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Experiencing Coachella for the first time in one word: Incredible

The day was December 21, 2023. I was having dinner with my family when my dad talked about what our Christmas gift could be. He “accidentally” slipped that it might be tickets to Coachella. My mind immediately began hoping that I would get a ticket to one of the most famous music festivals. Flash forward to April 11, 2024, and I’m in the airport to board my flight to Palm Springs, California, because my Christmas present was tickets to attend Coachella, one of the biggest music festivals in the world. 

Day 1 - April 12 - The pop stars are just beginning

My brother, Tyler, and I were jumping with excitement when we got to the gates on Friday. 

We stopped by the merchandise tent to grab our first batch of merch for the festival and then headed to watch pop artist Chappell Roan perform. 

The crowd was electric when she walked on stage in her business attire and started singing Femininomenon. I was jumping up and down as she sang her hit song “HOT TO GO!” off her debut album. Her energy was unmatched, and she seemed like she was having the time of her life on stage. 

We stopped by for Sabrina Carpenter’s and Deftones’ performances, but we decided to ultimately get some food and watch it from the field. (Tip from a now professional Coachella visitor: Make sure you bring enough money for food, I had to shell out $23 for a basic burrito and $2 for a bottle of water)

The next full set we watched was the two-person band CLOWN CORE. I didn’t know much about the band, but my brother was ecstatic to watch them.

I’m not the biggest expert on CLOWN CORE, so I’ll just let Tyler describe it. Tyler says that CLOWN CORE is just “Clowns playing EDM jazz while asking for your PayPal.”

After CLOWN CORE, we marched over to claim a spot for Lana Del Rey’s nightcap performance. Lana’s set was magnificent. Lana and her dancers entered the stage on Harley-Davidson motorcycles, with Lana looking like an angel.

Lana brought out 3 different surprise guests towards the end of her show, which I did not believe when I saw them come out of the stage. The first guest was Billie Eilish, who sang a 2-song duet, “Video Games” and “Ocean Eyes.” Special guest Jon Batiste also made an appearance to perform “Candy Necklace,” while special guest Jack Antonoff played the piano for a hologram Lana singing “Hope is a Dangerous Thing for a Woman Like Me to Have––But I Have It”

Her set was everything Lana Del Rey’s set should have been, a great set for all the sad girls out there in the world who just want to cry their hearts out.

Tyler and I trudged back to the house. (Tip from a now Coachella Professional: Bring shoes  that are broken in – my feet were swollen just from the first day.) The 3.5-mile walk was already exhausting after spending over twelve hours at the festival, and we made it back at 2:30 in the morning. Beautifully brutal. Time for day two.

Day 2 - April 13 - Time to rock out and see some celebrities

We were wiped from the day before, so we missed the first artist that we wanted to go see, The Aquabats. They are a comedy ska-punk band that I really enjoyed as a kid, but I was excited to see other artists. (Tip from a now Coachella Professional: Stock up on anything that has caffeine to get you moving after a day of tiring and fatiguing festival activities (I mean like Red Bulls and Bangs, you’ll feel the difference))

Our first artist of the day was the “Midwest emo” ska band Vampire Weekend, who released a new album a couple of days before. When the band was announced on the Monday before the festival took place, I was both surprised and excited, as I had loved this band since I was 12 years old.

The crowd was singing classic songs like “A-Punk” and “Cousins” and were shocked during the Cocaine Cowboys mashup when the band brought Paris Hilton and Abraham Lincoln to play cornhole on stage. 

After Vampire Weekend, Tyler and I headed over to Sublime’s set before heading over to Bleachers to barricade (Tip from a now Coachella Professional: If you have a conflict, leave the first set early to arrive at the other set before they start, you still might be able to see and hear them depending on how the stages are set up. We could still hear (and smell) Sublime from across the festival).

When we ran to see Bleachers (well when I ran, Tyler just walked), we were four people away from the barricade and could still see and hear Sublime performing. 

While watching Bleachers perform hits like “Don’t Take the Money” and “Modern Girl,” I was towards the left side of the stage, but still pretty center, so I was able to see part of the backstage area. There were a couple of people watching from backstage, and (even if it took me a few minutes to realize along with the other people around me) I realized I was looking at Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce, who is America’s power couple (Sidenote: Listen to Taylor’s new album there is so much tea and gossip in 31 songs).

Bleachers’ set was phenomenal, and I even got to help hold Jack Antonoff up when he was crowd-surfing (I’ll have to ask my brother for the video).

After Bleachers, Tyler and I got food and chilled before we went over to the Coachella Stage for the rest of the night. After hanging out, we walked over and caught the ending of Blur’s set. 

Blur put on a great performance while having a somewhat dead crowd waiting for No Doubt and Tyler, the Creator to come out for their performances later on in the night

After waiting an hour, the next performance started: No Doubt. My brother and I were ecstatic about their performance, as it would be the band’s first time performing live in nearly ten years (As someone who is a major fan (or a “stan” if you really want to call it that) I could not wait for them to come on out and perform).

