Coachella Weekend 2

Music’s Got Me Feeling So Free

Couchella Weekend 1 was a huge success. The documentary was fantastic and a great reminder of happier times both in the past and to come. I learned a lot about Coachella from it. I watched it each day of what would have been Coachella 2020 Weekend 1 including a special Friday premiere viewing party with a few of my Coachella coworkers. I decorated the room a bit to feel like Coachella and trust me it kind of did. It helped me separate from the outside world much like actually working a festival does. It also introduced me to new music, which is what I need to write about today. I mean new as in the sense of I wasn’t really into the music before last weekend because this group has been around since the 90’s. Their set in 2006 was very notable in the history of Coachella and that group is Daft Punk.

The French electronic music duo Daft Punk was formed in 1993. After their lack of success in the punk band Darlin’ (which also included Laurent Brancowitz of Phoenix), Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter created Daft Punk. They went in a different direction musically, after being introduced to the rave scene. The name “Daft Punk” came from a negative review of Darlin’ which referred to their music as “a daft punky thrash.” The group got their break at a rave in 1993 when they handed off a demo to Stuart McMillan of the Scottish electronic duo Slam. Slam had their own record label Soma.

The duo hired Pedro Winter to be their manager and signed with Virgin Records in 1996. In 1997 they released their highly anticipated debut album Homework, which included their earlier singles “Alive” and “Da Funk” along with “Around the World.” They released their second album Discovery in 2001. The album had a more of a synth-pop sound than what the group was known for from their debut album, but it lead Daft Punk to commercial success. The album reached the Top 10 in music charts throughout Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the U.S. When performing during their earlier days, the duo would cover their faces with different masks. It wasn’t until Discovery came out that they adopted their robot alter egos.

In 2005, Daft Punk released their third album Human After All. Despite reaching high positions on music charts throughout the world, the album didn’t quite have the success that Discovery did. In the early 2000’s Daft Punk also got into the visual entertainment sector and released two films, Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem in 2003 and Daft Punk’s Electroma in 2006. As I mentioned before, 2006 also brought Daft Punk to Coachella for their first and only Coachella appearance. They debuted their famous pyramid that they also used on tour that year.

In the years between their third and fourth album, the duo was again busy working on films, specifically the soundtrack for Disney’s Tron: Legacy. Then, they won their first Grammy in 2009 for Best Electronic/Dance Album for their live album Alive 2007. They also won a Grammy for Best Dance Recording for “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger.”

On May 13, 2013 Daft Punk released their fourth studio album Random Access Memories. The album featured collaborations with Nile Rodgers of Chic, Pharrell Williams, and Julian Casablancas of The Strokes. The album became their most successful album to date with hits like “Get Lucky”, “Instant Crush”, and “Lose Yourself to Dance.” The record earned them peak positions on music charts worldwide as well as numerous accolades and awards including a Grammy for Album of the Year. In many countries the album has reached Platinum status or beyond. Daft Punk were also co-producers on Kanye West’s 2013 album Yeezus.

Since Random Access Memories and the few years that followed, Daft Punk has been relatively quiet. Their most notable project came in the form of collaboration with The Weeknd on his hit singles “Starboy” and “I Feel It Coming” in 2016. They’ve since been working on solo projects.

Daft Punk’s style of electronic music is very much house music. Through the years though, it’s varied album by album. It also incorporates elements of rock and disco. Personally I think Daft Punk’s music is ahead of its time, especially the album Discovery, but again I might not know that much about the history of electronic music since I’ve started listening to it only in the past few years.

I first learned of Daft Punk around the time of Random Access Memories due to the popularity of the album. I wasn’t a fan of their biggest hit song “Get Lucky” though. It was still at a point where I detested main stream music nor did I like EDM. I didn’t understand the hype and in the past few years as I got into electronic music, Daft Punk wasn’t really a name I heard often unless it involved headliner predictions for Coachella.

The Coachella documentary shed some light on Daft Punk for me. After watching the scene about their 2006 set, I thought to myself, “Wow this looked like a lot of fun! Maybe I should see what Daft Punk is about.” So I started listening to some of their stuff on Spotify. I realized I heard plenty of Daft Punk tracks over the years, but it was probably just background music for me. So I went through their discography and listened to tracks from all their albums. I listened to them while I attempted to cook my favorite dish from Coachella catering last weekend. It hit me that I’d been missing out on Daft Punk for a while now. I finally understood the hype. I’ve now become one of those people who hope Daft Punk is on every Coachella lineup. I would love to see them live. I want to see them live and I want to see them at Coachella.

