First off, props to Goldenvoice for being hip to the 21st century and streaming their Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival online. Although not all performances remained online after the festival, their choice to share without obligation was an additional bonus for us at home. The webcast was so adequate, in fact, that it was even better than being there. My specious reasoning is as follows:
1. The comforts of home: I’m sure giant art installations, a ferris wheel, amusement tents, and the general atmosphere of the Inland desert are appealing to some. But there’s something to be said about waking up at 4 PM, slowly rolling out of bed, brushing last night’s bean dip off your encrusted t-shirt, and watching The Black Keys play for an hour. Sure, I’m alone, as I always am and always will be. But if we cling to the Jean Paul-Sartre line, “hell is other people,” then this is surely a heavenly prison.
2. YouTube is preferable to live: You know how terrible concerts are, right? There’s, like, loud noises, and sometimes the stage is so big you get sensory overload and can’t focus. With the convenience of the streaming webcast, I can focus all my attention on a 5-inch wide rectangle in my cold, darkened room. My mild claustrophobia is more manageable than my rampant agoraphobia. Plus, with my state-of-the-art-in-2002 laptop speakers, it adds a cool fishbowl effect to any performance and I can pretend I’m inside a giant tin can. Imagination games are far less terrifying than trying to awkwardly figure out how to dance to The Weeknd.
3. I am afraid of holograms and you should be too: We all know the news about Tupac’s expensive projection into the realm of the living, and this development should only be a cause for concern. I’ve always linked holograms with ghosts, which is an association burned into me at a young age during a trip to Disneyland’s haunted house ride. In truth, holograms are close cousins of ghosts, and we should be worried about their incoming popularity. We are already afraid of robot uprisings and AI technology. We have a natural fear of vengeful spirits. Holograms combine the worst of both worlds: The unstoppable intangibility of ghosts and the cold brutality of robots. We must stop the march towards zombie holograms before it is too late.
4. I would have missed WWE SmackDown: Sure, Radiohead is a cool band and all, but I had to see if Daniel Bryan was going to get another shot at the World Title.
5. Loading times present opportunities to think back on where you went wrong: Should I have been smarter with my money? Do I need to take more initiative to be adventurous? Am I not proactive enough in shaping the course of my life? These are all questions you can ask yourself in the time it takes for the Wild Flag show to finish buffering. And really, is that not more valuable than 3 days of all the concerts your heart desires? Too often, joy and celebration get in the way of our doubt and anxiety, and how are we ever supposed to get out from under the crushing heel that is our lives if we don’t face it daily?
There are also a few dozen logistical nitpicks that might be considered a benefit – no commute, some hundreds saved, no possibility of sunburn – but these are merely mechanical benefits. They’re pedestrian and tangible. The lasting value lies in these desperate rationalizations. These are the ones that I think about daily, usually when I catch a glimpse of my reflection and realize that, for some reason, there are tears on my face.