Editors note: I brought my friend Jacki Moon to Coachella with me this year. Here is her review.
I have a confession to make: I never actually wanted to attend Coachella. In fact, I had many friends on the festival circuit ask me if I was going to make it out to California for Coachella this year and I simply giggled and said “Coachella isn’t on my festival wish list”. That was my polite way of truly saying, “Screw that… I don’t want to pay $400 to hangout with a bunch of snobby ‘bros’ and I know I can’t possibly score a press pass for something that Rolling Stone covers.”
Luckily, The Festival Guy is some sort of superhuman with the power of persistent persuasion so he was able to both convince me to make it out to California for Coachella and score me a press pass to the festival. I’ve been trying this new thing where I take every risky opportunity that life presents, so took a risk by calling into work and flying out to California to experience the madness of Coachella for the first time. I don’t always admit I was wrong, but holy hell my preconceived notions of Coachella were definitely mistaken.
We got to Coachella festival grounds Thursday night to meet up with the Super Kids camp; I was already surprised by how many activities there were to do before the Coachella gates had even officially opened as well as by how badass this new group of friends were. I was a little nervous about meeting such a huge new group of friends outside of my Texas comfort zone, but this group of primarily Californians was full of hospitality. One thing most seasoned festival goers will tell you is that the group you camp with has the ability to make or break the experience, and the Super Kids were the best new group of people I could have went into the weekend with.
The next couple of days run together as a blur of happiness, fun, and adrenaline. Contrary to popular belief, Coachella is filled with more than just “bros” and “Hollywood snobs”; there are friendly people and entertaining intricacies just waiting to be discovered around every corner. It would take days to describe all of the ways Coachella satisfied my senses and enthralled my love of live music, so I will break down a list of highlights that are exclusive to Coachella world.
Coachella Weekend 2 Highlights:
Entertainment Before Gates Open- As I mentioned above, Coachella provided a surprising amount of festivities before the gates even officially opened for Thursday night campers. While most festivals just let you camp and get drunk; Coachella ensures the party never stops. I found a full-on snowball fight (set up in a similar fashion to a dodge-ball tournament), a silent disco dome, and the incredibly fun improv of Super Tall Paul at The Jive Joint while exploring campgrounds Thursday night.
Surprise Onstage Artist Cameos- I have never experienced a festival with so many surprise artists in my life. It’s almost standard for the Coachella crowd to be waiting for another celebrity artist to join the stage with headlining performers; this attribute alone truly puts Coachella in a whole new ballpark. To name only a few out of a full weekend: Mary J Blige joined Disclosure Sunday night, Miss Lauren Hill joined NAS on stage Saturday night, and Flosstradamus along with a full high school marching band joined Big Gigantic on stage Sunday night. As an aside, there are apparently a plethora of celebrities walking and dancing around the crowd as well (I didn’t see any).
Diverse Lineup- Coachella provides something for literally everyone’s musical pallet with the diversity of its lineup. The talent on the bill varies from hip-hop legend comebacks such as OutKast, pop music queens such as Ellie Goulding, Rock and Roll champions like Queens of the Stone Age, dance music pioneers like The Pet Shop Boys and livetronica champions Big Gigantic. Additionally, since it is one of the first festivals of the season, the lineup sets the diversity bar for other festivals (that in a way copy Coachella’s steeze throughout the duration of summer).
Sound Quality- Coachella has impeccable sound quality due to the vast amount of speaker towers dispersed amongst festival grounds. This means that it’s easy to hear the performances no matter how far from the stage you’re standing, which also prevents the larger stages from getting too crowded; it’s a win/win situation that most other festivals fail to provide.
Organization– I was shocked at how incredibly organized a festival of that size could possibly be. While many festivals are pure organized chaos, Coachella is just plain organized. Additionally, I have attended many festivals in my day, but never one with such clean bathrooms as that of Coachella, which is a surprising attribute when the size of Coachella is considered. Long story short: Coachella cares.
Stage Design- It seemed as though every stage set and lighting design was intricately crafted custom to match the style of each performer, making Coachella a unique treat for both the ears and eyes. For example, Kid Cudi had a personalized on stage “Kudi-cave” exclusive to his performance, and Outkast had custom lightning projection that reflected geometric domes and shapes. It’s also a wonder how this was pulled off, considering the set changes didn’t take long at all.
The Do Lab Stage –This Coachella stage is one the rowdiest and sexiest I have had the privilege to play at out of all of the festivals I’ve attended over the years. The party starts at noon, complete with deliciously dirty bass and an on-stage entourage hosing the crowd down in the daytime heat. Although it is smallest stage that is now tucked in the corner, the Do Lab feels like a private wonderland of bass and groove.
The moral of this adventure is to not judge a festival before you’ve attended it. Coachella tickets are expensive because in addition to amazing acts, the production quality is top-notch and there is more entertainment then you possibly know what to do with. Although the crowd is primarily beautiful and well dressed, it is full of friendly and polite people who just want to get down to good music and have a great time like at every other festival. I’m so glad The Festival Guy persuaded me to experience my first Coachella, because it is a memory I will never forget full of great music, good times and amazing new friends.