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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Party Coachella Music and Arts Festival 2014

Someone recently pointed out that the subtitle of this blog indicated that there would be posts on partying and since there hasn't been a partying post in many, many years, due to popular reader demand, I'll do one now.

My wife and I and our 2 kids attended Coachella, a venue that offers 150+ bands spread over three days across 6 stages with 80,000 attendees.  I personally saw around 30 bands which is easily more than I've seen in the entire rest of my life.  I had earplugs, but still have some residual hearing loss, hopefully not permanent.

At 55, I was definitely in the oldest 1% of the age distribution, and it was more than a day before I saw anybody else that I was fairly sure was older.  My youngest daughter, at 14, was easily in the youngest 1% of the age distribution.  I'm guessing the median age was around 21 and the average age around 24.

So what the heck were oldsters like my wife and I doing at Coachella?  Well, our 17-year-old daughter (almost 18) really wanted to go with a bunch of friends, and we decided to let her, but we wanted to be close by just in case something bad happened.  And hey, since we were going to be close by, why not attend the festival?  And since my wife and I were going, we kinda had to bring the younger daughter as well (who was more than happy to do so).

We all had a really good time!  I had a much, much better time than I expected.  Generally, I don't like crowds and I don't like loud, but the crowds were remarkably tame and friendly and I got used to the loudness really quickly.

I think the crowds were tamer than I expected for two reasons: I think a fairly large percentage of them had that marijuana mellowness and because the festival is pretty expensive ($400 a ticket, plus expensive food, plus expensive lodging or camping, plus expensive transportation), it ended up catering to a bit of a more richer and refined group.

I found the alcohol versus marijuana thing interesting.  Backpacks and other bags were searched each day as we entered the festival grounds and pockets were patted down.  They were incredibly strict about bringing in any sort of liquid including sealed bottles of drinking water.  So it was extremely difficult to smuggle alcohol in.  On the other hand, they didn't search anywhere near thoroughly enough to find less voluminous drugs like marijuana and once on the grounds, the festival staff didn't put any effort at all in to prohibiting or even limiting illegal drug use.  I'm guessing this was purposeful since alcohol is a rowdy and aggressive drug and marijuana is a anti-aggression drug and much better for crowd control.

I normally wouldn't care at all about drug use except the resulting clouds of smoke (tobacco, marijuana, and smells I'd never smelled before and have no idea what they were) coupled with the natural dust of the desert setting was a bit of a respiratory nightmare and my lungs and sinuses were pretty irritated by the end of each day.  It's also a good thing that I don't have to pass any drug tests for my jobs because I'm not sure I could pass given all the second hand smoke I inhaled.  I'm wondering if those who do have to pass drug tests for their jobs could get away with going to things like Coachella?

The sound systems were great, especially on the main stage, and that's why it made the "loud" easy to get used to.  It was really nice to hear a lot of contemporary music, though I probably won't run out and buy any of it.  A lot of it was pretty good, though there was an interesting conflict between the live shows and what I hear on the radio.  A good example is Ellie Goulding, a singer whose music I find downright boring on the radio, but she sounded incredibly good at Coachella and was probably my favorite act out of the 24 bands I heard (though Muse, Beck, MGMT, Cage the Elephant, and Naked and Famous were very close runners up).

The people watching was fairly fun too.  Since it's a hot desert setting, women typically wore bikinis with coverup or shorts or some combo.  Men wore shorts with or without a t-shirt.  I was surprised by the remarkable lack of body hair on the men and my wife pointed out that they were probably waxing their chests (and/or backs). I knew that body builders going to competitions did that, but I didn't realize that it had become popular among non-body builders. Ouch! Well, I guess women also wax things which I think shouldn't be waxed, so what the heck, but definitely count me out!

Anyway, it was a great party and I might even choose to do it again someday.


Peter said...

I think there is something almost quaint about creaky Boomer and Gen X types taking in these festivals after a long hiatus and saying that, while they had no objection to the noise, drugs and nudity, they were appalled by the second hand smoke.

Susan's Husband said...


I love to ask liberal advocates of marijuana legalization about whether all of the tobacco style rules will apply to smoking marijuana. This generally results in some severe cognitive dissonance.

Peter said...

I'll bet. At the very least we should expect them to insist on strict health warnings on the packages, perhaps with disturbing pics. Maybe this one?

Bret said...

Regarding second hand smoke, I'm just not used to it. Hardly anybody smokes tobacco in San Diego and I don't hang out with pot smoking crowds.

When I was young, lots of people smoked and it didn't bother me much.


I would sure hope that all smoking restrictions would apply to marijuana even if (when?) legalized. As far as lung and sinus irritation goes smoke is smoke is smoke.