Ah Coachella!

So, 2 weekends of Coachella pandemonium has finally come to an end and I thought this might be the best time to blog about my experience, albeit from 2012, of the music festival.

The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is an annual two-weekend, three-day music and arts festival held at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, California, usually in April.


We decided in early January to attend the festival and there began the task of getting tickets, coordinating flights and itineraries with friends. 3 of us were traveling from Singapore (we sneaked a quick trip to Tokyo on the way) and 2 where coming in from Minnesota. We were pre-registered and ready when the tickets opened for sale EST on Friday, the 13th of January.  It was crrrrrrrazy, with 6 laptops and 2 people feverishly refreshing the site page every 5 seconds. Weekend 1 sold out within an hour and we were lucky to get passes for the second.

The line-up wasn’t bad either, with The Black Keys, Radiohead and Snoop Dogg & Dr. Dre headlining Friday, Saturday and Sunday respectfully.

Coachella line-up

Coachella line-up

Come April, after a very tasty vacation in Tokyo, 2 nights in LA and a night in Disneyland, we found ourselves in the middle of the desert in Palm Springs. We decided against camping and stayed at the Renaissaince Palm Springs that had regular shuttles to and from the festival. The hotel featured under zone 5 and for an extra $30, we got unlimited shuttle services included in our passes.

We got in on Friday and although we missed all the morning and afternoon acts, we managed to catch a late afternoon shuttle and to get to the festival in time for the Arctic Monkeys (unfortunately we only caught the fag end, sadly from the parking lot because of all the checks and double checks at the entrance).

There were 5 stages – Coachella Stage, showcasing the main performances, Outdoor Theatre, Gobi, Mojave and Sahara. 2 VIP areas, where, if you’re lucky (or not!) you might spot Paris Hilton and/or a bunch of other celebrities wearing clothes with so many holes in them it looked like they went through a paper shredder instead of a shower matched with the appropriate head-gear and face-gear (bindis and nose rings, anyone?!?!?), a ferris wheel and plenty of food stalls.


Once finally in (!!), we got some beers and planted ourselves on the grass next to the Coachella Stage to watch Pulp perform. Having gone to college in the UK, amongst others, Blur and Pulp were one of my favourite groups and listening to them took me right back to 1999! Interestingly, Common People by Pulp won best Britpop Anthem by listeners of the BBC Radio 6 Music show last week. The vote was part of the Britpop celebrations, which mark 20 years since the movement’s heyday. The song beat Oasis’s Wonderwall, The Verve’s Bittersweet Symphony and Blur’s Parklife to the title.

After that, we headed over to Mohave for the Rapture and bits of M83 soon after. We finished with an exhilarating set by Swedish House Mafia; I particularly love their rendition of Aussie indie band The Temper Trap’s Sweet Disposition.

The next day we woke up prepared to conquer Coachella, the desert, the blistering heat and possibly the world. The plan was to get to the festival in time for AWOLNATION who were starting at 4 pm but it was so painfully hot outside (39-40 deg C) that half way there we ducked into a Mexican restaurant for some very welcome frozen margaritas. Needless to say, we missed AWOLNATION (although we had Sail on repeat inside the restaurant, tsk tsk!) but got there in time for a bit of St Vincent and Feist. The tiny neihghbouthood Mexican restaurant became our little haven when it was too hot and dusty outside. We also drove around Palm Springs and stopped outside the house Elvis Presley and Lisa Marie Presley shared on their honeymoon.

Elvis Presley's Honeymoon house

Elvis Presley’s Honeymoon house

Coachella was, to say the least, an experience. It is a boho carnival (perhaps a tad pseudo-boho, especially the outfits and I would tend to agree), a cornucopia of colours and sounds, a celebration of music, self-expression and in many ways a circus. It was crazy hot, surreal, exciting and heaps and heaps of fun. I think the highlight of the 3 days was the closing performance by Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre, weirdly so because compared to the acts we did want to see, we thought we might give this last one a pass and head back early. Finishing with Florence + The Machine, which was great because Florence Welsh is such an amazing performer, we got caught in the sea of people moving in harmony to the Coachella Stage for the finale. Nearly 90,000 people watched Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre and the Tupac hologram command the stage with guests like Kendrick Lamar and Eminem and bring the festival to a close.  With every blunt Snoop Dogg lit on stage a la Puff, the Magic Dragon, you would see rhetorical tiny plumes of smoke rise up from the audience! I don’t think we enjoyed any performance as much as we did this, I guess because we did not expect to stay, but certainly glad we did.

Sea of people

Sea of people

Fun highlights were – Sia’s guest appearance for David Guetta’s Titanium, the crowds dancing to Dada Life, everyone singing along to Gotye’s Somebody That I Used to Know featuring Kimbra and the outfits!


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