By Jermaine Bell
Today’s morning has been all about hanging out at the campsite. My neighbors from Boston set up a beer pong table and they played as I worked on writing my Coachella journal. Mornings at Coachella are about having cold drinks — soft or hard. For me, I started out with a bunch of cold water. I’d made sure to purchase dry ice before I got into the campsite on Thursday so there was still a solid brick of ice keeping everything frosty in my cooler. Once I’d had a few bottles I had a couple beers with my neighbors and we talked about the previous night’s sets, and who were were planning to see today.
Of course, all talk centered around Beyoncé! Who would be the special guests? Will she debut new music? What will she wear? Will Blue Ivy and the Twins be there?
Talking with another group of neighbors, this time from San Francisco, I learned that one of them was married to a developer of a video game I’ve spent a great deal of time streaming. This game has a new title coming out in a couple months and I’ve been invited to preview the game! It’s these types of moments that keep bringing me back year after year-the friendly vibes that are ever present in camping.
Once we’d all had a couple drinks, I mentioned that I wanted to learn how to do the backpack dance and one of my swiss neighbors said it was easy and he could teach me! I was so excited to learn. Perhaps I’m not as coordinated as he was, because it wasn’t so easy for me, but I made movements that vaguely resembled the backpack dance enough that I was able to make a boomerang for my travel journal!
By then it was after one or two o’clock in the afternoon and it was time to go in and see some music. I’d already missed CHLOE X HALLE and I didn’t want to miss any more sets. By the time we got in, there was a void in my schedule of acts I wanted to see. I had some down time. So I thought I’d check out Declan McKenna. I rocked out with Declan for a bit and felt good about hearing some rock music.
From there, I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss a moment of Nile Rodgers and Chic. I know how important they were to disco and music in general.
On the way, I ran into a couple friends I’d made in the front row at the Tank and the Bangas concert yesterday. THIS WAS THE POINT MY ENTIRE COACHELLA SATURDAY CHANGED.
She told me that her and her friend had ALREADY secured a spot for Beyoncé on the front rail and that I was welcome to join. I was instantly conflicted. As much as I wanted to see the Queen, I also wanted to see artists playing at other stages like Flatbush Zombies, Angel Olsen, and Post Malone.
I told her I’d see her over there when I got to Nile Rodgers and Chic, because I wanted to grab some food. My mind was racing was hurriedly walked over to the Coachella Indio Central Market, where high-end fare is located. I settled on a Fuku all-dark fried chicken sandwich—no sauce and just pickles. The combination of pickle and hot dark meat chicken was the perfect combo for the desert—a hearty bite but not too much to eat. I’m not trying to pass out in this heat.
Once I got over to Nile Rodgers and Chic, my two friends, who I forgot to mention earlier are from Toronto, were in fact on the rail. And it was then I knew that I wouldn’t be leaving until after Beyoncé left the stage. I just didn’t quite know what I was getting into placing myself deep within the heart of the beehive. (Check out my Beyoncé feature tomorrow all about my experience seeing Queen Bey from the front row!)
Nile Rodgers and Chic didn’t disappoint. I feel like this music is just perfect for the cookout, family reunion, dance club — really anywhere you just want to feel good. Hearing the classic “We Are Family” live was an experience I didn’t realize I needed until after I experienced it. It was great the way that Mr. Rodgers explained how he wrote hits for Daft Punk, Diana Ross, Michael Jackson and so many others!
The outdoor stage is just that—a stage. That means there’s no tent. No tent means no shade. So, deciding to camp the stage to see Beyoncé also means deciding to stand or sit in the same place for the next eight hours, unable to use the bathroom, access any food or water beyond what you’ve brought with you. The high was only 89 so that’s working for us all. It’s usually 90’s or 100’s here, I’d call this a mild day. I wasn’t worried, but for the four friends in my group I wondered if we’d all make it to the end of the night.
I might be an annoying concert-goer. I like chatting in-between sets at shows or festivals. It’s actually a really important time in my life. That’s when I learn about another person’s listening habits. What new artists they’re loving, what is overrated, who’s going on tour, etc.
Chromeo came on and delivered their quite consistent brand of 80’s tinged electro-funk with solid bass lines. It was a catalog set, which means they mostly played their past hits, with a couple new songs peppered in between. The new stuff blends well with their old stuff and this was another solid show from a duo I’ve followed for some time.
In between sets this time, I snuck out of the crowd, went to the bathroom and filled up my water bottle to get ready for M0.
The crowd increased greatly for M0’s set and that means that we were squeezed ever tighter as the set went on. M0 brought a spritely high energy to the show. She bounced all over the stage taking the crowd through her past hits including “Lean On” and debuted a new song. The time quickly passed because before I knew it, the set was over.
Tyler, The Creator had one of the most imaginative live shows I’ve seen in a while. The stage was set up like some kind of weird dream landscape with 4 tall trees and a full row of hedges center stage. There was also a climbable mountain — he really invested a lot into his Coachella show. Much respect to him because I really enjoyed watching his honest, raw, and raucous set. “Who Day Boy” is always a favorite and it didn’t disappoint today. Still though, it was hard to focus know that Beyoncé was walking around somewhere close, getting ready to finish us all.
Haim gave the best performance I’ve seen of theirs to date and I’ve seen them at least five times. The three sisters didn’t miss a beat. I was surprised they didn’t play much of their recent album, but it was nice to hear their old hits. The moment where they played “I Love L.A.” fell upon the crowd as pretty corny.
Again, Beyoncé is literally walking around somewhere here and everyone here knows it. And I know it too.