Coachella is a music festival held in the deserts of Southern California (Indio, to be exact). It spans 2 weekends, and usually has a good mix of rock, hip-hop, and EDM artists in the lineup. Coachella is known to be one of the best organized music festivals, with the most well-decorated artwork. I don’t usually get to go since it coincides with final exams, but this term I was in the Bay Area, making it easier for travelling there and back.
I attended Weekend 2, which usually calls for a better experience because set times are exact and everyone except the guests already did it Weekend 1. I didn’t go in with many expectations, and ended up having an amazing time. The really great thing is that everyone is going there to have fun and enjoy great music.
The Music
There were a ton of indie artists at the smaller stages that did amazing. Coachella helped me discover new artists and new types of music. My favourite sets were Capital Cities, Chromeo, and Zedd.
Both Chromeo and Capital Cities knew how to work the crowd. Everyone was dancing/grooving to the music despite knowing the songs or not.
Check out Capital Cities on Rdio:
Zedd had an amazing light show in the EDM tent that blew us away. He was probably the best EDM artist that performed, other than Krewella or Alesso.
I experienced my first rock concert for the first time, as well, through Queens of the Stone Age. I admit it isn’t my type of music, haha. Musicians earphones really helped me tune out the loudness.
The Accommodations
Our group stayed at the Wyndham Indio resort through a timeshare. It ended up being pretty pricey as they are strict with the number of guests. We expected 7 to stay, but ended up with 5 (the limit was 6 and a couple didn’t want to split up). The other 2 ended up camping with the rest of our group.
This hotel decided to run a shuttle service for $15/person one way - which is actually very pricey. We did take Uber one time, but the walk to taxis is literally 45 minutes, which you shouldn’t waste your feet strength on, as you’ll need it for the rest of the time there. The Uber ride costed $26, though, so we did save a bit of money.
Camping seems brutal to me. I know it gives you the full Coachella experience, but I am sure I would’ve had a worse time if I did camping. Heat, noise, and hygiene problems to sum it up.
The Ambience
I had a couple of expectations going in based on anecdotal evidence. This included lack of reception, the scorching heat during the day, staying hydrated, and transportation for those not camping.
The first day went well, but we got there pretty late the second day (left the hotel at ~230pm). We expected entrance to take ~20 minutes, but it probably took an hour as there was a huge lineup at the main entrance. This was really unfortunate since we missed 2 artists that we really wanted to see.
My energy level also degraded as each day passed due to the heat and so much walking. Luckily the first day we were there, it was cloudy, but the other two days, it was unbearably hot in the afternoons. Of course an 8 hour rest would heal me up, but it was more difficult to withstand as day turned to night. The temperature was much more bearable as the sun set each day.
The Setup
I have never seen anything so organized! For 75k+ people, too. Security and volunteers knew what they were doing and contributed to the high energy setting as they offer high fives upon guests scanning their wristbands.
The art setups are especially noteworthy, and great meeting spots. One of such examples is this robot that was in the middle of the grounds, named “Becoming Human":
The Food
It was your typical overpriced, greasy and fried festival/theme park food. There are also a few food trucks that are open during the day time. Our group had breakfast at our hotel for two of the days to save on money.
The Crowd
I mentioned earlier that everyone we encountered wanted to have a good time. We did encounter some rude Lorde fans before her set while we were leaving the Capital Cities set. Basically they wanted to get as close as possible to the stage, and squeezed their way through even though there was clearly no room. It was a painful 5 minutes that I never want to experience again.
There is usually a ton of breathing room at each of the stages, which is really nice. It’s (obviously) a bit more crowded at the very front, though.
The Fashion
Crop tops, floral, lace, bandeaus, short shorts, dresses, bikinis, you name it. Female fashion taken to a whole new level at Coachella. I must say, there are a ton of beautiful and good looking people who attend. People aren’t afraid to wear almost nothing. I didn’t see too many ladies with heels - most wore sandals or boots due to all the walking required.
Most guys wear tanks and shorts. There are not as many interesting things to point out with the male fashion at Coachella.
  • Sit down when you can is my #1 tip. There is a lot of open space, and we walked around or stood up pretty much the entire time. I wore comfortable sandals the entire time, but my feet were still extremely sore each day.
  • Stay hydrated. There are water refill stations across the site that surprisingly don’t get too crowded.
  • Don’t wear layers or sleeves in the afternoons. A jacket actually isn’t that necessary for night-time if you’re planning to watch shows - the crowd will keep you warm.
  • Look for shade during the afternoon sets (unless you are avid fans). There are usually tents for quality/lighting that you can stand by in the outdoor stages.
  • Don’t drink too much. You will likely get tired/grumpy after a few hours when you’ve sobered up.
  • Withdraw cash before you get to the site to avoid ATM fees (~$5 per transaction). Food is ~$10 a meal, and you will probably need some extra cash for merch, too. I’d say $200 for the whole weekend is a good amount.
  • Check out the art and take photos!
  • Go to the previous show for your favourite artists and have an easier time moving to the front when that show ends, as people are leaving.
  • Peak hours for entrance is 3-4pm. This includes both the car camping entrance and the main entrance.
  • Bring musicians earplugs for those louder rock and EDM artists. These really helped me out whenever I was standing closer to the stage.
In hopes of another great lineup - see you in 2015, Coachella!