“Why Coachella Ought to be Deemed a Religious Experience” by Liz Crosby


Throughout Coachella 2009, I kept seeing subtle things (and not so subtle things) alluding to the power of music.  Eventually, it became overwhelming how many beautiful moments were amassing in my short term memory.  I decided that I had to record them using the median with which I am most capable manipulating, the English language.  Some things witnessed were altogether reminiscent of religion, in particular Christianity.

1.  The checkpoint that all fans had to pass through before entering reminded me of dipping one’s hand in the bowl of water to bless one’s self before entering into a church.  Just as that is meant to be a spiritual cleansing before entry into the church; we also had to be cleansed of weed, alcohol, and whatever else we might attempt to bring into the stage area.  They weren’t very good at checking.

2.  The majority of people – or at least the die hard fans – walked from concert to concert barefoot for the most part.  It is common for religious devotees to take off their shoes before entering a religious place.  For instance, Moses took off his shoes before approaching the burning bush.  It is also customary to take one’s shoes off before entering a Hindu temple.

3.  During the Paul McCartney concert, a woman was holding up a towel with John Lennon’s face on it.  Paul pointed to it, and the cameramen quickly captured the image for all to see.  Need I say what this is reminiscent of?  In case you’re a little hazy on your “Stations of the Cross,” I’m referring to the station in which the woman wipes Jesus’ face with a towel only to come away with an image of his face on her towel.  I suppose John Lennon was onto something when he said that he was bigger than Jesus.

4.  At People Under The Stairs, fans were so fervently waving their hands in the air with the beat of the song that it reminded me of a Southern Baptist Church times 100 maybe.

5.  People were getting immensely dehydrated at the Lykke Li concert, so she took a water bottle and sprayed people with it.  It looked like she was blessing her fans with water just as a priest may do occasionally as he descends the aisle.

6.  At the end of the Girl Talk concert, a blow up raft for a pool emerged from somewhere and the DJ was on top of it.  He stood atop of it as all of the fans supported it with their reaching arms.  He was legitimately crowd surfing.  I felt like a water molecule in a stream or something, and he was walking on us.  The connotation is abundantly clear now, I’m sure.  He was walking on water like Jesus.

7. Speaking of Jesus’ miracles, many of my friends possessed the power to change water, not into wine, but into vodka.  We carried it around with us wherever we went in our water bottles.

8. Just as mass has its Eucharist, which consists of the body of Christ and the blood of Christ, so too did any given concert have it’s own distorted version of a Eucharist.  Except, instead of consuming a crappy wafer and some cheap wine, we consumed weed, vodka, e, etc.

Perhaps this experience that is Coachella seems so similar to Christianity because it is essentially living life to its fullest extent.  It’s the same concept as religion as it originated.  A bunch of people amassing around someone with a message is what it’s all about.  Each one of those artists has a message to tell humanity and a parish to sing it to who will inevitably sing it back just as a parish community might sing hymns.  In a way, each artist is emitting out into the universe a philosophy regarding how to live life.  Which philosophy do you adhere to?