A First-Time Coachella Fan’s Diary: Three Days in the Desert

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The absolutely, final, last wrap-up on this year's mammoth festival...for now.


Friday, April 18:

Drove three hours to exchange our General Admission for VIP tickets. Cool. Already saw some crazy outfits. From there, drove to the Hard Rock, which is situated in the mountains of Palm Springs. We stumbled upon this amazing burger joint called Tyler’s, which was a great start to the weekend. We checked into the hotel and our room was all ready for us. The party was already getting started when we arrived at 11 a.m. People were in the pool and the DJ was spinning. Our room was poolside on the third floor, and when we stepped out onto the balcony, we were ready to party. There was security everywhere, so you knew it was the place to be. The Hard Rock looks fairly ordinary on the outside, but inside it is anything but plain. Chief Marketing Officer John Galloway told us, “This is the most fun, entertaining, get-out-of-the-heat party in the desert,” and for once, it wasn’t just the usual hype. Just like the other Hard Rocks, there was music memorabilia everywhere you looked, with iPads to use in the lobby. The joint was bustling.

We headed to the shuttle around noon and arrived at Coachella less than an hour later, slathered with sun block and ready to rock. As we walked down to the shuttle line, which was ridiculously long, this drunk Canadian girl came up and starting telling us about a crackhead who was hanging out in the pool. She went to get her friend and thinking we were in line, came up to the front of the line to talk to us, the old Larry David chat and cut. We ended up being the last two people on the shuttle…oops. The energy on the shuttle was crazy. People offered us four Lokos, which we refused.

When we got there, it was unreal, like an alternate universe. Obviously, we had to check out the VIP tent to see if Aaron Paul was there – everyone was so good-looking, it was a bit intimidating. Everyone looked like a model, but we soldiered on nonetheless, grabbing a beer and checking out the first act of the day, Anthony Green, who was playing on the main stage. Jagwar Ma, on my "must-see" list, turned out to be the best performance we saw all weekend. We were situated right in front of the small, intimate stage, which was amazing. From there, we checked out HAIM, who blew us away. They kept pausing to talk to us and then would "cut the emotional bullshit" and get back to playing. Those valley girls rock. They even gave a shout-out to Valley Village. Back to VIP, where we watched Ellie Goulding from afar cover alt-J’s "Tesselate," which was brilliant. Broken Bells, Bonobo, Flume, and Girl Talk ended our night. The weather could not have been more perfect.

Top acts: Jagwar Ma, HAIM, Bonobo

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Saturday, April 19:

Woke up, walked down to the pool, hung out for a bit and listened to the DJ. Explored the hotel and found the G-pen lounge, complete with ping-pong tables and a basketball arcade game. Got on the shuttle for another day. The energy was a little lower than the first day. Saw the Drowners, who seemed like a new spin on the Arctic Monkeys. Went to see Banks, and ended up seeing White Lies as well, who were really great. CHVRCHES was definitely one of the highlights. Singer Lauren Mayberry gazed skyward at the airplanes trailing advertisements: "One thing I don’t understand…like, is anyone getting anything from that? It doesn’t make me want to go to Applebee’s." We danced around in the Do Lab, where it was pretty deserted.

Top acts: Drowners, CHVRCHES, Washed Out, Lorde

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Sunday, April 20:

Last day. Some guy at the water refill station said I looked like I was having an identity crisis…with my bandana, bro tank, and…. Umm, he was wearing a Hawaiian shirt. Enough said. The Naked and Famous were as amazing as I was expecting. Lana Del Rey was spectacular. After every song she would go down into the audience and join people in their selfies to hug and kiss crying fans. It was great. Saw John Newman for the third time -- he is an amazing performer and, if possible, gets better and better. Danced around to Disclosure and ended our Coachella experience with Arcade Fire, where we debated whether that was really Daft Punk or not, and left before Beck played a cover of the band's "Rebellion (Lies)" and his own "Blue Moon." We also checked out the Yuma tent, the indoor stage where DJs played throughout the day. Took the shuttle back to the hotel, and drove back at midnight. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I hope to make it back soon.

Top acts: Flight Facilities, Naked and Famous, Lana Del Rey, John Newman