Snapshot Memories of the Week: Coachella

Snapshot memories is a new weekly series, giving a visual glimpse into different destinations and unique ways to view them. It’s also a way for me to look back on travels that occurred before and after I started this blog, and to give each place I’ve traveled the attention it deserves. 

This week my memories go back to Coachella.

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With my return to California coming up in the new year, the 2015 Coachella line-up coming out next month, and the Coachella festival being one of the first things I’ll be doing when I land in Southern California (sorry family I’ll see you soon after!), I figured it was about time I reminisced about my first year at the festival, three years ago when I was still living in California (holla 2012).

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If you can believe it, Coachella was the first major music festival I went to. Being a music lover my whole life, I found it surprising that I didn’t get to my first festival until I was 21.

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Sure, we had a big music festival after every year at my university, called Sun God, but this was a HUGE music festival! One where Tupac holograms rapped, and I danced my ass off to the likes of the Arctic Monkeys, Nero, Calvin Harris, Swedish House Mafia, Martin Solveig, and Dada Life, just to name a few.

Swedish House Mafia basically lit the whole stage on fire
Swedish House Mafia basically lit the whole stage on fire

It’s a festival where I saw my two favorite artists of all time, back-to-back even: Bon Iver & Radiohead.

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Bon Iver, sigh, probably some of my favorite 30 minutes ever
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I was close enough to even see Thom Yorke’s barefoot feet while he was performing

Coachella was the first realization of how much I love festivals. It set me off wondering if music event management was something I possibly wanted for a career. It’s the reason I spent my whole summer in Australia traveling around the country volunteering at any music festival I could get into.

Meredith Music Festival, Australia
Meredith Music Festival, Australia

The aspect that surprised me so much about Coachella was the acoustics. Alright this is my music nerdiness coming out, but even with the heaps of concerts and small local festivals I’ve attended, I have never heard better acoustics than what I heard at Coachella.

Forget acoustics, worst tattoo spotting was the best.
Forget acoustics, worst tattoo spottings were the best.

Even after going to music festivals abroad, Coachella still has the best sound system set-up I’ve heard. It probably had to do with the insanely talented artists present as well, but everything about the music was simply perfect.

The Black Keys
The Black Keys

The weekend we went was unbearably hot, over 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius) for 3 days straight of camping in the desert. They had a water gun station in the middle of the festival, called the Do-Lab, where you could go to a stage basically to just get sprayed ridiculously wet by milatary-esque water guns.

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Do-Lab shenanigans

I went with a group of girls I was close to in my sorority, and none of us had ever camped at a music festival before so we made a few rookie mistakes.

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Most notably, we forgot to bring a canopy for the much needed shade while we were just hanging out at the campsite. This meant we were woken up by 8am each morning in a pool of our own sweat from the already scorching hot sun.

We also only had baby wipes and bottled water as our shower (the shower lines tended to be over 2 hours long with no shade in line). But honestly, it’s all part of festival life, and if you don’t embrace it then there’s no point in camping in the first place.

One of the hilarious memories I have from camp life is when one of the girls opened a bottle of water and poured the whole thing over her head to cool down, only realizing after that it was actually a bottle of silver tequila I had snuck in with our water pack. Whoops!

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I should admit to the fact that in the past few years Coachella has had a bit of a bad rap. As most music festivals these days, it has turned into more of a fashion statement than a music-lovers escape. I see both pros and cons with this. I enjoy fashion as much as the next person, especially boho festival fashion, but when that starts taking precedence over the music, that’s when I just don’t get it.

There are some people these days that just go to Coachella simply to be seen, it has become such a huge festival and everyone wants to say that they’ve been. That’s all fine and dandy, but let me just say if you are one of those people, good on ya for trying something new, but don’t forget about the music. It’s a set-up of 3 incredible days, multiple stages of every genre, and as I said the BEST acoustics, don’t let that go to waste.

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Even with the seemingly change of focus to the festival, I’m still as excited to go to Coachella 2015 as I was back in 2012. The music is what I’ll always come back to, and already from the artists that are rumored to be in attendance this year, I can tell I won’t be disappointed.

This time I’ll be changing it up and staying at a swanky hotel in Indio instead of camping at the festival, and basically just splitting a room between 4-5 people, so we’ll see how different it is compared to camping. In any case, you can bet I’ll be excited to write about my experience going to this coming year’s Coachella.

The aspects that first come to mind when I think back to Coachella are the famous ferris wheelhot and sweaty picturesthe stages, and the art installations (or the yellow submarine campsite).

The Ferris Wheel

TheFerrisWheel

Hot & Sweaty

HotNSweaty

The Stages

Stages

Art Installations

Artinstallations

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Mimi McFadden
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Mimi McFadden

Travel Writer/Blogger at The Atlas Heart
Mimi founded The Atlas Heart to create a community of travelers inspired to see the world. The Atlas Heart is a space where you'll find anecdotes on slow travel, craft beer, outdoor adventures, and all the eccentric bits in between that this world has to offer.
Mimi McFadden
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