Friday, April 19, 2013

WTF is a “Coachella”?

Ah, let me tell you!

While it’s fairly unknown up here north of the 49th, I have been dreaming of this festival for nearly 10 years after hearing about it on an independent alternative radio station down in Phoenix when I was stationed there after university. At that time they were readily handing out the tickets to anyone who was interested in making the trip to Palm Springs. Fast forward a few years and the festival has gone from a small, money-losing venture to a giant force in the music industry that is able to convince old bands to reunite for one more gig (well 2, since the festival is now replicated over two separate weekends). I think there are about 80,000+ people on the grounds each day, according to what Wikipedia tells me. So it’s much, much larger than anything we’ve been to.

Julie & I purchased our tickets in a harried online sale last MayCoachella 2013 line-up poster (yes, 11 months in advance! and 2014 goes on sale May 24, 2013!) and the artist line-up was only announced in January. Since that time I’ve been tuning in nearly everyday to Slacker Radio’s “Coachella 2013” online radio station to learn the music.  But even at first glance, there were a number of bands that I definitely was keen on seeing, notably “Of Monsters and Men”, “the Airborne Toxic Event”, “Franz Ferdinand”, “Dropkick Murphys”, “Social Distortion”, “the Lumineers”, “Blur”, and “the Red Hot Chili Peppers”.  Yet just like the Winnipeg Folk Festival, you have to allow time to discover new acts, and to that I’m sure glad that mom gave me cash for my birthday that I put towards a Slacker Radio subscription!

Our tickets arrived a couple weeks before departure in the best ticket-delivery-box I’ve ever witnessed – packed with buttons, stickers, information booklet, and a DIY diorama calendar. They sure know how to build a brand.

When we were planning the trip, we opted to spend a few more days down in California, mostly to recuperate! But with the prairie winter extending its grasp, we did not anticipate the desire to escape the cold in April. We had even considered the wild possibility of flying to Lima (Peru) to visit some friends since we were halfway there, but we restrained ourselves and picked out a wine area just over the hills towards San Diego.

Our WestJet flight from Edmonton was an amusing mix of festival-goers and other “vacationers” (i.e. golfers).  We were packed as heavily as we’ve ever been for a trip since we were carrying a full collection of camping gear. That answers the “where did you stay?” question.  Camping provides the full “festival experience”, and for $85 it was far, far cheaper than any hotel option.

We rented a van for the weekend, and the power-everything Caravan ALMOST made us consider getting a minivan.  We spent a longerLong line-ups greet you as you enter the grounds.-than-expected 2 hours at Wal-Mart stocking up on food and supplies so that by the time we rolled up to the festival gate, the entire rear portion of the van had shopping bags strewn about along with a mix of our own luggage as Julie had changed clothes while we were in the security queue.

Coachella features 5 stages: 1 large outdoor main stage; a slightly smaller outdoor stage next to it, then 3 increasingly larger tents side by side with the airport-hangar-sized “Sahara” tent book-ending the array.  There are also a number of smaller stages scattered around. One is a coachella venue map[lightly] air-conditioned DJ tent. Another is a frosty air-conditioned dome sponsored by Heineken. Lastly there is the “Do Lab”, an all day dance party that is stuck right in the middle of the 2 outdoor stages and one of the tents.  Coming from the Folk Fest where they strive to ensure that no stage’s music overlaps with another, here the strategy is simply what ever stage you are closest to, that one will be loudest. Strange, but it works. Food options are plentiful (sadly I missed trying the “spicy pie” pizza), water stations are adequate and the beer gardens are spacious and well-located, and reasonably priced. ($9/16oz, but a rum & coke is an outrageous $14!)

We had great weather this weekend in the desert. Daily highs of low 30s (°C) and no sand storm like they had to deal with last week.

I was beyond excited as the event neared, and even going in with lofty expectations, I can definitely say that the festival is astounding! I sure hope to go again soon!

coachella images are theirs, not mine.<> next post is more detailed, with show highlights and whatnot <>

1 comment:

KC said...

Hi Andrew,

My name is KC Owens; I’m a college student who loves to travel! While cruising the Internet, I found your site and really enjoyed reading your posts. Personally, I think traveling is a necessary part of life as you’re exposed to all sorts of new cultures and experiences. While enjoying time abroad, I've found it's crucial to fully understand the dangers that you might encounter along the way. These mishaps are part of life and certainly part of travel but it’s always a great idea to take preventive measures to help ensure your safety while abroad.

I was hoping that you would allow me to write a post for your site to share my travel safety tips with your readers? I put a lot of time and passion into my traveling and I would love to help others by offering safety advice as a result of the mistakes and triumphs I've had. I look forward to hearing from you!


KC Owens