Coachella’s second weekend is almost here, and while it may not be as unpredictable as the first installment, it’s arguably the better weekend for those who want to do it right. If you’re heading to Indio tomorrow, don’t get caught in the proverbial (dust) storm. For a primer on what to pack, whom to see and what to avoid, check out our do's and don'ts of Coachella 2014:
… leave early. As Benjamin Franklin noted, nothing in this world can be said to be certain but death and taxes and getting to Coachella at least an hour later than you planned. No matter how much you prepare or what schedule you plan, delays getting from your abode to the Polo Field are inevitable. With traffic getting in and out of the festival especially bad this year, we recommend giving yourself at least an hour more than you think you’ll need if you want to ensure getting to that must-see set on time.
… pack a bandana for potential dust storms. With the California drought in full effect, you can almost surely count on a day of Tatooine-like conditions. And if you’re planning to wear a dress or skirt, throw on a pair of bike shorts, lest you end up Marilyn-Monroe-ing your way around the Polo Field, which some of us (ahem) had to learn the hard way. Dust or none, eye drops are also essential to protecting your peepers against the extreme dryness. Cell phone charger cords (with the plug component) are another must-pack, as there are charging stations aplenty, but extra cables few and far between. Bring a spare if possible, as we saw many cords orphaned on the ground.
… check out the Beer Barn. Why pay $9 for a Heineken when you can pay $10 for one of 150 handpicked craft beers offered in the festival’s new beer garden? Located alongside the Yuma Tent, the space also provides plenty of shade, sitting space and a generally laid-back crowd and atmosphere—not to mention some delectable snacks from top LA brewpubs. (We recommend the Stone Burning Rosids saison and Beer Belly’s bacon fat fries—nom if you dare.) Also be sure to check out the indoor Las Causelas Quintas Mexican restaurant tucked behind the Beer Barn, featuring indoor restroom facilities, running hot water and a great hip-hop radio station on the speakers.
… invest in good earplugs. Sound quality at this year’s festival was as good as we’ve ever heard it, but that also means booming sound that can take a toll on your eardrums in closed spaces like the Yuma Tent. Purchasing a pair of premium (non-foam) earplugs, which run about $15, is an ideal way to protect your hearing without sacrificing sound quality.
… toss your water bottle. Paying $2-$3 for water may be a solid deal compared to other festivals, but save yourself the cash by hanging onto the bottle or bringing one of your own to fill up at one of the festival’s many free water stations. Mother Earth—and your wallet—will thank you.
… bother queuing up for OutKast and Muse. While both headliners may be worth catching for a few songs, they delivered lackluster sets last weekend that don’t merit time staking out a good spot. Conversely, top-billers like Disclosure, Lana Del Rey, Lorde and Empire of the Sun delivered impressive performances that drew exceptionally packed crowds—if you want to catch a glimpse, be sure to get there early.
… stick to the plan. With more artists and side attractions than ever on this year’s bill, it’s easy to feel pressured into studying up on dozens of bands and crafting a meticulous schedule. While it’s a good idea to plan for essential favorites, Coachella is perhaps best enjoyed with minimal expectations to leave room for the discovery its layout very much encourages. Set aside time to wander into places like the Heineken Dome—full of terrific sets from un-billed artists like The Gaslamp Killer, Thundercat and GZA—and the Yuma Tent, where the more unorthodox dance music lineup offers a little something for everyone in a space that consistently drew the most diverse crowd we saw all weekend.