If you're plugged in to what's going down at Coachella, you've no doubt heard by now that one of the most illustrious hip hop acts of all time suffered a disastrous reunion set in California on Friday night, to the point where Andre 3000 asked the lackluster crowd mid-performance, "are y'all still here?" As the set progressed, people streamed out of the crowd and the supposed climax of "Hey Ya!" went over with the intensity of a poorly faked orgasm. Well, this got off to an awkward start…I guess appropriately so. There's no other way to describe a legendary reunion show being met with such malaise.
Fifteen years ago when lyrics-based hip hop ran the popular music scene, a Coachella audience would go crazy for a show like this. Live hip hop was the most exciting game in town, and your average festival-attendee would have a more personal connection with the act on stage. They were more likely to buy their ticket not with a "music festival experience" in mind, but with particular artists in mind. With the advent of the modern music festival, driven by dance music, this sentiment has shifted dramatically.
A large portion of your average, mainstream festival-goer of 2014 heads out their front door with a different expectation than their counterparts in the past. Festivals today with any sort of electronic tilt have implicitly promised stratospheric production values, insane light shows, and flawless control of crowd energy: in summary, an opportunity to lose your fucking mind. You can plop down hundreds of dollars without knowing a single artist and still know you're going to have a blast. The needle has slowly shifted away from "music," towards "party."