Yes, Coachella is largely about the music and the phenomenal line up that is curated each year, but there is so much more to it. This is not to take anything away from the amazing performances we saw by artists we knew and artists we had just discovered on this amazing weekend, but Coachella is more than a music festival. It is a festival of experiences. Those experiences range from music, to art, to food, and to new friendships and interactions from the diverse attendees that this festival brings together.
Where We Stayed – ShadowHills RV Resort
Our Coachella experience began on Thursday as we (Jacqueline and I) made our way to the ShadowHills RV Resort where we were to be camping for the weekend. After the lengthy and unorganized check-in process, we made or way to our camp spot, though its size left us underwhelmed. It was 10 X 30 and we had to fit not only our tent and camping supplies but my truck too. I ended up bringing an 8 person tent with extendable rooms so Jacqueline would be more comfortable and have more room; so we labored together putting up the tent as fast as possible so we could escape the scorching heat that was only increasing as the day progressed. After putting the tent up, and sweating profusely throughout the process, Jacqueline decided since we did not have the tent cover and would have to use a tarp, that we should just use my smaller tent that I had wanted to use in the first place. Even though I had told Jacqueline about the lack of tent cover and our need for a tarp, she still insisted on us building the big tent just to later say we should take it down and put it the tent I wanted to use all along. To say i was annoyed is a gross understatement.
With that being said, ShadowHills was great. Bathrooms and showers were clean and the people were friendly and always there to help or answer questions. They even had a pool where there was a DJ playing everyday starting at 10 AM and they also served breakfast burritos or Egg McMuffins every morning for only 5 dollars. Our neighbors were even better as they were from Wales, which I got to learn was a different country than England. Who woulda thunk? Our Welsh neighbors were siblings named Dan and Laura, while our other neighbor was a man named Kyle who was from Long Beach but originally from somewhere around the East Coast. We ended up hanging out that first night before the festival started and bullshitted for a few hours about the differences between Wales and California and the US as a whole. The best part of our conversation was the way Dan said “Coachella”. In a welsh accent, he asked us “Is this your first time at ‘Coe-Cheel-Ah’? ” The way he said it became a running joke between Jac and I for the remainder of the trip.
Our neighbors were only the highlight of the many different characters we came across at ShadowHills as we found people of all different states, countries, backgrounds, and musical interests.
Friday – Day 1
- DJ Mustard – DJ Mustard was the first artist we attempted to see, in which we were partially successful. After finding our way to the beer garden we downed our drinks and headed towards the Sahara tent where we could already see the insane swarm of people beginto flood outside of the tent. For our first act, we learned that getting there early is key to getting a good spot, or even getting a spot at all. After pushing and shoving through a sweaty mess of people with their large hats and backpacks we made it into the tent area where we could slightly see the screen. We got to hear some Drake, Fetty Wap, and a few others until we decided that we had had enough of the smell of BO and cattle like squishing, pushing, and squirming. After a strenuous exit, we were free and on our way to the next act, this time arriving early to guarantee us a good spot without the hassle that DJ Mustard gave us. You can see the insanity of his set through a video I took on the GoPro here.
- Gallant – Gallant was one of the stand out acts for Jacqueline and I. His vocal abilities were phenomenal and hard to comprehend until it was over and we looked back on what our eyes had just witnessed and our ears had just heard. Jac and I had just discovered Gallant a few days prior through a Coachella playlist on youtube and we were immediately hooked. We ended up getting great spots right in front up against the fence that separated the crowd from the stage, which allowed Jacqueline to see clearly (usually a problem due to her height). Not only were we given a fantastic view of Gallant’s performance but we had a clear shot of Jhené Aiko who came out to perform with Gallant on their cowritten song Skipping Stones.
- Of Monsters and Men – Not seeing more of Of Monsters and Men’s performance is one my biggest Coachella regrets. Luckily I was able to see them perform “Little Talks” and “Dirty Paws“, and “King and Lionheart” – All three being in my favorites from them. Unfortunately, we left early after hearing these songs to get a good spot for A$AP Rocky which ended up being in vain, which you can read about below.
