Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Coachella Wrap Up

Last week Robbie and I headed down to Indio, CA for the Coachella Music Festival. We left right after work on Thursday evening, with our friends Sarah and Jeremiah, and were home by Monday afternoon. It was the first time I had been to a multi-day music festival, so I wasn't sure what to expect. I did my best to gather advice and suggestions from friends before we left, in order to be as prepared as possible, but am definitely walking away a wiser Coachella attendee. Here is a bit of what I discovered...

Sleeping Arrangements
We "car camped" for the weekend, meaning we set up a tent behind our vehicle in a 10x30 foot space. We chose the car camping option because it was only $85 for the whole weekend and it would keep us closest to all the action (we were only a 15 minute walk away from the main stage). We were really fortunate because the neighbors on one side of us were camping with friends in another area, so we had double the space for our tent. This isn't usually the case, so I recommend bringing a small(er) tent. One thing we really wish we would have brought was a canopy to cover our tent. The hot desert sun can beat down on your tent, so the extra shade is crucial. Luckily, our neighbors were super cool and let us hang out in their shade.

One of the hardest adjustments for the weekend was the bathroom situation. There was no traditional plumbing, instead there were porta potties set up throughout the festival grounds. I am happy to say that the organizers did a great job of scheduling regular, daily cleanings of the porta potties. However, they were still porta potties and having to use them each time you need to go to the bathroom gets old. Portable showers were also available and all you had to do was wait in line. They were pretty basic, but could definitely get the job done.

The food was surprisingly good. Robbie and I were half expecting bland arena food and were pleased to find out organizers had invited businesses and food trucks from the LA area to set up shop. We had pizza, fish tacos, pulled pork sandwiches (I skipped this :), crab fries, fruit smoothies, and more. We never found ourselves without an option, and were rarely disappointed with what we chose. In order to save some money, we packed personal snacks to munch on during breaks and breakfast food so that we wouldn't have to buy three meals a day.

We were so, SO lucky with the weather the weekend we went. It was cool and rainy on Friday afternoon/evening, in the mid-seventies on Saturday, and barely reached 83 degrees on Sunday. I hear the second weekend was much worse (nothing below 95 degrees predicted). I can't imagine standing in the midst of large crowds of people with the temperature creeping toward 100. That is my idea of terrible.

The people that we interacted with were incredibly nice and generous with their resources. Above I mentioned how our neighbors let us hang in their shade, but they also offered food and drinks while we were resting. I must also mention that we totally forgot to grab tent stakes and realized it at 2am the night we arrived. Luckily, we were able to secure our shelter by asking the people around us if they had any extras. People are at Coachella to have a good time, enjoy great bands, and take part in the spirit of the weekend.

To be honest, it looked like the 1990's threw up all over Coachella. Cut-off denim shorts and combat boots were a staple. Not to mention head bands, floral prints, and bathing suits. It felt as though people stopped at a vintage shop on their way into town and were dressing for a part/role outside of their normal lives.

Photo: Spin

The music was INSANE; there were so many talented artists and bands that the price of admission more than paid for itself. To be honest, I would have been happy paying for one days worth of the lineup, let alone three! Of everyone we saw, I would say that Bon Iver was my favorite. Their music was so powerful and sounded amazing live. If anyone has the opportunity to see them, I say buy those tickets before they're sold out! Besides Bon Iver, seeing Radiohead live was as good as everyone says it is, and Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg was a highlight for me. Honorable mentions include: tUnE-YaRdS, Andrew Bird, Explosions in the Sky, The Shins, Santigold, and GIVERS.

Overall, I had a great time. I thought the organizers did a great job of making sure everything went smoothly and tried to keep the space as open as possible. There were 80,000 people in attendance, but the only time I felt mildly claustrophobic was when we were trying to get to the front to see a band. They opened multiple entrances and exits, and provided plenty of space at each stage. They did their best to make sure each person would enjoy their time at the festival, and it showed.

If you are planning on going to Coachella next year, or any multi-day music festival, here are some of my recommendations on how to prepare:

  • Prepare a schedule of bands you'd like to see before the start of the festival. This will help you make sure you don't feel overwhelmed or unsure where to go next.
  • Bring a canopy to cover your tent. I know I mentioned it above, but I cannot stress how important this is. 
  • Bring plenty of sunblock (and use it!). The sun is out most of the day and you can guarantee a sunburn if you're not careful.
  • Bring re-usable water bottles so that you can make sure to stay hydrated. The security checkpoint won't let you bring liquid into the stage area, but they do provide free water refill stations. With all of the walking and sun exposure, you'll want to make sure you're hydrated. 
  • Bring a small point-and-shoot camera. My only complaint of the weekend is that the security team has a hard (and annoying) rule of what kind of cameras they allow into the stage area. Any camera with a detachable lens is considered "professional" and not permitted. 
  • Make sure to pack: baby wipes, toilet paper, and hand sanitizer. Each of these served a very key part in our comfort at some point over the weekend, so I highly recommend that these be included in your packing list. 

I hope you've enjoyed my wrap up. I would have liked to share more pictures from the weekend, but was limited to what I could take (see above). Also, if you have any recommendations of your own, I'd love to hear them!


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