What Might a Coachella in Texas Be Like?

Could this be Coachella or Austin City Limits?
Could this be Coachella or Austin City Limits? Photo by sputnik via amor_ via Flickr
I imagine it would look a lot like Austin City Limits. Hell, it would probably take place in Austin. With regard to Coachella, the main difference would be spotlighting a bit more country, something ACL has always embraced. Acts like Chris Stapleton and Asleep at the Wheel have graced the ACL stage in recent years, and it’s a fair bet any Texas-based Coachella would have to embrace that as well. Whether it’s Texas country types like Pat Green or Kevin Fowler playing during the afternoon, or country heavyweights like Sturgill Simpson closing out the event, any major festival in Texas has to embrace the genre for which our state is most properly known. The key for a Texas-based Coachella, both in terms of selling tickets and generating media interest and coverage, would be diversity among the headliners. Start with a pop heavyweight (Beyoncé is a Texan, and has already committed to Coachella 2018), pair them with a rap superstar (Drake loves himself some Texas) and an electric rock outfit (maybe the Killers or LCD Soundsystem) and close things out with a little bit of country, maybe native son George Strait. This festival would be a big thing. Texas forever. CLINT HALE


A reimagined Coachella but set right here in the Lone Star State: Mescalero Fest! This four-day music rodeo is set in Marfa, the most fashionable settlement this side of the Rio Grande where hip-spanics mingle with runway cowboys and trust fund fairies alike at this outdoor festival. Set in the crisp autumn month of October, the festival features a rattlesnake roundup, a steers and queers brunchfest where the party doesn’t stop till the Lone Star and margaritas run dry. Nightly events include a bonfire that rivals the ol’ Aggie tradition.

In Texas we have a little saying that we like to stick to: Go big or go home. In terms of the lineup, we could not bear to disappoint, so acts would have to be bold and Texas-centric. In short — real rebels. Contemporary headliners would range from a Beyoncé and Solange split-stage to Rage Against the Machine, Black Sabbath, Arcade Fire to Erykah Badu, Princess Nokia and Daft Punk. You couldn’t be so close to the border and not include something spicy to mix it up, so let’s bring back Vicente Fernández onstage for one last ranchera. A state-of-the-art 3-D projection tent filled with New Age meditation gurus and the latest Turrell-esque light art would pay tribute to lone ranger favorites like Buddy Holly, Selena, DJ Screw, Janis Joplin, Ornette Coleman, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Robert Johnson and even the famous hippie cowboy, Doug Sahm.

Local acts would feature the latest up-and-comers, like SURVIVE, the Tontons, Wild Moccasins, Golden Dawn Arkestra, Neon Indian, FEA and House of Kenzo. Staying favorites include: Spoon, At the Drive-In, Okkervil River, Girl in a Coma, The Suffers, Balmorhea, the Old 97’s, The Polyphonic Spree and Explosions in the Sky. But we’ll also give our country favorites, like Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett and George Strait, a stage under the stars. And what the hell — let’s throw in the psych weirdos like Ringo Deathstarr, Indian Jewelry (Studded Left??), Dallas Acid, Charalambides, The Black Angels and the 13th Floor Elevators. And you couldn’t have a music festival in Texas without bringing in Fort Worth alt-rockers the Toadies.

After four days of rockin’ and rollin’ out under grand Texas skies, stuffing your face with tacos, tequila and burnout from the haze of the Texas sun, you’ll gather up your camp, dust off your cowboy boots and ride off into the sunset daydreaming of the time you’ll meet the Lone Star State again. VERONICA A. SALINAS


Where: Taking Indio’s proximity to Los Angeles into account, the best place for a "Texas Coachella" might be something called Mason. It’s 100 miles away from the state’s biggest music city (still Austin, y’all) and pointed toward the desert. There doesn’t seem to be much out that way, so one assumes plenty of wide-open space is available for the racket and traffic associated with a major music festival. Who: Huge acts. It can’t work without Kendricks and Beyoncés and Radioheads, since our fest would conceivably be sandwiched between SXSW and ACL. Otherwise, just add comics and call it Fun Fun Fun Fest again. Why: There’s obviously no reason to add another massive music fest to Austin's saturated music calendar. On second thought, let’s put this thing in Madisonville, midway between Houston and Dallas, to snag the I-45 music-lovin' traffic. There’s even a Buc-ee’s there in case Gaga has a hankering for a Pepsi and some beef jerky. JESSE SENDEJAS JR.


