People come from all over the world to experience Coachella, which is just as much about the music as the experience. Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is really like finding the fountain of youth. Just be prepared to not sleep for three days, drink plenty of water and wear comfortable shoes.
Here are some of our favorite moments from 2019’s Coachella Weekend 1 – the live music, the art installations, the food, and of course, the brand parties before and after the show.
Made from 2000 pounds of steel and plexiglass in 306 colors, spiral up and see the Coachella grounds in filtered views in all hues. Beams of LED light shoot to the heavens and at night I wondered if space creatures might be summoned to come down to dance and party with the earthlings. We met with NEWSUBSTANCE Creative Director, Patrick O’Mahony who is responsible for this beckoning Coachella installation that stayed grounded for a second year. Spectra took 3 1/2 weeks to build and O’Mahony actually loaded the windows himself. Expect crowds, lines, and everyone trying to get their best color filtered shot. Spectra will be open to the public during Coachella Weekend 2 (April 19-21st) and Stagecoach (April 26-28) too.
The Antarctic Dome
Near the Heineken House is a massive white igloo dome. After about a ten-minute wait, we were moved like cattle to the opening of this dome that we heard was air-conditioned, although we had no idea what to expect. The experience was one of my favorite memories as we quickly ran to grab a bean bag seated chair to view the dome above. As the incredibly moving music by Australian electronic band Rüfüs Du Sol jammed our senses, the tunes coupled with the visuals let my mind wander on this 360-degree journey. The 11,000 square foot projection dome felt like being sucked into space or a black hole. Apparently, the video tells an abstract story of emotional human resilience. In collaboration with Hewlett Packard workstations, the show ‘Underwater’ runs about every 15 minutes during both weekends and is about 8 minutes long.
The Ferris Wheels
Well, the Coachella Ferris wheel may be the hottest hookup spot (I mean, OMG, the EC Twins posted a video of what they saw going down inside one of the compartments!!!), we also love the ride for the views of the whole grounds set up as people look like ants racing from one place to the next while the moving 70-foot astronaut “Spaceman” floats around. This Grand Wheel is the largest transportable Ferris wheel in the world and only second in size to the stationary London Eye and Le Grande Roue de Paris. Assembling this amusement ride takes 10 days. Gaze at the beauty at all hours to see how it reveals itself as the desert light changes. If you are lucky enough to have a Neon Carnival afterparty invite, don’t miss riding the vintage Ferris wheel with the DJ heart-pumping dance tunes in the middle of the Thermal desert either.
The Original Hand Roll Bar by Kaza Nori
Marvel and frolic in the rose gardens in the VIP section for your perfect Instagram moment before heading to SUGARFISH’s Kaza Nori, The Orginal Hand Roll Bar. On Friday around 1 pm we had no problems moseying on up to the outdoor bar to sample a 5-course hand roll lunch for $25 including lobster, toro, yellowtail, and crab. Tips are even included in the price. Four, five, and six set hand roll menus are available or order each roll a la carte for $7. Behind the hand roll bar is a saki vendor too, a perfect accompaniment to your lunch. This was also a nice way to rest our legs for 30 minutes or so.
Amex Lounge and Amex Platinum Party
On-site, the Amex Lounge is the perfect way to regroup, charge your phone, get your nails accented with palm tree stickers or painted by celebrity nail artist Britney Tokyo, and have your kicks cleaned at the sneaker cleaning station by Jason Markk, the world’s trusted premium show care brand. Grab a cocktail, meet new friends, and relax with a hip hop coloring book. Amex offered cardholders $20 credit for every $100 spent, which is quite easy to spend over 3 days if you are buying food and drinks. With multiple cardholders in one family, we just split purchases between cards so $200 quickly becomes $160. Amex makes it easy too since once you download the Coachella app, all you have to do is add your Amex number to the app to receive the Coachella benefits like a free ferris wheel ride with a guest.
