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Official reviews, complaints, and admiration of this year's first weekend

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    #16
    Originally posted by wxdude View Post
    You stated that this was the most polite crowd that you've ever encountered there. I don't think you go back that far to know, but if that could match the way it was pre-2010 (minus the people surrounding me just to watch Rage in 2007 who seemed to be out on work release back when single day tickets were sold), that would be ideal. I wonder if the de-emphasis of booking mainstream EDM-pop artists has anything to do with that. I'm another person who stopped going after 2016, but I'm guessing the current setup now pretty much confines (cages?) the insufferable bro/basic element that genre attracts to the SW corner of the festival grounds, save for the likes of Zedd and DJ Snake..
    And now to respond to this point. I think it's less that there is a de-emphasizing of EDM/pop because Zedd, Gucci Gang, Ariana, etc were still there. I think Coachella has past it's mainstream moment in terms of that frenzy where people weren't even looking at the lineup, they just had to be *there*, even if they didn't like music at all. It's been a hot commodity for years now and I think everybody who wanted to be a part of that has done it by now, and those that the fest wasn't really meant for have stopped coming. If I can make a ridiculous claim that almost assuredly verges on hyperbole, the type of person to see Zedd in 2016 was just there to RAGE BALLS and Instagram it. The type of person to see Zedd in 2019 was the type of person who wanted to talk to you in the beer garden about Zedd's progression over the years and influences and has chased him around the world and was truly passionate about him. Is Zedd still cheesy as fuck to me? Yes. But I enjoyed interacting with literally every person I met this year even if their music tastes were wildly different, and that has not been the case in the past few years.

    As for the setup, they've been constantly growing, and if you stopped at 2016 then you'd hardly recognize the grounds. I went with two people who stopped going in 2015 this year, and they were blown away. But now the growing pains are gone and they've correctly identified the choke points on the grounds, and things like the fact that tucking the Sonora away and separating the Gobi and Mojave meant that people would see less tent shows, and so the huge layout that caused people to miss shows and burn out is now a huge layout that makes it very easy to travel and ensures acts get solid crowds. Ditto this for logistics...they had nailed the logistics for 80K or whatever, and then they ballooned to 120K and things like security lines, shuttles, portapotties they had to relearn. And this year it seems they re-learned all that and made it great again, save for the camping entrance on Thursday (I don't camp). Even the Kanye church service which people predicted would be a massive dumpster fire of horrible logistics was insanely smooth. Shuttles ran perfectly, lines to get in to the performance area were simple, and they passed out free water to everyone in the crowd.

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      #17
      I’ve been meaning to report my W2 experience here, but life’s been intervening -- drove back to Phoenix on Monday, leaving the campground around 8:30am pretty damn exhausted, then stowed all the camping stuff and washed the vehicle and my laundry – and myself – etc., Monday afternoon in somewhat of a zombie-state, back up at work-thirty Tuesday morning, then doing the work-thing and trying catch up on sleep since. Typical post-Coachella week, in other words. Worked through Saturday to catch up, but got a little breathing space right now, so here goes…

      I did read through the comments made here after I got back, and just caught up with the last few in the exchange between travelfan and wxdude: I’m thrilled to report that my Coachella 2019 was mirrored in the overwhelmingly positive comments made on this thread by those who also attended. So many comments that I agree with wholeheartedly; I’ll quote one from the lovely travelfan (dude, I’ve seen pics on the old board) that sums up my W2 experience exactly:

      "W2 this year was incredible. Honestly my favorite crowd I've ever experienced at the festival. It was diverse, it was friendly/polite (no pushing, shoving, camping, or talking), it was engaged, a huge range of races and ages (tons of international fans, lots of older couples, teens with their parents, lots of people letting their freak flag fly). Not one band I saw was worse than "very good", and many were exceptional."

      I’ve gone to Coachella every year since ’09, and this was my experience in ’19 to a “t”, to which I’ll also say camping added significantly to my enjoyment (as it always has since we started doing that after the first few years doing hotels/shuttles). Sure, it was really fucking hot the first couple days (Thursday was the hottest day at camp ever for me) and dusty and windy (had my EZ-Up cover off more than on cuz of that) but, despite the obvious physical difficulties involved, I love what being in camp adds to the festival. I was a bit worried after reading here that getting into camp W1 was a shitshow for some, but W2 wasn’t like that at all – my small group drove down Washington to Ave 52 late Thursday morning with pretty much no traffic and then rolled in around 11:30am to find there were security booths that had no line at all. Never been so quick and simple getting into camp. We actually put ourselves in one that had a short line just cuz one of us had brought a chilled bottle of champagne to share while we waited in line (didn’t feel like hiding it; glass and all that). Security was easy and friendly, then we ended up being sent all the way west in the camp to Lot 7, practically up against Madison St. (so, about as far from the entrance to the grounds as you can get in camp). Not like the old days where early-arrivers could pick their spot and be closer (that was reserved for the “preferred” campers in Lot 8, which didn’t fill up). It was a good hike east just to get to the Camp Center, let alone the entrance – ‘s all right, exercise is good for you.

