Whether you go for the music, the food trucks, or the atmosphere of it all, one thing is for sure: the Coachella Music Festival an experience that can be anything you want it to be.
In April 2016, I had my first encounter with a music festival of this capacity. Three of my friends and I took a trip to Coachella, California to see our favorite artists perform on various stages. We opted not to camp–mostly because parking passes had sold out, but also because we really wanted to sleep on comfortable beds. There really isn’t anything wrong with either option and it beats driving to and from our own houses, right? It was also nice having free shuttle service so we wouldn’t worry about how we’d get home after a day of drinking.
The event was more than I expected it to be in both good and bad ways. I enjoyed the openness of the festival grounds and the amount of shows they had to offer. The food trucks, though rather pricey, had a range of options from healthy to throw-away-your-diet. My favorite truck featured this delicious avocado toast that was over $10, but had two big pieces that were the perfect size to share. (Unfortunately I can’t recall the name of the truck, but if someone knows, let me know!)
There were quite a few musical acts I was most excited to see included Ice Cube, Of Monsters and Men, Sia, Chainsmokers, Alessia Cara, James Bay, The 1975 and Calvin Harris. Quite a few more too, but those were my main attractions. Especially the first two listed. My music taste is so broad, so I loved the options I had when it came to seeing people perform. However, some of artists were on a much smaller stage than they should have been at–like the Chainsmokers. Their set was impossible to get to and the crowd surrounding that tent was aggressive in their attempt to find a place to even see the stage. I walked into the crowd thinking that on my own, I’d have an easier time, but I was wrong. I immediately pushed my way back out, fighting through the drunken crowd. That made me so uncomfortable.
Aside from that hiccup, I truly enjoyed my time. I didn’t stay with my friends the entire weekend because some of the artists we pined for were different and at the same time. Separating was difficult only because of the lack of reliable cell service the closer you were to the stages. Near the food trucks and camp ground, I had no problem whatsoever.
One of my favorite things, though it followed the death of Prince, was the artists who were guests to sets of those already playing. I knew that Weekend One usually had those special appearances, but Weekend Two paid homage to Prince, and many artists still came to surprise the crowd.
Something I’d recommend is dress lightly–not necessarily because you need to be fashionably skimpy or to show off every muscle you spent two months working for, but because it gets extremely hot. Obviously you’ll be in the dessert, so it’s expected. Pack a blanket or jacket for the evening sets when it does get chilly. Comfortable shoes or sandals are a must and know that it does get pretty dusty too.
Personally, I like mapping out everything that I want to do, just to get a general idea of what my weekend can look like, but I leave room for change as well. Knowing that not everything will go according to plan is important.
Some artists you want to see are at the same time, so decide if it’s worth it to split the sets or stay at one show. At one point, three artists I liked were on at the same time… But that included Chainsmokers, and you know how that ended.
Another thing to do besides see performers is to check out all the booths and explore the area. I like knowing where I am, but I was with people who also got lost–that’s an entirely different story, though. I was able to get pretty familiar with the festival grounds right away so it made setting meeting points easy.
If you decide to go sometime, or are going this year… JUST HAVE FUN! Don’t let drama get you down. This weekend is about you and the music. Enjoy every second of it, and make it as good as you possibly can.