A First-Timer’s Festival Experience

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By Crystal Wong

It’s out with the gloomy mornings and cold days and back to the sunshine-filled afternoons in California, and with spring comes the ever-anticipated musical festival season.

I was recently lucky enough to snag a wristband for this year’s Coachella Weekend 1, and just like all the beauty, fashion and music bloggers talk about, Coachella truly lives up to the hype. Attending my first “Chella” ever, the excitement did not hit me until I actually got onto the campgrounds after going through two hours of car and security checks. Not only was this my first time at Coachella itself, but it was also my first time camping (talk about knocking two birds out with one stone).

Let me tell you this: If you’re camping with the right group, they’ll make the experience a whole lot better and more enjoyable than you would think otherwise. And if you’re wondering about being able to fall asleep at night… Yes, there will be nearby tent neighbors blasting music past 1 a.m., but honestly, after spending 14 hours under the blazing Coachella Valley sun dancing your ass off, you’ll knock out before your head can even hit your pillow.

The lineup this year was stacked with many heavy-hitting artists and headliners like Radiohead, Lady Gaga and Kendrick Lamar. But let’s not forget about the other artists such as The XX, Porter Robinson and Madeon, Lorde, Two Door Cinema Club, Jai Wolf and rising artists and bands of all genres.

One musician that nobody seemed to be able to stop hyping up was Hans Zimmer, who brought an entire live orchestra to the Outdoor Stage and opened his set with “Dream is Collapsing” from the movie “Inception. Martin Garrix kept the crowd jumping in the Sahara Tent with nonstop lasers and heart-thumping vocal house drops while bringing out Dua Lipa to perform their hit song “Scared to be Lonely.” Lady Gaga’s powerhouse vocals took the main stage by storm as she debuted her new song “The Cure.” Nao opened with “Happy,” bringing good vibes all around with her vivacious R&B set in the Gobi Tent. And this is only a handful of the artists.

In addition to the many different stages and tents, this year Coachella also had “The Antarctic,” an igloo-shaped dome where festival-goers could hide from the 95-degree weather and immerse themselves in a 360-degree, visual sensory ride. The 10 minute film takes you through a series of vibrant cosmos and kaleidoscopic prisms as you explore time and space.

Along with “The Antarctic,” the landscape of Coachella changes every year with art installations scattered around the grounds. Artists Terri Chiao and Adam Frezza — otherwise known as Chiaozza — are responsible for the colorful statues of cacti and imaginary plants, fitting for the desert setting. Gustavo Prado, the mastermind behind “Lamp Beside the Golden Door” arranged a tower of rounded mirrors that lured viewers in with metallic finish, leading to a lot of self-reflection (or at least, selfies). And the most eye-catching featured art of this year’s event? Joanne Tatham and Tom O’Sullivan’s “Is This What Brings Into Focus”: vibrant, 75-foot-tall animals with party hats; Coachella’s one huge party after all.

While Coachella Weekends 1 and  2 are coming to an end, the memories and polaroids, however, last a lifetime. In truth, I wasn’t dying to get my hands on Coachella wristbands back when they were going on sale; I wasn’t ready to drop the $400 plus service fees to attend a music festival when I could’ve spent that money on something more important. But as I finally settle back down after a long and wild weekend, I realize that Coachella was important to me in the sense that I was able to experience something I’ve never done before and make such lasting memories out of it.

So, Coachella 2018 anyone?

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