Going to Coachella has literally been on my bucket list since I was 13. I would put on the 'Coachella' track from Brooke Fraser's 'Flags' album and dream of this far away festival where the barefoot bond over bass and treble and dance the desert nights away. This year, my beyond amazing friend Kristina made that dream a reality, surprising me with tickets for my birthday back in February.
The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is an array of sounds and colours that sprawl across the grassy, palm tree-studded fields of the Empire Polo Club in Indio, California. Due to its popularity, the festival is held across two weekends each April. This annual, three-day-long mega-festival draws crowds from far and wide to Californian desert to enjoy a carefully curated selection of artists who are thriving in their different genres.
After a presentation at university on a Thursday morning, I flew out of Cyclone Cook in Auckland into sunny Los Angeles. I was surprised my plane even flew; that day roads were closed, the Auckland Harbour Bridge was shut and my afternoon uni classes were cancelled. But by some kind of miracle, my plane was actually able to leave and I got my first six hour sleep in the longest time, leaving me ready and refreshed for an action packed weekend.
Kristina, our friend Tash and I rummaged through our mountain of jewellery and tried on outfits, then headed out to Palm Springs to check into our hotel and get ready hit up "Chella" as it is affectionately known as by festival-goers. We drove down the freeway, reading the signs for the exit lanes and made a game of relating them to song lyrics. Surprisingly, we left at just the right time to miss the Coachella traffic which can apparently make the usually three-hour drive from Los Angeles to Indio take SEVEN HOURS!
After glitter-bombing the bathroom at our hotel, we caught the shuttle to through the desert towns to what is quite literally one of the happiest places in the world. Seeing the Coachella Ferris Wheel for the first time gave me the same chills as when I first saw the Eiffel Tower - they both look exactly like the do in the photos but then you realise that you are actually standing in front of it, the excitement starts to bubble up inside you.
The first day was great, we learned the ropes and worked our way our round the five stages; the Coachella Stage, Outdoor Theatre, Gobi Tent, Mojave Tent and the Sahara Tent, watching some pretty incredible acts, and one particularly sense-assaulting, noise pollution act that made for a good giggle (cough ** Travis Scott! - never waste your time seeing him live!). I think our unanimous favourite act for that day was our beloved BROODS - they definitely did us kiwis proud. New Zealand represent! Coachella is paradise for creeps, like myself, whose hobbies include people watching and outfit analysing. To be entirely honest, on day one, we were more fascinated watching the festivalgoers than the actual acts. We also explored this year's art installations; the giant unicorny piñata kinda things, the silver mirrors and the awkwardly shaped giant fruits.
By day two, we felt pretty expert at this whole Coachella thing. We woke up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready for another day of soaking up sweet beats and sunshine amongst the palm trees. We didn't head straight to the festival, but made a bit of a detour, stopping in at the Amex Platinum House Party where we made fresh flower crowns, sat by the pool and enjoyed a performance from the beautiful and super talented Bebe Rexha.
By the time we made it to the festival that day, it was dusk. We bought huge slices of juicy watermelon and watched as the sky lit up in the same pink hue. The balmy desert had put us under some kind of spell; the three of us could not wipe the smiles off of our faces and we were literally skipping around in pure euphoria enjoying an absolutely perfect moment. The sun sunk behind the mountains and the palm trees lit up like a rainbow. Drone shows and light displays illuminated the night. Day Two was the day of surprises; Future brought out Drake, NAV brought out The Weeknd, Schoolboy Q brought out Tyler the Creator and A$AP Rocky and Lady Gaga released her new song 'The Cure'.
We started day three at the Amex Platinum party, but it was just a quick stop before rushing over to the festival. Musically, the third day had to be our favourite, jam-packed with more good acts than we could manage to see in a day, topped off with Lorde and Kendrick Lamar on the main Coachella Stage in the evening. We weren't usually the pushy type but we desperately wanted to work our way to the front for 'Kung Fu Kenny' (who had dropped his new album just two days before his Coachella performance) and Lorde - New Zealand's favourite 'Homemade Dynamite' (who gave us a sneak peek of her killer new single). Last time I tried to get to the front of a Kendrick Lamar performance was at the Auckland City Limits festival and a girl bit my shoulder defending her position in the crowd - how classy! I had a bite mark on my shoulder with lipstick around it. This time, I tried sweet talking my way to the front and it totally worked,! So worth it for these two outstanding performances!
I could not write a post on Coachella and not talk about the FASHION!! Let's face it, Coachella is a runway in the desert. There are so many different styles represented, not just the stereotypical Coachella crochet and festival flower crowns. It is a real mixed bag of lollies; everything from "OMG - Literal goals" to "OMG, I can't believe you left the house wearing that!".
My day one outfit was a backless black top by Layplan, paired with a black skirt and white platform sandals. This look was Coachella-ified with silver jewellery, face jewels and glitter from The Gypsy Shrine.
My third day outfit was my hands down favourite! The girls at Layplan designed this mustard two piece set especially for me and I instantly fell in love with it. I paired it with a gold headpiece, some simple gold rings and some dots of gold face paint tracing my seriously problematic eye bags.
As the lights went out on the last set, and we caught the shuttle back to our hotel for the last time, we laughed and reminisced over the weekend. Not only had I crossed Coachella off my bucket list, but I'd enjoyed every single moment of the three day festival and created memories that will last a lifetime.