[If you missed my Coachella Preview piece, feel free to catch up here]
Friday, April 18th, 2014.
Our first day of Coachella, and also exciting, the first day of #CoachellaBingo2014.
The bingo cards served me well throughout the weekend with their ability to frame each day. They gave me a clear mission and a lens through which to view the festival. There were certain acts I knew I would be seeing (OutKast, duh), but the inclusion of activities and people watching made it so that I was always searching for something inside the festival. Over the weekend I found that because I was looking for something, I became much better at seeing everything. But let’s start at the beginning.
I woke up early, amped for the day ahead. I immediately sat down for a beer and a cigarette and contemplated my immediate future, namely breakfast. That all changed when our neighbors Chris and Mike broke out their burner and a big jug of Bisquick Shake and Pour pancake batter. They offer Ray and I a portion of their impressive pancake stack and we happily accept. These guys even had mini maple syrup jugs to complete the process. Chris was a very experienced festival goer.
After breakfast, I made contact with Paige, an old friend from my time at Rock School. She had seen the Coachella Bingo cards and wanted to play along! Super exciting for me. Ray and I walked over to her camp and there I met Paige’s campmates, Toria and Zoe. They offer us beers and accept my bingo cards in return. I give them each a marker and a card for each day and ask to snag a picture, as Toria and Zoe count towards “Meet Someone New” on today’s card. This would be the first of many pictures I took with strangers holding up my Bingo card.
Ray and I part ways from Paige and her camp and head towards the festival. We didn’t have any particular band to see, but we were at Coachella and excited to be at Coachella and it was crazy that we had been at Coachella for over 16 hours and still not been inside the actually venue space.
But first, we see the a line for “21+” wristbands and figure that it would be better to get them on now than wait until inside the festival where everyone wants beer. Standing in line I see three girls, all beautiful, all wearing flower crowns, which is an ever-important corner square on my bingo card. I get my wristband and walk over, filled with nerves. This was my first time really pitching the idea to strangers, and they were attractive women. It was here that I developed what would become a script of sorts, which I would follow whenever I cam across someone I needed a picture with for bingo.
“Excuse me,” I say to the group. “This might sound a bit crazy, but I’m working on this Coachella Bingo, it’s sort of a scavenger hunt.” At this point I am always sure to hold out the card and show off the dopeness of the artwork. “One of the things I need is ‘flower crowns’ and I found you! I was wondering if I could get a picture?”
They love the bit and immediately ask if they can have cards of their own. I hand the three girls a card each and we take the picture.
While this was happening, another small group of probably ten or twelve people formed around us, looking curiously at the scene while waiting for their own “21+” wristbands. I explain Bingo and ask if they would like cards so they can play along. They were going to take one for the group to share until they saw the plethora of markers I had at my disposal. All of a sudden, everyone wanted their own. I am thrilled. Strangers are buying my ideas. I asked them all to tweet at me if they ended up getting a bingo and they said they would.
Then, finally, Ray and I enter the festival.
We immediately head to the see what the main stage looks like, as I know that OutKast will be performing there in less than 12 hours and I want to have a feel for their space. Onstage is MS MR. I think they are just okay until they go into a cover of “Dance Yrself Clean” and I think they are the best. We leave shortly after because A$AP Ferg is coming up, and he is somewhat important to me. I even wore my A$AP shirt, in anticipation that Rocky would turn up and get turnt with us.
A$AP Ferg is sort of crazy. He is loud and angry and vulgar, but very fun to watch and dance and turn up for. The highlight of his set is “Dump Dump” which was pretty surprising. I had extremely high expectations for “Shabba” and those expectations were exceeded, but the energy that Ferg let out as he yelled the crude and sexist but still sort of awesome hook of “Dump Dump” was terrifying and terrific.
A$AP Mob turns yelling and vulgarity and even sexism into high art at times.
I decide that I danced hard enough to cross it off the bingo board, and Ray and I walk back over to the Main Stage for Grouplove. “Tongue Tied” is every bit the dance party you expect it to be, and right after that they go into a cover of “Drunk in Love“.
HAIM is next on the schedule and the Bingo card. I have been mildly into them ever since their killer performance on SNL and they BROUGHT IT to Coachella to a point that I would call them the second hardest rocking act of the entire weekend (beat out only by Queens of the Stone Age). You should be listening to them if you aren’t already. Start here. Or here. Or here. Or probably anywhere else. They are all sorts of radical. They play “Forever” and the I basically fall over from dancing too hard when the breakdown hits. Good times were had by all.
Walking from HAIM to Bastille I meet Derek, a Canadian who asks to bum a cigarette. I mark off the square on my bingo card…
THAT’S A BINGO.
