So. Coachella. “Isn’t that that thing where high schooler’s wear flower crowns, so that they can get Instagrams of Kylie Jenner eating a Watermelon while some coked out dude in a backwards hat stands above a DJ booth telling people to “go crazy right now.?” Yes. Yes, very much so. But in between bros obliviously wearing headdresses and “H&M <3s Coachella!”, something wonderful happens at the Empire Polo Grounds that makes mid-April the best time of year.
I’ve been to a fair amount of music festivals and concerts, and there is something fundamentally different about Coachella. My hypothesis is that it has to do with escapism. The combination of the location, weather, camping (we don’t;), and outfits all blend together to give Coachella a fantastical otherworldliness that is only closely comparable in my mind to Disneyland. As you are walking in, something changes in the air and suddenly skipping makes a lot of sense, while shoes make almost no sense, and everyone is your best friend until they explicitly prove otherwise. The uninitiated tend to stare at the lineup and become overwhelmed by all the small bands they haven’t heard of, and immediately put off attending the festival for another year. Those people are thinking about it all wrong. I could dislike every single name on the poster, and Coachella would still be one of the most enjoyable weekends of the year. Not only will you get transported to another planet, but that planet is designed for the sole purpose of maximizing the joy of its inhabitants.
And then there is the music. Oh my gawd the music.. In a world where big festival lineups get more and more similar every year (simply is not enough acts out there to sustain the festival boom), Coachella always manages to feel fresh and original. Being the first major festival has its advantages, but Coachella serves as a proving ground for a lot of new/reunion acts, and that makes everything feel momentous. Some acts blow everyone out of the water: Sia, Arcade Fire, ACDC, Flume, and some just completely blow it: Drake, Thomas Jack, Outkast. Then the surprises.. You never ever know who you are going to see when you go to a show, and the constant guessing, rumors and speculation make everything more remarkable. I have seen R.Kelly perform with Phoenix, Jaden Smith with Lido, Panic at the Disco with Halsey, and barely missed Gallant with Seal. For better or worse, there is something surreal about seeing these unique moments in music history. Plus, the sheer variety of artists means that in a single day you can find yourself dancing to folk music, indie pop, rap, reggae, and big room house. Fun fact: my phone tells me I ran 42 miles last weekend, most of those were probably in the various funky dance parties that occurred.
For us, as soon as the lineup drops in January we have massive (500 song+) playlists ready to go in preparation. Finding randomly awesome artists in the months leading up to April is a part of the experience in its own right. I even religiously follow a forum on the Coachella site, where a group of strangers try and figure out the set times and stage choices before the lineup comes out. I honestly think watching those guys try and piece together the puzzle based on historical data, poster placement, leaks from bands and insiders and the type of music itself is fascinating. I hardcore geek out about this stuff all the time. Future best friends pro tip: If you want to make my day ask me to hangout and talk shop.
Ok so who won this year?!
If you know me you know these guys have been one of my favorite bands for years. I have seen them five times know way too much about them. Still though, this was something different. Chvrches at sunset on the main stage felt epic. They have stripped a lot of the excess out of their sets, and what remains is a much more powerful and massive performance. Lauren Mayberry completely owns the bigger stage, and people were going insane. Also.. If you are reading this today (4/23) check them out on the youtube live stream for weekend two at 6:10 tonight.
Lido: Unsurprising that the dude who made this video:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z0z6KnDNyag would crush it. A week before Coachella he announces that he is just going to drop his new album instead of his normal concert. Turns out his new show is him putting on a one man show that involved running from piano to keyboard to mic to harmonica and syncing everything up to a video in the background that he was simultaneously directing and participating in. One of the most talented performers I have ever seen.
Gallant: Go see this man sing. One of the most astonishing voices you will ever see. One of those shows where you see it and you know right away that you are watching a future household name. Hear Seal and Gallant going at it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mqXNuTpO0Fo
Other Amazing People:
Of Monsters and Men: Dark and Huge, far cry from Little Talks days
Matt and Kim: Probably the most fun set of the weekend. You think you are too cool for them.. You are wrong. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DbjGfw52rR8 that is what you missed for the Do Lab.
Rufus Du Sol
Lapsley: She sings both male and female parts.. pretty cool
Despacio: Just go. Hard to explain.
RL Grime (toooo crowded)
Anyways… I could go on and on but the moral of the story wouldn’t change. Coachella is the best. Music peoples, ask me about StageGage, a project I am working on that should launch in about 20 days!
See you next year.
P.S. Attending Claremont McKenna has allowed us to go to Coachella for the last four years, and the squad of Emmett, Nick, Tim, and Kyle has held strong this whole time. Nowadays the fam has expanded to include Garrett, Chantal, Audrey, Nik, Cece, Julian, and others but the core squad has kept coming back. Shoutout Choy for hosting all the hooligans.