Concerts, Mix'd Bag

Coachella | The Not-To-Do List

5 Comments 15 | April | 2011

For as great as festivals can be, they often harbor side effects that if ignored can tarnish the memories of once-excited concertgoers.  As I mentioned a few weeks ago, Coachella is not immune to these pitfalls and with the giant music + art extravaganza kicking off midday today, I urge its attendants to beware the following:

The Sun:

As if the insane lineup isn’t enough to draw fans from across the country, the sunshine of the Coachella valley beckons to those otherwise subject to “institutional grey” skies and the pending affliction of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).  As evidenced by a variety of stylish tan lines, attendees view Coachella as an opportunity to “even out” their pigment while soaking up the setlists.

However, somewhere buried in the enthusiasm and alcohol is the practice of applying sunscreen.  For many the thought of wasting 5 minutes to lather up is far outweighed by the prospect of slamming the last store bought Bud Light in the parking lot before being subject to 800% markups.

Necks, ears, faces, backs, chests, legs and feet gladly bathe in the light for the first hour without fuss.  But by the time the sun begins to drop on the first day, 50% of the population’s fate is sealed.  The next morning people awake to the sound of their own skin, crackling like a pig at a luau.  Looking like, Doug (The Hangover) after his imprisonment on the  hotel roof, these folks are forced to waddle about the fairgrounds for the next two days, heated from both inside and out, gratefully forking over $40 for a bottle of aloe vera.

Beer vs. Water:

Amazingly the properties of these two liquids are confused on a regular basis…and not just at Coachella.  Having been confronted with decision at every festival I’ve attended I will attempt to explain the logic that keeps the beer flowing and the water bottled.

a.       At some point in our lives we were told that beer is made from roughly 110% water.  Well, water is only, like, 90% water these days so I’m actually doing my body a favor by getting another Heineken.

b.      Water comes with the unpleasant side effect of keeping you sober.  Boring.

c.       You’re gonna be drinking something to beat the heat and alcohol better prepares you for the trip to the Port-o-Potty cul-de-sac.  What lies on the other side of that blue door, you never know.  Best to dull the pain and get the memory repression machine lubed up before entering Chamber of Punishment.

d.      Even if it’s only a very small percentage, beer has “other stuff” in it besides water, like “nutrients and shit.”  By that rationale, if I drink 18 beers it’s the equivalent of eating 2 corndogs, and I can safely skip dinner.  Just ask this guy…



Indio, California hosts this annual amalgamation of the arts, but is an otherwise unassuming desert town with the infrastructure to match.  Thus, getting in and out of “dodge” can be frustrating.  And whereas the inbound trip is marked by joyous jubilation, the exit likely characterized by the phrase “death march.”

By midnight on Sunday the average Coachellan sports a 2-mm thick dirt coating on top of a 2nd-degree sunburn, over the top of a failing liver, grossly neglected digestive system, and sleep-deprived nervous system.

Packing 2-4 of these time bombs into a car and releasing them into the post-festival traffic crawl is begging for trouble.  It is estimated that the 3.5 mile trip from the parking lot to the freeway takes upwards of 2 hours alone, not to mention the mess that waits on the undersized “freeway” that funnels thousands of zombies back towards cities, airports, and Monday.

Bring a helicopter, a heaping helping of patience, or horse tranquilizer….otherwise, the only place you’re going is crazy.

The Crowd:

Another form of traffic, foot-traffic awaits you once you successfully navigate the makeshift turnstiles.  Plotting a course amidst this mass of people is more difficult than you may think.  As the hours and days pass on more and more people have chosen beer over water over food over a shower.  The result is a pretty stinky and uncoordinated blob that shifts randomly and has equal potential to vomit, faint, or mosh, all with zero sense of rhythm.

Did I mention there are a ton of drugs going on?  Yes, there are almost literally a ton of drugs going on or in or up.  This added level of complexity ensures the medical tents will remain busy, occupied by a mix of people who have overestimated their capacities for insert drug here, overestimated another fan’s tolerance for whacked out people on insert drug here, or just need to buy a $40 bottle of aloe vera.

coachella crowd

Stay tuned for the remaining items on this list.  It’s a long weekend and you shouldn’t try to take it in all at once…

What are your best and worst memories of Coachella?
Do you think they should go back to selling single day passes?
Any tips to beat the traffic?  The heat??

Near Death Experience | 2nd Chances
Resolute 2011 | No Road Rage

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  • 1. Agree.
    2. Agree.
    3. I’m 99% sure the address for the corner store that houses the best carnitas burrito ever is 45995 Monroe Street, Indio, CA. I remember there being a Winchell’s donut shop next door. DO NOT MISS OUT!! SOOOOO GOOOOD!!

  • 1. Agree.
    2. Agree.
    3. I’m 99% sure the address for the corner store that houses the best carnitas burrito ever is 45995 Monroe Street, Indio, CA. I remember there being a Winchell’s donut shop next door. DO NOT MISS OUT!! SOOOOO GOOOOD!!

  • Ryker

    1. Don't forget your tent poles. But if you do, get so drunk that you dive for foursquare balls on gravel, confess your love to your friend, and the reality of passing out in the backseat of a pickup truck doesn't seem so bad.
    2. Are you crazy, of course they should sell single day passes.
    3. Don't forget to get one of the best carnitas burritos you'll ever have at that place…. it's in a strip mall somewhere… fuck.

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