is known for its dazzling performances, famous attendees, and pop culture moments, and it did not disappoint!

Coachella attracts around 100,000 people each year, and many attendees camp out on the festival grounds. It takes place on two weekends: April 13th through 15th, and April 20th through 22nd. Besides the musicians, Coachella offers other attractions such as art exhibits, trendy food carts, and sponsored areas. Since the festival is such a pop culture cornerstone, many brands such as H&M and Sephora have set up tents with amenities. Also, Coachella fashion is another attraction. Concert-goers arrive with crop tops, sheer outfits, patterned denim, tube tops, and in classic Coachella fashion, bohemian-style dresses.

Even with all of the flashy activities and attractions, the musical performances are the highlight of the weekend. There is a variety of music showcased at this festival, from synth-rock group Sir Sly to indie-folk singer Angel Olsen. Acts like Hayley Kiyoko and Brockhampton remind all festival-goers that the landscape of diversity in music is changing and that it is a good thing. With her queer anthems, Kiyoko brought a vibrant sound to the stage and dazzled the crowd with her choreography. The self-proclaimed “rap boyband” Brockhampton performed songs from their recent trio of Saturation albums, which address issues like homophobia and racism.

Clearly, the most important event of the first weekend was Beyoncé’s performance. She put on an incredible show and displayed the pure talent that we know and love. She did acknowledge the fact that she was the first black female to headline Coachella, and her performance mirrored that sentiment. With a marching band and custom school spirit wear, Beyoncé created an atmosphere similar to America’s HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities). It was an unapologetic and confident celebration of her culture. She performed classics like Crazy In Love, 7/11, Love on Top and brought out a few familiar faces such as JAY-Z, Solange, and former Destiny’s Child bandmates Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams.

Coachella is not just a musical icon; It is also a pop culture icon. Celebrities such as Rihanna, Call Me By Your Name actor Timothée Chalamet, Olympic gold medalist Chloe Kim, supermodel Bella Hadid, and many more attended the festivities. But this might be the most important pop culture moment of the week: the yodeling kid from Walmart, Mason Ramsey, performed Hank Williams’ Lovesick Blues. That’s right, the same kid you’ve seen all over the Internet has made it big. A picture of him taking a selfie with Justin Bieber has quickly gone viral.

Coachella 2018 has passed, and it was a whirlwind of excitement, music, and iconic moments. While many aspects of Coachella remain in the past (such as the festival’s problems with cultural appropriation and the fact that the festival’s founder is openly anti-LGBT+), artists like Beyoncé and Hayley Kiyoko remind us that diversity, acceptance, and great music are on the horizon.