Once Josh and I arrived for Day 3 of Coachella and reached the grounds, we tried to camp in the parking spot where we had been assigned. Car camping was apparent closed, so we were a 20 minute hop and a jog from the festival grounds-very annoying if you ask me. Security guards on bicycles were swarming the place, getting people to grab their stuff and leave their cars, because “camping”, (essentially “staying”) in front of your vehicle was strictly forbidden. So we gathered up our booze, food and necessities for the day and began trekking. I ran into a guy I met during a performance on the 1st day. “Hey it’s the photographer!” he said to his 3 friends, who were waiting near his car, rapping and drinking 40 oz. Mickey’s. I took pictures of them and kept keeping on. Next, we ran into a guy who was holding a glass jug of pure tequila, and offering free shots because he needed to dispose of the bottle (glass isn’t allowed onsite). He tells Josh that he MUST take a minimum of two shots if he wants some liquor, so being a total bad-ass, my BFF chugs down two shots worth of warm tequila without a chaser. WOW.
After that, is the daily pat down. I did not get in the first time because I had the body of the camera around my neck. The evil lady who was searching me, told me to go put it back in my car and was being facetious by saying, “do you just wear it around your neck for fashion?” I said, “sure do,” then exited the line, stuffed it in my pants and went through a different checkpoint. Pass.
We then met up with two of Josh’s friends, and sat under the lovely palm trees and socialized a little bit, then I copped Bon Iver swag in the form of red t-shirt that says “Minnesota, WI” and “Bon Iver” with the shape of Wisconsin outlined in the middle. 25 bucks. Ouch. Josh purchased a Florence shirt that depicted her album art. After saying goodbye to his friends (and aiding a completely incoherent/passed out drunk girl get water and reunite with her pals), we meandered over to the Outdoor Stage to see the lovely ladies of Wild Flag. They have ENERGY. Such infectious, intense, rock n’ roll, MOMENTUM. Lead vocalist Carrie Brownstein, looked very Karen-O with a bright red t-shirt and choppy hair that was darker than midnight. I was completely enamored with the drummer, Janis Weiss, who hit the instruments crisply in the noon air. It was as if the atmosphere itself was amplifying the sound.
That rendezvous with Wild Flag was brief. We ambled over to the next act, but decided we were too lethargic to push through the crowd, so we sat on the outskirts of a main stage and listened to the DJ who was playing. It was by far the most scenic twilight of the entire weekend and the crowd of Coachella-goers seemed to be moving slower and gentler as they weaved through the grounds, which were emblazoned in golden yellow as the sun disappeared. A sense of calm settled over everything and it was absolutely magnificent to witness.
Once the evening sky turned a beautiful ultramarine, Josh and I went to stand in the crowd and wait for Florence + the Machine. GirlTalk was on first though, so we danced to their set and got a great spot in the audience. This was as close as we had been to any band the entire weekend. GirlTalk played hip-hop mixes for an hour, while throwing confetti, balloons and toilet paper at us; and then vanished into the same cloud of smoke in which they appeared in.
Florence’s stage crew set up fast and before we knew it, the Victorian-esque, ethereal pixie herself was before us. She twirled around like forest-nymph the entire time and we could not figure out how she was not dizzy by the end of it all. Florence engaged the spectators like a true professional, by running from each end of the stage to sing to the crowd from every angle. Her skintight, blue velvet cat suit was adorned with billowing sleeves that stretched to the ground: she was basically an opera singer dressed as a bat; and the shock of red-orange hair made her an even more interesting spectacle in which to ogle. Florence + the Machine closed out the concert with her hit “No Light,” and even I had to sing along because her energy was so infectious.
Happily, Josh and I walked away from the Outdoor Stage and planned on exiting the venue, when we heard Snoop Dogg rapping in the distance. I shoved my way through the crowd of spectators which was comprised of mostly the entire festival and managed to get a few recordings. Him and Dr. Dre were half-way into their womanizing, disrespectful rap verses, when I decided I was not going to stand there and support such misogyny and certainly was not going to be around thousands of people boppin’ their heads to it like it was alright. So, we trekked on… then suddenly a whole gamut of rappers decided to make an appearance: Wiz Khalifa, Eminem, 50 Cent and even a hologram of Tupac. I stopped to record them for good measure and then we were off into the night.
The Coachella Music Festival was a success, although I am not saying I would rush and do it again anytime soon. If you don’t mind paying for a $500 dollar, hippy-fest that smells like marijuana and a petting zoo, then this is the concert to attend. But seriously… all-in-all, it was a mostly positive experience and a great place to meet interesting people while seeing amazing bands. The moral of the story is: dance the night away, wear good shoes, and always, always avoid the port-a-potties.
(for many more photos of this event in HQ resolution, check out: http://www.flickr.com/photos/marjani-viola_hawkins/ they will be posted April 19th 2012!)