A Coachella Survival Guide: Tips & Tricks To Keep You Rocking All Weekend

Hey there, festival goer! Coachella 2009 starts today! Here are some tips and tricks to help you rock hard all weekend!


110 Degrees

110 Degrees

1. Wear Lots of Sunscreen and a Big Hat – While this is stating the obvious, people still tend to forget to bring hats and sunscreen. Coachella is right next to Palm Springs. It is CRAZY hot. In 2007 temperatures hit somewhere around 110 degrees on Saturday. Getting sunburned will ruin the rest of the festival for you. Nobody likes being “That Guy” that looks like a lobster all weekend. Also, stay hydrated! Drink water, sucka!

Also, if you do forget to bring a hat, buy one there as soon as you arrive. My favorie are the asian style pointy dome hats. At Reggae on the River a few years back I was fed up with the hot sun and bought one of those hats on the last day. I was kicking myself that I hadn’t purchased it earlier in the weekend! It changed my whole world at that show! Since then it has traveled with me to countless festivals, Burning Man, and various other shenanigans.


This guy has the right idea.

Another thing about getting a hat is try to make it crazy unique and recognizable so your friends can find you in a crowd. Get creative! Sticker it up! Whilst waiting in line at the entry gate during a sandstorm at Burning Man 06, I started decorating my hat with colored electrical tape, and its stayed on ever since. My friends can always find me in crowds which minimizes time spent on texting people so you can maximize time getting jiggy with it and enjoying music. This brings me to my second point…

2. Stick to Text Messages – Coachella has terrible reception for cell phones. Cell providers can’t handle the load of tens of thousands of people calling all at once for 3 random days during April in Palm Springs. Text messages are the way to go. Besides, even when you do get through on the phone, you are in front of a loud ass stage, so odds are the other party won’t receive the call, or be able to hear you if they actually pick up.

3. Stick with a Buddy, Not a Group – A common phenomena at gatherings like this is ending up with way too many people all at once. Odds are, once a group gets over 3 people at a festival, its time to split up the group. We’ve all been there where 10 people are in a group, and someone is in the bathroom or wants to stay somewhere too long, and other people don’t want to wait for them, and then people get upset, and the whole thing becomes akin to herding cats. LAME. I think the way to go is to stick with one or two other people throughout the festival, and not worry too much about what ALL your other friends are doing. Large groups can work, but let go lightly when you or your friends want to go do their own thing for a while.

Parking Lot Friends! Kea and Nastasia 2002

Parking Lot Friends! Kea and Nastasia 2002

4. Find a Good Meeting Space and Return to it Every Few Hours – Once you get to the festival, find a meeting spot that is really distinct, and come back to it every few hours. Sometimes at big festivals you have to go solo to catch a band you want to see, but the downside is you can end up alone for a long time. Hence the meeting spot! Reconvene! Party On! At the end of the festival in 2007, my friend Mark and I met this group of kids in the parking lot who were locked out of their car. Apparently the driver of the car had disappeared 3 days earlier after taking acid, and no one had seen or heard from him since then. As they were explaining this to us, the driver kid finally staggered up to the car after three days of tripping and doing God knows what, and looked like the most broken man I have ever seen. Shoulda had a meeting spot, fella!

This campground is whack, yo!

This campground is whack, yo!

5. DO NOT CAMP AT COACHELLA – Although I have never done this, Dynosauras did for a night in 2007 and can speak pretty extensively about how awful it is. There is no shade, you are way too far from your car, and its generally a total mess. If you are with a bunch of people, the thing to do is rent a vacation house for the weekend outside palm springs. Preferably one with a pool and AC. (This is what a lot of the performers do) Only camp as a last resort and if you do, make sure you bring a cheap shade canopy to kick it under during the hot morning hours.

sundown6. Bring a compact windbreaker
– Its the desert and once the Sun goes down, it can get quite cold. Also, it can get quite windy. (Note the gargantuan windmill farm as you drive in. Its a windy spot.) Come sundown, you will be very happy with yourself if you have some sort of outer layer to put on. I recommend a light and compactable windbreaker –  easy to carry and keeps you toasty, or at least, toastier than you would have been with nothing.

7. Bring Hand Sanitizer and a Handipack of Kleenex
– Bathrooms can be gross and unpredictable. Watch out!

8. Bring the whole value pack of Earplugs! – These sound systems are the loudest that Southern CA has to offer. Going deaf sucks. (see the movie ‘It’s All Gone Pete Tong’ and you’ll know what I mean. Scariest. Movie. Ever.) Odds are if you had the foresight to bring earplugs, then all of your friends forgot them. A pack of 10 – 20 pairs is only five bucks at any drug store. Bring the whole pack and hook your friends up! *see also the title of this blog.


Arrr! The pirate tape do be comin' in handy

10. Pirate Tape! – Trust me. It came in handy. Bex was able to strap a flask to her thigh with it, and later on it was a hit in the Sahara tent. Don’t believe me? Just ask this guy:

11. Car Maintenance – In 2002, I drove 22 hours each way to get to Coachella from Colorado. We had a blowout at freeway speeds outside Phoenix at 3AM. It was crazy nuts and not very awesome. If you have the time, check the oil, make sure your tires aren’t bald, and if you have a hide-a-key, bring it as a spare and hide it near the car in case your keys disappear into the festival ether. (see #4)

12. Don’t drink all day! – Why spend time in a beer garden in super hot weather paying 8 bucks a beer? You miss music and the alcohol drains you of all your energy. (If you aren’t drained that day then you are a wreck the next.) If you are going to spend 8 bucks a beer, at least wait until the sun goes down. But don’t forget to keep drinking water to stay hydrated!

14. Channel Your Inner Lewbowski – Coachella is the best place to see new bands you have never heard of, and come away with a greater knowledge of current shit. You will not be able to see all the bands you want to see. Its impossible. There’s just too many stages and too many good acts to catch everything. So invoke your inner Lewbowski and keep a loose agenda.

–DJ Rex Manning Day


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