Coachella Weekend Two: Intro

21 April 2012 | 4:20 pm | Cambell Klose

Fresh(ish) from blogging SxSW for us, Cambell Klose is now braving the second weekend of Coachella.

The lead up to Coachella is marked by two significant misfortunes.

Firstly my laptop decides to completely stop working the day we are leaving, and secondly I manage to catch a fairly nasty flu. Still, excitement is palpable as seven Australians and one token Dane pile into our van. The van, affectionately dubbed “The Barrington”, has been having some mechanical problems (it broke down completely coming home from Portland last week, the brakes completely failed a few weeks before that and she is often hesitant to start) and in all honesty we are all a little doubtful whether it is up to the trip from San Francisco to the middle of the Californian desert.

Leaving at 6pm we weave our way along the Californian highway system. It is a maze of huge curling freeways and sudden exits. After missing our exit we end up in the not-nice part of Oakland but finally manage to get back on the freeway we need... about two hours later. As we pass through the suburbs of the massive sprawl of Los Angeles a significant milestone is reached as the van clocks up its 1,000,000 kilometre. It isn't until 4am that we finally arrive at Indio, the desert down that hosts the Coachella festival, and exhausted we collapse into much needed sleep. The next day we pick up our supplies (seven slabs of beer, bagels, bananas, water and a laptop); meet up with more Australians and convoy in.

The festival grounds are beautiful. It is usually a giant polo field located in the middle of the desert. Ringed by palm trees and stark mountains it could almost be considered a paradise if it wasn't for the heat. It is the sort of heat that you can't escape and we manage to go through all our water in about three hours as we battle to set up our tents. The whole festival location is pulsating with life and people. Bikini-clad women stroll the well-kept lawns, kicking soccer balls and throwing frisbees, while tanned, buff men strut about flexing their muscles. The Australians are easy to pick, and you can barely walk two metres without coming across one. One friendly American likened it to an Aussie invasion in South California. As the sun sets and the heat begins to dissipate everyone comes out from under the shelter of their campsites and the parties begin.

Music can be heard coming from random campsites and I could almost swear I heard The Black Keys warming up over at the music stages. The flashing lights and loud dubstep coming from over near the “General Store” (where food and supplies are sold at inflated prices) turns out to be a rave. There are literally hundreds of sweaty, near-naked people thrashing about on a makeshift dancefloor. More people keep piling in and by 9pm it is going wild. Exhausted after two hours sleep, a day in 39 degree heat and conscious of the fact there is three days of incredible music to come we all head back to our tents (tent is a loose term, most of us either slept on the ground under a giant tarpaulin or in the back of the van) to try and get some sleep.