[Festival Review] The Best of Coachella 2014

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MAY 5, 2014

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A few weeks ago, I was waking up to the sounds of cans being snapped open, portable grills sizzling, tents unzipping and surrounding neighbors delegating which sets to prioritize for day three of their magical adventure known as Coachella.  Now, I am sulking in reminiscent memories and flashbacks of my unbelievable weekend while writing this article.  Coachella definitely delivered the perfect package of amusement, surprise, and creativity that captivated my attention all weekend long, and left me with a sense of disbelief and wonderment once it was over.  If you asked me a day prior to attending what I was expecting out of Coachella, I would not have even been able to list half of what the festival offers.  Aside from all of the legendary musicians and artists the festival has featured, Coachella brings imagination to life with a variety of installation art, such as decorated trash bins with designs submitted by the general public.  It is a festival truly focused around the celebration of expression and love for art of all forms.

Coachella takes place at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, Ca.  The first festival was held in October 1999, and ran annually since 2001.  Naturally the festival expanded and continued to grow as rapidly as its reputation throughout not only the United States, but the world.  Camping options were introduced in 2003, and became a two weekend festival in 2012 as popularity increased.  Ticket sales have notoriously become known as one of the most competitive festival tickets to acquire.  It was a race on the moment of January 11, 2014 at 9:59 a.m. when people eagerly stared at the computer screen anticipating the ticket purchase process to open in hopes to get their hands on what seems equivalent to a “golden ticket”.  General Admission tickets sold out in about twenty minutes, with all other sales taking less than three hours to sell out this year.  One could even argue that the battle over possessing a ticket to this event contributes even more to the magic and uniqueness of Coachella, and with justified reasoning.  Overall, Coachella provides a large enough variety of stages to treat most attendee’s appetite of music.  It is definitely a handful trying to figure out the best strategy to see every desired performance on your personalized list, and nearly impossible to fully accomplish.  Yet, to make your goal of experiencing as much music as possible throughout the weekend difficult enough, Coachella also presents an array of activities and art throughout the Polo Club venue grounds to occupy anyone’s choice of fun. 

Organized events such as dodgeball tournaments, snowball fights and three legged races gives the campers the excitement of competition, while the more relaxed camper can enjoy a morning full of yoga, and free arts and crafts.  What better way to collect memorabilia from one of the most unique and enchanting weekends of your life than with your own handmade souvenirs?  These amenities are just a fraction of what make Coachella truly a life changing experience.  Managers of the festival teamed up with a sustainable company known as “Global Inheritance” to start a recycling program in efforts to involve everyone while giving an incentive for a good cause.  The company set up a recycling program to reward anyone who participates with an assortment of prizes.  People can receive a free bottle of water in return for ten recycled bottles, or even aim as large as a free VIP upgrade with 1,200 cans and bottles recycled.  T-shirts, refillable bottles and posters were some of the other items offered as collateral.  Although free charging stations were located throughout the festival and campgrounds, attendees could physically work for their device to charge by manually using a see-saw with a friend to pump electricity.  Imagine the sense of accomplishment received while utilizing your newly charged smartphone to record and capture your favorite sets knowing you used a resourceful alternative!  Along with partnering with recycling programs to benefit the longevity of Coachella, the festival also promotes “carpoolchella”, which provides the chance for festival goers to win free tickets for life or VIP upgrades.  Any car of four or more people with the word “Carpoolchella” displayed on the vehicle may become eligible for reward.  Coachella makes it possible to shuffle the day away at your favorite stage while knowing that you impacted planet earth in a positive aspect.

