Coachella started as the premier source of live music discovery, but over its 20-year history, the festival has become an expensive fashion week for trust fund babies. Turns out the flower crown-wearing rich girls and backward hat-wearing bros aren’t the only reasons to hate this fest.
Coachella’s policies cater to the rich and famous musicians. Their radius clause forbids any musician to play another music festival in North America or in the festival’s location for 100 days. That might be fine for someone like Beyoncé or Billie Ellish who can afford to take some festivals off but it screws smaller indie bands who pay out of pocket to travel to Coachella and then can’t work to make that money back.
But it’s not just the band policies that taint Coachella. The conservative politics of the people behind the festival are truly alarming as well. When you support Coachella, you help support Coachella founder Philip Anschutz’s pro-gun, anti-LGBTQ and right-wing agenda.
Anschutz was born into an oil tycoon family and bought his father’s company, Circle A Drilling, and multiple business ventures before he started the Anschutz Foundation in 1984 where he has donated to many admirable causes like children hospitals and The Red Cross.
However, his Christian conservative beliefs also led him to causes that perpetuate hate and exclusivity.
In 2016 he was accused of donating $190,000 to anti-LGBTQ pro-life organizations like Alliance Defending Freedom and the Family Research Council. Though he denied it and called it “fake news,” his foundation’s annual tax filing recorded three year’s worth of donations to the groups. The same tax filing revealed the foundation also donated to groups espousing alarming LGBTQ rhetoric as well as anti-abortion organizations and anti-marijuana efforts.
In July 2016 the foundation donated $25,000 to Movieguide Awards, an annual award ceremony for Christian and family-friendly entertainment known for calling homosexuality “unnatural” and “destructive.” Also in 2016, they donated $50,000 to Dare 2 Share Ministries, a Christian education program that “equips” teens to share their faith and become youth leaders to “advance the Gospel,” which posted in a now-deleted blog post on their website that homosexuality is a “satanic perversion of God’s gift of sex.”
He also donated about $200k to Republican politicians and Super PACs. And, though not as unhumanitarian, more just uncool, he donates to anti-marijuana programs like Smart Colorado, an anti-marijuana organization in Colorado, where marijuana is now legal. And even though marijuana use is also legal in Coachella’s home state of California, the festival still bans weed on the grounds.
Anschutz has claimed to support the LGBTQ community and co-owner of Coachella Paul Tollett told the L.A. Times that the Anschutz Foundation also donates to LGBT organizations, like Anschutz’ $1 million donation to Elton John AIDS Foundation’s LGBT Fund. That’s one donation to a good cause next to the many more hateful organizations he donates to. So, yes, I too would love to see pop goddesses like Ariana Grande and Lizzo alongside indie rockers like Boy Pablo and Iceage, but is it really worth selling out your principals and indirectly perpetuating hate?
If you’re looking for more inclusive festivals check out Afro-Punk Festival or Lightning in a Bottle. Afro-Punk includes a beautifully eclectic array of genres that highlight African American artists. And Lightning in a Bottle is a large bohemian getaway that includes electronic music, DJs, dancing and yoga centered around sustainability, harm reduction and cultural respect.