It's no secret that Coachella has become a playground for bros, celebutantes and music elitists, but laced within the throngs of entitlement are the survivors who represent the positive side of Coachella culture. Considering the unrepentant cynicism that surrounds Coachella these days, it's not surprising that our quest took some digging. After scouring the polo fields we discovered that there are still Coachella-goers who are more interested in the music and the adventure than the photo ops. We've reconnected with the seven types of people we love at Coachella, so set aside your sneer and try and catch up with these folks.
Coachella veterans have weathered the festival time and again and lived to tell the tale. They've mastered the art of smuggling booze and paraphernalia inside the venue and know from experience that raging before sunset usually ends in disaster. These festival warriors come back year after year, and manage to maintain their love of the Coachella despite the emerging cultural thorns.
"Deej" is a 29-year-old festival vet from San Diego via Riverside, who's back for his 13th Coachella. Throughout his Coachella run he's felt the thrill of successfully sneaking into the festival, but also felt the frustration of buying bogus tickets off Craigslist. He considers all of his highs and lows part of the collective experience, and shares with a smile, "Me and my best friend even got matching tattoos this year to commemorate our times. I love Coachella."
Not to be confused with the belligerent ass clowns who knock over your beer and crash your vibe, the festival jesters are a versatile but loveable bunch, and have no issues handing over their dignity in the name of having a good time. This is a group that the festival as a whole relies upon to break up the monotony and provide comic relief, so don't be afraid to respond to their antics with a hug or high-five.
The Family That Rages Together Stays Together
For all of the parents out there debating whether or not they should let their teenager run rampant across the polo fields, take a page from the Mataya-Lord family's handbook to badass parenting. Mom and Dad duo Monica Mataya and Mason Lord are the parents of 16-year- old Garrison, who decided to make Coachella a family field trip. This is the family's second go at Coachella, and this time around they let Garrison bring along his girlfriend. The crew of AC/DC fans view their outing as an opportunity for everyone to experience Coachella while keeping an eye on one another.
"I love the fact that Garrison can enjoy this with his girlfriend, and we're all excited to see AC/DC," Mataya says. "We're pretty close and doing something like this only makes it better." Garrison Lord agrees, saying, "I'm not embarrassed to be here with my parents. They're pretty alright. "
The Stand-In Photographer
Watching a group of inebriated Coachellans try to squeeze six people into a selfie is entertaining, but the stand-in photographer will cast aside comedy for good will and offer to take the photo. Generally, the stand-in photographer is also the person who will return your fallen sunglasses or phone, so remember to thank these kinds souls.
The Super Fans
This breed of festival-goers are more than fans, their devotees. They can quote you the five most meaningful B-side tracks from their band of choice in under 10 seconds, and consider their band tattoo an official stamp of allegiance. If Coachella is the avenue to their bucket list band or dream reunion they'll brave distance, heat and crowds to see them perform.
Kim Clare, 38, and Paul Clare, 37, consider Coachella the road to many of their favorite artists, and cite the Prince and Roger Waters performances at Coachella 2008 as two shows on their personal best-of-all-time list. This year they made the trek from Phoenix, Arizona to see AC/DC, but admit that half of the fun at Coachella is stumbling across artists they've never heard of. But their custom T-shirts and devil horns are clear indicators of where their loyalty lies. "We've never seen AC/DC before," Paul Clare says. "We've been fans since Back In Black came out and this one of our top five bands that we've always wanted see."
After a grueling afternoon of midday punk shows and one too many trips to the beer garden, a nap can be the only hope for rallying after the sun goes down. These weary folks can find comfort in a shady patch of grass, all in the name of resurgence. We commend you, brave nappers, for being able to sleep in broad daylight and discount whatever may have been there before it was a temporary sleep space.
Herds of fans are easy to spot on the polo fields, thanks to their matching, custom-made T-shirts and array of glow wear. They sprint from show to show and are prone to screaming out "Coachellllla!" as a form of salutation. Unity is a weekend mantra, and their unabashed joy of being at the festival is often mood-enhancing pick me up.
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Mary Davis is a California native in her seventh year of organizing her group, which she's gathered from Ireland, Louisiana, and Colorado. She also heads up the group's clothing division. "I made the T-shirts last year for fun as a souvenir, but then we realized that wearing them saved us hours trying to find each other," Davis says. "We're really good at this. I love that Coachella is our yearly event and it brings everyone together."