When the weather starts warm up and the albums of 2014 start to feel stale, festival season is nigh.
In a few short weeks I will join the legions of hippies, hipsters, weirdos, and bros at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. This will be my 6th trip to the Empire Polo Fields of Indio, California and for me its not just a weekend escape with some good tunes: it’s a fine tuned, thoroughly practiced pilgrimage. It’s a chance to be with my people. Preparing for such an occasion shouldn’t be taken lightly. When you buy tickets to this or any other music festival, it’s likely that you are familiar with maybe 30-60% of the bands playing. This year Coachella will feature over 160 artists and if you want to get the best bang for your buck, you’ve got to be flexible and do a little research.
When I first started attending music festivals, I was dead set on seeing a specific set of artists and was content to forsake the rest. This is a mistake. You have to be willing to explore a bit. I still consider certain artists to be a priority but you’re going to miss a lot of magic if you’ve got tunnel vision. Some of my favorite festival experiences happened totally by accident. Last year at Coachella, I was committed to watching Muse close down the main stage on Saturday night. Then a heavy dust storm shook up the whole day and everyone in my group was off doing their own thing so I decided to wander after watching only a few songs. I had recently seen Muse in Phoenix so I joined a small crowd huddled under the Mojave tent and watched Pet Shop Boys absolutely CRUSH their set. I was only vaguely aware of the 80s electro-pop duo but they thoroughly melted my face. I had no intention of seeing them but festivals are like a box of psychedelic disco chocolates; you never know what is going to shine a laser in your face and blow your mind.
As much as it pays to be flexible in the moment, research is still necessary. If you are going to Coachella, you’ve paid around $400 or more for you ticket. Add on your camping pass, gear, food, booze, merch and a healthy dose of miscellaneous and this is an expensive trip to the desert just to see a small handful of bands. Fire up your preferred music service (or acompactdiscography.com) and learn about some of the artists you don’t know. It’s so easy and the giant Coachella astronaut will be disappointed in you if you don’t.
Over the next few weeks I will be posting suggestions for some of the ‘small font’ bands, predictions for headliners, camping tips and whatever else seems appropriate at the time.
There are hidden gems on this poster and I plan to find as many as possible.