Springtime typically marks the start of the music festival season in the U.S., as major festivals begin in March and continue throughout summer. However, mounting concerns over the rapid spread of coronavirus disease has already led to several changes and upsets for #FestivalSeason2020.
The most notable cancellations that have occurred thus far include the SXSW Music Festival, which has occurred annually in Austin, Texas for the past 33 years. The popular electronic dance music festival, Ultra, which has taken place in Miami each March for the past 21 years, has also been ‘postponed’ until next year.
While such cancellations may have impacted some USC students’ springtime plans, recent news related to a potential cancellation or postponement of the Coachella and Stagecoach music festivals, which were anticipated to occur in Indio Valley next month, will have an unparalleled impact on music-enthusiasts among the USC student body.
The Coachella Music Festival, the most popular music festival in California, in addition to its country music counterpart Stagecoach, is still slated to occur this April for the time being, however, festival organizers are considering postponing the event until October.
Representatives from Goldenvoice, the music events company behind both Coachella and Stagecoach, have already begun contacting music industry agents about their talents’ availability in October, but Goldenvoice has yet to release an official statement regarding the events’ postponements.
Concerns over postponing or canceling major festivals such as Coachella, which attracted nearly half a million attendees last year, have been discussed since the first known case of coronavirus was announced on U.S. soil. However, the pressures to cancel the music festival intensified the past couple of days after the announcement of multiple cases of COVD-19 in Riverside County.
While representatives from Goldenvoice are not expected to release an official announcement regarding Coachella’s anticipated postponement until Thursday, major news publications including Rolling Stone, Billboard, and Forbes have already reported that the music festival will postpone to October, when the impact of COVD-19 is expected to diminish.
The expected postponement or possible cancellation has impacted many USC students’ travel plans, as Coachella attracts hundreds, if not thousands of USC students annually.
“It’s upsetting to think that Coachella won’t be happening this year because it’s definitely something I look forward to each spring,” commented junior theater major Tara Ledermann. “I’m still happy that it’s probably not happening right now though because I would be scared to come back to school after Coachella weekend knowing that a lot of my classmates could’ve been exposed. Even if I didn’t get a refund, I probably wouldn’t go right now."
Other students recognize that there would be many complications if Goldenvoice decides to postpone Coachella and Stagecoach. “I personally believe there’s a significantly larger chance Coachella’s canceled," said Decker Patterson, a sophomore double majoring in theater and music industry. "Postponing a festival of this size will completely knock the entire corporation that is Coachella out of whack. There’s no way they’d move it to October and then have another Coachella the following April.”
“I think Coachella canceling would be the end all be all of festival cancellations and set a precedent for large festivals to cancel,” added Paterson.“ However, I think it’s creating a power vacuum that is allowing smaller festivals like Beyond Wonderland to thrive. I’m going to Beyond Wonderland in its place now as are many others."
Beyond Wonderland, an electronic music festival slated to occur in San Bernadino the last weekend of March features major headliners such as Tiesto and Diplo and is expected to attract thousands of SoCal residents, especially following the expected Coachella postponement. However, while attendees like Paterson are eager for Beyond Wonderland, others are fearful amid concerns over COVD-19.
Junior communications major Sabrina Gonclaves also bought tickets for this year’s Beyond Wonderland but voiced different sentiments over the EDM festival amid the corona scare. “With huge festivals like Coachella postponing, I’m not sure I want to go to Beyond Wonderland this year,” said Gonclaves. “San Bernadino is pretty close to Riverside and it just seems like breathing ground for the virus to spread. Losing the money I spent on tickets would be upsetting but we all need to make health our priority."
The expected Coachella postponement will also likely influence other major events planned this spring, as other concerts and festivals are expected to follow suit. “Everybody’s watching Coachella. If Coachella goes down, it’s going to be a domino effect,” said an executive from Goldenvoice in a statement to Esquire.
As Coachella’s official postponement has yet to be confirmed and many USC students still plan to travel and attend music festivals during spring break and the weekends following, only time will tell whether or not the music industry’s preventative measures against coronavirus will be effective.
“So many 'SC students are still traveling for break and going to festivals, but I just really don’t think it’s worth it. I could probably go and not get sick, but if I carry [coronavirus] and get someone’s baby or grandparents sick, I wouldn’t know what to do with myself,” said Gonclaves. "Just because we’re young doesn’t mean we’re invincible and I hope people remember that, especially with spring break coming up.”