Off-site, the Amex Platinum party occurs all weekend and is always a pleasurable experience with stellar passed food bites by Chef Michael Solomonov, free-flowing bar, and live DJ sets. If you are an Amex Platinum member you can attend and bring 3 guests. This year the Amex Platinum party at the Avalon Hotel in Palm Springs created a colorful set up with blow up pastel-hued Pikachus as accents to the desert landscape. Each room or outdoor pool area offered a different perk/service – festival makeup looks by Milk Makeup, CBD massages, acupuncture, or cryo facials from Equinox’s EQX Body Lab, a bounce house, and even a light therapy room filled with a white AWAY luggage wall with video projections.
A beer garden plus bites from nearby Indio Central Market may be the reason to come chill in multiple seating areas at Heineken House, but you should definitely check out the musical performances and the schedule at this intimate club feel open air stage. If we had we not run into our college friend who works for Heineken we would have never known about the “secret” setlist not on the Coachella line up.
We ended up seeing old school De La Soul who reminded us they have been around since 1988 while the trio popped off to “Me, Myself & I,” and brought fellow hip-hop artist Talib Kweli on the stage. Then the crowd went wild when The Roots performed numerous classic hits along with “What you know” by T.I., “I Left My Wallet in El Segundo,” by A Tribe Called Quest, “So Fresh, So Clean” by Outkast, and”21 Questions” by 50 Cent. You might recognize the drummer Questlove from The Tonight Show. The tuba musician’s endurance for such a long set was incredible. He never stopped, nor did the drummer. The stamina and fervor both bands brought was so evident by the crowd’s reaction of nonstop dancing and moving. The Roots navigated from one song to the next and even one genre to the next – from hip hop to funk to jazz to Guns N’Rose “Sweet Child O’Mine.” Rapper Black Thought’s lyrical rap idea just flowed and he declared, “This is hip-hop!” Both bands are also playing Saturday during the second weekend. Sadly, we missed a surprise appearance by Diplo soon afterward, and apparently the show was so off the hook he lost his tooth. Oh.M.G. CoaHELLa!
Coachella Fashion Flair
Maybe not fashion problems, but fashion choices by the youth has gone full freedom! The best part about Coachella is the outfits. We loved people watching when we had time to sit in the grass or hang at a party and view the keraaaaazy fashion fun. Coachella has become fashion, and this weekend reminded us, anything goes! Check out @lalascoop for more crazy pics, but we noticed some trends. Cut off jeans shorts, high waisted jean shorts, flower crowns, flash tats…..are all a thing of the past. This year it was neon, cheetah print, white “stripper” short boots, braids in all colors, mesh covering basically underwear, flowing see-through dresses, guys in overall shorts with one strap off, and thongs for full booty exposure!
Live Music Outside: Zedd brought out Katy Perry. Weezer brought out Tears for Fears and Chili from TLC, Ariana Grande brought out NSYNC and Niki Minaj, Khalid brought out Marshmello, Halsey, and Billie Eilish, Jaden Smith brought out his sister Willow Smith and MSFTRep crew. Childish Gambino brought out himself.
Coachella has evolved to be more than just music which is evident now in fashion, art installations, food, and branded parties. That is why it is now called Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. Artists WANT to play at Coachella. Since we couldn’t be at every stage, we missed some major acts but highlights of our 3 days included the crowd fervor and the emotional experience of witnessing music outside live under the wide desert sky with the sun and sunset glow.
One of the top acts on the main stage Sunday night was German Russian DJ Zedd who tore up the crowd with heart-pumping tunes choreographed to laser lights and a gynormous LED video screen. Katy Perry appeared in a red sparkly cape to sing “365.” As more songs belted out from the man controlling the electro-house buttons, the massive crowd jumped with joy but it was hard to tell at times if another voice in his DJ set was real or part of the tunes. The remix of Whitney Houston’s “I Want to Dance With Somebody” almost felt like she came to life. Khalid gave a breathtaking performance while Childish Gambino captivated the audience with stories and lighting up a doobie.
