Until last weekend, I was a Coachella virgin — it had always seemed overly expensive and like more of a hassle than it was worth.
Plus, there are a lot of aspects to Coachella that are easy to mock. Coachella was something I made fun of basic bitches for liking, like pumpkin spice lattes, and I just didn’t get it.
Well now I have fully drunk the Kool-Aid, but instead of cyanide-laced Kool-Aid, its alcoholic kombucha with the option of a CBD shot.
Allow me to take you on my odyssey through my first Coachella experience. But first, a little background information. I also write for We Found New Music, a music blog and platform showcasing emerging talents that was founded by a friend of my mine from high school, Grant Owens.
Owens also works at Elektra Records and can listen to an artist and hear their potential. He did Billie Eilish’s first interview and presented one of her first performances.
So here I was, a complete Coachella neophyte with the ultimate veteran and insider. Owens had texted me late Friday saying he had two free VIP passes. Six hours later, I was on the road to the desert.
Saturday was my first day and it started with what was probably the best party I’ve ever been to, the Interscope Records party at Leonardo DiCaprio’s house. I got really star struck when talking to chef Stephanie Izard, who was the first woman to win “Top Chef.”
It was also some of the best people watching of my life. There seemed to be a directly proportional relationship between how famous you are and how crazy your outfit is. Case in point, Eilish showed up in an oversized neon green T-shirt, an equally large Louis Vuitton vest and blue furry pants. She also showed up on a motorized scooter. Because she could.
As I watched her zoom around, occasionally breaking to sign something, or approve something else or take a phone call, I marveled at how unwaveringly self assured she was, all the more impressive considering that she just turned 17. At her age, I was worried about AP tests not multimillion dollar contracts.
A little while later, YUNGBLUD, or Dom as he introduces himself, arrived. He’s much more laidback than his music would have you believe, but that boy from Manchester swagger is the same. He’s like a socially conscious Alex Turner from the Arctic Monkeys with a hip-hop influence. He also really liked my outfit which made me feel better about being the only person to show up to a pool party in a swimsuit.
From there, we headed into the festival and caught the end of Bad Bunny’s set. That’s not normally the kind of thing I listen to, but he gave a great performance and was able to connect to and play off the crowd. He also brought out Sean Paul and high school me lost my damn mind.
The nostalgia trend continued during Weezer’s set where they brought out Tears For Fears and TLC. Listening to Weezer and Tears For Fears implore the crowd “don’t you forget about me” sums it up pretty well.
My favorite show of the night was Eilish. This was the debut of a brand new stage show for her upcoming tour and was a decidedly major step up in the level of production from her performance last year at Outside Lands in San Francisco.
I also caught part of Tame Impala’s headlining set. Despite my apathy toward their music, I really enjoyed their set. They interacted well with the crowd and visually put on a very good show.
On Sunday, instead of going to the festival, Ownes and I used our VIP passes to the KROQ House. Most exciting of all, there was free Del Taco. “Free Del Taco” might be one of the most beautiful phrases in the English language.
The best performance of the day had to be Greyson Chance, with ARIZONA a close second. The entire KROQ lineup reflected a bleeding in of the alt pop sound into rock and overall mainstream music.
The final performer of the day was indie-pop rock band ARIZONA. Their sound is intelligent, feel-good pop rock with cinematic vocals. It’s the type of thing I could hear in a Netflix series about beautiful, angsty 20 somethings.
Since no one got into the pool at the Interscope party, I assumed the KROQ party would be the same. As it turns out, I wore a swimsuit to the party where no one got in the pool and did not wear a swimsuit to the party where everyone got in the pool. So, I just got in in my overalls and T-shirt. It was the perfect ending to my inaugural Coachella.