Coachella 2012 Weekend 1: We were somewhere outside of Indio…
When the music began to take hold.
It has taken me nearly a week to fully recover from spending three days in the desert, devoid of responsibility, sleep and social norms. I existed for only one reason — to discover. My mission was simple; see and document as many acts as possible in the span of three days. I had no concrete assignment; I was to experience all that I could and report back. Simple enough. Despite the weather and countless distractions, I managed to squeak out a few pieces and countless photos documenting my journey. I saw close to 30 acts in that short time. From Feist to A$AP Rocky, from Swedish House Mafia to At The Drive In, eclectic cannot even begin to describe it.
For a full recap of past posts, and some extremely useful tips for those of you going to Weekend 2, read past the break.
For those of you heading out to Indio today, this write up is so you don’t make the same mistakes that I did. Our group had a joke that by the end of the third day we were going to finally be prepared to handle Coachella; but at the end of that third night, when we spent over an hour searching for our car in the dark, we realized we still had no idea what we were doing.
So read on and help me, help you.
1. Remember where you park
This might seem simple enough, but the Empire Polo Grounds are huge and there are countless parking lots and entrances into the venue. Always make sure you note signs and landmarks – some lots are a decent walk away from the venue, making backtracking your steps a nightmare. Remember, you’ll be arriving during the day but leaving at night. When the sun goes down in the desert there won’t be many streetlights to guide your way. Keep an eye out during the day for anything near your car that will be easily recognizable at night. Throw in a few hours spent drinking in the sun and it’s a recipe for disaster. Record a note of the lot in your phone and never assume someone else is paying attention and doing it – if you’ve got friends like mine chances are they are not.
2. Set predetermined times and locations to regroup with your friends
Your cellphones are probably not going to work, but if you insist on trying to use them and you have an iPhone make sure you turn off iMessage (Settings -> Messaging.) Your texts will have a better chance of going through as SMS instead of data. Rather than dealing with 30 minute text delays that will only result in frustration and missed performances, plan your day in advance. At 6pm every day my group met at the back right speaker of the Sahara tent where we all regrouped. The first day I ended up stranded at the polo grounds and walked 3.5 miles alone in the dark through the desert – don’t let that be you because it was not a fun experience. Instead, when the night is over have everyone meet at the Ferris wheel, and don’t leave until everyone is accounted for. Trust me, you will save a ton of time and headaches if you plan ahead just a little.
3. If you aren’t camping, make friends at the campsite. If you are camping, make friends with people who have cars.
Staying in a house or a hotel and camping both have their pros and cons. In a house or a hotel you have warm beds and hot showers, at the campsite you have a stockpile of cheap beer and easy access to the venue. Be aware of the fact that you can bring beer freely into the campsites but not the venue. Offering to do beer runs for a cool group of campers will secure you a solid pregame spot for the following days. Tired of spending $8 dollars on a Heineken? You now have access to a place where you can leave your beers for later on in the day. The campers get free beer, you get a great tailgate and homebase. Everybody wins.
4. Bring a backpack and a hoodie.
Weekend 1 was freezing, and even though Weekend 2 is looking to be a scorcher, bring a hoodie just in case. The desert can be as cold at night as it is hot during the day. Keep your car keys and ID in a compartment in your backpack that you are not going to go into at all during the day. On Day 3, I met a girl who had lost her car keys – completely screwed is putting it lightly.
5. Get there early and explore.
You paid to be at the festival, don’t waste the afternoon tailgating because you don’t recognize any of the morning’s lineup. Coachella does not just book anyone, those early acts are there for a reason – they are good. It’s a great opportunity to check out some music outside of your comfort zone and enjoy the California sun. Be sure to check out the Heineken Dome and the Dubstep Volcano – whether it’s your scene or not it’s always fun to check out how other people choose to get their rocks off.
6. Go with the flow.
Be honest with yourself and accept that you are not going to see every act you want. Just go with the flow, if you are enjoying a set but someone else is about to come on – just stay where you are. If you spend too much time rushing from place to place you won’t spend enough of your time enjoying the festival.