Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival and Stagecoach Festival were set to hold their annual events in California during April, but because of the rapid spread of COVID-19, organizers decided to postpone the events until October. However, this may even prove too soon for festivals of their size.
Riverside County encompasses the Coachella Valley, and it was highly advised by public health professionals that everyone in the county take precautions in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival was originally planned to take place April 10–12 and April 17–19. Coachella will now be delayed six months and is scheduled for Oct. 9–11 and Oct. 16–18, though health officials will determine if this is feasible as the new dates draw closer.
Coachella has yet to declare any changes in the lineup, but the original lineup included Travis Scott, Frank Ocean, Rage Against the Machine, Doja Cat, Ali Gatie, 21 Savage and other popular artists.
Stagecoach is another popular music festival featuring country music, and it was also postponed until mid-October. The music festival is scheduled to take place Oct. 23–25 on the same grounds as Coachella, the Empire Polo Club in Indio, Calif.
All tickets that were purchased will be valid for the new dates of the festivals and anyone who cannot make it to the festival will get a refund.
Thomas Chavez, sophomore exercise science major at California Baptist University, said he thought it was smart to postpone such large gatherings. According to the festivals’ promoter, Goldenvoice, Coachella hosts a crowd of roughly 100,000 people per day, while Stagecoach draws an average of 70,000 per day.
“Out of all the things to postpone, Coachella is definitely a good choice, but I still think the media is blowing COVID-19 way out of proportion. I think everyone’s reaction to this thing is ridiculous,” Chavez said.
Chavez said the main reason he is concerned is that it is highly contagious and there is still not a vaccine.
“It’s hard to get necessities like meat and toilet paper. (People) are treating it like it’s the end of the world. We can share so much through the media in such little time; that is what is causing people to panic,” Chavez said.
Ashley Gutierrez, senior sociology major, said it is a smart move on the part of festival organizers to keep public health a priority, but she also expressed concerns over the media’s coverage of the pandemic.
“In my opinion, the media is taking COVID-19 too far. It is impossible to end a disease, but our immune systems are stronger than we think,” Gutierrez said.
Chase Porter, assistant professor of political science, said the organizations affiliated with these music festivals will experience a huge loss of revenue because people who had planned on attending the April events may not be able to attend events in the fall.
Porter did, however, note that fall festivals often experience great success.
“Variety reports that in 2016, the Desert Trip Music Festival was held for two weekends in October at the same site as Coachella and Stagecoach and grossed $160 million. So fall festivals can be quite successful,” Porter said.
Porter also said that postponement rather than cancellation was the wiser option amid unprecedented times.
“The Washington Post and ABC News conducted a poll from March 22-25, which seems to indicate that younger generations are quite concerned about the impact of the virus. For instance, among the 18-29 age group, 72 percent of respondents were either ‘worried’ or ‘very worried’ that either they or someone in their immediate family would catch the virus,” Porter said.
After the announcement of the postponement of these music festivals, other artists are following suit, with most live music events on hold through the end of the summer, at least. On April 20, Taylor Swift announced she would be cancelling all her upcoming appearances and concerts through the end of 2020. With the impact of COVID-19 still growing, it remains to be seen whether big gatherings such as Coachella and Stagecoach will happen in 2020 at all.