Coachella. Whisper this word to any music fanatic and you will immediately provoke a response of both interest and awe. This once-a-year orgasm of blasting speakers, rockin’ shows and cornucopia of up-and-coming indie bands has, sadly, already ended its ransacking of the polo fields of Indio, Calif., and departed the music diehards who braved the scorching sun to attend its three days of ear candy.
Due to the lack of Artsweek coverage of perhaps the biggest music event of the year, as well as its one rather depressing review, I feel a need to share my own Coachella experience so others do not mistakenly miss out on this amazing annual event.
I had a great time. This probably ranks among the biggest understatements of all time. I came back to Santa Barbara clapping and shouting, “Woo!” anytime I heard a good song. The bass, beats, entertainment, weird art, people-watching and, yes, even the heat are still emblazoned in my mind and will be until the Alzheimer’s sets in. Yeah, the festival affected me.
This year’s Coachella was my first, but certainly not my last. I had considered going for many a year, but, alas, I opted to join the ranks of others who used excuse after excuse about why they couldn’t or wouldn’t attend. Sure, the tickets are expensive. Yes, it is hot, and, though jumping around with other enthusiastic fans is an absolute blast, the sweat bath it induces is not especially enjoyable. Of course all the smoke from cigarettes and doobies is bad for your lungs. But with some careful planning and strategizing, all of these excuses become nothing but minor inconveniences, comprising just a few tiny thorns on a mind-blowingly large, beautiful rose.
I mean, where else can you see over 30 bands in a span of only three days? And really, really good bands at that. Really good. Seriously, Coachella not only promotes up-and-coming indie bands that truly deserve more recognition for their talent, but it also allows the music devotee to literally shop around for new listens. And none of these listens are bad! They may not be exactly to your liking due to personal tastes, but none of the bands at Coachella are bad, which is truly amazing. For those of you who are used to digging for new musical gems, you understand how difficult it can be to find quality bands. But somehow, Coachella manages to pack over 100 of these gems into its lineup. This amalgamation of quality alone is worth the pretty pennies I shelled out to attend and definitely trumps all of the petty nuisances that make up most people’s excuses for not going. For example: I was not only able to see some of my favorite new indie acts like Vampire Weekend and Cold War Kids stretch their wings, but I also discovered some great bands that got started about five to 10 years ago, such as Portishead and Metric. Also, by being flexible and agreeing to see my friend’s must-see acts I didn’t particularly know about or need to see, I stumbled upon even more good music. And, even after all that payoff, Coachella still treated me to a blast from the past with Prince and Roger Waters, making me feel as if I had my fingers on the pulse of the past, present and future of music.
The words on this page do not pay Coachella justice and will never truly capture my feelings about this three-day festival. I know some come back feeling disappointed – but from the stories I have heard, that seems to be due mostly to poor planning and ill-timed, supposedly heat-induced naps. Though I may not have cared for a few individual acts, the festival as a whole certainly did not disappoint and, apparently, I went during a “bad” year – read: Radiohead and Rage did not headline.
So, music lovers, please check this festival out! Do plan ahead, do strategize about what acts you want to see, get there early and – most importantly – go! Coachella has changed my life for the better, and I have bunches of new CDs and undying memories to prove it!