- A$AP Rocky – Like our experience trying to see DJ Mustard, seeing A$AP Rocky was full of sweat, pushing and shoving, and a Jacqueline Bezely seething with anger. A$AP wasn’t as good as we expected or as good as he was the last time I saw him but its possible that our experience could have been tainted by our position in the crowd and Jacqueline not being able to see due to her height and the surrounding tall people. Though he did not bring out Kanye as he did weekend 1, A$AP brought out Tyler the Creator to perform his rendition of Kanye’s “WTF”. But like Kanye the week before, Tyler’s mic cut out through out the performance leaving us with a lackluster cameo appearance. But the highlight of A$AP’s show was the crowd chanting “Fuck Trump” which you can view here.
- Ellie Goulding – Ellie Goulding was good, as she was exactly what you expected from her. She played her radio hits and it was good, though not phenomenal. We listened to a few of her songs then decided to retire back to our campsite being that it was our first day and we had been on the festival grounds for ten hours.
Saturday – Day 2
James Bay– Due to some douchebag in front of me holding up the line and arguing with security about bringing in his cheap ass cologne, we ended up missing James Bay completely. Maybe next time.
- Run the Jewels – I found out about Killer Mike and Run the Jewels through Bernie Sander’s campaign, which goes to show good people gather together. Killer Mike and El-P killed it and put on a super entertaining show as well as humorous one, talking throughout and conversing with each other and the crowd. Run the Jewels were great performers as well as seeming to be super cool, down to Earth dudes. Then towards the end of their performance they brought out Travis Barker to perform drums with them. It was rad.
- Disclosure – This was a surprise favorite performance of mine. Though I didn’t know many of their songs beforehand, besides “Latch”, Disclosure was super fun to watch and was not your run of the mill DJ who relies on visuals. Disclosure played multiple instruments as well as djing and providing visuals and even bringing out a few guests who I assumed are featured on his songs, though I did not know any of them. I definitely would go and see Disclosure again. I would never have thought I would be saying that, but that’s what Coachella is for, right?
- Ice Cube – This was hands down my favorite performance of the weekend, I would have been happy just seeing Ice Cube then going home; that’s how good it was. Ice Cube came to the stage and performed “Why We Thugs” from my favorite album by him, Laugh Now, Cry Later which put out the perfect vibe for the rest of the show. Then the cameo experiences started, first with the Game coming out and performing his song “Don’t Trip” which features Ice Cube from his new album The Documentary 2. The west coast party was just getting started. Next came out Lil’ Eazy E who came out to do right by his father and rap his verses along with MC Ren and DJ Yella who also came out to do a NWA reunion. They performed “Fuck the Police” with police sirens and lights blaring in the background and the whole crowd with their middle fingers raised. Though there was no Dre, myself and the rest of the crowd still seemed hyped and content with our partial NWA reunion. But then Cube said “Hold up. I thought I said we were gonna have a NWA reunion. Isn’t someone missing?” At this the whole crowd went crazy and Jacqueline looked at me and our hearts dropped as Dr. Dre came out and NWA started to perform “Straight Outta Compton” and then “California Love” with Dre covering Tupac’s verse. It was a moment of history I was stoked to be part of and share with Jacqueline. If seeing NWA perform again together for the first time in years wasn’t enough, Cube kept the cameos coming, Next up was Kendrick Lamar who did “Money Trees” and one other song. It was all the West Coast legends together on one stage, which was beyond amazing. Ice Cube ended his amazing show with a classic; “It Was a Good Day“. Yes it was Cube, yes it was.
- Guns N’ Roses – We only stayed for 3 songs of theirs since they started so late and we were already more than satisfied with Ice Cube. We heard two random songs that neither of us knew and then we saw them perform “Welcome to the Jungle” which was enough to make me feel content with my Guns N’ Roses experience.
