Welcome to our guide to the 2017 iteration of Coachella. The 50-week “off-season” has been a rollercoaster of ups and downs with names being shuffled, the Carter family growing by 150%, and the lineups of competing festivals growing ever more, well, competitive.
Goldenvoice handled themselves well and found a reasonable replacement for somebody who is wholly irreplaceable. In Lady Gaga, they have a strong, unapologetic woman with a timely and important message to spread. She’s also fun and innovative in a way that fits in perfectly with the vision of the festival itself. But if you’re that upset, don’t fret, Queen B’s been added as the first confirmed artist in the Coachella 2018 lineup.
1. Get Your Art On
Despite largely changing over from one year to the next, the art at Coachella (See: Coachella’s Guide to Art) is always remarkable. I did not anticipate being wowed or challenged by art going into it the first time. They tend to curate an interesting variety, with some pieces I love, and others leave me scratching my head.
Take last year for example. There was the Katrina Chairs by Cuban artist Alexandre Arrechea, a towering structure of yellow chairs with a powerful social message. Then there was ‘Armpit,’ created by Latvians Katrīna Neiburgaand and Andris Eglītis, which looked kind of like a large monster ate up a swath of Burning Man camps, then shat them on the polo fields in Indio. I didn’t like the way it looked, but it made me ask why, which is a great indicator of art.
2. Get TRASHed
Speaking of garbage, that’s the crux of the collaboration between Coachella and Global Inheritance, called TRASHed Coachella. It’s a multi-faceted program that you can build as much or as little into your Coachella experience as you like. You can go as deep as gathering enough plastic bottles to trade for VIP passes to as little as just picking up after yourself at your camp site and inside the festival grounds. No, seriously, don’t be one of the dicks that leads to a refuse tornado. I’d recommend a minimum effort of occasionally gathering ten empty plastic bottles to trade in for a fresh, cold bottle of water. You’ll be in the desert, after all. Hit up any of the tents after a show and you won’t have to walk but a few feet.
Also hit up the Global Inheritance tents for additional contests, education, a polar bear dating game, and to feed Recylosaurus Rex, who will eat your garbage and produce a quaint cube of compacted trash fit for placement in the fields.
3. Don’t Pee Your Pants
Plan ahead, because the lines back up very quickly, especially if you hit up the porto-alleys between the Gobi and Mohave tents. The lines will appear longer at the permanent bathrooms by the food tents, but the line moves quickly. Also, pro-tip for dudes: Once you’re inside the building, cut right into the lanes of actual toilets. Don’t wait for the troughs. Sorry, ladies, I don’t have anything useful to offer, except a strong suggestion to carry your own toilet paper/wipes with you and to work on your squatting muscles.
4. Get Wet
I know, I know, I just told you not to pee your pants, but this is different. Head to the Do Lab and you’ll see a lovely festival-within-a-festival with shade, a constant stream of water, surprise performances, contests, and smiles for days.
Keep an eye on their Instagram and Snapchat feeds for guest appearance announcements and chances to win tickets to Lightning in a Bottle.
5. Pace Yo-self
This is a big one. There’s a considerable distance between the festival’s longest run between two stages, the Sahara tent and the Coachella/main stage. Looking at set times, you might like to think you can make it from the main stage to Do-Lab to Mohave, then to the Outdoor stage very quickly, but keep in mind that you probably won’t. Plus, consider building a plan of attack that your Sunday self can handle. Take it from a guy who bought a pair of shoes on his way to 2011, tried to go barefoot in 2012, and wore what were likely the worst festival option in 2014: the Sunday struggle is real.
I work, live and play in Minneapolis.
I try to tell the story of the people that create music and experiences through pictures as well as through words.