Coachella 2013: The Festival Experience Behind the Music


Coachella 2013. All photographs by Kelly Klopfer
Coachella 2013. All photographs by Kelly Klopfer

Many of us prefer wide-ranging festivals with many artists, producers and DJs as opposed to smaller concerts featuring just one single artist and there’s a reason there’s so much thrill and enthusiasm about them. People who have never attended a festival argue that all festivals have to offer are the loud thumping of DJ sets, overpaying for water, beer and parking, using filthy port-a-potties, and the beating sun. Be assured these details are true but you’re also going to bring back an experience unlike anything else. As an infamous festivalgoer myself (attending as many as I can afford each year) I believe every person should experience at least one festival in their lifetime.

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This past year at Coachella Valley Music Festival I took an old 35mm point and shoot camera with me and tons of black and white film (Black and white film was mostly chosen as an excuse to get back into the darkroom, but I believe the nostalgia of analog photography ties into the countless memories you’ll create while at these concerts). The purpose of this project was to capture some of my favorite things about the festival experience, and in hopes to persuade more people to crave the same experiences.

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The beauty of a music festival is that it is not only about the music, but there is great food, activities, camping, beautiful art installations and it is a awesome place to meet new friends from all over the world. It’s a playground for new experiences and a time to put life on hold and live in the moment.

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When I attend a festival I feel as if I am Alice, jumping into the rabbit hole into another world or dimension. It really is humankind at its best, never have I seen a sense of community (between thousands and thousands of people) so strong. Everyone is your friend. People from all over the world, with different beliefs and backgrounds all come together for the same reason, and for a weekend we are all family. The sense of camaraderie and togetherness is truly outstanding; this alone keeps me coming back again and again.

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Along with the community, the environment created by art installations, lighting, and creative costumes undeniably shapes this versatile experience. The art at the festival includes architectural work, interactive installations, and lighting, which are visually stimulating, and help create the mood. The overall atmosphere allows people to let go and forget out the worries of reality, at least for the weekend.

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And Lastly, all the little things like crazy outfits and face paint, hippies with hula-hoops, greasy pizza and overpriced beer, carnival rides, not showering for three days, all contribute to a wonderful experience and there are always more to add to the list every time you attend. Music Festivals are eye opening, enlightening and the positive nature is beyond empowering, every individual should experience this at least once.

Kelly Klopfe

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