The only Coachella guide you need
The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is truly the kick-off to the 2013 festival season. Now spanning over two weekends and featuring over 150 bands, the party in the desert is going to be one for the history books. But you guys already know all of this. Tickets have already been purchased, booze has been acquired and accommodations are in place so let’s get down to what you need to know.
As a 6-year veteran myself, I know that the festival can be a huge pain in the ass depending on how well you prepare for it. Below is a guide that will help you withstand the heat, see the best bands possible, and leave saying, Damn that was a great time.
Before we get into the meat and potatoes, remember kids that the weekend will be only as good as you make it, and you do not want to end up as the next internet meme. You don’t want to be the guy trying to find his sandal or the girl making out with a tree for 10 minutes so whatever you choose to do, do in moderation.
For the seasoned festival veteran camping is where it is at. Being a 15 minute walk away from all of your beer and food is truly the way to go. At Coachella you are not allowed to drink beer near the stages and are corralled into little “gardens” away from anything that you actually want to be looking at. At $9 a pop, beer will put you back a lot after 3 days so plan accordingly. Also they only have Heineken.
Many great lists have been constructed over the years about what you need to survive in the heat. Here and here are must reads to survive the weekend without melting. From my experience however there are two things you MUST have to make your trip enjoyable: somewhere to sit and shade. Beach chairs and an easy up with hanging sheets on the sides are imperative to make your weekend enjoyable. Two thirty racks of PBR and a handle of Captain Morgan also will not hurt your cause.
If you are unlike most of us and this economy has not shit on your paycheck entirely and you’re staying at some fancy hotel with a pool party sponsored by some Vodka brand you have never heard of listen up: be prepared to wait in lines. Lines to park. Lines to get searched. Lines to have your ticket scanned. Lines to do before you enter (jk). Give yourself an ample amount of time (up to 2 hours) to get in.
Last, remember that this is a music festival for you to enjoy and that you paid A LOT of money to attend. Put your iPhones away and stop tweeting about how you snuck back stage and saw Lindsay Lohan throwing up in a porta-potty. No one wants to see your Instagram photos anyway. So take a second to relax and enjoy what is in front of you and leave the taking of Hipstamatic pictures of your Chili’s takeout for next week.
Who To See
In an attempt at brevity (and so my editor does not get really mad at me) I am going to just point out around four acts each day that you would be dumb not to catch.
What has been dubbed by me as “Old UK Bands Need a Paycheck Day,” Friday sees The Stone Roses and Blur double headline a bill for all of you people into nostalgia. In all honesty though, both of those bands are really talented and if that is your cup of tea go for it as it will probably be around another decade till they will be on the tour circuit again.
I would start my evening off with the amazing bleepidy-bloopidy sounds of Four Tet. The UK champion of dubstep had one of our favorite releases of last year and it was only four songs. I could not think of a better way to start off your weekend then with some down-tempo music to get things going.
Veterans Modest Mouse should never be missed… ever. You can count on Isaac Brock and company to always bring their unique ambitious sound. Playing what should be a career-spanning set during sunset, grab onto that friend you just met and give her a kiss on the cheek. Check out this lost documentary footage from “The Lonesome Crowded West” era in preparation for the weekend.
With a new album on the way, New York rockers the Yeah Yeah Yeahs will hit the main stage with plenty of new material. If you have never seen the band you are in for a treat. Karen O is 100% energy 100% of the time and Nick Zinner is arguably one of the greatest guitar players of our generation.
To end the night I would check out Trent Reznor’s side project How to Destroy Angles. With their debut album “Welcome Oblivion” being one of the best albums we have heard in a while, I am sure the set will be one not to miss. Being only the second time they play live together this weekend, it should be a treat for all you Nine Inch Nails fans out there that are pissed they got booked for Lollapalooza instead of Coachella.
