Chillin' at Coachella
Year's most anticipated musical festival becomes the most accessible as well
We’ve reached the final stretch of spring semester. With the weather finally warming up after a frigid, punishing and all-too-long winter, it’s time for summer. What better way to kick it off than with a look at a massive two-weekend live music festival in California’s sweltering Indio desert, where temperatures can hit up to a comfortable 110 degrees Fahrenheit? Welcome to weekend two of Coachella, ladies and gentlemen. This isn’t your little brother’s Warped Tour.
What began in 1999, mere months after the absolute insanity of the arson-heavy Woodstock mayhem the same year, has turned into a well-known phenomenon. Coachella has brought together a variety of high-profile acts: as a genre-bending festival its stages have welcomed the likes of Madonna, Arcade Fire, a one-time performance from Scarlett Johannson, and the unforgettable, spellbinding performance of Tupac’s hologram. In addition to stellar live sets, the fun continues with other activities that only a pack of highly imaginative audiophiles in the desert could bring.
What’s really about Coachella is its dedication to sustainability. The festival has instituted a “Carpoolchella” program, under which anyone who drives out with four people or more will be automatically entered to win Coachella VIP passes for life. Talk about incentive to conserve energy? To battle the blistering sun, the festival creators also have commissioned a 10-for-1 bottle program. This means that 10 empty water bottles can be exchanged for one full one, encouraging recycling amongst fans. These recyclables are then assembled into a Tyrannosaurus Rex sculpture. How cool — though admittedly bizarre — is that?
Speaking of sculptures, Coachella has been a forerunner in combining the aural and the visual since its conception. Commended for its impressive, elaborate art installations, this year’s collection includes the aforementioned dinosaur creation, a 125-foot tall robotic insect and the “Helix Poeticus,” a long and lanky sculpture whose silvery hue and creature-like aesthetics gets even creepier when it’s actually seen moving slowly away from its original spot.
On the musical front — since this is technically a music festival — this year onstage, the party is bigger and better than ever. Thanks to a partnership with YouTube, Coachella can now be “Couchella” — a free live streaming of the festival’s two weekends that can be enjoyed worldwide in air-conditioned comfort. With a lineup that includes Passion Pit, Odd Future’s Earl Sweatshirt and even the laughable 2 Chainz, no excuse is good enough to miss an encore performance of more than 100 acts this weekend — for free. Seriously.
Highlights from weekend one included the reinvented Tegan & Sara, who while performing tracks from the transformative dance-pop ‘Heartthrob,’ revisited the indie-folk that populated earlier releases. The Postal Service, formed with the frontman of indie legends Death Cab for Cutie, reunited on-stage to perform cuts from the critically-acclaimed debut ‘Give Up,’ which celebrated its 10th anniversary this year. Social Distortion gave a rousing retrospective on its expansive punk career, and fortunately showed no signs of age.
With nearly every act returning for the second weekend, festival-goers and live-streamers will be treated to a reprise from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the xx, Danny Brown and even Baauer — who rose to shame with the unforgivably heinous “Harlem Shake.” Because this Saturday falls on Record Store Day, weekend two also will feature exclusive vinyl releases and signings from more than 25 of the festival’s performers. You can’t get better than that.
If you’re geared up for some telecasted summer fun, Coachella’s second weekend starts at 2:40 p.m. Friday. See you there. Well, sort of.