Hell yes. The process was working. Derek and I finish our cigarettes and Ray and I move forward to Bastille where we plan to sit until they play “Pompeii”, at which point we will stand, sing as loudly as possible, and then leave.
But first, we run into Amina and Bailey, easily two of my favorite people I met at the festival. To start, I need to say that again these are beautiful girls (California is crazy in this way. I implore you to try Tinder on the West Coast, it is magnificent). They were also carrying a hula hoop, making them of value to the bingo process. I approach them and ask for a picture, and they agree on the condition that I attempt to hula hoop. We take the picture, and I try, and completely fail to hula the hoop. I hand them cards and they say thank you and then I hand them markers and they GO BAT SHIT. Bailey excitedly starts marking things off and exclaims, “I’m already winning!”
I am super happy about how Bingo is going.
Bastille is exactly what I want them to be. They play “Pompeii” and it’s awesome and the set that came before it was good enough that I didn’t complain about just wanting to hear their one song. At the show, I see a man that would qualify as “Weird Old Person” for the bingo card. I decide against taking his picture and sort of feel like an asshole for putting it on the card in the first place. There is a really good chance that I am this dude in 30 years. Then he pulls out a one-hitter and I am happy to know that he is having a good time.
We head off for food after Bastille and can hear Ellie Goulding’s set on the Main Stage from a distance. Ray is finishing his chicken fingers as she goes into “Anything Could Happen“, a song that I became obsessed with the moment it was used in the trailer for seasons two of GIRLS. I ask if we can go watch. We go, and Ellie tears through a stream of hits, going into “I Need Your Love”, “Lights”, and then closing with “Burn”.
We are pleased, and walk over to the Sahara Stage, where I minds would be blown by The Glitch Mob.
The Glitch Mob are three DJs that all wear bandanas over their faces and make ridiculous beats. I discovered them through the Spotify playlist I had made in preparation for the festival, and they were the only artist new to me that I was determined to see. Their song “Fortune Days” had been droning in my head for a week prior to the festival. Their stuff is very earwormy, in mostly positive ways.
Ray and I dance hard as fuck and realize that while the festival has been going well so far, nothing came close to what The Glitch Mob had just done. It was comforting, because we knew that the next day we would be skipping Lorde in order to see Fatboy Slim, and during The Glitch Mob’s hour set it had become clear that the dance tents were the place to be.
Then, Girl Talk happened.
I love Girl Talk. I think he is a genius and seeing him in concert is the best because it is just being at a party where they only play the dopest music and everyone wants to dance. At one point he mixed Lorde’s “Royals” over M.I.A.’s “Paper Planes” and I almost fainted with glee. I screamed through the whole show, which I would later regret as I lost my voice for the remainder of Coachella. But in the moment, it was totally worth it.
Turn down? For what?
Girl Talk left with a bang and Ray and I pushed as close to the stage as we could for the upcoming glory that would be OutKast. During the time between sets, a man standing by us bought some ecstasy from another man standing by us, and proceeded to dissolve the pill in his water and begin drinking. For the next thirty minutes, he would sing “DO YOU BELIEVE IN LIFE AFTER LOVE?” whenever the ecstasy called to him, and the ecstasy was apparently hitting him up a lot.
I do not think I will try ecstasy.
Eventually, everything went dark, and the Two Dope Boys straight from the ATL took the stage. Big Boi looks every bit the rapper he was born to be, and Andre is wearing this wild jumpsuit, black on one side, white on the other. I put my phone away, hoping to catch every bit of the show. They open with “B.o.B.” and I am hitting people with my angry dancing and I don’t care because they should be going as hard as I am right now. They then go straight into “Gasoline Dreams” and “ATLiens” and everyone is throwing their hands in the air and waving them like they just don’t care.
Big Boi and Andre trade stage time for moments, but share the stage for the majority of the night. Killer Mike comes out to close the show with “The Whole World” and everything is awesome.
Ray and I smoke as we walk back to camp in disbelief and pain. I had been barefoot or in flops for the entirety of the day, and blood blisters have formed on my feet. I have lost my voice and part of my mind. We stop for food and I get chili cheese fries because I have a very hard time not getting chili cheese fries when I see them on a menu.
At camp, we enjoy sitting. Just the act of sitting and breathing and resting. My mind begins to wander and finds worries. Am I writing enough down? Is going to Coachella and writing a series of articles about it just an exercise in extreme narcissism? Does this process have any value outside of myself?
These were not the thoughts I wanted to be having, especially right after I had just seen OutKast perform. To escape my mind, I check Twitter and see this:
Toria had gotten bingo. Just 16 hours earlier I did not know this girl existed and now she was excitedly tweeting out to the world about the bingo she had gotten. I had affected the Coachella experience of another person.
The process was working.