If you skipped Coachella because 1) you couldn’t afford the price tag, 2) crowds make you break into a cold sweat, or 3) desert heat makes you sweat, period, then, OK, I hope you had a great couple of weekends and perhaps sniffed out some second-hand festival vibes on YouTube.
If you skipped Coachella because you think it’s overrun by douchebags, debutantes and drug-addled EDM heads, then you’re a sucker. You’ve fallen victim to the click-baiters whose online photos of a small minority of idiots in Native American headdresses, garish face paint and various states of undress make for better galleries than masses of people dancing or merely mesmerized by the music.
(If you skipped Coachella because you thought the lineup was bad, I suggest therapy.)
Every year, the listicles populate my social media feed: “The 10 Types of People to Avoid at Coachella,” “The Style Rules of Coachella,” “Pictures of People Taking Selfies at Coachella” (don’t look too closely at that one), etcetera and so on, and they’re all a smokescreen for the simple fact that Coachella remains a fantastic music experience if you’re just there for the music. Which most of the 90,000-plus attendees â€”Â even those in floral crowns and offensive T-shirts â€”Â are.
In any such conflagration of humanity, of course, you will see things you can’t un-see and encounter people you’d generally avoid. That holds true when you attend, say, a major sporting event as well. But rather than be stuck in your seat while a costumed crazy behind you yells obscenities at the visiting team and spills beer on your back, Coachella affords you the real estate to move around. Not since the festival footprint was expanded a few years ago have crowds really been oppressive (small exception: the area around the Sahara Tent). Traffic on the Polo Field is a breeze compared to the 405, or for that matter, the 134.
If you are a passionate music fan â€”Â like the guy pictured at top, one of about four people moshing to OFF! during Weekend 1 â€” it comes down to value. Over three days of Weekend 1 (two of which I spent under the weather, which curtailed my activities a bit compared to past years), I saw full or nearly-full sets from 22 artists (21 if you subtract Drake, speaking of un-seeing) and parts of sets from 11 others. I found time to take in all the various art installations that add to the spectacle. My calf muscles hurt; my sinus medication failed me; and I spent more than I wanted to on food. No regrets.
To witness the might of, say, Jack White or Alabama Shakes in a spectacular, communal setting â€” above most, their performances spoke to the seemingly infinite power of rock â€™nâ€™ roll â€” was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and as it turned out again in 2015, a manageable one.
Ain’t nobody with a glow stick gonna stand in my way. See you at FYF.
||| Also: Coachella 2015: A recap of all our recaps from Weekend 1.