With all the negative outlooks for the relatively near future, no one is sure when live music will be back, especially large-scale events like music festivals. Who knows when the next Coachella will happen, but when it does happen again it will likely be an epic event. In the mean time, I can always remind myself it took me 4 years to get to Coachella from when I first wanted to go. I can also do my best to take in Weekend 2 of what would have been Coachella 2020 as best as I can. I plan on watching the documentary each day of Weekend 2 just like I did during Weekend 1 and I also plan on watching some full Coachella sets from past years that I found online. I watched RÜFÜS DU SOL’s 2019 Weekend 1 set last weekend (I was actually at the set for the end half too!). This Weekend I have Dillon Francis’ 2019 set, Foster the People’s 2011 set, and yes, Daft Punk’s 2006 set because I found it in full on YouTube. I can’t wait to see how fun it actually was and I can’t wait for the day we’re all back at Coachella. Hopefully we’ll be listening to Daft Punk live one more time. It could happen. We could get lucky.

Coachella Survival Tips

As you know, Coachella begins this weekend. As you also know (if you’ve followed my blog), I attended Coachella last year for the first time. Sure this doesn’t make me a Coachella veteran at all. In fact, I didn’t even camp out like many festival-goers who attend the annual event in the Indio desert. All that aside, I still feel like I can offer some tips for first timers attending the festival and staying at hotel nearby (sorry campers!) based on my experience.

1. Figure out which bands are must-see acts once the schedule gets released. Every year Coachella releases the lineup schedule a few days prior to Weekend 1 of the festival. Good news for you, it was released earlier today. Check out the times of the bands you want to see and note them in your phone or on the Coachella app, which I believe has a feature you can use to keep track of your favorite acts. Also make note of the stages (and locate the stages!). Sometimes bands may be playing on stages close enough together that you can catch half of one set then half of another set. Many times you’ll find that two of the bands/acts you want to see are playing at the same time, especially if the day is stacked with your favorite talent (Sia vs. The Chainsmokers on Sunday night). If that’s the case you’ve gotta make a choice, or like I said maybe you can do the half and half thing. If your favorite acts aren’t coming on until later in the day, sleep in and head to the festival later too. Last year on both Saturday and Sunday we went to the festival a few hours later than when gates opened because the acts we wanted to see weren’t coming on til late afternoon. After exploring the festival in full on Friday, it got boring waiting around til whatever time the next band we wanted to see came on. We adjusted accordingly for the next two days. Always allow yourself enough time to arrive though because sometimes security gets increased and it takes longer to enter the festival grounds.

2.  Get merch the first day. If you want a t-shirt, poster, or other special merch from the festival, don’t wait around til Sunday to hit up the merch stand. They will run out of your size and you’ll have way less options. Last year we hit up the merch stand immediately after we walked in on Friday (along with the Ferris Wheel, which is another good thing to do the first day, if you plan on riding). We were able to get the Coachella t-shirts we wanted and I was able to get Coachella socks from the artsy-ish building next to the merch stand. On Sunday, I decided I was going to get my uncle a t-shirt for buying me dinner the night before we flew out for the festival. Many of the tees I liked for him were unavailable in his size, so I settled for what was left. If you’re wondering, yes the line is long on Friday. It may take a little while and you may get hot and sweaty from being in the crowded line, but it will all be worth it when you have solid proof of your Coachella attendance.

3. Eat a big meal before you come to the festival. There’s both advantages and disadvantages to this. Sure at some point you’re going to get hungry while you’re at the festival. There really are so many delicious options to choose from, but lines can be long and the food is expensive, like $10 for a personal pizza expensive. Last year we went out to eat each day before the festival. It helped save money and time. The disadvantage: you don’t get to sample all the cool, creative vendors Coachella has to offer, unless of course, you want to over stuff yourself. By going out to eat before getting to the festival, we were filled for most of the day. Then, later on, we got something if we felt hungry. In this way, we only dealt with the long lines and expensive food once a day or so.

4. Stay hydrated. Coachella is in the desert. It’s hot in the desert. During the day temps can be in the 90’s to over 100 degrees. It’s important to drink plenty of fluids at the festival even if you don’t feel thirsty. By fluids, I don’t just mean alcohol either, but its even more important to stay hydrated if you’re choosing to drink, especially in the day. You don’t wanna pass out or end up in a hospital. Water at Coachella is cheap. It’s $2 per bottle. There’s also water stations where you can refill your bottle. Pro tip: The water in the refilling stations is extremely warm, so I only recommend this if you’re broke or desperate. One cool thing I discovered last year is that they sold fresh fruit waters at the festival. There was pineapple and watermelon water. These waters are awesome. Buy one if you feel like splurging a little on hydration. The benefit to these waters though is that when you finish the water you have a cup of ice left so you can easily refill your cup from a station and not have piss warm water. By doing this you’ll get your money’s worth and necessary hydration.

5. Wear sunscreen. Besides the fact that it gets super hot in the desert. It’s also clear and sunny about 97% of the time (this is a made up number, but it seems accurate) in Southern California, especially in the desert. Those rays are strong. Sunscreen is a necessity if you don’t want to turn into a tomato or end up in a lot of pain anytime someone touches or bumps into you. Apply daily before you hit up the festival. I also believe you’re allowed to bring sunscreen into the grounds, but apply before regardless. You may forget about sunscreen once you arrive with all the distractions the festival has to offer.