      Speaking of the Camp Center, it was much like the past couple years but even better, I thought. All the vendors and activities booths in one long row, with the “not-so-silent disco” Dome just to the east (went into the Dome just one late night/wee hours – Friday night into Saturday, a bit of a line but not bad – to keep on dancin’, hung out in the Turn Down room late otherwise, with new-this-year comfy bean bags and blow up mattresses and even couches instead of just laying on your own blanket on the ground as before). Peet’s Coffee was handing out free cold brew (as much as you wanted) and also had an air-conditioned old bus with phone charging stations to hang out in; was the perfect way to start each morning post-shower (shower lines – even quite early, I got in line before 7am each day – seemed longer than in the recent past, girls far more than the guys like always, so one little step backwards there).

      Seems W2 did not sell out this year, and the not-full campground reflected that.

      I go to Coachella primarily for the music, though particularly for music in a festival setting and all that entails. So, here are the acts I caught each day (most full sets, some split sets, especially on Friday):

      Friday
      Blondish
      Let’s Eat Grandma
      Las Robertas
      Yellow Days
      Beach Fossils
      Kacey Musgraves
      Gorgon City
      Rosalia
      Polo and Pan
      RUFUS DU SOL
      Khruangbin
      Nina Kraviz
      Nora En Pure
      Childish Gambino

      Saturday
      Agoria
      Jambinai
      Lee Burridge
      Lastlings
      Cassian
      Jain
      Bob Moses
      Four Tet
      Aphex Twin
      Tame Impala
      Bassnectar

      Sunday
      Jan Blomqvist
      Mansionair
      Shallou
      Men I Trust
      Nocturnal Sunshine
      Gesaffelstein
      Perfume
      CHVRCHES
      Cirez D
      Kaytranada

      Also hit up the Antarctic twice, was just as good as the previous years (music by RUFUS).

      About half of these acts were unknown to me before the lineup dropped, and some that I did know of previously (like Aphex Twin and Kaytranada) I had never heard perform live. I had about ¾ of these acts on my schedule, the rest were suggested by my camp friends or I heard them playing on my way elsewhere and stopped (that was the case with Kacey Musgraves). I enjoyed every one; this is the first year that I didn’t find at least one or more that disappointed. Standout performances for me were: Polo and Pan, Khruangbin, Jambinai, Four Tet, Aphex Twin, Tame Impala, Men I Trust, Gesaffelstein, Perfume, Cirez D, Kaytranada.

      It may be proximity bias, but I have to say that this was the best overall set of music I’ve ever heard at Coachella. I was among the many who looked askance at the lineup when it dropped, and was still skeptical when I rolled into camp. I was wrong about that, way wrong. There was plenty – more than plenty – of good to exceptional acts playing very diverse music that was anything but “pop drivel”. Sure, Perfume is “K-pop” but it wasn’t drivel, it was ridiculously fun and engaging, down to the heartfelt good-byes to the huge and highly-entertained and appreciative crowd at the end by the young women performers. I danced my ass off to most, though not all, of the acts I saw (one does not dance, for instance, to the beautiful and mesmerizing experimental/post-rock music of Jambinai, anymore than to Godspeed You and similar others; I mean, one could, I suppose, but…). The hardest of all was to Cirez D – Eric Prydz’ darker side – almost at the very end, so it felt perfect to close the fest and wind down with Kaytranada’s more mellow tracks.

      The crowds at all the sets I attended were about the most attentive, considerate, and even enthralled that I’ve ever experienced anywhere, not only at Coachella. I’ll throw this out there just for any reader to get a little sense of my background and how that informs my concert experiences (at the risk of an eyeroll from guedita if she happens to read this): I’m pretty old; I had thought that GPS might be a bit older, but from a revelation he made in some earlier comment on this forum, I find he’s not. It’s not precise, but let’s just say I’m well-past Social Security eligibility. My first concert (besides grade school trips to hear the Cleveland Orchestra) was Led Zeppelin at Cleveland’s Public Hall in the fall of ’69, when I was a teenager. I’ve probably seen, I don’t know, well over 2,000 acts perform live since, and I’ve always tried to keep up with new music from way back then till now. My favorite music currently is mostly darker electronic by fairly-obscure artists like oOoOO, Oake, Zamilska, Boy Harsher, and such, though I like a lot of other stuff quite different from that, too. Crowds at shows can help you enjoy them (as when everyone around you is into the music, dancing together or simply engrossed in the sounds) or turn what could be a good show into a shitty one by being too-typical selfish concert assholes (pushing through, shoving, talking, no respect for your personal space, etc.). This year at Coachella I experienced so little douchebag behavior in the crowds at sets it was almost uncanny. There have been times at Coachella when the crowds could be pretty bad – I recall 2011 and especially 2010 that way. In 2017 we were literally stampeded by hordes of assholes pushing in to the Sahara for Martin Garrix immediately after Royksopp (that was maybe the worst for me). There may have been crowds like that this year, but not wherever I was (not even in the Sahara, the couple times I went in there). As others have mentioned, the crowds were diverse and friendly, and the only crowd silliness I experienced was getting around and through all the posing for pictures by the Ferris wheel (and really, that was actually no problem, just kind of silly considering most were taking their pics into the sun with their phones).

