Sunday night wrapped up the final day of the annual Coachella music festival. Compiled of two identical, back to back weekends, Coachella brought a million people a day onto steamy polo grounds in Palm Springs, California. With headliners Radiohead, Snoop Dogg & Dr. Dre and the Black Keys, in addition to the return of At The Drive In, and performances by another 60 bands, the line up was enough to sell out both weekends of the festival in just a few hours.
For me, it was an introduction to Coachella. Being from Chicago but living in LA, the past few years I’ve remained loyal to Lollapalooza. So when it comes time to buy a $300 concert ticket, I’ve stuck with the humidity stricken, lake front festival in the windy city. But last weekend on the invite of a friend, I not only got to go to Coachella, but I got to camp there. I am still trying to figure out if that was an opportunity or a punishment. Either way, it was a whole lot of fun and – whether I wanted to or not – I learned a few things along the way.
- Michelle Griesman
5. Celebrity Sightings.
Coachella takes place a mere 2.5 hours from Los Angeles, so guess who shows up at the show? Lots of celebrities. Paris Hilton, Kelly Osbourne and the cast of True Blood were all present last weekend. I did more than a few double takes casually walking by someone thinking “.. is that..?” The answer is yes. At Coachella it always is. They tend to be easy to pick out of a crowd since they are in the VIP section, typically being loud and always amidst a group of at least 10 in their entourage. There are exceptions.
10. No tent? No problem.
Not that I’m exactly a connoisseur of camping, but I would like to think that I can hold my own given my optimistic personality along with a well packed vehicle. But sleeping in the desert is deceivingly tough. Even with a mattress in the back of our truck and a pop up tent to supply much needed shade, by 7am it’s already over 100 degrees outside. Where do you find solace in the steamy conditions? On some nice soft grass under your car. What’s funny is the dirty looks you will get from the europeans next door who can’t fit under their Audi.
3. What to wear.
As little as possible. In all honestly I was a little bit nervous packing my bag for Coachella. Most of the photos I’d seen from past years were of Kate Bosworth hanging out looking adorable or scantily clad girls. While I assumed it was an fun opportunity for them to walk around in a bikini and head scarf, it’s really more about necessity. 110 degrees, no wind, open field with no shade. I’m surprised more people weren’t totally stripping down.
1. Make new friends.
It’s just so easy, so why not. Whether it’s borrowing your neighbor’s mustard, trying to find someone with a wine opener or asking ‘dude where’s my tent’, everyone at Coachella is there with the same mind set: to listen to some great music and have fun. And, simultaneously, survive. As one of my new friends put it, ‘Who’s idea was it to have a concert on the face of Mars anyway?’ Good point Steve. But will I see you here next year? Yep.
4. Rob Machado would be mine.
The world class surfer was at Coachella weekend 2 with his girlfriend, and happily obliged my celebrity moment when I asked to snag a photo with him.
9. A new use for tin foil.
You know all that money you spent murdering out your Honda last year? Coachella will be the three days of the year when you regret that decision as the sun magnetizes through your car windows. In an effort to keep your cooler’s stash cold a bit longer, you deodorant from turning into soup and the rest of the contents of your car from melting, tin foil up those windows. Your efforts will not result in a nicely chilled sedan, but it will make a difference.
8. Make your own shower.
Yes they have showers at Coachella. They also cost $10, were over a mile from our camp site and require standing in a long line in the blistering sun. Far more convenient and less embarrassing than you might think: a galloon of water, bikini and a bar of soap. Washing your hair? Eh, didn’t try. Fortunately my new Bulls New Era was sufficient for sheltering my face from the sun, my hair from the public and I got at least 4 high fives for repping Derek Rose’s team.
2. Check out the sponsored tents.
Among the different stages, you will find sponsored tents and side venues. They are definitely worth checking out. Heineken hosted a very well-cooled igloo, which featured slightly discounted drafts and good djs. They also had a photo booth for patrons. Over by the main stage, Red Bull presented the Red Bull Speakeasy. A secret bar requiring a password to get in. “The Bulls Fly” got you past the doorman into a discrete tent in one of the beer gardens with live bands, another photo booth (but with vintage props like bowler hats) and, of course, Red Bull cocktails.
7. Pack some cash.
You already bought the concert ticket, paid for the camping site, loaded up the car after an expensive trip to Target and filled up the gas tank. Think you’re set? Think again. Odds are at some point in the three day weekend, the steaming bottles of water in your trunk just won’t be as refreshing as you need them to be. Luckily you can buy a cold one for $4 a pop. Meanwhile all the ice has melted and your cooler is now filled with room temperature (or worse) light beer. Thankfully the Coachella town store sells ice for $10 a bag. And that other survival neccessity: food. After subsequent days of living off of eating cereal bars, various flavors of chips and peanuts, that $11 burrito they’re selling steps inside the venue is calling your name. The conclusion? Trying to do Coachella on a dime? Don’t even get your hopes up. it’s not happening.
6. Visit the Lost and Found.
10 minutes after arriving and meeting our new camping buddies, a spry little salesmen came over selling Coachella branded wayfayers. 5 minutes after he walked away a few of us agreed that, whilst nerdy, we should’ve bought them. When are $10 sunglasses not a good idea? But our friend Brett had a far brighter light bulb go off in his head. Make a trip to the Lost and Found and ask about the ‘black Raybans’ you lost. A million 20 something festival goers hanging in the middle of the desert for 3 days? You could probably ask for lime green polka dotted Raybans and they’d have found a pair.