Tropicália Review: Are Music Festivals Worth The Money?

Coachella, Warped Tour, Camp Flog Gnaw. Ever since I was in middle school, I’ve wanted to go to a music festival. I finally fulfilled this dream a few weeks ago at Tropicália Fest in Long Beach. Was it everything I wanted it to be? I’m still not sure.

I arrived at the festival around 11 a.m. after a long bus ride and no breakfast. I was hungry, tired and sweaty. As a broke college kid, I was not entirely willing to spend much money on food, but reluctantly bought two tacos and a drink for $18. That was my first complaint of the day. Though I understand the economics behind the pricing at these events, I just did not enjoy having to pay so much for a meal when I could have bought one dollar tacos back home.

After lunch, my friends and I went to see The Garden’s set at the Chavela stage. We had been wanting to see The Garden for months, and it was great being able to finally see them live. Because it was a festival and there were 36 total artists, the sets were a lot shorter than a typical concert set would be.

However, the lineup was undeniably incredible. Despite the few last-minute cancellations, the variety of genres and the emphasis on Latin-American artists was incredible. I was already a big fan of a few artists there, like The Frights, Omar Apollo, Gus Dapperton, Frankie Cosmos and Kali Uchis. Even if I was not previously familiar with all the artists that performed, the diverse lineup allowed me to discover several new artists, especially Still Woozy and Phum Viphurit.

At concerts, the crowd is usually composed of followers of the bands who keep up with all their music, but at Tropicália, a lot of the crowd, like me, was just there for a few specific artists and did not actually know many of the songs that were performed. This made for a very different vibe, but it was not necessarily a bad thing. I was still able to jump around and sing along to the songs I did know, even if the energy was a bit lower than I’d expect for some artists. For me, the best part of the festival was being able to see a bunch of artists with my friends all in one day. It was far too bright and a little exhausting, but a good time nonetheless. Everyone had cute outfits and I was able to spend time with friends listening to music we all liked. Whether this was worth the expenses is still up for debate, though. I don’t regret going, but I’m uncertain if I would necessarily pay for it again. A good old-fashioned small concert venue is much more up my alley.