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Coachella finds religion in the desert

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The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival was held in the Coachella Valley of Indio, California from April 12-14 and 19-21.

As with every year, the famous desert festival featured performances from a number of prominent music acts. This year’s headliners included Ariana Grande, Childish Gambino and Tame Impala. Billie Eilish, Weezer, Khalid and many more also performed throughout the two weekends. The concert was a massive hit both critically and financially. Although reports for this year are still coming in, last year’s Coachella grossed $114,593,000 according to Pollstar, and that number is only expected to grow.

As successful as the festival was, it wasn’t without plenty to talk about. Spread across a series of high holidays including Easter Sunday, Passover and the infamous 4/20, this year’s Coachella had a diverse set of expectations from people on what the weekend should look like.

For those hoping to find a little religion while still enjoying a Coachella selfie or two, there was plenty to do.

On Easter Sunday, Kanye West hosted a “Sunday Service At The Mountain.” As with anything Kanye West does these days, his Sunday Service had a number of people talking. West performed several gospel-infused songs to an audience of excited listeners willing to make the journey up the mountain. West featured familiar songs such as “Jesus Walks” and “Ultralight Beam,” as well as his new song “Water.” Approximately 50,000 people were in attendance including Chance the Rapper, 2 Chainz, Travis Scott and Kylie Jenner.

Additionally, West was selling his own religion-themed merchandise titled “Church Clothes.” Sweaters labeled “Holy Spirit” and “Trust God” went for between $165 and $225, and socks with the words “Jesus Walks” on one and “Church Socks” on the other went for $50.

West has been criticized by some for using a worship service as a means of making money with several people referring to him as a “Prophet for Profit” on Twitter.

Comparatively, others found the service to be quite motivational. “I would definitely say I appreciate his energy and how empowering the service was,” said William Kaiser, sophomore journalism major and Coachella attendee. “He did a great job of having the choir join him while performing some [of] his songs like ‘Fade’ and ‘All Falls Down’ and using them as songs of encouragement as well as incorporating messages based in faith values.”

Kanye’s performance wasn’t the only one that has been considered holy this past weekend. In a surprising turn of events, Justin Bieber performed live for the first time in two years in a return that can only be described as “biblical.” He joined Ariana Grande for her second weekend set, performing his song “Sorry.” Bieber has been out of the limelight for a while, keeping himself busy with his new wife, Hailey Bieber. After the performance, he promised the adoring crowd that a new album would be coming soon.

Regardless of what you personally think of Coachella and its performers these past two weekends, I think we can all agree that they are definitely not afraid to keep things interesting. It seems like everyone is talking about the festival despite very few actually attending. For one of the biggest music events in the world right now, that’s exactly what the people behind Coachella should be shooting for.

This is the opinion of Cormac Dolezal, a sophomore film and television production major from Woodbury, MN. Tweet comments to @cormacdolezal or email comments to

Cormac Dolezal is a sophomore film production major from Minnesota. When he's not listening to the Beatles or procrastinating his homework, he's probably making movies.

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