Opinion

By Séamus Smyth

The hipster’s equivalent to Christmas morning arrived this past week when Coachella announced its 2012 lineup. For the first time since its inception the festival will run the exact same lineup for two consecutive weekends, which shot whisperings and expectations for the lineup to unprecedented heights.

Many of the mouth-watering rumours never came to fruition, as Radiohead, the Black Keys and Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg were announced as this year’s headlining committee. It’s not that these three lack any star power or are not worthy of top billing status, but when compared to last year’s dream team featuring Arcade Fire, Kings of Leon and the Strokes, 2012 is not even in the same stratosphere as 2011.

Firstly, the Black Keys were featured on last year’s roster. They were certainly one of the highlights as they shredded through their stellar album, “Brothers.” Yet, Coachella is supposed to offer a fresh perspective every April so why are the Keys’ invited back so soon? Yes, they have reached rock’s elite and did recently release another highly-touted album, but I do not agree that this validates a consecutive invitation to perform at California’s biggest shindig.

Secondly, Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg haven’t released a classic body of work (Dre hasn’t released anything period) since the late 1990s. I refuse to approve of Coachella suddenly becoming a haven for hip-hop nostalgia acts.  How convenient it must be for the Coachella organizational team to include Dre and Snoop who both happen to be from California and no doubt allow the committee to save heaps of money on travel and housing. But why should fans have to pay top dollar for a producer that hasn’t put out anything relevant since 1999 and a washed-up rapper whose most notable appearance as of late was a half-baked cameo appearance on Katie Perry’s “California Girls”? Rap has a tough enough time competing for the attention of the rock/dance thirsty herds of shirtless males and females, but thankfully it has been strongly represented the past two years by the Great Kanye, and his mentor the year prior, Jay-Z.  Yet in 2012, the only excitement one could draw from watching two forty-year-old former gangsters strut around onstage is the small sliver of chance that Eminem may make a guest appearance to insert some much needed adrenaline into what will undoubtedly be two hip-hop legends performing as shadows of their former selves.

Although I am not sold on the Keys’ and the D.R.E and The Doggfather as headliners, I have been crushing to see Radiohead since the day I saw the “Karma Police” video. Yes, Thom Yorke was present at Coachella 2010, but it was as a member of his side project Atoms of Peace, therefore Radiohead’s presence at this year’s festivities is more than warranted. Yet, when you dissect the other potential British bands that may or may not have been available, it again stales the Coachella fruit punch. The Rollin’ Stones are celebrating their 50th anniversary this year and what better way to commemorate one of the globe’s most influential bands than a showcase at one of the continent’s most prestigious festivals? Is it possible that the Coachella squad would rather keep the extra cash rather than splurge on Mick and Keith’s potentially excessive monetary demands? And how could one possibly not inquire as to why the world’s biggest band, Coldplay, fluorescent butterflies and all, are not closing out one of the Coachella evenings?  The appeal of witnessing Coldplay belt out “Paradise” in one of the few places on earth that could live up to the title, would be worth almost the full price of admission itself.

It seems that Coachella is all too aware of the flood of money that will run their direction regardless of how ambitious their headlining lineup is. With admission costing upwards of $350 American, the cost of flights and a place to stay that can run upwards of $1,000 for a weekend, it seems that one of world’s most enticing three-day experiences has finally become an over-hyped, inflated, penny-pinching machine. For the first time in three years, I will likely skip the west coast and hold out until August, where Lollapalooza 2012 will take place in Chicago.

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