      I didn’t have as many worries about the overall physical setup of the festival since I thought they had worked out most of the expansion issues last year. And they made it even better this year, getting rid of pretty much all the choke points and – best of all – putting the Gobi and Mojave back together again. What lines there were for the things I was after (lemonade and water and beer, mostly, I almost never eat anything besides a frozen lemonade on the grounds) were very short to nonexistent. The two times I went into the Antarctic I walked right up to the entrance, got herded together (in the shade) with everyone, and got in to sit down and enjoy quickly. Can’t speak for the porta-potties on the grounds – I used the concrete block permanent restrooms by the Do-Lab exclusively (and for the guys there was no line, ever; girls, not so much). The camp porta-potties were as usual (a necessary evil, but evil nonetheless).

      Security was easy and friendly getting in, worlds better than some of the bad years like 2010. I went in very early each day, so short security lines would be expected then, but even coming back in the late afternoons after busting back to camp briefly was quick and simple.

      I got maybe 4 hours sleep (in the back of my vehicle) each night, except Sunday night/Monday morning (when I got like 6 or so). I went hard every day (in my Coachella uniform of t-shirt, board shorts, and flip-flops), it was hot and dusty and windy till Saturday night (when it became cool, almost cold, while staying dusty and windy) and sure, the drugs helped (I’m an acid, molly, shrooms, and weed guy, with a little beer thrown in) but mostly it was just how wonderful the whole festival was from start to finish that made any physical difficulties no big deal. I was by myself most of the time on the grounds, since my wife couldn’t make it this year for health reasons (and my Coachella camp group, including those who’ve “graduated” to renting a house instead, met up with me for sets only a few times). So I paid closer attention to the crowds, and enjoyed an easy if brief camaraderie with a number of people I met at sets, most of whom were kind enough to strike up a conversation or even dance with an out-of-place looking old dude like me. A number of those I talked with were at their first Coachella, and when they found out I’d been coming to the fest since ’09 wanted to know how this latest version compared with “back when”. On Friday I was saying, “So far, surprisingly impressed”. By Sunday my response was, “Best Coachella ever, for me, they’ve outdone themselves and really have this whole thing down”. To quote travelfan above: “They have never felt more on the pulse of what's exciting and emerging in music *right now* in the undercard”.

      Travelfan put it perfectly in his responses to wxdude (I met wxdude on the grounds some time ago, as it happens). What travelfan wrote about where Coachella is now compared to where it used to be, and people’s expectations and so on, is dead-on. I couldn’t improve on his comments, so won’t try. I’ll conclude by saying this: any lingering naysayers who were down on the lineup (and I was one of those) and didn’t attend because of that really missed out. I won’t gainsay anyone’s decision not to attend Coachella – hey, do what you want, none of my business – but if you’re reading this and the reason behind your “not-going” choice was lineup disappointment or clusterfuck grounds setup or crowd douchebagger-y (or combination thereof) I encourage you to re-consider. I may not go next year because my wife can no longer attend, and vacation time and funds aren’t unlimited, but Coachella 2019 is going to make that a very tough choice for Coachella 2020. If nothing else, I’d love to see if they could top, or even match, this year’s incredibly fantastic fest.

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        #18
        I had a blast and I agree with everyone else saying that the crowd was one of the best! Every set I saw had a very engaged crowd and in between sets I connected with a lot of really friendly people.

        my top 5

        Four Tet
        Aphex Twin
        Jon Hopkins
        Khruagbin
        Charlotte Gainsbourg
        setlist.fm | last.fm | facebook | twitter
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        4/2 Massive Attack @ SDSU • 5/4 Just Like Heaven • 5/5 The Faint @ Observatory NP
        5/6 Chemical Brothers @ Greek Theater • 7/23 Ozzy and Megadeath @ Chula Vista • 10/3 Vampire Weekend @ SDSU

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          #19
          Originally posted by cdh81 View Post
          Also I took acid for Aphex and thanks to him I never tripped harder in my whole entire life. It was the most beautiful madness.

          Will most likely be back in 2020 and hopefully some of the magic of 2019 will still be there.
          Hell yeah. My philosophy is if you didn't drop acid for your favorite act at Coachella, were you even there?

          But seriously, it's encouraging to hear about the crowd improvement and how the grounds aren't the unnavigable hell they were in 2018.

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