Sunday – Day 3
- Rancid – The 7th grade version of myself wouldn’t let me miss this. Though they went on at around 3 in the afternoon, so it was the hottest time of the day, it was worth it. They played about ten or eleven songs and ended with my three favorites: “Fall Back Down“, “Time Bomb“, and “Ruby Soho“.
- Matt and Kim – Though we only saw Matt and Kim in passing, they were awesome and the two songs we saw them perform made us wish we were in the crowd and saw their whole performance. They played their hit song “Daylight” which was awesome to see them energetically perform. Right before they started to play they blew up enormous beachballs and threw them into the crowd and then Kim got into the crowd and shook her ass as they held her by her feet as she “twerked”, or attempted too. Matt and Kim looked like a super fun show to see, so I definitely will check them out if I ever have the chance again.
- Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros – This was Jacqueline’s favorite performance, besides Sia of course. Due to the band’s mellow nature, we were able to sit comfortably on the grass and watch their awesome performance, which was a nice break from the constant standing the rest of the weekend demanded of us. They put on a great show and played all their best songs. But the highlight was when they played “Home“, which is one of our songs, and the whole crowd rocked together singing the lyrics. The coolest part was when the singer, instead of telling his story in the song as he usually does, gave the mic to the audience and let them tell their own stories, passing the mic to each other. We heard stories of travel, depression, and love. It was a truly powerful moment and incredible to see the ability of music and art to bring people together and be so vulnerable and honest. They ended with Om- nashi-me, which was the song that got me into them in the first place when i saw my favorite skate part ever for the first time; Andrew Reynold’s part in Emerica’s Stay Gold. Overall, great performance by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. The next time they play somewhere, I will be there.
- Sia – Sia’s performance was more than just music. In typical Sia form, she was not the center of her show but the stars were the dancers that performed as Sia sang. Jacqueline was extremely excited to see Sia, who was her number one person out of the whole line up. As Sia performed and brought out Dance Mom’s very own star dancer, Maddie Ziegler, Jacqueline was in awe and watched in silence, only mouthing the words of the songs occasionally. Jacqueline was literally star struck as Maddie did her famous routines seen in Sia’s videos as Sia showcased her phenomenal voice. Sia also brought out a male dancer who is also an actor from the movie Little Miss Sunshine ,as well as bringing out Kristen Wiig to dance. Sia’s show was the definition of art and showcased talent. If you have not seen the music videos that Sia has put out, which focus on the incredible art of dance to relay a narrative, I implore you to check them out here, here, and here. These will give you some sort of idea on what we saw on this final night of Coachella Weekend 2.
- Calvin Harris – Calvin Harris was the final act of this year’s Coachella and though it was visually cool to watch, my feet and back were killing me so my experience seeing him was a bit skewed by my exhaustion. I am also not into EDM, though i tried my hardest to get into it as it was the last performance of my first Coachella experience. It was loud and it all started to blend into something that sounded like one long never ending song with a mash up of samples every once a while to reorient the crowd. Calvin Harris ended up bringing out a slew of randoms that I assumed were featured on some of his songs, but he also brought out a non-random; Big Sean. Big Sean was cool to see but you could tell he was completely out of his element as he tried to rap one of his new songs to the EDM music of Calvin Harris. Awesome to see Big Sean, I just wish it was in his zone. Overall, Calvin Harris put on cool show and I can completely see why people love him and going to EDM shows in general. The energy was high and the music was loud, but my feet and body were tired as were Jacqueline’s. The hopeful promise of surprise guests was the only think keeping us there that night and after Big Sean, our hopes went unfulfilled. Maybe if we were deeper in the crowd, knew the music, and were drunk or on something, we would have enjoyed it more. As far as EDM goes though, I much rather would have watched Disclosure again.
If you didn’t care for the lineup at this years Coachella or the crowds, dust, and wind weren’t for you , have no fear because the food was enough to keep you satisfied all weekend long. Though there was simply just not enough time to eat at all the featured food spots around the festival grounds, we did what we could and enjoyed every minute of it.
