Filters, festivals and fake followers


Photo by Will Haung

Music festival season is a time where social media is flooded with photos of Valencia filtered girls in distressed shorts, flower crowns and chokers. Guys who look like they stepped out of a Vans ad can be seen smiling smugly, snapbacks firmly in place, peace signs thrown in front of them to match their picture’s accompanying hashtag, #goodvibes.

Over the past few years, a culture of superficiality has begun to develop surrounding music festivals. This uninspired trend has spawned an incessant need for people to prove that they were simply even present at events like Coachella through endless Instagram updates, rather than attending them to enjoy the actual music.

With the fluctuating popularity of different celebrities, their numerous appearances at music  events and their commercial endorsement for complete disasters like Fyre Festival, the worthiness of these concert getaways for many rests solely on which famous faces stand behind them.

YouTube vloggers – and basically anyone else with a substantial internet following – have deemed Coachella to be the end-all experience for any young music lover, regardless of whether or not they like or even recognize the bands playing there.

A video I recently watched entitled “MY BAD EXPERIENCES WITH CELEBRITIES AT COACHELLA” (complete with a crying emoji) made me roll my eyes with significantly winnowing patience as it went on.

Essentially, this girl was incredibly upset that the two celebrities she met didn’t immediately lose their shit at the idea of taking a selfie with her – a hesitation was attributed to rudeness.

Her entire vlog was dedicated to her fussing over her makeup and taking pictures of herself, rather than simply relishing in the opportunity she had to appreciate the musicians playing songs in the background of her video.

A singular draw has become the atmosphere of freedom fueled millennials twirling in a hazy sea of Aztec prints and ponchos, mouthing along to lyrics they don’t really know the words to. Manicured hands extend in every direction clutching disgustingly gluttonous Homer Simpson-sized food or unicorn-coloured sweets, perfectly crafted to match their social media account’s aesthetic and theme.

For any music festival that sparks my interest, I look up their respective lineups before anything else. This seems like a pretty logical course of action for a literal showcase of various music groups.


But my annoyance over the complete lack of care many people seem to have for the bands themselves is something which doesn’t seem to be waning in the slightest.

Complaining about people’s fixation with appearances rather than experiences may seem like a pointless admonishment coming from the withered lips of an elderly woman grumbling about the catastrophic state of youth today. However, it is not a completely invalid criticism to note the distinct lack of actual investment dedicated to music and the people behind it, when it’s utilized as a mere backdrop on a stage in sunny California.

I’m not a fan of the opposing extreme to this idea either – musical elitism thrives in circumstances like this. While I don’t believe people attending concerts should be quizzed like they’re participating in the Fast Money round of Family Feud, I don’t think it’s outrageous to expect people to like the music they’re paying to hear, either.

Regardless of why these incredibly expensive photo ops thinly disguised as musical retreats are so highly attended and overhyped, the least you can do is not wear a Native American headdress as a culturally appropriated example of festival fashion.

In the meantime, I’ll calm my judgements by waiting for the already buzzing Fyre Festival flick being created by Seth Rogen and The Lonely Island. Take it away, boys.

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