Weekend one of Coachella 2015 is in the books. It feels like the three days flew by this year. And while I was already headed home last night when Madonna “surprised” Drake with the second-most awkward public kiss since Michael Jackson and Lisa-Marie at the '94 VMAs, my weekend was filled with plenty of memorable moments.
It was great to see San Diego represented in Indio this year. Drive Like Jehu blew the roof off the Gobi Tent during their 10:50 p.m. Saturday night set. I loved hearing one dedicated fan repeatedly screaming, “I’ve waited 20 years for this!”
And even though they were dealt a 2 p.m. Sunday set in the Mojave Tent, San Diego’s Mario Rubalcaba and punk rockers OFF! didn’t take the pedal from the metal for a single second of their allotted 40 minutes.
Beyond bands with local ties, I took in cream-of-the-crop sets from Charles Bradley and his Extraordinaires, Azealia Banks, Benjamin Booker, Run the Jewels, Angel Olsen, and the Conor Oberst-fronted Desaparecidos.
That said, I saw and photographed 50 bands over the 3-day weekend and there really wasn’t a stinker in the bunch. I think most performers understand the massive potential playing at Coachella provides and they do their best to make the most of it.
But Coachella is like a gigantic version of one of those “Choose Your Own Adventure” books. There are just so many different combinations of ways your weekend can go: constantly chase bands, hang out all day and just see night bands, park in the Sahara Tent and listen to EDM all day, go to the surrounding parties and maybe bop in to the festival grounds once or twice, wander aimlessly and only see or hear random and unscheduled things -- the list goes on and on and on.
I fall into the “chase bands all day” category, but am probably in the overall minority. However, I know every single Coachella attendee was psyched about two new additions that have nothing to do with music -- credit cards and bathrooms.
For the first time ever, every single vendor was able to accept credit cards across the board. Not only could you pay for your $8 Mocha Chip ice cream cup with one swipe, it eliminated the search for an ATM every time your blood sugar dipped lower than a limbo final.
And the 300-plus permanent (flushing!) restrooms in the Terrace area were 2015’s most needed, and appreciated, festival addition. Without reading too much into it, in my two minutes near them, I heard at least a half-dozen people say, “This is the best thing at Coachella!”
I’m assuming this sentiment came after realizing they weren’t going to have to brave porta-potties that had suffered through three days of heavily partying festival-goers. But either way, it was a huge improvement. And I think other than the bands, the hype, and the scene, it’s the constant tweaking of this festival that keeps people coming back.
Despite the downsides that come with all of the cash, planning, patience, and constant interaction with massive amounts of humans it takes to make it through a Coachella weekend, promoters Goldenvoice are always trying to improve upon the experience.
It’s exactly why next year will sell out again without a single band being announced, and part of the reason I’m already looking forward to heading out to Indio next April.