Up until the day that I flew to L.A., I had been reading tons of posts about why Coachella is a terrible institution filled with awful people, all looking and being their absolute worst. It seemed like I was destined to gawk at the slimiest of L.A. bros, empty-eyed girls dressed up as hippies, and 17-year-olds who are way too into MDMA.
I'm from NYC, so I hate a lot of things—and I 100 percent knew I was going to hate Coachella. I've actively avoided music festivals all my life, and it had gotten to the point where all I could think about was being engulfed by the Molly'd out caricatures everyone's always complaining about.
I'm from NYC, so I hate a lot of things—and I 100 percent knew I was going to hate Coachella.
And yes, there were definitely some fools present. A good amount of time was spent near dudes with terrible tattoos who wrestled each other while trying not to spill their beers. Later, I saw a beautiful 19-year-old grinding atop some poor guy's shoulders at the 2 Chainz concert. She was angrily yelling at everyone under her to pass her their weed, then throwing her head back and letting the smoke slowly curl away with the hope/knowledge that people were Instagramming her.
All that said—without any initial enthusiasm or agenda, and with a ton of hatred in my shriveled black heart—I can definitively say that Coachella isn't nearly as bad as what you and the Internet might think. Whether the people present were posing for the cultural lens that everyone knows is trained on this spectacle or genuinely enjoying this weirdly thorough version of bacchanalia culture, if they were there they were probably happy. And that was a unique thing to see.
Enjoy the experience for what it is, because it's too big to do anything but bask in the wildness.
Strolling around in the open desert, it was easy to stare at the absurdly dressed and absurdly beautiful people with disdain, but for the first time in a while it was easier to not hate on the surrounding ridiculousness. There were 90,000 people there who were, for the most part, happy. The amount of time I spent smiling was disconcerting; a lot of facial muscles are mad sore right now (pause). But none of it was nearly as exhausting as sitting through a fashion show or industry event that requires
looking angry and distracted.
Coachella may not necessarily offer the true musical experience that people pine for—but unless you're one of those dudes who goes to local shows every night and thrashes out to some band that got you through the years you thought you were angry, when was the last time you enjoyed a concert? At most shows, the sound is shitty, the lead singer is short, and there's usually three girls in the whole venue. Coachella is its own experience—the sound is amazing and it's a dusty, exhausting, awesome shitshow.
When you're sipping beers with a rapper you love one minute, and then in the next jumping up and down to Major Lazer behind some sweaty bro from BU who obviously manscaped for the weekend, it's best to turn down your cynicism a few notches. Enjoy the experience for what it is, because it's too big to do anything but bask in the wildness. Just offer the beautiful girl next to you who's having the roll of her life the rest of your water, figure out where the next show is, and enjoy the walk over.