People, art, heat, grass, lines and music: Coachella

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Coachella Report by KCRW Volunteer: Lulu Mickelson

Walking in the gates Friday and seeing the acres of lawn spread out in front of me, ringed with stages and spotted with art instalations, inspired a rush of jubilation – the climax of months of anticipation. After a two hour drive out to Indio on Thursday night, after an hour and a half in the car moving a total of three miles to the Friday morning parking lots, after forty-five minute in line, after two bag checks, after three water bottles, I was in. My first-ever festival experience. The growing excitement of the crowds was palpable as we walked onto the fields with joyous screams and energy. The rest of Day One flowed forward from that initial rush with one great moment after another.

Yeasayer - Lulu

There was the endless people watching, the sunbathing, and the continuous, communal celebration of music.

I started my festival experience by slipping into Sleigh Bells to hear the beat-heavy alternative duo, who carried a huge buzz even before the official release of their album. I rocked out until their signature distortion became too much for my raw ears. Then it was on to the next tent to position myself for a good look at Yeasayer. But I got a soulful surprise when I caught the end of As Tall As Lions who carried the crowd with a rich and polished set. A set so good that I’m planning on buying their latest album when I get home.

Vampire Weekend - Lulu

Yeasayer followed with almost an hour of nonstop energy and favorites, the crowd eating up every rhythm, the bouncing bodies spilling out of the Mojave Tent. The applause for “O.N.E.” and “Ambling Alps” was electrifying. In what I am sure will be a highlight of the weekend, these guys put out beyond my high expectations.

The afternoon came to a close as the crowd swayed to a lovely, relaxed set by She and Him as the sun went behind the dessert mountains. I also caught some favorites from La Roux and LCD Soundsystem, but the crowds were so large that I soon found myself positioning for a good look at Vampire Weekend. Their set was just plain old fun. A well-executed run down of the short, catchy high energy rock-pop that they do best.

Then it was time for the late-nighters and headliners. Even watching from what seemed like a mile away, Jay-Z made you want to move or “bounce” as he kept urging the enormous crowd. Then I headed off to Fever Ray, who put out an eerie, mesmerizing set accompanied by moody lasers and blinking lampshades on stage.

I ended the night with an overflowing Sahara Tent and Deadmau5. As I moved to the pulsing beats along with thousands of other bodies, all the perspiration and anticipation seemed an appropriate price to pay, necessary preparation for a this three day, once in a lifetime musical experience.

More to come tomorrow.