In all honesty, I've always considered Austin City Limits to be the Coachella of Texas. Although Coachella is a few years older than ACL, there's something about ACL that has the same vibe. When I try to picture it, I view something similar to Zilker Park — hills, beautiful grass and a gorgeous view that's made even better by just-right weather. The audience would be more diverse in terms of age, but there would still be the large sum of kids dressing with the intention to impress. However, I could argue that our fashion would be better, as Texans seem more keen on the idea of playing with their looks by thrifting for vintage goods and putting together something creative instead of dishing out large sums of money for an outfit that looks run-of-the-mill. Other than that, I really don't see it being much different from ACL. We'd continue to have more laid-back acts instead of the big names, our celebrity sightings would continue to be impressive without insanity taking over, but at the end of the day, it would still be something worth talking about. ALYSSA DUPREE


Coachella in Texas would be held in an abandoned oil field somewhere out west, taking advantage of the cachet of authenticity rusted into towering rigs. Hundreds of insouciantly decorated Airstream trailers would colonize the dusky outskirts of a fading town. There would be cowboy hats instead of flower crowns, leather fringe instead of...well, just more leather fringe. Vendors would provide no fewer than five different kinds of artisanal barbecue, and one of the options would be vegan. Unsanctioned guerrilla tamale hucksters would make enough money to support their families for an entire year. And the lineup? The lineup would rival the festival's West Coast cousin, but with the requisite Texas twang. Chance the Rapper would line-dance to "No Problems" on top of a stage made from a temporarily relocated Donald Judd exhibit. Beyoncé and Willie Nelson would do a tear-jerking acoustic cover of "Sandcastles" as the sun set in a glorious polluted purple haze. Okay, honestly? This imaginary Coachella sounds amazing enough to cough up Coachella-level money for. Omar — make this happen. KATIE SULLIVAN


Let’s not kid ourselves here. Coachella in Texas would look like a cross between the Houston rodeo and SXSW or Austin City Limits. Whether that appeals to you or not, it’s undeniably what happens when you mix music, carnival rides, art exhibits and masses of hot, sweaty bodies in the Lone Star State. Sure, SXSW isn’t nearly as hip and cool as it was 25 years ago, but neither is Coachella, whose origins lie as an alternative venue utilized by Pearl Jam during the grunge gods' mid-'90s campaign against the capitalist pigs of Ticketmaster. Coachella, for all its destination-festival cachet, is now mostly background stock for every Cali girl’s IG fodder. True, Texas has plenty of selfie scenery too — I mean, have you seen our bluebonnets? — but Coachella is markedly commercial without the offsetting cultural benefits.

Sure, SoCal’s culture is steeped in material displays of wealth and celebrity, but Texas hasn’t been that way since the Oil Boom; I, for one, would like to keep it that way. The corporate changes to SXSW notwithstanding, Coachella has a flavor all its own, one that has become bland and tasteless. Do you really want a Texas music festival to become a sea of basic white girls? A mass gathering of Venti Affluent Privilege? Could you stand ten rows deep trying to watch Willie perform his last show over dozens of Tumblr selfies and Forever 21 predictability? Could you give up the Butthole Surfers for Blink-182? Slap yourself out of it before you too end up with a tattoo of a dreamcatcher and looping script across a spray-tanned shoulder blade proclaiming the oft-quoted upper-middle-class commandment of “Live, Laugh, Love.” Put your boots on and keep that mess in Cali where it belongs. KRISTY LOYE
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