I went to Coachella and all I got was this stupid crib sheet.
In the time it takes me to write this I’ll have coughed up another fistful of desert dust and sneezed out a dirt booger the size of a honeybee. I have just returned from the first weekend of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, or as I like to call it, Desert Storm Redux. Here are my tips and anecdotes for anyone planning to party under the palms on 4/20, or for those who always wondered what this magical experience entails.
The people, the process.
There will always be those kids on your shuttle who want the driver to turn the music up. He will. Probably more than once.
The lines to get in are insane. They will be insane until day 3, when security gives up on the girls and subjects the guys to a full physical. Pro tip: be nice. They don’t wanna touch you any more than you wanna be touched. In that capacity, anyway.
I have honestly no idea how anyone consumes alcohol and maintains the stamina to traverse vast polo fields, brave densely packed hoards of Ben Gibbard worshipping tweehards, and somehow make the sojourn back to their lodging all without falling down. Some do fall down. I assume those are the ones drinking. I stuck to water, coconut juice, coffee when I got tired. Weekend 2-ers, if you have a better way, please forward your notes to me by next year’s lineup announcement.
There is an unspoken law of communal love on festival grounds. When you see that one dude face plant from either heat exhaustion, a bad cocktail of drugs and booze, or both, know that someone will be at his side making sure he’s okay. Maybe you’ll be the person who flags down a medic. Similarly, the unbearable line at the water bottle filling station will part without question for a visibly ill raver.
The giant snail creeping silently around the fields is the perfect landmark for lost friends and vague meet ups. Also an instagram playground.
The Yuma Tent is a mistake of massive proportions. By closing the tent off and limiting its capacity, Coachella closes the door on thousands of fans who maybe only wanted to catch a little of Four Tet and Jamie xx but were not about to fight a line longer than all the port-o-johns stacked lengthwise.
Daft Punk isn’t coming. That will not stop half the festival from having a seizure when the preview for their new album erupts onto the screen you’re closest to. If you are not part of the stampede, hold onto your loved one and either plant your feet or climb the fence to the beer garden.
Some of you may be planning to spend the majority of your time between the hedonistic Do Lab and the nuclear warhead that is the Sahara tent. Have fun. Wear a cup.
Hopefully the sandstorm won’t make a second appearance next weekend as I imagine Maynard James Keenan’s blonde wig will, but if it does: know that you will go home with a face caked in something resembling bad bronzer, and yes your sick jacket you had mended just for the weekend will need to be washed twice. Bonus points for bringing a bandana and goggles. Burning Man patrons likely faired better than VIP couch surfers like myself.
DaM-Funk plays a mean keytar and invites Ariel Pink to sing with him. Random and highly enjoyable in an unintentional throwback kind of way.
Johnny Marr has absolutely no reservations about playing There Is a Light That Never Goes Out. Hoards of Morrissey fans rejoice and leave as soon as the Smiths songs stop.
Violent Femmes play music written by a 16 year old that maintains power and relevance across the decades. How does that bunch of dads do it?
Sparks + OMD = are we at a festival or a John Hughes movie?
It’s in her mouth. It’s in her pants. It’s swinging through the air like a propeller. Karen O can do whatever she wants with that microphone, thank you very much.
Jurassic 5 mentions their name an average of twice per song.
Blur. Can we clear the air? The song is not called WooHoo. It’s called Song 2. Damon Albarn is no Jarvis Cocker, but he definitely earned the main stage. Get your park life on.
Earl Sweatshirt didn’t seem to want to finish any of his songs. Tyler the Creator climbed the pillar on the side of the stage, but missed his opportunity to dive into a very supportive crowd. Probably see Stone Roses instead. But if you’re there for Blur, you’re probably seeing Stone Roses anyway. Woo hoo.
Danny Brown knows who his audience is, and he gives them exactly what they want. In the case of Weekend 1, it was a 14 year old Andy Milonakis who just wanted to jump up and down, screaming along to Blunt After Blunt. And a group of Georgian bros who couldn’t care less about Bauuer and definitely lost their minds when Danny waved to them.
Grizzly Bear and the actors who love them: I lost count of the familiar faces in the crowd at Grizzly Bear. Go there for an excellent show and an even more entertaining display of creative types heavily vibing out.
The Postal Service, an imaginary band for eternal 8th graders.
