You can’t have the good without the bad. That’s not to say that Coachella 2016 wasn’t awesome. It was a ton of fun. However, after attending weekend two, the weekend where they should have fixed problems from weekend one, it is evident that Goldenvoice has some strange priorities when it comes to running this festival. The music was on point all weekend, perhaps my favorite weekend musically after three Indio visits, so nothing truly overshadowed the fun we all had, but some things definitely need discussion.
Good: Goldenvoice spread out different music very effectively. All stages played host to more than one type of music and it forced people to walk around and experience all of what the festival has to offer rather than staying at one stage all weekend.
Bad: Different music on opposite stages still create massive sound bleed between the main and outdoor theater. I know they try to stagger the set times, but performances like Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes were drowned out by the massive jungle rhythms of Major Lazer as they took the main stage on Sunday night. It is unavoidable, but you’d think that perhaps after a decade or two they could adequately contain it.
Good: Yuma and Despacio were the untold secrets of the weekend. When it got too hot or when the wind picked up on Friday night, these tents became safe havens of house and techno. The despacio tent felt like it transported us to 1976 with a disco ball and all and the addition of beds in the Yuma helped many a festival-goer rest their tired feet between sets.
Bad: Goldenvoice continues to book bands or acts for stages that they have clearly outgrown. Miike Snow closed the Outdoor Theater in 2012 and have only gotten bigger since then, so why were they in the Mohave tent? It was so packed at every entrance there was no way of getting inside at all. The same goes for acts like Rufus du Sol in the Gobi or RL Grime in the Sahara. Seriously the Sahara is a safety hazard after 10pm.
Good: Food was on point as always. Some of the best parts of the weekend were because of what I was putting into my mouth. Crab fries, pork sliders, lemonade, you name it.
Bad: It’s a shame that some of the best food options are enclosed within the beer gardens. I was with a group of people who were not all 21 and I felt bad whenever I discussed what I had eaten for lunch knowing that they would not get the chance to try it. I know there are a ton of options, but its still a little annoying.
Good: The special guests this year blew other years out of the water. From Kanye West, to Sam Smith, to Angus Young, to Dr. Dre with the full N.W.A reunion, to Kendrick Lamar to Seal, to Flosstradamus, I could go on forever. These special appearances are truly what make coachella the best.
Bad: Where was all the art this year? And what were those big yellow chairs anyway? There was no art between the tented stages like there normally is, and they just reused the do lab setup from last year for this year. Besame Mucho was nice, but I was expecting more.
Good: Best and easiest camping experience I have had yet. Met some really cool people from Australia next to us and thought that the activities center and silent disco were fun even though the silent disco line gets way too long way too early.
Bad: People from weekend one said that security was terrible and that there was frequent pick-pocketing. Merely hearsay, but everyone I’ve talked to about weekend one said that security was ridiculously tight and many people had things stolen either directly from there inside the festival or from their campsite while away. Perhaps Goldenvoice should spend a little more time caring about its GA crowd rather than just its VIP crowd. It’s also why I attend weekend two.
Overall, it was a hell of weekend, just a few hiccups here and there. Of course, no festival is perfect, but when we head to the desert we demand perfection. Coachella is close, they just have a few things to work on before it transcends what it means to be a music and arts festival. That being said, I’ll see you all out on the polo fields next year.