The Only "Coachella Survival Guide" You'll Ever Need
A modern-day Coachella-goer pays homage to the ancestors
Photo by Christopher Victorio
Only elderly shamans and energy healers can remember the dark ages before the Coachella Music Festival first bloomed out of the polo field–riddled deserts east of Los Angeles.
Popular lore holds it was founded in 1999, when Beck, Rage Against the Machine and Morrissey united for worshippers fearing imminent global doom via Y2K. But anthropologists scouring the fringes of the Mojave have found evidence that the Morongo Band of Mission Indians actually threw the first Coachella Festival shortly before Father Junipero Serra arrived.
After sacred peyote rituals, members of the tribe busted out flutes, bone whistles and water drums before a stunned audience of swift foxes, snakes and warriors. Thus the venerable tradition of bros wearing feathered headdresses began, and the band Fleet Foxes got its name.
After such humble origins, Coachella has become the most famous festival since the Romans’ Lupercalia, where youths clad in bloodied goatskins whipped onlookers for purification purposes. (According to rumor, this is now the easiest way to get an “All-Access” festival pass.)
Last year, Coachella shattered records for most tickets sold (198,000) and total gross (more than $84 million). With the impending reunions of LCD Soundsystem and Guns N’ Roses, most observers believe that this year’s festival will eclipse those previous marks and avoid losing its edge to art-school Brooklynites in little jackets and borrowed nostalgia (popularly known as Governors Ball).
As its popularity has soared, guides have emerged on how to survive 72 hours amidst potential winds, dust and the ever-present threat of getting your eyes gouged out by errant glow sticks. So in the interest of helping you withstand an otherwise joyous experience that writers often describe as being like a Soviet gulag, here are survival tips for Coachella 2016:
—Your cellphone will die and many texts won’t go through. A portable charger is effective, but what if it breaks? Do you know how many likes you’ll sacrifice if you can’t Instagram a sunset photo of the Ferris wheel? Your best bet is to sneak a portable generator in your underwear. If security asks what you’re hiding, just wink.
—Spend 10 hours (minimum) meditating in total silence about what aesthetic you want to cultivate. Are you boho? Grunge? A hippie princess? A gypsy mermaid? A cornrowed, aging Sunset Strip rocker? (Very chic this spring.) No one will take you seriously until your look is the most [insert three fire emojis].
—Flower crowns: You spent $400 for a GA pass and a lot is riding on this. So buy a Shenzhen Nongke Orchid crown — a steal at just 1.68 million Yuan ($200,000).
—Hats: Try the sexy beekeeper look, which is both practical (keeps the sun off your face) and a sure bet to steal festival fashion roundups of the Neon Carnival. Nor should you underestimate wearing a hat made of snails (escargot only) during the set from Snails.
—Water: I hear good things.
—If you’re wondering whether that’s Chloë Sevigny, it’s always Chloë Sevigny.
—Get a Flash Tattoo: Make sure it’s tribal. Any tribe will do, as long as it’s authentic. Bring forged documentation of your indigenous heritage in case anyone tries to ask questions.
—In case a Mad Max–style apocalypse breaks out during Calvin Harris’ closing set and you wind up in some music website’s slideshow recap, you need to look fashionable. Carry a haute couture tie-dyed crossbow to fend off rivals trying to kill you or starve you by hijacking the last slice of Spicy Pie.
—Remember to have fun.
An L.A. native, Jeff Weiss edits Passion of the Weiss and hosts the Shots Fired podcast. Find him online at passionweiss.com.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.