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While wandering from stage to stage, attendees can easily be distracted by landmarks such as a giant robot, or the extensive string of light up balloons that were put up each night during the sun set, and stretched throughout the festival for all to see from anywhere in the venue.  Making a traditional “meet-up” location could easily be agreed upon by referencing one of these obviously noticeable structures, however solidifying a legitimate name may have been a little more difficult depending on the creativity of your party.  What I would see as a “tower of marshmallows” located by the Sahara Tent, another friend would call it a “tree of toilet paper rolls”.  Perhaps the most innovative sculpture that Coachella is now home to is the giant animatronic astronaut called “Escape Velocity”.   The astronaut is 57 feet long and 36 feet tall, and featured pictures on its helmet taken by attendees throughout the weekend while it amicably floated around the area.  You could find yourself at the main stage watching Ellie Goulding with the astronaut merely a couple feet away from you, yet end up partying next to it at the Mojave tent located on the other side of the festival not even an hour later.  Having the opportunity to say “I danced alongside a giant astronaut” makes Coachella that much more amazing.  I genuinely believe that even if these giant monuments were not engulfing my imagination the entire duration of the weekend, I would still be sitting here with overwhelming emotion and awe towards the festival.  From random free red bull and popsicle handouts, to the amount of guest appearances made within the three days, Coachella managed to fulfill an insurmountable level of satisfaction and surprise.

Pharrell Williams introduced guest appearances by Usher, Diplo, T.I. and Jay-ZNas celebrated the twentieth anniversary of his “Illmatic” album release date with Lauryn Hill and Damien MarleyBusta Rhymes made guest appearances with both Girl Talk and Pharrell both weekends this year, and it was definitely a party for everyone in the crowd and on stage. This year’s festival featured over 180 artists, both old and new and everything in between.  Performers such as Outkast, Lana Del Rey, Calvin Harris, Kid Cudi and Beck claimed the main two stages of the festival grounds, while more EDM specific artists such as Carnage, Showtek, Dillon Francis, Zedd and Alesso held down the fort at the Sahara Tent all weekend long.  The Mojave tent sat parallel to the Sahara tent, and bumped the entire weekend with sets by Flosstradamus, RL Grime, Rudimental and Netsky. Areas such as the Heineken House and the Yuma tent provided indoor dimmed and air conditioned facilities with different styles of house and techno music by DJ’s like Laurent Garnier, Solomun and Cajmere to keep the crowd grooving while cooling off during any break from the scorching desert sun.  The festival transformed from a bubbly and vibrant diverse crowd of all ages during the day, to a rambunctious group of party animals by night.  The silent disco, located at the outdoor dome stage, took the reigns of entertainment to continue satisfying the needs of the never-ending dancer until the wee hours of the morning.  There was nothing but positive vibes, love and fun shared by everyone from the general admission attendee, to the event and security personnel. 

The guest relations staff members were informative and responsive, and security checks were smoothly ran all weekend to ensure safety for all in attendance.  Water refill stations were easily accessible in several different locations, and cleaning crew was on constant standby to ensure the best possible “port-a-potty” experience.  Campers could enjoy a warm shower provided for free if patient enough to withstand a minimal wait time, but could also opt out of line by paying five dollars to use a VIP shower.  Since Coachella attracts such diverse taste buds, the venue was bustling with small town food truck owners as well as concession stands catering to all special dietary needs.  Some of the featured eats included items such as a cold pressed juice bar, homemade ice cream, pizza or organic pastries with copious amounts of vegan and vegetarian alternatives.  A farmer’s market opened daily from 7 a.m.- 2 p.m. for campsites to pick up any pesticide free, local and organic produce and other desired treats.  You enter Coachella and it genuinely becomes your home for the weekend.  All stressors are left outside the festival grounds and you are left completely encased in this land of happiness, hospitality and a weekend full of celebrating and creating everlasting memories.  As my first festival that did not solely revolve around electronic music, I can openly admit to having enjoyed myself way more than expected.  I was skeptical about the type of crowds I was going to deal with, but it seemed that regardless of your preferred sound of music, everyone you encountered shared the similar interest in having the best and most carefree weekend imaginable.  Even though I have rambled on several times about the elements of surprises and mind-blowing attributes, one thing that remains at no shock are the many reasons why so many people, myself included, claim Coachella as an essential festival to experience at some point in your life.

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More photos HERE and HERE.

By Amanda DaSilva

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