Thursday, April 13, 2017

that time i went to coachella (throwback thursday)

Every April, I think about how I went to Coachella. This was during the time when the world was trying to figure out if it was still the nineties or not. There were no lingerie clad festival girls frolicking about, just a lot of tshirts and jeans. LOTS!

My road to the one year I went to Coachella actually started the previous year in 2002. A friend of mine was going to drive across the country with the girl he was interested in. Long story short, the girl realized this was some sort of romantic overture and gave him back the tickets he bought her. He went around asking everyone if they wanted to go with him two days before Coachella. Surprisingly, no one could go because they had jobs and adult stuff to deal with.

He finally asked me and I was so heartbroken that I couldn't go. One of the headliners was Björk and is basically my spirit human. Unfortunately, I had the worst case of bronchitis in my life and was basically 98% mucus. 

I promised myself that I would go the next year and I did. 

The 2003 Coachella lineup was a different kind of amazing and the last lineup that I was interested in. 

At the time, I was working two jobs, doing freelance graphic design, and still somewhat involved in the Chicago electronic music scene. That meant my typical day went as follows:

  1. Wake up at 4am and get ready for first job
  2. Arrive at first job at 5am and work until 2pm
  3. Go home, change, check/answer email
  4. Go to second job at 3pm and work until 10pm
  5. Get home and either do graphic design or music event until midnight to 2am depending
  6. Rinse and repeat
This is important to note because although I did have a reserved campsite and plane tickets. I hadn't thought out much of the logistics or how this was going to work out. The night before in a fury of non sleep delirium, I packed a military sized duffel bag with clothes, dry foods, wet naps, a tent, sunblock, and disposable cameras. Then, without sleep, I hauled this 900 pound bag all the way to the Indio airport which I then realized was very far away from the festival.

So, I hailed a cab and spent a small fortune to arrive outside the polo grounds where the camping was. Unfortunately for me, my cab driver did not want to wait in the line of cars in queue to park so I was dropped off with my ridiculous bag on the outside of the grounds. This meant that I had to walk in the Californian sun, down what I remember as being a dusty road, that was literally the length of the polo field to where the entrance was.

This is how I met Travis and Sweet Jimmy. 

They were in a van and they asked me if I needed a lift. So, for everyone that reading this, I got in. Was that a decision that I would make at today's Coachella. Absolutely not, however that somewhat risky decision turned out to be kismet. For the next three days, Travis and Sweet Jimmy were my bestfriends.

I honestly don't remember much from checking in to the campsite. I was so sleep deprived, that I am unsure of the sequence of events. I remember going to a grocery store with Travis and Sweet Jimmy, but I couldn't tell you if it was before or after we set up our tents. I also remember that I snuck in booze. Sorry Coachella, but I did. Beyond that, I could have been babbling about beluga whales that night in our little circle of tens and wouldn't be at all surprised.

The next morning, I felt more like myself and woke to find my new friends all creeping out of their tents. It proved to be a beautiful day and we all were applying our sunblocks and hanging out until they opened to festival. 

What I learned that morning was that Travis and Sweet Jimmy were from Austin, Texas. Travis was a lawyer that had been surfing along the California coast and Sweet Jimmy had flown out to meet up with him and then go to Coachella. Sweet Jimmy and many of the other people camped around us were all working at the time for SXSW. So, they all had their sights on different acts and the morning was all about getting to each other and our musical tastes.

Coachella People, Guy in Red Shirt is Sweet Jimmy and yellow shirt girl gripping tenaciously to suspicious chair is me.

Travis was displeased with our lack of excitement and told us to 'look cooler'.

Then the festival doors opened and the next few days were strolls through open grasses to different tents to get in as many acts as possible. At times, this required to take in half one set and then race to another to catch the end of another. I saw, Queens of the Stoneage, Blur, Blue Man Group, Felix Da Housecat, Idlewild, The Libertines, The Rapture, The White Stripes, Iggy and the Stooges, Sonic Youth, Primal Scream, Interpol, The Mars Volta, and The Polyphonic Spree.

I won't go into a review of each band, their music, or how their performance was. I feel like if you are curious about these acts, you can seek them out so easily now. 

Me and Travis looking beat

Me and Sweet Jimmy looking thrilled about Sonic Youth

I will say that I remember seeing parts of all these acts and feeling as though I got way more than I paid for. I remember all the worlds I shared with my new friends and the sounds blending together. I remember the green of the grass. The random art statues. All the freak-outs of people seeing their favorite band member wandering around. Mainly, I remember the carefree attitudes. 

Me and Travis marveling at some inconclusive signs

Even on the last day, we were in good spirits. We packed up our stuff, Travis and Sweet Jimmy dropped me off at the airport, and we went our separate ways. 

Jimmy later asked me, "You going to Coachella again?" 
I responded, "No. I don't think so."
Jimmy paused and sighed, "Yeah, it'll never be the same."

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