Coachella Suggestions – for Festival Goers and Promoters

Saturday, April 18, 2009:

A few Festival Goer Suggestions:

1.       Put the sun screen on before you get to the festival. I cannot tell you the number of people I saw who were walking in already bright lobster red. Where did their skin have to go from there? Charred?

2.       Do not text while walking the festival grounds. This makes you walk very slowly, has you walk into people, and generally annoy those around you, whom you will not even notice. Your mere texting says that it is far more important than anything going on around you, more important than the music, paying attention and definitely more important than the actual flesh and blood people surrounding you.

3.       Technology will fail you. You can count on it. Have a back up plan. Go luddite, and bring a paper copy of the schedule. Or if they are not handing them out at the front gates, hunt them down at the Info Booth, if they still have them. As awesome as the new iPhone app for Coachella is, when your battery dies on your phone, and the re-charging tent closes at 8 pm, you are SOL. Especially when you realize not only do you not know who is playing where, can’t get ahold of your friends who have wandered off, and can’t transfer money into your bank account so you can get some money from the atm to eat, all you can do is hope it will all work out. Not that any of this happened to me, because hey, I don’t even own an iPhone.

4.       Bring ear plugs. And don’t forget to wear them too. I personally hate ear plugs, making the sound all muffled, like I’m sick or in a spacesuit, but then I can get closer to the bands, and actually not have my ears bleed. That’s a good thing, I think. I can always take them out if I want to have a real conversation, away from the stage.

5.       And finally, make sure you know exactly what lot the car is parked in. It doesn’t matter if the lot is not marked at the entrance or the venue exit, make sure you know where that lot is in the real world. This will save a lot of hassle finding it again. Not like that happened to me or anything, no. No way. I am a much better planner than that, and more observant. Usually.

And yes, you will be sore. I loved when I was standing behind some young 20 somethings, and they were wondering why they were so sore, particularly their feet. Well, let’s see. I don’t care how fit you are, but going to a festival is not exactly anything you do in daily life. The trudge through the parking lot, the slinging of whatever bag you have with you, standing in line, walking from stage to stage, dancing to the sounds you like, weaving through oncoming hordes of movingpeople, standing in line again; exactly which aerobic exercise would that be most like? Good old plain walking, my favorite exercise, seems the most useful to properly train for the marathon event known as going to a music festival.

A few Festival Promoter Suggestions:

1.       Saying you have free water available, and then providing a trickle from one spigot is probably not what anyone had in mind. At least not in that nearly hour line that I stood in. People were really not happy. Especially when there are mud puddles in parking lots and people getting their cars stuck in the sand dunes that the water trucks spraying water is trying to prevent…. Something’s just not quite right with this scenario. Please fix. It’s the desert, most of us don’t live here, just allow us to walk in with water, so we don’t dehydrate and end up in the first aid tents. Water, water, it just should be everywhere.

2.       Too much! Would you consider throwing several smaller festivals instead? Don’t try to be all things to all people, as there end up being too many people at the event, and you can’t get to everyone you want to see in a timely manner. Let’s have a separate dance/electro music festival, as there are plenty of people who only hang out at the dance tent, and never leave. These days there is The Sahara, the main dance tent, The Do Lab area with dj sets in the open air, and also The Dome, with its additional exclusive campers only late night djs. Three stages of dance music, and two of those aren’t even listed in the main festival on-line schedules of five stages. So many times I am torn. Felix da Housecat or The Black Keys? Chemical Brothers or Turbonegro? Groove Armada or The Cure? I want them all! Another separate festival could be all the cross ethnic bands, bands like Beirut, Bajofondo, Molotov, Calexico, Mexican Institute of Sound, etc. We could have an entire festival that is mash ups of traditional South/Latin American sounds with modern trappings. And 3 stage maximum, is what I find my threshold is. All Points West and Sasquatch Festivals are three stages. Vegoose was three stages. Three is a good number. If no one is playing you like, go stand in line for food or the porta-potties then. Even so, you won’t be missing any music, because you can hear it so easily with three stages.

3.       Modern Technology is our friend!  Use it for good! How about signage at the stages that actually shows who is playing right then, when they started and when they are expected to end, rather than when the schedule says, because everyone knows things change. And for those who actually have the iPhone app, let me know if it is showing the actual set times, or is going off the scheduled time. Because if it is the real time, what a useful app! It too might push me over the edge to getting an iPhone, sooner than my current plan of when my cell phone contract expires.

4.       Want to cut down on the evil slow crawl of cars at the entrance? Provide a bus. A fleet of buses. Most people attending are somewhere in the surrounding communities, so tell us where to congregate, leave our cars somewhere else, and make getting to the venue less of a hassle for us and the surrounding community. There’s a reason the community is not too fond of the festival, only made up by the amount of money that goes into purchasing food, drinks and outdoor gear from the thousands of people attending. I passed the very large and spacious and empty parking lot for the Riverside County Fair Grounds (and National Date Festival), and wondered why we couldn’t just park there and bus on in. It was right down the street from the Starbucks I wanted to go to anyway, plenty of places to eat nearby, etc.           

5.       More lockers! I found a large empty space next to the Gobi tent, there could have been lockers there. Have people pay a premium for the convenience of the lockers being inside the event, less for the lockers at the main entrance. Or, allow us in/out privileges at least back out to our cars, so we don’t have to lug so much stuff all around. (But, that only works if we parked our cars still in the lots, rather than bussing in like the above suggestion. Hmm.)

Well, like anyone at Goldenvoice is going to read this. Perhaps I should just send them a letter. I mean, the internet is only as good as your tools, and Goldenvoice is probably not looking for feedback by doing a webcrawl. I’ll just help them along with a nudge….

Oh, and as promised, some photos. I guess this proves I’m actually here, rather than just pretending and reading other people’s posts. Or am I?

The Do Lab, made out of pallets

The Do Lab, made out of pallets

The Dome

The Dome

The Sahara Tent

The Sahara Tent

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