3 days of distorted reality. Time doesn’t exist, responsibilities are left behind (within reason), the air is filled with inebriated human auras and the electric feel of good ass music. If I could describe my first Coachella experience in a nutshell, I’d say it was a lot like an acid trip– filled with good, bad, beautiful & ugly moments, where the quick fix to any discomfort was to get lost in the music or hold the hand of someone you love. This is how I know I think too much: I can leave an overly hyped event like Coachella, have a wonderful time, and still deem it as.. overly hyped. Guess I’ll always see both sides like Chanel (shoutout Frank).
What I want to share about my first Coachella experience isn’t the perfectly framed moments you see posted on social media. I want to explore, discern, and question: why didn’t Coachella live up to its hype for me?
My mind wasn’t where it needed to be to fully enjoy this experience.
First of all, with hype, comes expectations. & As I’ve discussed, having expectations fucks everything up. But how can you not have expectations with the hype that comes with Coachella? The media coverage & connotation of the event are purely perfect and positive, with all this free open space to dance, be free and frolic with your friends. What people don’t document include the mass of people who seem to have forgotten how to walk. Or the densely populated areas that gave me anxiety, surrounded by people who were not carefree, but careless & inconsiderate. Or the fact that there are designated alcohol areas that serve drinks in the most inefficient way possible. Nobody told me I couldn’t sip my drink whilst grooving to a set???
The festival goers make sure to contribute to those picture perfect moments, though. Everyone fills their feeds about how much fun they’re having, with their perfect outfits, makeup, watermelon in one hand and (for whatever reason) balloons in the other hand as they chime and woo “Coachellllllaaaaaa 😝”! Seeing people go from zero to a hundred real quick for the gram & Snapchat was cringe worthy. The flex, the superficial interactions and reactions to the music–only filming their supposed rage & dancing when the beat dropped. Overhearing fraternity boys attempt to pick up girls with their lame game, talking about how frequently they go to festivals as if it were a life accomplishment. It was all painful yet hilarious to watch.
But why pay mind & let it kill my vibe you ask? Like I said, my mind wasn’t where it needed to be. And the more I partake in dosing LSD at events like these, the more I’m learning–that substance gets me too woke & too aware of everything going on around me. Which is probably not the best mindset when in between music sets. Lesson learned here: leave all expectations & preconceived Coachella-esque notions behind & make it your own experience. Also, limit the time spent people watching. Live & let go (and if you tend to get inside your head like me, offset psychoactive drugs with something else, e.g. candy flipping).
Even given 3 days, there is too much going on & an opportunity cost for everything.
There was a give & take for everything I wanted to do. Catch this set by myself or stick with friends who wanna see someone else? Check out this party or make it to the festival at a decent time? Get closer to the stage & music or have enough room to breathe? Lose my mind or be somewhat responsible? Blue pill or red pill??? You get the idea. The lesson I took from this is to trust your gut and do what feels good for you. Don’t be afraid to do your own thing (ideally with at least one other person) if you’re in a group–everyone is following their bliss and that’s how it should be. I’m sad to say there is any regret from my Coachella weekend, but there are a handful of sets I wish I caught and some things I would have done differently, like how I paced my drugs or just sticking with pizza instead of getting that overpriced lobster roll.
Would I do it again? Fuck yeah.
I had an amazing time with people I love and witnessed some iconic performances from artists I vibe with on a sentimental level. Travis Scott, Mac Demarco, Kendrick Lamar (+Travis again), Kehlani, Hans Zimmer & Drake, to name a few. It was surreal to see/feel their stage presence–to experience their music live and in person. I think I got caught up with the allure and absurd humans at Coachella, that I forgot it’s more about the music than anything else.
The Airbnb we stayed at was quaint and accommodating. The suburban desert neighborhood reminded me a lot of East Las Vegas, my hometown. I live for weekends where I don’t have to worry about a damn thing and just enjoy the presence of my friends and be the grown ass kids that we are.
I learned a lot about the Coachella experience, but I also learned a lot about myself.
There are many factors that will influence how you enjoy something as big and hyped as Coachella. I could sense myself struggling to really let go. To stop thinking, and just feel–to stop judging, observing, & just play. I found myself seeking the excitement of discovery yet wanting to feel something familiar. I think it says a lot about where I’m at in life right now. It’s like I want to push myself outside my comfort zone to grow yet I find myself on the fence of the known and unknown and ultimately missing out on my potential or the potential of situations/opportunities. My biggest takeaway from this whole experience is: things don’t need to be perfect to be wonderful. Yes, the hype & flex surrounding Coachella is excessive, but it’s a damn good time.