L- Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images, R - Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images
Coachella and Splendour In The Grass are both massive moments in the music calendar each year. Coachella kicks off and dictates the festival year to come while Splendour is arguably Australia's most iconic music festival. The timings of both mean it's very possible to go to both festivals but unless your wallets are very heavy, you're probably going to have choose between one or the other.
As Splendour and Coachella veterans, we're running through the biggest comparison points of both festivals so you can either cure your Coachella FOMO or decide to make the trip to Palm Springs.
Unsurprisingly, Coachella's is much better. With a headline history that now includes the likes of Beyoncé, AC/DC, Guns 'N' Roses and more, the festival's size and reputation means it can pull bigger acts than most festivals in the world. Main stage artists are given a bigger stage and more room to explore creatively which is what makes Coachella sets iconic.
Last year, it boasted a lineup that included Beyoncé (which we'll now get to relive on a Netflix special), The Weeknd, Eminem, HAIM, SZA, ODESZA, and this year we'll be seeing Childish Gambino, Tame Impala and Ariana Grande, which immediately looks bigger than Splendour but delve a little deeper and you'll see Splendour's not doing too badly given it's on the other side of the world for most artists.
This year's Splendour headliners are Childish Gambino, Chance The Rapper, SZA and Tame Impala, with heaps of other first-grade acts like James Blake, Foals, The Lumineers, Warpaint and more filling out the bill. While Splendour may not nab Beyoncé and 100 dancers anytime soon, there's plenty to be excited about.
Coachella brings the dust, Splendour brings the mud. Both terrains come with their downsides but if you're looking for the easiest festival experience Coachella's incredibly flat grounds are going to be for you. At Splendour you're almost guaranteed to do some hiking up hills to get to that stunning amphitheatre. The experience of being in that amphitheatre at night is something Coachella can't match even though its palm tree-laden fields are a sight to behold. At night, nothing beats the Coachella skyline. Art installations, balloons, lights and trees surround the grounds. It's the kind of stuff Instagram accounts are made of and Splendour unfortunately can't deliver that same summer sheen.
Australian crowds are an excitable bunch. It's both a good and bad thing. The energy that radiates from a great set at Splendour is incomparable to anything at Coachella. It also means that occasionally you're hit with terrible behaviour that results in bottles being thrown on-stage and other punters being made to feel uncomfortable. American festival audiences on the other hand are a bit more docile. People were sitting down before Beyoncé came on-stage and it's often easy to navigate to the front of the crowd without much fuss. Aussie audiences' excitability is such a rarity for US crowds that you'll find yourself being filmed when you start to dance enthusiastically. That said, Coachella also comes with its fair-share of bro behaviour. 54 women interviewed by Teen Vogue at the festival had stories of harassment that had occurred at this year's festival.
THE BUS LINES
Splendour has had its issues with bus lines in the past but it doesn't quite compare to attempting to get home from Coachella after a headline act. The US festival culture is different to Australia with less of a reliance on camping. Punters are more likely to stay in Palm Springs, or somewhere between there and the festival, meaning the traffic going out is intense.
FOOD AND DRINK
You can try and dress it up anyway you like but festival food is festival food. Both Splendour and Coachella are full of pizza, pasta, burgers and chips. The big difference here is drinking. Where Splendour allows festivalgoers to go anywhere within the grounds with drinks from the bar, you can only drink at Coachella if you're in a designated bar area.
Look, let's just say you're unlikely to get JAY-Z dropping into any sets at Splendour this year.
THE VIP EXPERIENCE
We're not talking about a VIP ticket, we're talking about walking into the festival, all dressed up, feeling like a superstar for three days. Coachella has made a name for itself as the celeb festival. You'll see everyone from Kendall Jenner to Rihanna wandering around in designer festival gear that months of prep has gone into. This kind of attitude has translated to the punters and as such the outfits come first, closely followed by the parties. This means the music can sometimes take a backseat. Splendour punters also place a heavy emphasis on fashion but you're more likely to see someone with mud up to their knees than you are with a custom Off-White outfit. Splendour has also had the likes of Kate Moss and Gwyneth Paltrow on its grounds but it's hardly known as a 'celebrity festival'. If you're there for the music that's probably a good thing.
The fact of the matter is, you're never going to see a spectacle quite like Coachella. It's a festival on a scale that most Aussie festivals can't match, delivering A-grade productions revolving around some of the greatest artists of our generation. That said, there's something magical and personal about Splendour that Coachella can't match. Many artists that come here for the festival cite it as their favourite on the calendar and it's easy to see why. It's a (mostly) friendly community that places the music first and it's in our own backyard.
Coachella 2019's weekend one kicks off this Friday and Splendour In The Grass have just announced their 2019 line-up.