No, I did not see R. Kelly perform with Phoenix, because I was seeing the cinema of emotion that is Sigur Ros. I dare you not to cry (for no reason at all) as their Icelandic locks billow in the desert wind against a glowing golden backdrop and Jonsi’s pristine falsetto pierces the desert air. I know, right?
I already liked Grimes’ first album. After seeing her perform, I’ve decided I’d like to be her friend and have a BBQ where we dance around with one of those echoey microphones we all had as kids. Karen O can come, too.
Dinosaur Jr. = Portlandia’s Feminist Bookstore. Don’t fight me on this. I love them. But this needs to be a meme.
Everyone who was searching for Sugar Man could find him at Coachella. Go see Rodriguez and please feel overwhelmed by how commercial music culture treats the artists of a bygone generation.
Father John Misty raises the devil with his contortionist dancing. And just when you think he’s gonna get all saccharine about love and music and community, he rails against humanity for building an Applebee’s in the desert. Later spotted making his way through the crowd at Wu-Tang Clan.
No idea how anyone walks away from Pretty Lights without permanent retinal damage.
Nick Cave is a sex symbol. His show is the collision of poetry with hardass rock and roll. He is a god. I am vehemently jealous of the person in the crowd who gripped his hand as he teetered over the edge of the crowd, spitting his brilliant lyrics onto an awed pit. I am still flustered and apologize to whoever was standing in front of me. I’m certain I was breathing heavily and didn’t mean to give you the wrong idea.
Wu-Tang Clan would like to remind you that they are still nothing to fuck with. So in case you were thinking about it, please reconsider your plans to do so.
Red Hot Chili Peppers play through the sandstorm and greatly surpass last year’s underwhelming Lollapalooza set. Flea will tell you if he has an erection. Kiedis wants to go home to his small child, still won’t take off that weird trucker hat. It is 100% 1990s SoCal bravado and I love it so bad.
My Doc Martens are so caked in dust and dirt you actually can’t see the floral pattern underneath. I’m throwing my studded Unif jean jacket into the washer AGAIN, and tonight I will likely be asleep before 10:00. Moral of the story? Buy your merch during the day and be prepared to sleep in line for the shuttle bus if you stay till the end. Bring sunscreen, hand sanitizer, and smiles. See you next time, Indio.
Reposting from facebook/twitter…
Last week I had a nightmare that in the rush of packing up my life in Toronto and wrapping this season of Warehouse, I had forgotten to send in my absentee ballot. I didn’t let that nightmare come true. The next night, my mom and I spent an hour on the phone going over not only the federal measures, but the local candidates for mayor and city council. I faxed my ballot to my county’s office on Friday afternoon.
Pioneers of women’s suffrage like Susan B. Anthony didn’t make history so that a generation of privileged women like me could either vote with ignorance, or simply fail to vote at all. Every opportunity to take a stand for our civil rights not just as a gender, but as citizens of a democratic nation is crucial and should never be taken for granted.
I’ve done my best to keep my personal opinion about the candidates off my social networks, despite watching my friends and family do otherwise. This message is not a last push to bring you to my side. All I hope to achieve is to inspire you, if you haven’t been already, to show up to the polls tomorrow and prove that Susan B. Anthony’s struggle was not in vain, that more than ever we are the generation that deserves the rights she fought to gain for us.
Vote. And please, vote smart.
Please Drive Safely
The world lost a very special person early Tuesday morning.
Actress, musician, student, daughter, and my dear friend, Sam Kane Kraft, was killed in a car accident in Los Angeles. I am still in shock from the sudden and senseless way she was taken from us.
When I met Sammi, we were young teenagers at a party with a bunch of little actors running around. We looked at each other for the first time, and an understanding passed between us. We were friends ever since.
Even if our travels took us to opposite sides of the continent, we stayed in contact. While Sammi was attending college in San Francisco, her musical talent blossomed and she turned out a volume of beautifully written songs, amassing a following and respect in her new bay area home. Last fall, I heard her play for the first time. We sat on the floor of my living room as Sammi’s beautiful voice and songwriting filled the room, and I was overcome with pride over what my friend was accomplishing.
Now the world will never see Sammi’s star rise as it should have. My heart breaks for her whole family and the rest of her many friends, to whom she always showed unending love and kindness.
Her gorgeous music can be heard here: http://soundcloud.com/scarygirls
I love you, Sam. You are in our hearts forever.