The official kickoff to the newly coined “festival season” is upon us. If you also forgot to lose 35lbs since last year’s festival season, then like me you are filled with dread upon utterance of these words. Coachella is coming (said with as much disdain and reverence as a Stark warning us of winter). If this is your first year making the excursion to the desert, it might be easy to assume that the whole affair will resemble a Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show but with maybe a few less pairs of angel wings. I’m here to tell you that you’re not wrong…but not entirely right either. To better prepare you for what you will encounter at Coachella, here is a quick rundown of just a few personalities at America’s largest music festival.
1. Trust Fund Barbie
She will be in head to toe For Love & Lemons and glittery flash tattoos, her impeccable wavy extensions blowing in the wind, while she scream fights with her boyfriend on her rose gold iPhone. Trust Fund Barbie primarily comes to Coachella to look good and she definitely excels at it, she’s staying in a Palm Springs mansion and probably has a stylist or two in tow and wouldn’t dream of leaving Calabasas without her nutritionist. You might be a little miffed that she’s hanging out backstage the entire weekend next to artists that she’s never even cared to listen to, but the best thing about Trust Fund Barbie is that she’s not taking up any space out in the actual festival.
Not sure if it is an effect of over using amphetamines, but there is an entire population of Coachella-ers that never mentally leave the Electric Daisy Carnival. The festival does you a solid and dedicates an entire tent to EDM off in the corner of the property, meaning you can avoid the neon throngs for the most part. However, with headliners this year like Calvin Harris, Flume, and Miike Snow…total avoidance of this crowd will be nearly impossible. Prepare yourself for the furry boots and ironic “totems” that these kids use to find each other in large crowds to obstruct your view at some point (think massive cutouts of Kanye West and Taylor Swift’s faces attached to sticks and covered in battery operated Christmas lights). Visit the Sahara Tent sparingly and you should be safe from hula hoop related injuries.
3. The girl with 501.7k Instagram followers
You’ll see her and her photographer (whipped boyfriend) shuffling in front of the rolling sculptures desperately trying to catch the best light and “effortless” pose for this sponsored post that HAS to go up by 3pm. She has no reason to be here other than the fact that she scored a wristband for free and is peddling a waist trainer or brand of false eyelashes or something. True story, last year I watched a girl Photoshop her images on the lawn of the beer garden on her Macbook. For what has to be the most Instagrammed festival on Earth ever, some patrons at Coachella are ONLY here for Instagram. Try to wrap your brain around that one.
4. The guy still wearing an Indian headdress
*Can also be substituted for the white girls still wearing Bindis. I don’t care that you’re 1/15th Blackfoot Indian because first of all, no you’re not. Second, your headdress is in my freaking way dude. I don’t make a point to call out the cultural appropriators when I encounter them at festivals, mostly because I’m not really that politically correct, but I will take this time to let you know that if you’re still planning on the feather headdress in 2016…you’re an idiot. Come up with something else obstructive and obnoxious (or don’t please).
The most dedicated Coachella patron of all has you beat by over 20 hours spent on airplanes. Australians, and a healthy slew of Europeans too, are crawling all over this festival and they are definitely having way more fun than you. They’re on all sorts of levels but you’ll never know it because the foreign crowd at Coachella are seasoned festival veterans unencumbered by giant backpacks. They are the true festival MVP’s and you’d be smart to cozy up to them, if for nothing more than the accents.
6. The Walking Dead
The campers who managed to sneak in handles of whiskey in their spare tire compartment but never once thought about needing a couple gallons of water in the desert. These poor sunburned babies will be sprinkled around the festival grounds, face down asleep, in the rare shaded areas like little hungover Easter eggs. You can’t help but feel bad for them even while knowing that they did it to themselves. Never fear, for when the sun sets they will have found their second wind and will be fully invested in making the same mistakes again. You’ll just have to step over them when entering the tents for the daytime shows tomorrow.
7. The Hooked Up Crowd
A good portion of the LA crowd at Coachella will be there for free, and this is a hard pill to swallow. The vendors, merchants, grounds keeping crew, marketers, taste-makers, security staff, guy who directs you to your parking spot, and friends of friends who happen to know someone get pretty hooked up with wristbands. Chances are that any mediocre website with a reasonable readership based in Los Angeles will be sending everyone down to the interns to Coachella this year, for free. A special type of asshole will try to flash his differently colored wristband to the sound tech in hopes that he’ll get to watch Guns N’ Roses towering over everyone from the booth…but you can’t blame a guy for trying. When you deal with as much shit as you do living in Los Angeles, a wristband here and there is well deserved. Make a point to be BFFs with them by next year just in case they still have that connection, that would be the LA thing to do.
8. Laurel Canyon Princesses
This is a very niche and ethereal character that would be hard for those outside of Los Angeles to really understand. She’s painfully beautiful, bra-less, and totally not phased by the festival around her and the gawking passerby. She’s wearing something gauzy, probably sheer enough to notice said bra-lessness, dripping in turquoise jewelry, and her stick-and-poke hand tattoos communicate that her father definitely played all his Neil Young vinyls for her every night at bedtime. Despite the fact that she’s living in the guest house of her parent’s multi-million dollar home off Mullholland Drive, do not confuse the Laurel Canyon Princess with Trust Fund Barbie. She would never be caught dead in a flower crown and she’s really just here for the music, man.
9. Miserable Parents
I would like to have a sit down conversation with every person I have witnessed pushing strollers across the sprawling landscape of Coachella for I have many questions. Why? Do you hate yourself? Were you just going out of your way to feel as bad as possible the whole time? You will undoubtedly encounter the Miserable Parents shuffling through diaper bags in line at the port-a-potties or bickering while waiting for their order from the overpriced food trucks. Try to remember that only a few short years ago they were also rolling their asses off and making out with strangers at warehouse parties, now they’re reading Amazon reviews for the best noise canceling headphones to keep their kid’s ears safe from the bass at A$AP Rocky. Offer up a smile when you see them.
10. The Happiest People on Earth
It’s easy to give Coachella a hard time for all its ridiculousness. It’s expensive, self involved, over done, over played, over hyped, and just over. Except for well…it really isn’t any of those things. Honestly, no other festival compares to Coachella. It is stunningly beautiful, insanely fun, and consistently offers up the best and most diverse lineups year after year. If you can stand in the sprawling landscape of palm trees, gigantic art installations, glittering lights, humming music from the stages surrounding you, in a desert sunset and not feel like you’re existing in a weird yet perfect paradise…well something is probably wrong with you. Take my smarmy attitude with a grain of salt because if I could, I would chose to never miss a weekend at Coachella ever again. After all, it is the best people watching you could ask for!