This past weekend, I attended the ultra-popular music festival known as Coachella in the sun-bleached sands of Palm Desert. It wasn’t a trip that was planned much, or something that I put a lot of thought into when I first bought the tickets. I made the decision to buy tickets on a whim without thinking about the true cost of the entire trip. If I had that in mind from the beginning, I wouldn’t be writing about spending three days in the fucking desert for a music festival.
Sidenote: I’m also using it as an excuse to write personal prose, which I haven’t done in months.
But go I did, and regrets I did not have. It was an amazing experience, punctuated by the few learnings that I managed to hold onto on this surprisingly sober weekend.
1. Day Drinking at Music Festivals is For Suckers:
I learned that grown-ups love day drinking because it gets them sufficiently tired enough to go to bed at a reasonable hour. But Coachella isn’t about reasonable hours, it’s about turning down for what. I don’t know “what” is defined by, but it’s definitely isn’t reasonable bedtimes.
Plus, day drinking at music festivals also forces you to go piss in rarely-cleaned portable bathrooms that smell like a whore’s anus.
2. EDM Music….Can Be Fun:
If I wasn’t taught to dance in the School of Going Stupid Doo-Doo Dumb, this lesson would never have been learned.
To give some context, the group I was with was very married to seeing Martin Garrix and Zedd, although I was leaning more towards Girl Talk due to his recent single with Freeway and Wack Flocka Flame.
Still, in the vein of experiencing new things and a reluctance to blaze my own trail in an endless field of people, I decided to stick around the Sahara Tent with my friends to experience epileptic light shows and Yamaha-made music from the aforementioned Messrs. Garrix and Zedd.
And it was fun. Surprisingly so.
Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t paint myself a fan of EDM the way I’m becoming a fan of folk music (damn you San Francisco). The music can still get deathly repetitive and predictable, and there’s only so many sirens and bleeps and blips before I start yearning for some actual instrumentation and acoustics.
Still, for the moments that I need to wile out and dance Bay Area style, nothing quite does it like a well-executed bass drop. Plus, I got to feel special for thinking I was the only one getting hyphy in a crowd of simple fist-pumpers. Thizz face and all.
3. The Complications of Saying Nigga In The Context of Lyric Recitation
I first mused about this at the A$AP Ferg set, where most of the fans were shirtless white people who were unabashedly dropping N-bombs in sync with Darold Ferguson, he of the short height but long dick. I didn’t think too much about it because I was too busy getting hype, but not too hype to get caught up in an ill-timed mosh pit two feet away from me.
But it all didn’t really kick in until I hit up the Flosstradamus set two days later. I was chilling in the back, near a huge black man that had an easy 4 inches and 80 pounds on the next biggest person there. Flosstradamus, true to their spirit, played YG’s My Nigga to the delight of the mostly white crowd. I saw two white girls about to sing along to the chorus until they cut themselves when they saw the big black man in their peripheral.
White Girl: MY N-…wait, um, is it like, ok for me to say that?
Big Black Man: OF COURSE. ALL YALL MY NIGGAS.
I call this the ScHoolboy Q Theory of Concert Lyrics because of this clip. Still, it might be a sign of immaturity, seeing as how I noticed Nas trying not to drop the N-bomb in his performance, even when performing his Illmatic shit, even when he’s established himself as a nuanced authority on the matter.
I’m not really sure what the actual deal is, but I suppose it’s not wrong to feel the moment and let yourself go when that real real starts playing.
4. People Love Calvin Harris/Music Is Crazy Effective
Suffering from old man back pain, I decided to lay down during the Calvin Harris set. I even managed to doze off and enter a quasi-dream state while everyone else was rolling balls on the extremely loud music and lights.
If you ever get the chance, you should lay down for a headliner who plays really loud danceable music. I saw the love, heard the love, but I didn’t really feel the love until I felt the ground move under me to the effect of tens of thousands of people jumping in unison and losing themselves.
Music is a powerful thing, and feeling that slight tremor was a major reminder in affirming that. I can see why certain people would want to suppress it, because it can lead people to feel transcendent and emote themselves in ways that would be impossible in an ordered, rigid society.
5. “Turn Down For What” Needs to Die:
The song itself is fine. The saying itself is stupid. I’m turning it down when my back is in pain, my ankles are on fire, my throat is chalked up from golf carts kicking up Palm Desert dust, and I’m covered in six layers of sweat grime. No, don’t give me your fucking shots, give me a fucking ride home so I can lay down on a bed and not feel like I’m going to die standing up.
6. Kids, Don’t Do Too Many Drugs:
Apparently, some girl tripped too hard on some psychadelic and dived into the port-a-potty, smearing and splashing herself with shit, piss, and blue disinfectant. She claimed she found the Fountain of Youth.
I’m not sure if that’s a real story or if our Uber driver was fucking with us, but I did notice security being a lot tighter after hearing that tale.
Also, there was an actual OD death connected with Coachella, so the lesson remains.
Kids, feel free to do drugs, just don’t do too many.
7. The Basic is Real:
And I am Basic. I don’t give a shit. I watched Chromeo. I spent a good amount of time in the Sahara tent. Who gon check me, that Vice girl? She can suck my basic dick.
8. Lauryn Hill Can Be Redeemed:
I feel like the 2nd Weekenders got the better end of the surprise guest appearances. After hearing so much bad press on Lauryn Hill’s apparent mental stability and shredded voice, I was still excited as a squealing schoolgirl when I saw her walk out for Nas’ encore.
The woman still has pipes, still has swag, and from what I saw, still has a desire to entertain and connect with her fans. She spit with fire, and she sang with grace. It was a sight to behold.
I saw Nas and Lauryn Hill perform If I Ruled The World live. I saw that. It was as amazing as I imagined it would be. I finally have something of worth to tell my grandchildren. Then they’ll be like “Who the fuck is Nas?” and I’ll be like “Don’t make me hit you. I will hit a kid. Go get me a damn beer.”
9. Sometimes It’s Worth It To Bankrupt Yourself Physically, Monetarily, and Morally.
At the end of every day, my joints and bones were aching from the weight of a burning sun and hella steps walked. I’m pretty sure that I won’t subject myself to this kind of trip unless there’s an act that’s worth the three days of pain and fatigue (like a Musiq Soulchild/Boyz II Men collabo).
But it was worth it. The love was evident despite the abundance of bros and basic bitches. The music was great. I got to see childhood heroes play out my favorite songs in their most pure form. Hell, I got to see Illmatic performed in its ENTIRETY. I might start to feel the age in my joints and my state of mind…but I’m definitely glad that I pushed in the chips and went on a trip like this.