This was the first thing we did after we got through the entry line on our first day in Coachella. For $5 you were given a watermelon slice the size of your head and this is what gave us the boost of energy we needed after waiting in the cramped sweaty line. The watermelon was juicy, sweet, and better than we could have imagined.
(NOTE: There was about ten separate lines with a minimum of 600 people in each line and somehow we ended up standing next to a fellow San Pedran and family friend, Kevin Dobbins. No matter where you go, you always find someone from Pedro.)
Free Range has been on my list since I discovered pictures of the fried chicken sandwiched between two huge butter biscuits with avocado on their Instagram page. If you are in the mood to see some real food porn, I suggest you check their page ASAP. After months of salivating over their pictures I was finally blessed with the opportunity to indulge. Shoutout to the #ChickenGawds .
After seeing the Coachella Instagram account post about these gourmet hotdogs, Jacqueline’s food goals were focused on attaining one. Along with me getting Free Range (See Above), this was our first full meal at Coachella and it was as glorious as it looks. You can clearly see the stoke on Jacqueline’s attesting to the deliciousness.
The Meat Cellar
This might have been our favorite meal of the whole weekend. If not me, it was most definitely Jacqueline’s favorite meal as she ate it faster than I have ever seen here eat anything before. Check out their Instagram page for more pics of their delicious sandwiches as I was too hungry to take good pictures of our sandwiches.
No, there is nothing too special about this frozen lemonade nor is it made by some foodie LA chefs. It is only the most OG brand that is available at all carnivals and even your local grocery store: MinuteMaid. After a long weekend of 95 degree days while standing for hours on end, a dose of regular, nothing too special, MinuteMaid Frozen Lemonade was just what the doctor ordered – And Jacqueline looks pretty cute in the picture so I had to post them somewhere, right?
Activities and Art
Record Store/ Boutique
The boutique and record store were both super cool and not something that either Jacqueline or I expected. The record store was curated specifically for the festival for the whole year leading up to it. The boutique had framed designs by famous designers and companies such as Shepard Fairey and US Versus THEM. All of the framed designs were available to be silk screened on t-shirts, tank tops, and jackets right there in front of you – It was a super cool touch. In the boutique was art on the walls of creatures with speaking/thought bubbles that said all the artists who were playing Coachella, which you can see below.
These chairs were giant. And yellow. At night they lit up. And that is all I really know about that… They were cool though.
The Ferris Wheel was awesome and was officially called the “Grande Wheel”. And Grande it was, as it was advertised as the largest Ferris Wheel in California, though I’m not sure how accurate that is. Regardless of the accuracy of its claim, it was awesome to ride it and see the expansive polo field that Coachella lived on that weekend, all from a bird’s eye view.
This art installation was made by an artist from Argentina. All the flowers that you see that make up the letters were real.
The Armpit/ Rotating Computer Head
This art installation was extremely odd. The Armpit was this wooden structure that you walked into that had small rooms in it with videos of an old man tinkering with something in his hands and was filmed with high quality cameras where you could see every detail of his dirty hands and fingernails. The Rotating Computer Head was even more weird as it was on top of the Armpit and you had to climb a ladder to get into it. Once you got into it you sat down and put on the suspended headphones and watched the projected film which spun around you showing on one side, young kids about 6-10 years old making noises with their mouths in a dimly lit room. Then when the screen rotated and showed you the opposite side it showed an older man staring back at you smoking a cigarette and sitting at a desk. It was extremely bizarre and my writing does not do it justice.
The beer gardens were super fun and were our basecamp for the weekend. One of my only complaints about Coachella was that we couldn’t take beer outside of the designated areas, so you were constricted to whatever stage was closest to the beer garden we happened to be in. Though this was annoying at times, I’ve never appreciated 21 + areas before. It was so nice to be in an area where we didn’t have to deal with rowdy kids. Though our (USA) drinking age is ridiculous, this weekend I was thankful for it and took advantage. Check out the atmosphere of the beer tent area right before Ice Cube came on with this video I took on the GoPro.
Thank you for the good times Coachella. Until next time….