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They played songs from every album they had put out at that point. Their special guest that night was Olivia Rodrigo, who came out to perform “Bathwater.” (I can die happy now that I’ve seen Taylor Swift and Olivia Rodrigo in person (in one day somehow))

After No Doubt, I started talking with the people that we were around. Some came just for No Doubt and were leaving to try to avoid the crowds coming in for Tyler, The Creator, who was the closer for the Coachella stage. 

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One of Tyler’s quirks is that he hates when cameras are on him, and when they use flash. So during the set transformation, they had showcased warnings to not use flash during Tyler’s set (Tip from a now Coachella Professional: during these set changes, you’re probably going to be using your phone, so make sure to bring a portable charger).

Tyler’s set was incredible, and a classic rendition of what Tyler normally does with iconic songs like “She” and “WUSYANAME” in front of a massive and intricate set. This time, Tyler took on the persona of a park ranger living out in an RV in a canyon. Tyler pulled out all of the stunts, with his entrance exploding out of the RV and singing “IGOR’S THEME” and “LEMONHEAD.” 

Tyler’s guest performers were Childish Gambino for “RUNNING OUT OF TIME,” A$AP Rocky for “POTATO SALAD” and “Who Dat Boy,” Charlie Wilson for a stripped-down version of “EARFQUAKE” and Kali Uchis for a verse on “SEE YOU AGAIN.”

Day 3 - April 14 - I am so tired, let's just see 2 or 3 people today, please?

On Sunday, Tyler and I woke up (well I woke up at 10 am, and Tyler woke up at noon) and hung around the house before heading to the festival. Today was a chill day so we were able to visit all the pop-up stands and merch tables again to see if we wanted anything. (Tip from a now Coachella Professional: Have a day where you won't be seeing as many artists and instead walk around the festival and look at all the things that are being offered. The Pinterest booth was giving people glam makeovers and I DIDN’T GO. Sobbing).

The first band we saw was the 90’s rock band Taking Back Sunday, who performed hits “Cute Without the ‘E’ (Cut From The Team)” and “Liar (It Takes One to Know One).” Their show was great and definitely had the crowd pumped up and excited after the fatigue started to kick in from the festival. Tyler and I decided to leave early from the performance so that we were able to see one of pop’s biggest breakout stars, Renée Rapp

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Reneé Rapp, an icon known to be loved by gay people, had a set with two scissors crossing each other and was introduced by the cast members of “The L Word,” a 2004 drama television show that was about a group of lesbians and bisexuals and their lives living in Los Angeles. After the introduction, Rapp came out on stage, and started singing songs “I Hate Boston” and “Poison Poison.”

After a couple of songs, Reneé brought out her first guest artist, Kesha, with a performance of her hit song “TiK ToK,” where Kesha sang “Wake up in the morning, saying f*** P Diddy” referencing P Diddy’s ongoing civil lawsuits. Later on, she sang “Tummy Hurts” with her rumored girlfriend Towa Bird for a special guitar duet.

Reneé put on a fantastic show (even if I was a bit bummed out that Megan Thee Stallion did not come out for “Not My Fault” from the new Mean Girls musical adaptation) that all the “straight people who were dragged here” by their gay friends enjoyed, Reneé said during the performance.

After Reneé’s incredible performance, my brother and I chilled some more and walked around looking at the different performances playing, like the South Korean indie-rock band The Rose and RnB singer Victoria Monet.

Soon, it reached 9 pm, so we walked over to the Coachella Stage and watched the end of J. Balvin's set, a Latin Rave musician who put on a fantastic show with dynamic  camera work and even brought Will Smith to sing Smith’s “Men in Black.”

My brother and I got to the same spot as the day before for No Doubt and Tyler, the Creator, the inside corner of the catwalk and on the barricade. To say that people were excited when Doja Cat came out is an understatement. 

Doja Cat appeared on a small stage near the end of the barricaded area in a hazmat suit and a wig with hair that went to her feet. She slowly walked out to the main stage throughout the song.

Doja Cat had seven different outfits and costumes throughout the performance and brought three different surprise guests: 21 Savage for “n.h.i.e.,” Teezo Touchdown for “MASC” and A$AP Rocky for “URRRGE!!!!!!!!!!”

Her performance was incredible. The one thing I didn’t enjoy was how abruptly it ended. I wish she had performed one or two more songs (this is partly my fault for not knowing that sets have to end before midnight on Sunday).

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Monday - April 15, 2024

I landed back in Arizona at 8:30 am, and now here I am, writing this article when I should be paying attention to my professor teach how to write better articles. 

All I can say is, Coachella was the experience of a lifetime. If you can go, go. If not, go rewatch the live streams for the next year on YouTube.

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