How to have the best time ever Coachella (Photo: Karl Walter/Getty Images for Coachella)
Despite its ever-growing popularity — tickets sold out in a record 40 minutes! — the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival decided to fight back against the mainstream this year.
In an announcement that shocked Instagram-loving festival-goers everywhere, the music-bash banned — wait for it — the selfie stick (the monopod commonly used for snapping pictures beyond an arm’s length). Bota bags, drones, hula hoops, laser pointers, sharpies, stuffed animals, totems, and umbrellas are also prohibited. Coachella: 1. Narcissists: 0.
The two-weekend festival, now in it’s 16th year, kicks off concert season across the U.S. when it launches Friday, April 10, out of Indio, Calif. Each year, the desert party grows and grows, in large thanks to a monster lineup that’s stacked with indie-pop bands, huge headliners, and surprise cameos and reunions sprinkled throughout. Looking back, it’s easy to knock Coachella for straying from its roots (critics are looking at you, EDM). Sure, it adapts. But with this year’s 150-plus acts, Coachella is still determined to introduce you to a new, awesome band or artist, and isn’t that the whole point?
Of course, the music pumping through the veins of the Empire Polo field isn’t the only lure. Coachella has also become synonymous with art, fashion, parties, and now maybe even food, which can make navigating the weekend a daunting task. If you’re traveling to music lover’s paradise, here are five things you need to know in order to survive in style.
1. The lineup is heavy on hype, light on women and R&B
Jack White is no stranger to the festival scene. (Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
The headliners might be eclectic, but they have one thing in common: They’re facing expectations as high as the neon palm trees lining the grounds. Rock legends AC/DC will show a new generation why they deserve top billing; Jack White is well, Jack White; and Drake has the chance to make up for the lineup’s lack of hip-hop and R&B.
Predicting the best performances and cameos so you can set your personal schedule accordingly is half of the fun, so do your research. The headliners are amazing (remember when Tupac rose from the dead in 2012?), but exciting reunions and brag-worthy sets can happen any time and at any stage or tent. Rolling Stone has called out 25-must see performers, including emerging and breakout artists, worth watching.
Another category not to miss is the female-fronted acts. Though their numbers remain abysmal — women make up only 15 percent of the total lineup (shame on you, Coachella) — the ladies who make the list are stellar, like Florence + the Machine, Alabama Shakes, Azelia Banks, St. Vincent, Nero, FKA Twigs, Haerts, Fitz & the Tantrums, and more.
2. Hello 2015: Goodbye timestamps, Mophies, and cash-only bars
Cell service at festivals has long been a disastrous affair. Luckily, free wi-fi should help attendees connect. (Photo: Martin Ruetschi/Keystone/Corbis)
Cell phone service in years past has been so spotty, concertgoers developed a private language for texting with friends. “Meet at tree. 215” in Coachella lingo means: “I’m lost, find me at our designated meeting spot. Sent at 2:15 p.m.” It could take 40 minutes for any given message to go through, so the timestamp was relied upon.
Similar to arming yourself with a common meeting place ahead of time, transportation to and from the festival has also required pre-planning, especially for anyone not staying at a hotel with shuttle service. Uber joined in on the fun last year, but when you have no service, how can a driver come and get you?
Have no fear: A game-changer is here! This year, Coachella partnered with Twitter and vine to bring free public Wi-Fi to the beer gardens and VIP areas, which are sure to be everyone’s new meeting spot, and Uber has its own lounge. The Coachella 2015 app has a new friend-finding feature (along with other necessities, like creating your own schedule and finding shuttle times). Coachella also accounted for drained phone batteries from all the available downloading, uploading, and Uber-ing by adding BYOC (bring your own charger) stations. Another exciting announcement to prove the times, they are a changin’? “This year, we’re accepting credit cards.”
