May 2, 2006

Coachella Report: Lessons Learned

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at May 2, 2006 12:10 AM

Would I do it again? Hell yes. Here are some lessons I should keep in mind for next time.

Arrive early. The traffic becomes pretty hideous when the bulk of the crowd arrives, so it can easily add an hour to the travel time. Plus, undoubtedly some of the really obscure bands that play early in the afternoon are really good. (The trick is to find them.)

Spend the night camping on-site. Shuttling back to Pasadena on Saturday night was brutal. I was envying the people who could walk a few yards to their tents and go to sleep.

Get your ID checked right away. The lines at the ID check booths become long by midafternoon and remain that way all day. If you do it right away, you can walk right into the beer gardens anytime you want later. This is important even if you don't plan to pay $7 for a Heineken, because:

The shortest lines for food and water are in the beer gardens. People are going into the beer garden for beer but mostly not for food, but they do sell it there. Generally you can just walk right up and get something rather than waiting in line at the main food court. Water is available where they sell beer and there's hardly any line there either.

If you're going to buy a shirt, do it early on the first day. The better shirt designs sell out quickly.

It's worth arriving early for shows to get close to the stage. Especially in the tents the acoustics aren't so good, and it's hard even to hear the bands. On the main stage the crowd can get so big that you can't see anything if you don't arrive early enough (although hearing the music is less of a problem on the outdoor stages).

See one of the headline shows. The sheer hugeness of the show and the crowd makes it a powerful experience.

Be too cool for one of the headline shows. When everyone's off at the main stage the crowds at the other stages are small enough that the experience is much more intimate, and the bands really appreciate your presence there. Plus you can make snide remarks about fans of the main act.

Stay hydrated. Obvious but true. I had a brush with dehydration on the first day and it really sapped my energy, even after I got some water and started feeling better.

Tags: Coachella, Concerts, Music

I'll agree with most of that, though I found there was never a problem with lines for water/food. The lines people chose to wait in never made sense, and I always could either wait in a 20 person line or walk 40' to a similar booth with no line... The longest line I ever waited in was maybe 4 people long, and it moved quickly.

Camping? Hell yes. I realized I could of had 5 more hours of sleep if I hadn't been driving.

Close to the stage? Yeah, and the Mojave tent was by far the worst--it was sorely lacking in additional rows of speakers, unlike every single other stage. If you really care about a band, you can almost always fight your way up if you're willing--doubly so if you're patient. Then again, I don't recommend you act like the Madonna fans. *shiver*

Too cool for one of the headline shows? I think this is a really good point. While I wasn't at all disappointed with them, I imagine I would have had an equally good time at one of the other stages. And, you know, I totally lost any claim I didn't really have anyway to being pretentious once I stayed to see Tool.

Posted by: Lemming | May 2, 2006 12:22 AM

I seriously disagree on a couple points:

1. DM had the best synth. That is practically by definition. :) (Granted, I'm so biased here that it's ridiculous, so feel free to ignore this comment.)

2. What Lemming wrote about no problems with food lines. Getting food and frozen lemonade was trivial at all times. (Granted, we went at the same time, so I'm not giving an independent basis vector here.)

I need to finish my entry so I can go to bed...

Posted by: Mason | May 2, 2006 12:49 AM

I did find myself in some lines for food (before I started going to the beer gardens)--the wait wasn't immensely long but not insubstantial either. It could be that I went at bad times or was just unlucky.

As for the synth category, that is a case where I am hugely biased as well. :)

Posted by: Arcane Gazebo | May 2, 2006 12:55 AM

If you're talking about a synth, it only seems fair to be biased...

Posted by: Lemming | May 2, 2006 12:57 AM
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