Overheard at Coachella: A Compendium of Mellow, Beautiful Quotes

It's weekend two of the 2014 Coachella Music Festival out in Indio, CA, which means you're already sick of the Instagrams and status updates dominating your social media feeds on weekend one. Buying a ticket to Coachella may, in this era, actually feel redundant when you can digitally experience the entire weekend -- begrudgingly or not -- from the comfort of your living room.

(But seriously, why aren't you at Coachella? Do you not love fun, and community? #Normcore)

Anyway, I'M HERE, traipsing the festival grounds with an American flag bandana and some K-Swiss sneakers which scream "BASIC" in all the worst but ironically best ways, putting together some stories for next week. In the meantime, though, and building over the course of the weekend, I thought it would be fun to compile a running list of all the best things I've heard out of people's mouths. Funny shit. Dumb shit. Super-baked shit. The shit that is encouraged and incubated and celebrated in an environment like this. I really hope that these make you feel like you're here with me.

FRIDAY, 4/18/14


Coachella event planners wisely filled the grounds with massive art installations that effectively serve as landmarks for lost/wandering festival-goers. There's a green-grass cylinder called the "Giant Green Caterpillar." A red robot holding a flower. None of these move, which is what makes them reliable landmarks. A giant astronaut that looks like MTV's moon man, though? HE MOVES. I didn't find my friends again until Monday morning.

“What would it be like to meet Colin Firth?"
Follow-up: “I’m just saying that if I ran into, like, Colin Firth at this thing I think I could be totally cool.”

I didn't run into any celebrities this weekend, but like this guy I want to believe that had the opportunity presented itself I would have given the icon in question a quick head nod and a "hey - keep making good shit" before continuing with the rest of my chill afternoon. Josh Radnor? Just a person, bro, like you or me or anyone in the history of the human species. This weekend we're all music.

“Oh come on, man, don’t give me that suspicious stuff! It’s a wrapped Jolly Rancher — what could I do to it?”

This was a guy named Mark who tossed three Jolly Ranchers at me and my friends, which indeed caused us great suspicion. Eventually we relented and ate them, wondering for hours when the other shoe -- or, you know, the chemicals inside -- would drop. So fadr sooi growd!!!1

“Where are you from?” “Los Angeles!” “I love Los Angeles!”

Want to know just how happy everyone at Coachella is? They are SO HAPPY that the prospect of living in Los Angeles actually seems wonderful.

“LOL bro, I think I have acid reflux”

Joke about taking acid.

“Am I racist, or does that guy over there look like Floyd Mayweather?”

Joke about being racist.

“You know what would really balance the gender scale? Guys on girls’ shoulders.”

This one did get me thinking. If before the weekend is out I see one oversized bro hanging out on his lady's shoulders, I think I can call this thing an unequivocal gender-balancing success.

“How many waters? A number. You have to tell me how many waters you want.”

Fun timelapse: the slowly frowning faces of anyone working concessions over the course of a Coachella day. In the morning, you're greeted with a happy smile; at night, abject impatience, a deep frown. Honestly I'd feel the same way if I'd spent the last eight hours talking tripped-out tweens through the "hotdog or hamburger" menu!

“Ummmmmmm, you’re not ready for the Sahara tent.”

The Sahara tent, located at the far SW corner of the grounds, is ground zero for a never-ending, insane EDM party. Lights and mirrors and technical wizardry the likes of which you only see in spaceships fill what's basically a massive aircraft hangar. You get in; you don't get out. Do I dare today?!?


"I said 'Dad, I'm his personal assistant. I'm basically his bitch.' Like, it cost $2600 to ship this thing and he didn't even bat an eye. Sculptors are crazy."

This one's representative of a lot of "my job sucks!" snippets I heard this weekend, all of which reinforced just how happy everyone was to be away from Los Angeles/Calgary/wherever and in an environment where their sculptor/lawyer/performance artist boss couldn't intervene. Freedom to be free; freedom to complain. In the end, these quotes are all about America.

"My mom's a total alcoholic. Last week? She came in the living room and peed all over the floor. Naked."

Big YIKES at this one, which I'm hoping was wildly exaggerated/made up entirely and not a portrait of insane alcoholism on par with Leaving Las Vegas. Considering it came from a young woman sporting some very expensive jewelry and part of what was clearly a "young LA wealth" crowd, I'm guessing we don't need to raise the alarm. Her mom is probably a former actress-model like everybody else's.

"We've got drunk people and we've got high people with us, EVERYBODY BE CAREFUL."

Just a good and accurate rallying cry for every single group navigating their way through the festival grounds. Day One, the endless daisy chains of people (I swear some were 20-deep) really aggravated me, an older man. But you realize by Day Two how absolutely necessary this method is, especially with larger groups. Preschool teachers the world over would cry their eyes out to see the safety-focused hand-holding at Coachella.

"I don't feel old anymore. I did the other day." "You weren't high the other day."

I said that first part, and I maintain even two days after Arcade Fire belted out their final "Ooooohhhhh OOOOOOHHHHS" on "Wake Up" that I did in fact de-age over the course of the weekend. I'm 23 now, and wear tank tops. It's 2009 and no one has even heard of fracking.

"Dude, you know how last year they had hologram Tupac? Wouldn't it be crazy if they brought out hologram Mahatma Gandhi?"

Hahahahahaha I have nothing to add to this one. The teenager who said it is a philosopher-king.


Coachella's demographic breakdown goes something like this: adults 18-25, 50%; 26-40, 25%; 10-17, 350%. That doesn't make sense, but then neither does the volume of tweens and teenagers roaming the festival grounds, some of whom actually needed stepping stools to see a set. Many of their moms and nannies were waiting at the "Parent Pickup" gate.


I didn't think this was an interesting quote at first. I was pumped to hear Disclaimer, too! But then my friend started laughing, at which point I learned that the act we were seeing was in fact named Disclosure. Later I'd also learn that "Bombay Sapphire Club" had apparently changed their name to "Bombay Bicycle Club".


When sound is bombing your ear canal at about 5000 decibels, talking isn't as easy an option as you'd like it to be. So sometimes when you want to say something...you've got to say it on a Hanes beefy tee.

“I love my Korean Girlfriend”

There was no Korean girlfriend next to the 16-year-old romantic champion I saw this on, which could mean one of several things:

  1. He does have a Korean girlfriend, who was in the bathroom or something when I spotted him. She loves how expressive he is with his feelings
  2. He has a Korean girlfriend, or anyway had one until he wore that stupid t-shirt and she finally said "enough" and went to hang with that guy who loves Disclaimer
  3. The t-shirt is a sly commentary on not only our culture of objectification, but the gross "Yellow fever" bullshit bandied about by suburban white assholes/Barstool. This kid will go on to front his college's chapter of "Take Back the Night" and marry a really cool woman. He'll be fine. Great, even
  4. The t-shirt is purely aspirational

It's been said by everyone who's ever been to Coachella (or probably any music festival): when you're there, you're detached from time and space. For however long, the real world doesn't exist. And in that extended moment you think -- I'm happy, and free. I could do this forever and die knowing that my life was synonymous with joy.


Images: My neon green iPhone 5C with matching neon green case