This past weekend I was able to check another item off my bucket list: attending Coachella. I am an avid music lover, and particularly love attending festivals where I can see multiple bands play over the course of several days. My friend Heather kindly offered me the chance to stay at her family’s place near the festival and go with them, and I knew I couldn’t turn it down.
The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is an annual festival held the second and third weekends in April at the Empire Polo Club just outside of Palm Springs in Indio, California. Last year, it boasted over 96,000 attendees per day. It’s known for all sorts of bohemian-inspired fashion, celebrity sightings, and surprise guests during performances.
Coachella originated in 1993 when Pearl Jam played at the Empire Polo Club in an attempt to boycott venues that Ticketmaster controlled. This concert proved that the venue was suitable for holding larger events. Coachella officially began in 1999 for a two day, one weekend festival. It has since expanded to three days and two weekends (the lineup is the same for each weekend). There’s six different stages bands play on with staggered times, so you have to plan each day out well to make sure you don’t miss anyone you want to see!
Here’s the official lineup poster of all the bands that played:
Coachella is known for its famous Ferris wheel, which operates all day and all night long.
It wasn’t too busy at this time, but it also got up to 97 degrees during the day. While some stages have tents, it’s safe to say some people were waiting for the cooler nighttime weather.
On Day 3, the caterpillar actually turned into this butterfly! I thought it was creative, as it was representing how Coachella keeps changing.
Never before have I said a garbage can was attractive, but these garbage cans for one of the displays were beautifully painted. They were all being donated to local schools after the event.
“Where the Wild Things Are” garbage can.
Poltar is a wise polar bear who gives you advice when you go in his booth. He told me “you must go on a train to somewhere you’ve never been, and the surprises will be rewarding.” As this is happening in a few months, I agree that he is pretty wise. He also told my pregnant friend to name her baby Poltar, so we’ll see if she takes his advice.
He later came out of his booth for a “stretching break”, so of course I had to get a picture with him.
Hippo Corporate Headquarters. This was a live art piece where actual actors in hippo suits pretended they were working in three different stories of an office building. As I later found out, there was a loudspeaker inside telling them instructions such as “hippos on floor 3 have fleas” in which they would all start itching themselves, or “start destroying all the papers on floor 2.” It was very entertaining to watch them.
The main reason I went was for the music. I counted 47 bands/artists total that I was able to see over the 3 day period. To me, that is well worth the cost of the festival. I won’t name everyone I saw, but a highlight was seeing AC/DC’s first show after a 6 year hiatus. They had an amazing amount of energy and played well over a two-hour set.
Due to the massive crowd size constantly moving around, I wasn’t able to get a ton of clear pictures of the artists. A few of my favorite performances that I weren’t able to get pictures of were Florence and the Machines, Jack White, Brand New, and Azealia Banks. Here are the few pictures that did turn out.
Cedric Gervais. He is a Grammy-award winning DJ from France. This is not quite my type of music, but I was really impressed by his set. A big reason I like going to music festivals is to be exposed to music I wouldn’t otherwise have heard of. He’s remixed Lana del Ray’s “Summertime Sadness” and Katy Perry’s “Wide Awake” to name a few.
David Guetta. You may not know him by name, but I guarantee you’ve heard some of his songs on the radio. He’s collaborated with everyone from Nicki Minaj to Snoop Dogg to Jennifer Hudson. The Black Eyed Peas came out as a surprise guest and debuted their new song. (Speaking of Jennifer Hudson and surprise guests, she also came out during a band we happened to be walking by and did a surprise appearance with a funk song. Her voice is incredible and we were lucky to walk by when we did.) As you can see, the tent was so crowded I couldn’t even get close to getting in. This pictures shows how massive some of the shows can be though and essentially are giant dance parties.
Andrew McMahon and the Wilderness. I have followed him (and met him!) since high school when he was in a punk rock band called Something Corporate, followed by another band called Jack’s Mannequin. He pours his heart into the show and is fun to watch. I also loved the palm trees in the background, as a lot of his songs are about California.
Interpol. I’ve also followed this rock group since high school and seen them a few times in the past. It was great to see them on the main stage and still have such a big following. Where I was standing was probably the closest I got all weekend for one of bigger acts due to so many people at each show (which as you can see is not very close!).
Drake and Madonna. Drake, a rapper, was the last act of the night on the last day, and I knew he would be bringing out someone as a surprise, although I had no idea it would be this big. About an hour into his set, “Hung Up” by Madonna started playing, which I assumed he would be doing some sort of remix to. Wrong. A blonde woman immediately came out and started singing, and after the initial minute of shock all of us realized we were seeing the actual Madonna in person. She sang one more song, and then just as quickly as she appeared, left, leaving everyone speechless. Also, if you look at this picture you can see the thousands of people in front of me at the show, and I wasn’t even close to the back. My guess is this show had the largest attendance.
I had so much fun and am thankful I had to chance to finally go this year. I definitely plan on going again sometime in the future!
Who would you have liked to see out of the lineup?
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