Coachella 2011 via Palo Alto

I didn’t go within 500 miles of Southern California this weekend, but I did attend the Coachella Music Festival. This year’s fest was streamed live via three robust YouTube channels. Additionally, many of the individual performances and even individual songs were immediately made available via a Coachella video archive. It was awesome watching Coachella live on a 60″ screen from my king-size bed in the air conditioned comfort of my own house. Was it the same as being there.? HELL NO. Was it a cheap and comfortable and fun alternative way to experience the festival on my own terms? HELL YES.

If anyone has the background an experience to compare and contrast the live vs the online experience, I think it’s me. Or at least me and one of the dozen music photographers that spend a great deal of our summer in the photo pits of major music festivals. I’m usually there. RIGHT. UP. FRONT. In the pit, inches from performers and rabid fans, sometimes on stage, at least for the first three songs of each set. I’ve shot Lollapalooza, Sasquatch, Outside Lands, Bridge School, Treasure Island, etc, etc.

What really struck me about the online access this year was the reliability (up all weekend), the multiple channels (three live ones at any given time), the production value (there were multiple live cameras being mixed for each video feed), and ubiquity ( I had at least a dozen twitter friends live commenting on the feed.) I spent most of Saturday night at a Jerry Seinfeld standup show at the Fox in Oakland, but when I got home, it was It was pretty cool to be able to watch Arcade Fire close out Saturday night real-time with my online friends in Chicago, Portland, Seattle, while snuggling up next to my husband and a dozen down pillows.

Last night it was great to be able to find my favorite tracks from Warpaint that were archived from earlier in the day. I could pick and choose the length, order and duration of the Warpaint set, pausing when the kids needed to be put to bed or just whenever the hell I felt like it. Check out one of their archived videos, Undertow, below.

This morning, I went to Flicker and found Creative Commons remix enabled images from the festival and with some judicious editing picked out my top 30 and had some fun processing them up for this post. In particular I’d like to thank Marcelo Costa (flickr user maccosta) for uploading his images with a CC license that allowed my to crop edit and process the pix to my heart’s content (with proper attribution, of course!)

Kanye West. Original screen capture from YouTube Coachella Channel One Video feed via Stereogum via My Lightroom whims.

Some old school rock critics such as Chris Weingarten turn up their noses at this new form of festival community. Last night he declared via twitter, “Hold me to this: You will never catch me watching a live stream of a music festival on the internet.” Whatever. My 90 year old grandma rants similar luddite things about computers in general, and we all just laugh because it’s clear this talk comes from an older generation that doesn’t get it. Thank God Coachella gets it. Their archived festival videos have over 3.5 million views and 25,000 channel subscribers. I hope more and more festivals join the trend.

[flickr album=72157626527623698 num=30 size=Large]