Tessa Hughes is a journalism sophomore and opinion columnist. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of Mustang News.
Despite it only being February, the thought of spring break and summer is on the horizon and with that comes the countless festival line-ups that will consume the warmer months. Line-ups for popular events all across the country have already been announced including Coachella, Bonnaroo, and Bottlerock. This week, local music festival Shabang also dropped the first round of their lineup. With the hype around music festivals rapidly growing, and attendance spiking over the years, a new culture has developed around the entire idea of simply going.
For many, going has become about more than just the music. However, for the ones that attend strictly for the artists themselves, festivals are a brilliant new way to digest and appreciate music that could soon potentially overtake seeing artists headlining solo tours.
This is for three main reasons: cost, value, and experience.
Take Coachella for example.
This year Travis Scott is the Saturday headliner. Normally, to see a headlining tour of just Scott, the average price for a single ticket runs roughly $123. Now, to see him at Coachella, one would have to buy a three-day pass starting at $480.
That is a dramatic price difference from the $123. However, if you divide the pass price by three (since you’d be getting three days of entertainment), the single-day price to see Scott drops to $160. That is not too big a difference from seeing Scott solo, especially if you consider what you’d be getting if you choose to see him at Coachella.
When you see a headlining tour for an artist, typically, you see the headliner and an opener or two, amounting to three artists total if you’re lucky. But at a festival? You have to opportunity to see dozens of artists in one day!
A single day of Coachella offers 55 different performers for attendees to choose from, and, yes, while it is impossible to see all of them due to different stages, most have the chance to see anywhere between five to ten. If someone is truly maximizing their time at the festival and is able to see around eight artists, the $160 Travis Scott ticket becomes $50, because you divide the number of artists seen by the total cost of the ticket. What a steal!
Festivals are simply more valuable than headlining tours.
What you get for the price of one day or even a three-day pass is a heck of a lot more music and exposure to new artists. Festivals are the chance to go see new bands and those that don’t go for the entire day are just wasting their time and money.
Sure, a three-day festival like Coachella is not for the faint of heart, but even if you go just to sit in the back of the lawn and listen, you are making the most of the hundreds of dollars you spent to be there.
Also, even if you don’t know many of the songs performed by the musician, at festivals their sets are typically shorter, which means you are basically seeing a summary of their catalog. They tend to play their most popular songs, along with some of their new stuff, and/or their personal favorites. The shortened version of their normal set gives the audience, especially those seeing the musician for the first time, the opportunity to see if they like them.
While the shorter set times may be a deterrent for some, the headliners still get roughly the same amount of time that they would if they were headlining their own tour, so not much is truly lost in terms of music, just gained.
The only downside to festivals? Production.
Since at festivals it’s a rotating stage of artists, the special effects such as fire, confetti, or whatever Shabang headlining performers like to do to make their singular show special will not be a part of the festival experience.
Festivals are purely about the music.
If you’re going for a show, and I mean a show, then go to the headlining, solo tour. Go see the artist by themselves and spend the absurd amount of money, because you are paying to do so. Festivals you are paying for the music and the mere stage presence of the artists, artists whose music can carry themselves and don’t need the extensive theatrics.
This is where the distinction comes in between those who go to music festivals for the actual music versus the clout.
The culture I previously mentioned that surrounds festivals, making them an entity in and of themselves, has overtaken the festival industry and is ultimately cheapening the events. They are becoming cluttered with people who don’t actually care about the music, but the prestige of merely going to one of these festivals. They pay the gross amounts of money just to see the headliners and will spend the rest of the day taking insta-worthy pics. Those are the people who should just stick to headlining tours, since they don’t maximize their experience
Now, I am not trying to shit on headlining tours. I love them and still frequent them, but I also can acknowledge how festivals are simply more bang for my buck. This is why artists are slowly integrating more festivals into their headlining tours. They have come to this realization too.
Festivals are great for exposure and is a new way to expand their fan base. Festivals have changed the game and the bottom line is, for those who go to concerts to appreciate live music, festivals are superior to headlining tours.