We recently listed the performers we think will ensure your Coachella glides at a consistent and rewarding high. Now, with one day left before said flight, it’s time to get those other details in order—the ones that aren’t as fun but totally worth it to think about right now and not on Friday night when your mind is…elsewhere. Here follows our guide to doing the desert right.
Commit to Your Must-Sees
The beautiful thing about this festival is, with its five stage setup, the window for entertainment never closes; there is literally something for everyone, at all times. The key to staying sane (and not disappointed), is to be at peace with missing some of those openings. The idea of leaving the Black Lips set early to stop by Destroyer at 2:30 and then catch Azealia Banks at 2:50 makes sense on paper, but you’ll probably end up standing in the far back for all. Bouncing around on a sound sampler can be enjoyable too, but if you’ve highlighted a favorite act, fully commit to them and make cuts. It will all be worth it when you’re instagramming a close-up of Azealia’s adorable face.
Wake Up and Go
There’s a certain art to pre-gaming, and the key is not losing track of time. While floating in the pool of your hotel or rented house gets more enticing as the days go on, it’s more or less an activity that can be replicated at some other point in your life. Watching Real Estate under the palm trees, aka partaking in the musical equivalent of lounging by a suburban pool, is kind of a one time deal. The trend to expect here is simple things like rallying your friends and standing in security line taking longer than they should. No need to be the vacation dad of the group, just quietly roll out with an agenda. Speaking of which…
Divide and Conquer
This is no doubt, a very social happening with a million memories to follow. Folks carpool together, camp together, crash in a house together—plenty of chances to move as a pack, but trying to maneuver that pack from show to show will prove impossible. We all have different tastes and priorities. Find a friend or two whose schedule (and general mindset) aligns with yours, and split off. Be sure to name a place for everyone to meet at (“The giant wooden hawk structure at 8pm before Radiohead”). Cell phone reception is often non-existent, so these planned rendezvous are the only way to prevent 15 people from waiting hours for that one loose end.
Take Care of Yourself
Our crew would always (temporarily) lose at least one soldier to dehydration or a general case of over-drinking and under-sun-screening (not to mention the dozens we see getting crowd-surfed to safety). For most, three straight days of minimal sleep and non-stop partying under the sun is not normal, and will actually be the most physically challenging thing we do all year. A few simple decisions go a long way: be conscious of water intake (contrary to some festivals, Coachella is quite helpful in this department—get a canteen and use their refilling/recycling stations), stay stocked on snacks (I’ve been known to sneak-in a few Cliff Bars), wear comfortable shoes, and just pace yourself. If you want to be raving in the Sahara Tent at midnight, then raging in the Beer Garden at 4pm probably won’t get you there.
Avoid the Parking Lot
Whichever way it’s sliced, the parking lot sucks. Late night departures from these spaces can take hours, and it all begins to look the same at 2am (believe me, doing the lost car search is an instant “never again…” experience). Unless leaving before the headliner set sounds ideal, find an alternative way to the grounds. If you’re staying a few miles outside of town, bikes are the way to go. Even walking long distances beats a traffic jam.
Know Where You’re Sleeping
This seems like a given, but there’s always the dude that will “figure it out” when he gets there. If camping, than you’re good. If not, and you’re reading this right now and haven’t made plans yet than get on it. Those late night phone calls might not get answered, and finding that friend of a friend of a friend’s place in the middle of the night is a GPS fail waiting to happen (I was once lead through a rocky desert trail into nothingness).
A small backpack (or the ever-stylish fanny pack) will keep your unreliable pockets empty. Head to the official Coachella site for the do’s and don’t’s of what to fill those bags with. Stick to the essentials (camera, phone charger, festival maps, etc)—don’t weigh yourself down (or those around you) during that Girl Talk set.
Explore Your Downtime
Coachella is also an arts festival; there’s no shortage of rad things to explore when taking a break from all the music. The organizers work with various designers, architects and sponsors to transform the polo fields into an interactive art space of sorts. Go wild.