The dust has finally settled and thousands of festival-goers are reflecting back at their time at Coachella. I attended weekend 2 of the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival at the Empire Polo Club in Indio. It was a windy and wild weekend to say the least.

First off, I enjoy weekend 2 because it seems to have less fanfare than weekend 1. Typically, you’ll see a lot more celebrities running around during weekend 1 so they can be photographed wearing designer duds for their Instagram account or blog. You’ll encounter fewer photographers and find more of a sense of community among those who are there for the music.

My friends and I piled into my car and we  left Los Angeles early Thursday morning before traffic got too heavy. We checked into our hotel in Palm Springs before heading over to will call at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. One of my passes never arrived, so I needed to get that replacement and my media pass. It was the fastest process EVER as there was plenty of parking and workers to help me out. Coachella’s will call line was beyond organized! I literally just walked right up with no waiting.  Just be sure to head here early to avoid any lines as I’m sure they were longer later in the day.

We headed back to Palm Springs for a night of drinking and running around downtown. We made sure to get some sleep so we could catch the shuttle at 12pm SHARP.

Friday morning we headed for the shuttles around 1pm. It took about 40 minutes from Palm Springs to the Empire Polo Club in Indio. We got off the bus and made the long and dusty walk to the entrance. The lines weren’t too bad as additional entry lines had just opened up. Once we made it through security, we started roaming around the venue. It felt great to be back in the desert, soaking up the sunshine and taking in the sighs, sounds and smells that are Coachella. The beer gardens were pretty busy as the afternoon crowds kept building. We got some drinks and set out to explore.

Truth be told, I was sad Poetic Kinetix was not at Coachella this year. They are responsible for some of those massive moving pieces of art, like the caterpillar and the giant astronaut. This year, we saw some supersized chairs, wall of mirrors, a long floral mural of sorts and some other pieces of art. I wasn’t as excited with the visual elements this year as nothing could really compare to the previous masterpieces. I will never forget being inside the Sahara tent in 2014 when Fatboy Slim was playing. I turned around and saw the giant astronaut had entered the tent and was being bombarded by lasers. It was truly an out-of-this-world sight.

Our crew made our way into the Yuma tent in the late afternoon to catch some techno and cool down from the scorching sun. The best part about the Yuma tent, besides the music, is the air conditioning, giant mattresses and benches. You can come in here and take in some filthy beats while cooling down. The only bad part, once you are in…you are in. You can’t go out for a quick drink 0r smoke without getting back in line again. We spent a good amount of time in the Yuma tent all weekend because of the insane techno lineup. My Yuma tent highlights for the weekend: Nicole Moudaber & Skin, Mano Le Tough, Adam Beyer & Ida Engberg, and John Digweed. I loved how I could easily dance my way up to the front of the DJ booth at anytime because it never got overwhelmingly crowded.

Speaking of crowds, it’s time to talk about the Sahara tent! Now, I’ve been going to raves and music festivals since 1998, but this year the amount of people trying to enter this stage was seriously insane as the weekend progressed. On Friday evening, I witnessed some true living legends set fire to the Sahara tent. First up was 2manydjs. The group started off with a tribute to the one and only Prince. This gave me goosebumps and would be one of many tributes I heard throughout the weeekend. Each tribute was different in their own way and made you think about the talented artist and his impact on music. The visuals were insane for 2manydjs and their set was SICK!! So many old songs and some ones that I never heard before got everyone dancing, even as the dust kicked up. They would be a hard act to follow, but Underworld held it down. We snagged a spot in the front area of the tent for this eye-popping performance. The visuals were on point and super trippy! The one moment that stood out for me, when Underworld played their massive hit, Born Slippy. Karl Hyde sang live and it took me back to my days in college. If you didn’t know, this is the track was featured in the movie, Trainspotting. My Sahara tent highlights also included Thomas Jack, Claptone and Snails. My issue with Sahara tent this year was how crowded it got when I attempted to see ZHU. I used the word ATTEMPTED because we tried to get a spot inside the tent but were pushed so much we could barely make it inside, so we left. My only piece of advice: expand the Sahara tent or make two of them!

Another highlight: Major Lazer. The boys got things jumping on main stage late Sunday afternoon. They ran through some of their hits and also brought out a big surprise that was also a tribute to Prince. Usher came out on stage and sang I Would Die 4 U. This un-announed performance had everyone in awe and tears! I was standing in the beer garden next to my friend Sandra who was singing along the whole time. I kept my emotions in check, but almost lost it. What a moment that was on main stage and big props to Diplo and the Major Lazer crew for a stellar performance.

I wasn’t sad to miss Calvin Harris, Sia or Ice Cube as I watched the live stream from weekend 1. I typically enjoy doing this because there is no way I can see everyone on the lineup. Watching the stream allows me to watch some of the big headliners from my living room so I can go run wild without major FOMO.

At the end of day 3, we were all exhausted, tan and tired. We got on the shuttle bus bound for Palm Springs and some much needed sleep.

Coachella is like a spring break ritual for thousands of Southern Californians like myself. Early bird presale tickets go in sale THIS MONTH. We will let you know when right here on EDM Maniac!

Start saving your money for Coachella 2017, because it will be bigger than ever! The city of Indio allowed the festival to increase capacity, so there will now be 125,000 people passing through the gates everyday next year! The grounds will also be expanded so there will be more room to accommodate all those extra people!

A big thank you to Goldenvoice, the promoters of Coachella for a weekend full of amazing music and memories!

See you there next year!

-Jared