“Are you excited to see The Obesity Clinic play?”

Flower headbands, Indian headdresses, body paint, and glowing hula-hoops. What do all of these things have in common? As interest in music festivals has skyrocketed over the last decade, these are some of the common stereotypical trends that now characterize music festival culture. Every year people from all over the world will travel hundreds to thousands of miles just for the chance to listen to good music, make new friends and create life-long memories. This phenomenon can be described through the exploration of the Communication Accommodation Theory.

Coachella_outfits_web_t540Fifty years ago the world became consumed with the ideas of free love, peace, and the common bond over music. Woodstock redefined the way we looked at social interaction and the evolution of trends. As the desire for individuality and self-expression has moved to the forefront on modern day culture, festivalgoers have now been defined as modern day hippies. According to Howard Giles’ Communication Accommodation Theory, “people in intercultural encounters who see themselves as unique individuals will adjust their speech style and content to mesh with others whose approval they seek. People who want to reinforce a strong group identification will interact with those outside the group in a way that accentuates their differences”. While many people who attend music festivals are actual “die-hard” fans, others seem only to join the masses for the sheer desire of experiencing the culture. The communication accommodation theory is evident in these interactions and is accentuated through media portrayals of the stereotypical pseudo-fan like in the video below.

Video clips such as this show how the communication accommodation theory is so heavily applied in the music festival culture today. When people attend music festivals they want to integrate themselves in the modern day culture, whether this remains in line with their true individual identities, or not. While the Woodstock generation came together through music festival culture as a united front to fight undesirable political tastes and symbolized freedom and idealism, music festivals today have become the runway for fashion statements, social inclusion and non-conformist attitudes. The unfortunate reality of identifying music festival culture through the communication accommodation theory is that this once safe-haven for eccentric outfits, unconventional personalities, and atypical tastes in music, has become a popular breeding ground for socialites looking for the opportunity to convert themselves into modern day hippies, even if just for one weekend. So are you excited to see the Obesity Clinic?


-Angelica DiPaolo, Morganne McIntyre, Anderson McNaull, Madeline O’Connor, Rachel White