I inherited an odd personality trait from my late grandfather, Jack Hindin: I have a terrible habit of expecting the worst from every trip I take, to the point where I build up this giant ball of resistance that crushes any bit of excitement I might have, curse the people who talked me into going, try to cancel, and then of course, by the time I arrive and get settled in and start doing whatever it is that I’m doing, I have the time of my life. The same was true before I flew out to Palm Springs on Friday morning, and, as per usual, it was fun and games all round. Below, the highlights from my first ever Coachella, and, in fact, the first music festival I’ve been to since the Big Day out in 2002.
1. Lorde’s performance on Day 2. There’s something about seeing your country(wo)men succeeding on an international level that makes anybody from a small nation proud, but seeing it in real life with your own eyes is a whole other story. So hands down my favourite thing from the week that was, was watching Ella Yelich O’Connor sing to a crowd of at least 20,000 people who sang straight back to her. Amazing. Shout out to Naked & Famous too, I hear their set was incredible, but I missed it due to scheduling problems. GO THE KIWIS!
2. Hitchhiking. Coachella is a logistical nightmare due to the sheer vastness of the venue. If you haven’t been there before, let me break it down: It takes place on an enormous block of land about the size of a farm, so when you get dropped off at the entrance, you have to walk 1.5 miles (that’s 2.4km) just to get to the closest stage. That’s not an exaggeration, it’s been measured, and it’s 1.5 miles. There are also about 17 different car parking lots scattered around. So despite the fact that I found my way to my friendly driver’s van the first night, on the second and third I had no such luck. So I did what any self respecting person would do, and knocked on strangers’ windows and asked if they’d drive me to my hotel, 45 minutes away. On Day 2, the first car I stopped took me, on Day 3, the 15th or so said yes. Such friendly people! Festival life.
3. Pharrell’s performance on Day 3. Despite the fact that he was competing with a dust storm that blinded 90% of the crowd and destroyed his vocal chords, Pharrell’s set was one of the most magical live shows I’ve ever seen. He played every single hit he’s ever done, and pulled out some special guest stars along the way, namely: Busta Rhymes and P Diddy for Pass The Courvoisier; Gwen Stefani for Holla Back Girl; Nelly for Hot In Here; and the man Snoop Dogg for Drop It Like It’s Hot and Beautiful. And the crowd went wild.
4. Bumping into the most random people in the most random places. Like my old friend Govind Sandhu who I went to high school with coming out of a porter potty; Joe Jonas walking with a bunch of people by a bunch of trees (we bonded over our shared love for Richard Haines’ artwork); not to mention the best crew of dudes from Auckland, Ezra Fantl, Les Mills, Andy Silva, and their American mate with the best name of all time, Lucky.
5. Catching up with James K Lowe!!! That guy’s style is so on point he’s starting to look like a young Pharrell and I like it.
6. Palm Springs itself. Imagine a dry, arid desert, filled with palm trees, surrounded by mountains, and at least 35 degrees celsius every day of the week. Incredible.
7. This diner named Sherman’s I went to on my first morning there. I was the youngest person in the room by about 40 years (not even joking), and all the men looked like perma-tanned, 85 year old Elton Johns in white pleated pants, with 1970s celebrity sunglasses, blow-dried hair, and vibrantly printed shirts. So good!
8. Outkast’s performance on Day 1. Outkast was the first hip hop group I ever really really got into, when I was about 13 years old. Andre 3000 is not only born on the same day as me (May 27th) but he was also staying at my hotel. (I didn’t actually see him, but a bunch of my mates did.) They did every song you’d hope they would from their 20 year-plus career, and I lost my absolute ish. Best time ever.
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