Jaden Smith rode up on a Tesla and by rode up I mean ascended into the air as he belted out rap songs from his last album CYRE along with a taste of songs from his forthcoming album. His sister Willow Smith opened his act in the air too swinging from the heavens belting the lyrics in a mesmerizing haunting way from the song called “B” from Jaden’s last album. Jaden blazed the stage with a moonwalk and signature arm thrusts and told the crowd, “I fell in love with this very festival when I was 15 years old. Now I’m back.” Twenty-year-old Jaden Smith and his 18-year-old sister brought out fellow MSFTSRep member Teo (Mateo Arias) and Harry Hudson to perform while even Jordyn Woods came out in disguise to form a circle of friendship on stage. We were hoping Will would make an appearance, but proud mama and grandma plus Kendall Jenner and Hailey Bieber were in the audience. Other acts we were hoping to make were Chvrches and Tame Impala.
Fashion stylist maven Rachel Zoe hosted her 5th annual ZOEasis at the Parker Palm Springs with a Saint-Tropez soiree theme under the desert stars. This is our favorite party of the festival that occurs Friday evening. Inspired by Rachel’s Spring/Summer 2019 Collection, guests not only sipped Sunseeker rosé and signature festival cocktails, but fashionistas could design a custom Kendra Scott jewelry piece to wear home by picking a stone of choice.
In the Sephora Beauty Lounge, girls enjoyed custom, festival-inspired hair services, skincare and makeup touch-ups from Amika, IGK, Supergoop!, and Sol de Janeiro. I even got a leg massage from a scantily clad man with the Brazilian Bum Bum cream from Sol de Janeiro. Perfect to soothe my dry desert legs! Lyft helped guests get to the party while fashion sketches could be taken hone by Zappos Style Room. Swatch launched their Energy Boost Collection featuring bold, fruit-inspired watch designs paired with fresh and delicious fruit popsicles.
Lucky Brand Desert Jam
Starting at 10 pm and running to 6 am, Neon Carnival is the coveted afterparty in Thermal where the adult playground makes you feel like a kid again. Every year we pick up our bands in Hollywood before even heading out to the desert. If you are on the list or can find someone to get you on the list who is in the industry, then expect a free night of rides (bumper cars, ferris wheel, spinners, slides), carnival games with prizes, DJ’s playing your favorite tunes, and bumping into your favorite celebrity. Dance the night away with some of your 8,000 closest friends after indulging in pizza, Craig’s vegan ice cream, and flowing tequila cocktails. Find private tables on the sides of the dance floor filled with many performers from Coachella.
Thank you to Mastermind and Hollywood nightlife fav Brent Bolthouse, Neon Carnival celebrates its 10th year where the most beautiful people still find a way to Neon each year. This year the venue includes a grass field the size of 3 football fields. In partnership with Levi’s® Brand, the exclusive event welcomed new brand additions including Australian born beauty brand Bondi Sands and the upcoming big-screen adventure “POKÉMON Detective Pikachu,” from Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures, to commemorate another year of music and festivities. Los Angeles beer staple, Golden Road Brewery provided a unique bar activation bringing in their customized freight container serving up their most popular brews.
Leonardo DiCaprio hasn’t missed a year and always keeps a low profile, but you may have spotted him in his hooded sweatshirt, hat low, and glasses while cozying up to Argentinean model Camila Morrone dancing to the sounds of DJ Ruckus. “US” star Winston Duke was spotted with friends checking out the new LG Mobile Experience ASMR Sound Studio. Paris Hilton and Alessandra Ambrosio could be found frolicking around taking selfies.
Janelle Monae arrived in party mode with her gal pals while the “Pynk” songstress was seen lounging in the HEIMAT VIP lounge sipping on Penta Water before making her way through the packed party to catch A-Trak’s first performance at this year’s event. Rapper 2 Chainz arrived in style donning in a green sequin Gucci ensemble with matching shorts and tee catching the eyes of friends and fellow musicians, Quavo, Young Thug and Meek Mill inside the packed party. Guests included H.E.R., Odell Beckham Jr., 2 Chainz, Quavo, Wiz Khalifa, Meek Mill, Young Thug, Nav, Niall Horan, Liam Payne, Marshmello, Winston Duke, Cuba Gooding Jr., Zedd, Evan Ross and Ashlee Simpson-Ross, plus many more.
The event will also now take place during Stagecoach weekend on April 27.