Ever since the first Coachella in 1999, I’ve grown up watching thousands of people pour into my home town (Indio) every year, parking on the side of the road and blocking my way to school in the morning. But this was the first year I filed through the gates into the giant Coachella arena.
My friend Paige arrived at my house at 9 am with a large suitcase full of clothes and bags full of makeup and sunscreen, among other necessities. There had been weeks of planning and many phone calls between us and we were excited to start the weekend. We helped each other get ready and packed up the car and headed toward the Empire Polo Grounds, about a ten-minute drive from my house. But of course with traffic it took us about 30 minutes to get there. We entered the front gate and scanned our bracelets to get inside the polo grounds.
We walked around the polo grounds, scanning our surroundings. There were a few artists playing on the stages, but none we recognized. We watched a band called Other Lives for about five minutes. I had never heard of them before, but they were entertaining. I was enjoying people-watching because everyone decided that they were going to dress in their hippie/indie clothing, some featured a Native American theme and others wore anything that looked like it could be controversial. A few girls wore nothing by bikinis and some guys wore only speedos.
Breakbot was set to play soon at the Sahara tent, so we ran over there. Breakbot was accompanied by Irfane, who sang the song that made both of them famous in France, “Baby, I’m Yours.” We danced the whole show to Breakbot’s groovy, psychobilly beats that seemed like they belonged in 1970s disco club. It was a perfect way to start off our musical journey.
By his time clouds had been gathering, and although my desert intuition told me that it could not rain, it did. It was getting cold so we headed to the Sahara tent to dance more, and a DJ named Feed Me was up next. Feed Me played a lot of dubstep beats that were really inventive and different from other dubstep producers I have had before. We danced some more until the group of guys behind us decided to start moshing, we were tired of getting hit and almost trampled so we moved out of the tent. We had not eaten anything since breakfast and we were starving. I got a slice of pizza from Spicy Pie, which was so good that it was the only food I bought from the festival the entire weekend. I heard the Arctic Monkeys playing “Teddy Picker” in the background and sang along while waiting in the food line.
It was so cold and wet, we decided to retreat to the car to rest and wait out the rain. We both fell asleep listening to “Lonely Boy” by the Black Keys and woke up before they were set to play. We changed into warmer clothes, I had to resort to wearing Paige’s ex-boyfriend’s pajama pants, but at this point we had given up on caring about looking good, all we cared about was staying warm and listening to incredible music. We walked over to the festival and when we entered we could hear the Black Keys performing “Howlin’ for You,” and we ran toward the stage. Dan Auerbach’s bluesy guitar riffs were out of this world while Patrick Carney drummed energetically in the background. After the Black Keys ended, we headed over to the Do-Lab where a DJ was playing some dubstep beats. We were so pumped after that we just danced like mad-women for a half an hour. Next we ran back over to the main stage to see Swedish House Mafia.
Swedish House Mafia dropped some energetic and bass-heavy beats that forced you to dance. SHM ended and the festival started to close at 1:00 am. We returned to the car, still pumped from dancing, and after finally returning to my house, fell asleep quickly.
The next morning I woke up asking myself how people can actually make it through a second day of Coachella, my entire body ached from dancing. But somehow we made it back to the festival, just in time to see one of my favorite bands, The Vaccines. The Vaccines played all my favorite songs and just when they were about to end, they played my most favorite song “Norgaard,” when they played the first chord I began to scream and jump up and down, I was so excited. Paige had never heard of The Vaccines before, but after seeing them live she became a fan. We left the stage in a daze, talking about how amazing The Vaccines were. I felt as if my life was now a little more complete after seeing them live.
It was a lot warmer out than the day before, we sat in the sun in an almost heat-coma listening to the Childish Gambino rap. We then moved to see Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, where we pleasantly fell asleep on the grass, the desert sun tanning our backs. My friend, who loved to sleep, wanted to take another nap at the car so we went back and rested. After, we visited her friend who was camping and then we all went to see Sebastian Ingrosso at the Sahara tent. We danced and danced, and then danced some more. We tried to see David Guetta, but the stage was so packed that it was impossible to get in or see anything. We ended the night dancing for two hours to Kaskade, when we finally made it home we could not bring ourselves to climb the stairs to my room, so we just fell asleep on my couch.
When I woke up the next morning, I did not think that I could make it another day. I wanted to end the festival with a bang, but I was so exhausted. Eventually we made it back to the polo grounds, me dragging my feet across the dirt and grass to the main gate. We made it to the main stage just in time to see one of my favorite artists, Santigold.
Santigold’s performance was filled with energy and all of the charisma I expected from her, although it was hot and dry outside. To me it was a normal April day: hot but not too hot, although everyone else complained that it was too hot to stay in the sun, so after Santigold we sat in the shade and observed the people walking by. Next we went to the Sahara tent to see Porter Robinson, who was really good considering he is only 19 years old. My friends left me to go find food, so I just danced alone until Porter Robinson was done. I found some other friends and then danced more to Dada Life, who I was not a big fan of. Dada Life did not have the fat beats I needed to keep my energy level up.
We explored some of the artists that were playing that we never heard of, some were interesting and some were not my type of music. We moved to the main stage where Justice was going to be playing. Justice was very late and me and my friend discussed why the logo for Justice is a white cross; maybe to be controversial? Or maybe there was an actual reason. When Justice finally came on stage and played “Genesis,” a thousand glow sticks flew up from the audience and landed everywhere. People were just throwing glow sticks across the crowd; looking up at the sky you could see the thousands of tiny, glowing bars raining down.
After dancing to Justice and their dirt-bass beats, we went to see DJ Shadow at one of the smaller tents. Bored with more dubstep, I met a friend at the tent where AVICII was playing. I expected AVICII’s set list to be filled with more pop-y hits like his hit “Levels,” but his set was more energetic with beats that did not let you sit still and pounded in your chest with a heavy bass, the music started to feel like your own heart beat and you had to match the pounding with your own dance moves.
Realizing my phone was about to die, I ran over to find my friends at Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg, seeing the massive amount of people at the main stage I gave up all hope of finding my friends and bounced to Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg’s beats by myself. Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg brought out Eminem which was expected, but the hologram of Tupac was a surprise. Unfortunately, I was unable to see the hologram because I was too short to even see the screens.
After Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg, the festival ended and we slowly made our way back to the car, our feet dragging behind us, our ears still hearing the music we left behind. Finally reaching my house I was unable to keep my eyes open any longer and fell asleep without knowing it. I do not even remember how I got into my bed, I was so tired.
I miss Coachella and the atmosphere, I miss the people and the music. I cannot wait until next year when I hope to have even more fun and to experience even more great music.