“This place sucks. Over it. Never coming back.” Then (probably): “Die, die, die.”
Those words (and many more inappropriate ones) most likely left my mouth last April, as I vomited into the dust on the side of a very slender, 200-yard-long path through the desert, lined with chain link fences on each side. This sandy hell trail was the VIP exit route from the backstage area at Coachella, and I was being passed by models and other glamorous Hollywood stars as my dinner was violently ejected from my body. Watch your feet, sweetheart.
I was then forced to walk at least three more miles to meet an imbecile driver, who, in his inability to locate our team of writers and photographers, decided he’d just smoke weed in a parking lot and make out with his girlfriend. Good thinking. On the way back to our hotel, exhausted and ill, I threatened to puke on the back of his head. So, yes, I was upset. And the next 18 hours were spent in bed or the bathroom, as many of the other writers and photographers on my team started to get food poisoning themselves. In total, four of us were laid up ill. It was the lettuce, we surmised.
So that’s how my experience at Coachella 2011 started. Still, I can’t wait to go back this year.
Coachella is a special and especially weird place. It’s the polar opposite of a festival like Bonnaroo, my favorite, and like the city of Los Angeles itself, I detested it before I even went to visit. This, I'll admit, was based entirely on previously held beliefs and opinions, all fueled by popular clichés of L.A. culture and people. Coachella certainly upholds many of those—yes, I’m looking at you 19-year-old Cali girl with collagen IN YOUR FACE. Or you, Cali Bros that pay thousands of dollars for VIP access, then sit there all day watching paparazzi snap photos of D-list celebrities instead of seeing music.
But all that’s just one very small aspect of Coachella. It’s easy to look past the negative when you’re in paradise, and over the past three years I’ve come to love, love, love this festival. Just remember that it's about the whole experience and that getting there is half the fun.
So, without further ado, I present My List of the 10 Reasons I’m Going Back to Coachella That Have Nothing to Do With the Lineup:
10. It’s paradise. Your grandparents were smart—who doesn’t want to relax in the California desert? In April, it’s 90 degrees and sunny out, and the view of the high mountains is beautiful. Also: palm trees!
9. Los Angeles. It's a two-hour drive from L.A. to Coachella, and chances are you'll be through the city at some point on your journey. If you fly into LAX, take 30 minutes and go eat a fish taco in Silver Lake. Cruise Mulholland Drive or Hollywood Boulevard, or drive down to Venice Beach and stretch your legs on the sand before heading out.
8. Shorts. When was the last time you wore shorts? After the long winter months, April comes just in time to save people from seasonal affective disorder. I’d have to dig through my closet just to find a pair of shorts right now, and that prospect excites me.
7. Slushies. I’m a seasoned slushy hound—I spent six years of my life working at a slushy stand at the Gorge Amphitheatre, home of Sasquatch Fest, in Washington State. Coachella has some of the best slushies I’ve ever tasted. They balance their favor and temperatures just right.
6. Road trip. It’s the Wild West, people, and there are plenty of oddities to see just off the highway between Los Angeles and Indio, like the Cabazon Dinosaurs seen in Pee-Wee's Big Adventure and the Integratron!
5. The stars. Call me a city boy. Call me a romantic. But let it be known that you can really see the stars when you’re way up in the California desert. Take a minute and look up.
4. Pools! At some point you’ll go swimming, and few things are as memorable or youthful or quintessentially summer than plunging into a pool, late at night, with a bunch of friends.
3. House party! At Bonnaroo, the action is in the campgrounds. At Coachella, it’s at the fancy vacation homes on golf courses, where concertgoers shack up and throw raging parties.
2. Get a tan. Yep. Just be careful and wear some blocker or you’ll be a lobster.
1. The grass. No, like, literally the lawn. The grass on the polo fields, where the festival is held, is perfect. I wouldn’t take my shoes off at any other festival, but at Coachella I do handstands and run around in the stuff.