Best & Worst of Coachella Weekend One

I just finished a full day’s worth of recovery form a weekend of camping at the Polo Grounds for Coachella weekend one. I started a running journal of all the festivals I am planning on hitting over the next several months with details on what I saw and how I got around, but here is a post summing up the best and worst things about the first weekend that aren’t the sets themselves.

BEST

The Antarctic Dome (top photo)

Coachella expanded the size of their grounds this year, and that allowed them to bring in some extremely dope new art installations — including the Antarctic Dome. It was put together by HP and is accessible from the camping grounds and the festival itself. There are tons of seats and groups go in every 15 minutes. I went in Friday night around 1:30 AM and only had to wait for the group in front of us to finish. You’re inside a dome where the wall and ceiling is 100 percent covered by a screen. You sit in bean bag chairs.

The screen plays one of the most revolutionary visual experiences I’ve ever been lucky to witness. It’s psychedelic as hell, almost as though it was built in mind with all the kids tripping balls during the weekend. I’m planning on going back again next weekend and popping in my headphones and listening to Tame Impala while I watch it. The show lasts about 10 minutes. If you don’t check this out you’re missing out on one of the coolest things Coachella has ever hosted.

Hearing Kendrick’s new album on the campgrounds

I camped weekend one, and everywhere I walked I could hear Kendrick Lamar’s new album DAMN., which dropped Thursday. My neighbors on one side played it back to back Friday morning until somebody else took over the music and played some terrible untz untz stuff the rest of the time. The amount of Kendrick I heard all over camp translated to a ton of people rapping along the new tracks just days later as he closed out the festival Sunday night. It was a smart move on Kendrick’s part to time his release to coincide with his debut Coachella headlining slot — and it made Drake’s pathetic headlining performance from a few years ago look even sillier by comparison.

Bludso’s BBQ

Bludso’s BBQ is my favorite BBQ spot in all of Los Angeles. Despite the amazing variety of food available at Coachella, I still stopped into the Craft Beer Garden twice to grab some delicious brisket and pulled pork sandwiches. I told no less than a dozen different people they HAD to check out Bludso’s. It was their first year catering the festival and I hope they continue to show up on the Polo Grounds. If you’re going weekend two, I highly recommend it.

This super young white kid singing along at Future’s set

This is wrong, but damn if it isn’t hilarious. Look at him party with Odell Beckham during Drake’s “Fake Love”:

The security lines

I went in pretty early each day so the lines were never backed up, but generally security didn’t do crazy in-depth pat downs, which kept the line moving. They checked my backpack and sent me through a scanner but didn’t touch me. I asked other people and they told me they never had to wait more than 10 minutes to get into the festival each day.

WORST

This ASSHOLE who got caught with 100 stolen phones

Some asshole was going around the Sahara Tent stealing phones left and right. He eventually got caught by someone using their Find My iPhone app, so this story gets a good ending as the dude is now totally fucked. He is being charged with grand theft and receiving stolen property. Every year people seem to get their phones jacked but this was unprecedented. Always keep your phone somewhere safe — there’s no shame in carrying a fanny pack.

Lack of cell phone reception

Coachella increased the capacity by an estimated 20,000 people this year, and that was felt heavily based on the general lack of cell reception. It used to be that you could still get service in pockets of the festival during the busiest hours, but this year I experienced no service after about 8 PM until the last act was ending. There’s wi-fi available in certain spots, so if you wanna connect with people you should hit those beer gardens and use SMS. Always time-stamp your texts and make sure you set great and easy-to-find meetup spots. My group would use the large pinatas with the colored hats a lot to meet before Coachella and Outdoor Theatre sets.

Water lines post-5 PM

Lines to fill up water or even BUY water were pretty heinous the later the day got. At one point, I went to the front of the line to buy water and offered to buy someone theirs in order to let me get two because I was seriously parched. If you are dying of thirst it’s a pretty good tip in order to get in and out.

All in all, super excited to be headed back to Coachella this weekend!