As I say every year, with absolutely no irony, this Coachella might have been the best one yet. This year, however, the festival was just part of an overall vacation. Most years, I go with one or two friends, we cram into a hotel room, and spend all day, every day at the festival. This year, Aline rented a massive Spanish home with gorgeous tiling and a beautiful pool and 13 of us whiled away our days on unicorn(!) floaties and homemade Bloody Marys. We made tons of food, including fresh fruit and avocado toasts, and set out snacks for everyone to enjoy. And there was a polaroid camera and several perfect backgrounds for selfies – so basically it was heaven.
We took our time getting to the festival, piling onto the shuttles at around 4ish. I have to say that I loved the shuttles – they were air conditioned, not over packed and let us off closer to the festival than if we drove. We’d grab a beer, listen to a newer act, and then see the faves – this year being Phantogram and Bon Iver (plus his amazing guest vocalists, i.e. Amelia from Sylvan Esso, Francis and the Lights, and Jenny Lewis – I cried). Radiohead was stupendous as usual with a super long set as was Kendrick. Other standouts: The Broods, Honne, the XX, Tove Lo, Glass Animals, Hans Zimmer, and Two Door Cinema Club. Empire of the Sun was meh, Kiiara was lackluster and DJ Khaled was so crowded it was possibly dangerous.
Usually I do a more specific breakdown of Coachella specific dos and don’ts because I go to weekend 1. That’s sort of irrelevant at this point, so some more general festival information:
The day-drinking can get the best of you, even for seasoned veterans, as a couple of housemates of ours found out. I stayed away from sugary cocktails, drinking a bloody in the morning and sipping on a beer or two until we left. I alternated the alcohol with coconut water or pedialite, so that way, when I got to the festival, I didn’t pass out and start snoring during Radiohead (#iwontnamenames).
Bring a water bottle for the walk into the festival. You’ll have to finish it before you enter, but you’ll need it for any long walk because you’ll end up parched and sun-stroked if you don’t.
Pack (in addition to phone and wallet): PHONE CHARGER, SUNSCREEN, SUNGLASSES, SCARF/BANDANA, EYE DROPS, WIPES, and CHAPSTICK. This are all completely necessary to feeling fresh and less dirty (and also to see and not get sunburned).
AT THE FESTIVAL:
Pick meeting places and times to meet if you get lost or decide to split up to watch different acts. We had three for different times of day, contingent on the line up, i.e. under the striped pink unicorn’s left eye or the last picnic table in the craft beer garden by Trejo’s Tacos.
Go do things on your own! For a lot of people, going to Coachella or any other big festival might be a once in a lifetime kind of thing.The festivals are generally safe and easy to navigate so if you don’t want to go see that EDM shit or you’re too hyper to listen to some mournful English songwriter, then just let your friends know you’ll meet them after a designated meeting space. I used to get a bit nervous about this, but now that I’m in double digit festivals, I’m happy to break off for a little and really see the acts I care about.
Eat and drink before you actually feel hungry or thirsty. Also get your ID checked immediately upon entering. This is key. Especially at Coachella where the good food is sparsely scattered. You don’t want to be starving and standing behind some rolling douchebag bro, who’s like dude, like is the pizza good and then promptly drops his money on the ground. Or worse, trying to get your ID checked, when some drunk teen is like “no, I’m really 34, I was born in like 1990 or something.” Oh also, you’ll feel ancient as fuck.
For the love of god, going into the crowd is not necessary. The sound is good at the festivals, and sticking to the beer gardens or the center back of the crowds is easy-peasy and you get the festival experience, the joy of a quick exit and maybe even meet some cool people without getting elbowed or jostled.
When you get home, make sure everything is accounted for – wallet, phone, keys. Take a shower – you’ll thank me in the morning. Then CHARGE YOUR PHONE. Drink a glass of wine in the Jacuzzi (optional), put a bottle of water by your bed and make sure you draw the blinds so you can sleep in.
Also, just bite the bullet and take Monday off. It’s not humanly possible to drive back on Monday morning or worse, Sunday night, and function at work. I’ve tried it and failed. So now I just mosey on back on Monday afternoon, do some laundry, lather on coconut oil after a four hour shower and go to sleep at 8pm.