Gravity kept pulling at our legs hoping we would give in to our exhaustion, but the sound of the beat kept our feet planted on the ground and our bodies moving. The echoes reflected off the valley and energized the thousands of people surrounding the stage. When we looked up beyond the stream of brilliant light displays and billowing smoke, we could see the stars shining brightly; the moon taking in the view.
Everything seemed to fit just right. I remember looking up halfway through The xx’s set and just thinking to myself, “Man this is f*%$@!# amazing!” Everyone around me had their eyes closed – just moving to the rhythm of the night.
This was my first year attending Goldenvoice’s Coachella Music and Arts Festival and I hope it was the first of many. I arrived in the sunny desert on Friday morning and was immediately welcomed by excited festival goers. For the most part, the people I talked to told me that Coachella is their favorite time of the year, like their birthday and Christmas combined.
Initially, I was not quite sure what to expect. I had heard stories from people who attended in the past, but needless to say, I was excited and this excitement only grew more each day I was there. People go for the unique experiences just as much as the bands. And let me tell you — I had some experiences. Each day brought something different from the day before.
Oh, and you know everything people tell you about the heat? It’s all true. Believe them.
The deafening melodies streaming from stage-to-stage only barely scratched the surface of my “first time”. Between my frequent solo journeys back and forth to the various stages, while passing the gigantic mechanical praying mantis and massive motorized snail, things were nothing short of rowdy. It was just too easy to lose yourself in the intense environment.
From stopping to check out the outlandish art displays, to enjoying a cold one in the beer gardens, running into spoiled kids rolling on ecstasy to friendly strangers who weren’t hesitant on telling me their entire life story or persuading me to travel the world, and visiting the overcrowded Porta Potties, I can confirm that a weekend at Coachella is something everyone should get familiar with at least once in their lifetime. The human interaction element of the entire weekend was, in itself, worthwhile.
You never know what you’re going to see or who you’re bound to meet. I regularly found myself smashed between festival-goers who appeared to be competing for the weekend’s most chic or bizarre style award. The three-day festival turns the desert into the hottest fashion expo around. This year, there were some new trends making the rounds – particularly bold prints, bright colors, flower crowns many ladies were rocking and national pride.
For some reason, it seemed like every girl at Coachella was dressed like Kelly Kapowski from Saved by the Bell. The festival is not only the place to be, it’s the place to be seen. Prior to attending Coachella, I really had no idea how much detail went into the production of the festival itself. Honestly, I was more impressed and inspired by the music and art than the fashion at the festival. Yes, I did see a few awesome outfits, but I could have cared less.
Day one was eventful, but day two was more colorful and vibrant.
What’s more surprising is how natural the antics seem at Coachella. It’s not that people in Indio needed another reason to get high, but bearing in mind that the second weekend fell on 4/20, you can only imagine how much weed smoke filtered through the air. And you didn’t have to be a 2 Chainz fan (even if he did spark one of the biggest joints on stage) to show your appreciation for the cannabis culture. The percentage of festival-goers getting stoned was probably around 95 percent. For obvious reasons, weed and Coachella go hand in hand.
As soon as the bass dropped in the Sahara tent, as Benny Benassi took the stage, the chaos commenced — as thousands of EDM lovers began dancing, lighting up and taking many different, um, substances. There was only so much of that ambiance I could handle. When the oxygen levels began to fade and I remembered that The Postal Service was due to take over the Coachella Stage, I quickly exited and ran over to find a good spot.
The crowd was large, electric and densely packed, with everyone awaiting a performance from an act that hadn’t really toured since its 2003 album, Give Up, was released. Their performance, which kicked off the reunited band’s 2013 tour, took me back to my high school days, except singing the lyrics (in unison with the rest of the thrilled, nostalgic fans in the crowd) to every song they played on Saturday evening was done without all my teenage angst. It was truly mesmerizing and euphoric.
After The Postal Service finished their set, I patiently wait for The xx to appear. The band, who only a couple of years ago was forced to play in the hot, afternoon heat, have now arrived, front and center! In the midst of all the commotion, lead singer Romy Madley Croft’s voice and Oliver Sim’s riffs echoed off the hillsides and filled the starry air of the valley. They were most resonant on “Reunion,” which left me a bit teary eyed and overwhelmed with emotion. And although I had to accept the fact that I wasn’t going to see all the bands I wanted to (there were so many conflicts), I don’t regret anything.
I’m just happy I survived the weekend. It was a wonderful (though somewhat exhausting) adventure. Going next year? Here are a few tips to make your Coachella experience slightly more enjoyable:
1. Don’t be afraid to branch off on your own and go solo.
2. Although some people will insist that going to Coachella is one of the worst concert experiences you can partake in – go anyway! Who cares if you end up having to watch your favorite band on the jumbo-tron behind thousands of people. In the valley, you don’t need to see the music up close to be able to enjoy it.
3. Drink plenty of water! Yeah, yeah it’s easier said than done. Don’t be that person who passes out in the sun because you didn’t drink enough water.
4. Remember where the hell you parked. Funny? Well, it won’t be when you can’t find your car.
5. Wear sunscreen. Reapply liberally and often.
6. Stay off of your phone as much as possible and enjoy the festival!
7. If you’re a girl, make sure not to wait until the last minute between sets to use the Porta Potties. Trust me. Hundreds of girls anxiously waiting in line to use the bathroom in a rush so they don’t miss their favorite bands can get pretty ugly.
So, having lathered, rinsed, and repeated, I can look back on Coachella fondly. However, I am glad to be back at home, while I do my best to get back into the swing of things and look forward to next year.