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Big 4 vs. Coachella: Which Will Reign Superior?

The Empire Polo Club in Indio, California has booked a third event to go down on their grounds between Coachella and the Stagecoach country festival this April.

Metal fans are rejoicing over The Big 4, a one-day concert featuring some of metal's most prominent acts: Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, and Anthrax.

In an effort to declare one Indio event superior to another, Up On The Sun's Mike Meyer and Lenni Rosenblum have duked it out.

Lenni, 20, tends to like acts like O.A.R. and John Mayer, while Mike is our resident 37-year-old cynical metal head.

Let the festival throw-down begin.

The Crowd

Lenni: Everyone is friendly and gentle at Coachella. They're down for sharing their weed and spreading a little free love. At Big 4, it's every man for himself. While I'm certain that they're all kind and harmless people, honestly, biker guys intimidate me, and at Big 4, well, I'd imagine that they'd be everywhere.

Mike: The crowd at Big 4 is definitely going to skew older and more masculine, but that's nothing to be intimidated by. If anything, it'd work to your advantage. At Coachella, you'll be just another 20-something hipster chick. At Big 4, you could be a metal goddess. All you'd need is a tight-fitting Anthrax T-shirt and a passing knowledge of thrash metal history and you'd have those big, intimidating, biker-looking dudes eating out of the palm of your hand. Compare that to the scrawny douchebag in the low-cut V-neck who won't give you the time of day because you haven't heard the new Animal Collective cassette-only release, and the choice seems obvious.

The Lineup

Lenni: But even if you haven't heard of a majority of the Coachella roster, there are so many more opportunities to explore artists you haven't heard of and get into some fresh new music. There's so much more musical variety at Coachella. With alternative, techno, indie, noise pop, rap and hip-hop acts and an 80s band available for festivalgoers to choose from, the options seem endless. Plus, since there are two stages and three tents, you can catch various bands at five different locations at almost any given time. Festivals are all about options, and the Big 4 obviously only has four options rather than somewhere around 120 options. While the Coachella organizers are bringing in some big names that tons of people will show up to see, paying to see all of those big names in one place (plus camping costs, for lots of people) is so much cheaper than seeing all of those artists on separate occasions.

Mike: Variety is overrated. I'm sure that if we put either your or my iTunes libraries on shuffle, we'd hear a lot of variety, but nobody's gonna pay $250-plus for the privilege. Coachella displays the varied tastes of, well, the festival organizers. The average Coachella-goer probably hasn't even heard of 60 percent of the bill (and I think I'm being generous with that estimate). Not to mention, if Murphy's Law is in effect, at least two of the bands that you actually do like will probably be playing at the same time. The beauty of the Big 4 is the complete lack of variety: you get the four biggest thrash metal bands of all time, one right after the other, all in one night, no camping required, for a cool $100.

Security

Lenni: If people didn't want to pay for options at Coachella, then they just wouldn't go. In any case, at Coachella the security is more concerned about rebels climbing the speaker towers at the main stage than they are about someone lighting up 10 feet away from them. At Big 4, I'd imagine that security would be more concerned with overly violent moshing, fistfights, and the like. I went to a Danzig concert last summer to try new things and I've never seen people throw other people at each other with such force in my life, and I learned that I personally don't enjoy being in the general vicinity of those things at all.

Mike: Believe it or not, the idiot climbing the speaker tower at Coachella is probably in more imminent danger than the average Big 4 mosher. Like Exodus said, moshing is just "good friendly, violent fun." Anytime someone goes down, there are two or three hands reaching down to lift them back up. Despite their occasionally scary appearance, metal heads are mostly a peaceful bunch, probably even more likely to share their weed with you as indie scenesters.

People Watching

Lenni: Hippie festivals like Bonnaroo are usually the places where you'll see shirtless girls with body paint covering their chest, and hipster festivals like Coachella are the places where you'll see people wearing Native American headdresses or dressing up like it's a fucking fashion show. This also makes for a great opportunity for people watching. But at Big 4, you might have to watch out for guys in assless chaps. I'm just kidding but hey, you never know what you'll see at a daylong metal show. Just like at Coachella, some people will dress up to make a statement.

Mike: Seriously? Assless chaps? You might not be old enough to remember the Big 4, but you realize they're not Wham, Culture Club, Dead Or Alive and the Pet Shop Boys, right? The crowd at the Big 4 is just going to be a sea of jeans and black heavy metal T-shirts. They're there for the music, not to show off their trendy new duds. I'll grant you that the chicks are likely to be hotter at Coachella, and the overall people-watching might be more entertaining, but is that any reason to choose one show over the other?

Leftovers

Lenni: It's not, but people watching is always a small bonus. But you won't have that people watching experience if you don't show up to the festival. For anyone that is unable to attend either festival, the consequences differ. If you can't make it to Coachella, you're in luck. A lot of bands pass through the Valley on their way to or from Coachella. A handful of Stateside Presents shows are going down to thrill everyone who can't attend the big show in Cali. The Black Keys, the New Pornographers, Yelle, Titus Andronicus, Interpol, the Joy Formidable, and CSS are all passing through town between April 14 and April 19. But if you miss out on the Big 4 one-day show, that's it. You're S.O.L. buddy.

Mike: You're kind of proving my point for me here. Why would you spend upwards of $300 to see any of those bands at Coachella when you can catch them a few days before or after in much more intimate local venues for a fraction of the price? Not to mention, you wouldn't have to sit through Kanye or Kings of Leon. As it stands, the Big 4 show is your only chance to catch those bands on the same stage here in the U.S. Like you said, miss it and you're S.O.L. They should hire you to do their marketing...


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