This day is stacked. Any way you look at it you are going to be missing some amazing acts. Depending on the type of person you are you might be running around all day to different stages. If I could recommend one thing, it would be to circle the artist you really have to see and then just let the vibe take you where it does. Your feet and your proximity to the stage will be thanking me. I have handpicked some of the best acts spanning all genres.
Disclaimer-I must admit I am having a midlife rap crisis. That being said, missing the 2 Chainz set would be a sin for anybody. The rapper formally known as Tity Boi’s album “Based on a T.R.U. Story” has been on repeat in my car for the past month. Who knows what the show will be like but expect to see me up front weekend two rapping along with such great songs as “I Luv Dem Strippers” and “I’m Different.”
Bat for Lashes “The Haunted Man” was the only album on everyone in the office’s “Best Of” list last year- which says a lot about how great the album was. The beautiful British singer/songwriter sings her heart out on every note. Playing right after 2 Chainz sets up an amazing, albeit unique, one-two punch moment that can only be found at festivals of this grandeur, which, after all, is what makes music festivals so great.
Being born in the ’90s I would be remiss if I did not catch a bit of The Violent Femmes set. Listening to recent videos it seems like age has not treated them well, but missing sing-alongs to the likes of “Blister in the Sun” and “Add It Up” would be a shame. Catch them if not for nothing more than a bit of a chance to reminisce.
Moving along it is time to put your dancing shoes on as techno legend Richie Hawtin will be gracing us with his presence. An avid electronic fan myself, Hawtin is probably the person I am most excited to see. Hawtin has had a huge influence on electronic music and can be credited by many for really mastering the art of minimal-techno. Hawtin is also a great gateway into the techno field for all you recent entry-level big-room-house fans.
No matter what way you slice it choosing who you watch headline Saturday is going to hurt. French superstars Phoenix vs Icelandic darlings Sigur Rós vs British powerhouse New Order is probably one of the most difficult decisions to make. Plan according to what vibe you are going for but if I were you I would go with New Order. Who knows when they will tour next and their retro poppy sound will be an excellent way to end the night.
The last day sees some amazing artists hit the stage. Hopefully you are rested (who are we kidding, you will be tired as fuck) because this day showcases some amazing electronic artists. Also with ultimate frat-rockers The Red Hot Chili Peppers headlining the party is sure to go on way into the night.
Start the day off with German techno producer Paul Kalkbrenner who not only acted but produced all the music for the must see movie “Berlin Calling.” Huge overseas, it has always astonished me that he does not have much of a following in the States. His music works best in a basement in Berlin at 4 in the morning so it should be interesting how his set plays out. Fun fact, Kalkbrenner does not listen to any other electronic music as he feels it will infringe on his inspiration for his own.
If you have yet to watch this year’s Oscar winning documentary “Searching For Sugar Man” go pick it up ASAP. It is an amazing documentary about Sixto Rodriguez who just so happens to be performing at Coachella this year. Fans of Bob Dylan and Neil Young should feel right at home with Rodriguez. The American folk artist from Detroit should be hitting the stage right as the sun is setting, perfect for his type of music.
16-year-old me would not be proud of who I have become if I do not recommend this next band. Hailing from Omaha, The Faint was at the top of the class during the electro-punk breakout in the early 2000’s. There live show is filled with energy from start to finish. You will be dancing, you will be moshing, and most importantly you will be having a great time listening to classics such as “Glass Dance” and “Dropkick The Punks.”
Ending the festival, UK up-and-comers Disclosure will be performing their unique type of minimalist dubstep. Disclosure’s “White Noise” featuring AlunaGeorge is already on the top of our lists for best songs in 2013. It should be interesting to see what the UK duo bring to the table for their first Southern California performance.
Whatever way you plan on taking in this weekend remember to drink lots and lots of water as the heat will creep up on you. Also remember to bring warm clothing for later as it will get cold at night and it looks like it is going to be a windy first weekend. Check back for more coverage as I brave the festival for the 7th time on the second weekend and will be back with more stories than you ever thought you would want to read.