6. Bring a sweatshirt/jacket. For as hot as it is in the day time, it can get about 30 degrees cooler each night. Before my first day at the festival last year, I decided to bring a backpack with a sweatshirt inside for night time. I wore a tank top and shorts. I didn’t believe I would need the sweatshirt at night because even with the temp dropping 30 degrees it would still be in the mid to upper 60’s. I figured I could handle that at night. Wrong. 60’s in the desert with a breeze each night is freezing, especially when your body is adjusting from a hot 90 degree day. If I was watching a set in a giant crowd it was less chilly, but standing in an open space in front of the main stage….brrrrr. Even standing in crowds I was slightly chilled and wore my sweatshirt. Some people even bring pants to wear at night. You know how well your body handles different temps though. Prep for what you need, but like I said, bring a covering of some sort for later.

7. Charge your phone each night. You know it and I know it. You’re going to use your phone a lot at Coachella. Whether it’s to check set times, take selfies with friends or pics of the art installations and festival scenes, post to social media, or send out texts and snapchats, your phone will get a lot of use. Many people bring their phone cords to recharge at the festival. As I found out last year though, those recharging stations don’t always work. You can always bring a portable recharger (which you’ll have to charge), or you can try to conserve battery when you’re not using your phone. Pro tip: Put your phone in airplane mode (I did this several times last year). I’ve also noticed that newer iPhones have a feature called Low Power Mode that you can turn on. There’s plenty of ways to keep your battery charged when you’re not on your phone at the festival. To be safe though, charge it every night. Start with 100% battery power each day and hopefully you make it through the day before you return to your nightly accommodations.

8. Find a meeting spot. I read this several times when I was prepping for my first Coachella. With the amount of people in such a small space at Coachella the cell service can be poor. If you lose your group of friends or plan to separate, it’s good to have a meeting spot. I actually believed I lost my cousin for a brief time last year on the last night of the festival during Florence and the Machine’s set. I wanted to be close for the set. Her back was sore so she wanted to sit further back and relax. We decided we would meet to the right of the last sound tower after the set was over. I had some issues with getting close. The set was more crowded than I anticipated and I wasn’t having fun. I decided to walk back and sit with my cousin but she wasn’t at our meeting spot. My cell service was spotty at that time due to the large amount of people at the set (people were arriving for Drake afterwards too). I couldn’t reach her. I had no idea where she went. Fortunately we found each other before the set was over because a few of my messages finally sent. After that experience, I understood the need for a meeting spot.

9. Take the shuttle. Since I’m writing this post for people who aren’t camping, I recommend you take a shuttle to the festival each day. Taking a shuttle is less of a hassle than driving. Last year we had a travel package that included rooms, wristbands, and shuttle passes. If you don’t have a packaged deal and are staying at a hotel, I recommend buying a shuttle pass. The shuttles take you directly to the festival and directly back. There’s different shuttle lines to different hotels. You don’t have to worry about parking, finding your car, getting too drunk, or even just keeping track of your car keys. Each day it took about an hour to arrive by shuttle from the moment we decided to leave our room until we were inside the festival gates. Of course travel time depends on where your hotel is relative to the festival. Ours was about 13 miles away. We never had to wait in a huge line for a shuttle either. Maybe that was because we arrived and left at non-peak moments. If you’re staying at a rented house, a hotel that’s not part of a direct shuttle line, an AirBnB, or some other type of nearby accommodation, find the closest shuttle line and walk or drive to it. Sure the driving part might defeat the purpose a bit, but you still won’t have to drive as far, worry about parking or finding your car, and you’ll have a bit of time to sober up on your ride back. A shuttle is the way to go.

10. Arrive early to get a good spot at a set. If you have a favorite band or artist you want to see up close, arrive to the set early to work your way to the front. Actually, arrive a set or two before your favorite act comes on that way when people leave the earlier set(s) you can work your way up as people in front of you disperse. No one likes a person who tries to push to the front at the last minute. You don’t want to be that person. Plus majority of attendees aren’t fortunate enough to have a V.I.P. pass that gives you access to special V.I.P. viewing areas at most stages. You have to get a good spot the old fashioned way. Arrive early and move up. If you’re desperate to try to see a headliner up close, come 2-3 sets early. I realize this isn’t always possible because there’s other bands you want to see. Just do your best and make sacrifices if you have to. Trust me when I say, even if you’re in the back and you can barely see the artist on stage, you’ll be able to hear the music, you’ll know if there’s any surprise appearances, and most importantly, you’re at fucking Coachella! There’s so many people who would love to be in your spot. Just soak in the atmosphere, the moment, and all the good vibes. Sing out loud. Dance your heart out. Be kind to others. Make new friends. Be young. Be wild. Be free. And have fun! Coachella is one of the best and most well-known music festivals in the world, so enjoy every second.

And with that last tip, that’s all I have to offer for Coachella 2016. Let’s get this year’s party started! Until next year…

Happy Coachella!