Coachella Valley is in the middle of the desert, a few hours east of Los Angeles, and hosts this amazing 3 day music festival every April. Its a pretty young festival, started in 1999, and was only 1 or 2 days long in years prior with headliners like Madonna, Prince and Björk. This year, it was the Chemical Brothers, Arcade Fire, and Kanye West, plus another 120 other bands/musicians playing 6 different stages from 11am til 1 am every day. It was so overwhelming and incredible, scrambling among 75,000 other spectators to try and watch everyone you wanted to see, but with 6 stages running consecutively and only 1 hr sets, it was impossible to see all your favourite artists.
On day 1, it was, like every other day, over 35°C, and exhausting to just be outside in the dry desert sun. But we started the day right, poolside at La Quinta resort, where 30 of us friends were staying together in 2 houses. There was dozens, hundreds maybe. of other Coachellers (I think I may have made up that word) in the same resort, drinking, tanning and dancing poolside as well, showing off their beautiful beach bodies and fashion savvy Hollywood bathingsuits and sunglasses. Everyone there was beautiful, between the ages of 20-30, so I couldn’t actually pick out the models and actors in attendance from everyone else.
It took over an hour to drive the 5 miles to the festival parking lot; moving an inch a minute with no air conditioning at 12 noon = not so pleasant. But, then we spent the day watching Cee Lo Green, Lauryn Hill, Arojack, Interpol, the Black Keys, Kings of Leon and the Chemical brothers, so an overall great day. Day 2 and 3 started the same way, with martinis for breakfast and some excellent DJ and sound system setting a great vibe around the pool. Trying to deal with the heat of the day knowing that sunset brought pretty chilly temperatures was a daily battle, but the strategy was to always be in the midst of a crowd, running between stages, or dancing your butt off to stay warm. Although, a few times a day, you had to stop for food, water, and just sit for a while to make sure you made it… On the second day, we watched Erykah Badu, Laidback Luke, Yelle, the New Pornigraphers, Broken Social Scene, Bright Eyes, the Kills, Mumford & Sons, Empire of the Sun, Paul van Dyk, Arcade Fire, the Scissor Sisters and finally Steve Angello. We only took a few minutes to park that day, but an hour to leave – I’m not sure how it was so difficult to get cars in an out of huge fields onto 60mph roads with no traffic lights.
There was one tent called the Do Lab between the main stage and the Sahara tent, so whenever I was walking between them I would stop into Do Lab to get water sprinkled. The music there was some of the best, all disc jockeyed, but the main highlight there was watching Lucent Dossier Vaudeville circus perform. Its hard to describe exactly what you were watching, but it was like Cirque du Soleil meets Stomp, with the wardrobe from Pirates of the Caribbean, directed by Tim Burton to dub step music. Absolutely sensational.
We spent the least amount of time day 3, but still managed to see Nas & Damien Marley, Sven Vath, Duck Sauce, Death from Above 1979, Duran Duran, Chromeo, the Strokes, PJ Harvey, Bloody Beetroots, Axwell, the Presets and Kanye West in 6 hours. At the end of the festival, I had found $110 on the ground, so almost half of my $300 ticket was paid back to me just by attending. My list of highlights changes everytime I tell the story because I can’t actually remember who I saw or when or where, but it was an amazing three days of music and fun. Put it on your bucketlist if it’s not already.
See http://www.coachella.com/event/set-times for the complete lineup, it’ll blow your mind!