I am thrilled to report that Coachella was everything I hoped for and more. I survived the weekend of extreme heat and extreme fun. As I look back in my hazy state (still buzzing off Mumford & Sons’ performance), I am able to grasp what I did right and what I shall do in future years, because believe me, I am going back! Here are some tips for how to do a music festival well, especially ones that last three days in the desert…
Go with a small group. It may seem ideal to get as many people you know together for such an epic event, but if you really care about the music, less is more. It is so easy to get distracted at these festivals; you should never count on things going as planned. However, the less people you are traveling with, the more likely it is that you won’t get separated, you’ll stay on track, and see (almost) all the acts you plan to see.
Print out the schedule. Or make sure you hold on to the pamphlets they give you. We are so reliant on our smartphones for everything and I am all about saving trees, but the combination of checking in at every stage, tent and beer garden, uploading photos/videos to facebook and tweeting about the crazy get-ups you’re seeing takes up a whole lot of battery life. The set times and locations of 60+ bands each day is impossible to memorize. I found myself incessantly Googling the lineup to make sure I knew what was next and where I was going. My phone died every day (another reason why it’s good to go with a small group).
2:1. How good does a cold beer sound when you’re sitting in the sweltering heat listening to incredible live music? I know. Nothing better, right? I recommend a 2:1 ratio for beer to bottle of water. Or at least keep water at the forefront of your mind throughout the festival if you plan on lasting through its entirety. Dehydration is no joke in the desert and I’m sorry to say I saw quite a few people being carried out on stretchers.
Be stylish and smart. Be warned: Coachella is a fashion cluster. It’s a challenge to look your best, not look like everyone else, and be comfortable in 100 degree heat. This is more of a reinforcement of the well-known, but no matter how hot your outfit is, it won’t look good against lobster skin and raccoon eyes. Wear sunscreen! It also won’t look good if you can’t walk properly. Wear comfortable shoes!
Take photos! I don’t mean just the blurry stage shots where you can barely make out who’s on it. Take photos of the friends you’re with and the friends you make. Take photos of the scenery. Take photos of things that will remind you of the whole experience – the unbearable trek to the front gates, the beer garden you got to know so well, the palm tree that shaded (and saved) you for an hour while you picnicked between sets. Festivals are not just about the music, but the entire experience so make sure you document it.
Music, food, drinks and friends are universal merriments. I met people from many parts of the globe, bonded over our love for the same music and shared stories of travel. Music festivals are the perfect setting for cultural exchange and I cannot wait for the next one. Outside Lands anyone?