3. Cali fashion is in — what to pack
Coachella is known for its Cali boho chic fashion – perfect for keeping festival goers cool, comfortable, and stylish. (Photos: Getty Images)
The field may be green, but Coachella is one big red carpet. Throngs of celebrities descend on nearby Palm Springs each year, so the bar for looking festival chic has been raised. Cool sunnies, Flash Tattoos, and wide-brimmed hats are sure to dominate this year’s accessories, but when it comes to your outfit, think like a free spirit. In the scorching heat of day, less is more — skip the layers for flowy pieces that will breathe, or for a more modern look, choose cute miniskirts or shorts sets. Make sure you’ve packed something warm for when the temperature drastically drops at night, and don’t forget a bandana for your face for when the dust storm inevitably blows through. When it comes to the feet, opt for sturdy boots/booties or comfortable flats/sneakers to protect your toes from their biggest foes: dirt, and jumping Coachella-goers. Whatever you wear, make sure you can trek three miles in them without getting a blister.
Other key items for your backpack: Sunscreen, two pairs of sunglasses, a straw hat, waterproof makeup, eye drops, extra socks, a plastic water bottle for refill stations, energy bars, Band-Aids, hand sanitizer, deodorant, baby and face wipes, and travel toilet paper (trust us). Finally, don’t forget your entry wristband.
4. If you want to party, you better be on the list
Even if you’re not VIP-status, you can hit up a rockin’ poolside party like LED Day Club. (Photo: LED Day Club)
Almost as impressive as the Coachella lineup itself is the rundown of exclusive parties and VIP blowouts happening off the grounds during weekend one. With the most see-and-be-seen crowd touching down, it’s no wonder nightlife, fashion and brand impresarios bring private parties and unique pop-up experiences to Palm Springs. While many of the events bleed into set times and are a decent 30-minutes-plus trip from the festival grounds, there are more than a few that the invite-only crew will be squeezing into their schedule.
For more music: The Hard Rock Hotel’s Not a Pool Party kicks off with live sets on April 9; the Bootsy Bellows Estate is back with 2 Chains on April 11; and L.A.’s ALT 98.7 returns with its three-day Desert Pool Party of performances and poolside beauty, courtesy of the glam app PRIV, at the nearby La Quinta Resort. For celeb-spotting, there’s the Nylon VIP Midnight Garden party on April 10, and the most in-demand non-Coachella event, Neon Carnival, on April 11. The sixth annual bash brings rides (they have a Ferris wheel, too), games, and music to the 1,000-person capacity Aviation Airport hangar. It goes well into the night, but don’t even think about heading there after Jack White’s set without a pre-approved wristband.
If invites to the above never hit your inbox, there are two poolside parties featuring DJ sets where anyone can buy tickets: LED Day Club and Haciendays. When all else fails, find or create your own pool party, and promote an invite-everybody vibe.
5. There’s a food scene happenin’ here
At Outstanding in the Field, foodies can get a gourmet meal courtesy of top-notch chefs. (Photo: Coachella)
For the first time ever, Coachella is seriously considering its foodies — but the grub doesn’t come cheap. Last year, the festival launched the pricey dining concept Outstanding in the Field, and it sold out. So this year, they’re turning the culinary adventure up a notch in both quality and price. Now, there are two dinner seatings per night, and for $225 per person, you can enjoy four courses from noteworthy chefs. (If you don’t have tickets to the festival yet, Outstanding in the Field is your secret way in to the sold-out event: You can tack on a General Admission pass ($600 per person) or VIP pass ($1124 per person) to your order for either weekend. While these tickets are pricier than the original $375 and $899 cost, tickets go for a lot more on resale sites — and at least this markup gets you a mouth-watering perk.)
If you already have a VIP ticket and are in the market for a sit-down meal, make a reservation with the Reserve App for a $50 prix-fixe dinner from one of four L.A. eateries: POT, Terrine, Scratch Bar, and Gadarene Swine. When it comes to grabbing some grub on the fly, there are more than enough tasty trucks to go around with L.A.-based restaurants KazuNori, Eggslut, Ramen Champ, Beefsteak, Status Kuo, and Church Key all setting up shop inside the VIP area.
When you get thirsty, check out the specialty cocktail haunts and returning Craft Beer Barn located in both GA and VIP. If you’re in the market for a caffeine kick, head over to Verve Coffee Bar in VIP. But most of all, don’t forget to stay hydrated.
WATCH: Every Party Happening at Coachella 2015 (Video)