June as a festival whirlwind

That started in Tennessee and ended in Vermont. Now, weeks later, everything rushes back to me as it simultaneously fades away.

Where did I go? What did I do? Who did I meet? What happened?

The basic answers flash in my mind, but the other ones take more digging. Looking back on traveling is like that. Certain moments shine so vividly, when you think about them, it’s like you’re reliving them all around you. But others inevitably dissolve. At the end, it feels like everything happened so fast; it’s like it never happened at all. At the same time everything was so incredibly real, raw, present. I guess it’s a mixture of both. When I look back, I just can’t believe that it’s already over (over in one sense of the word, anyway).

Isn’t life like that most of the time? Sometimes you have these in-your-face real moments where you’ve never felt more alive, where you’re just yourself. You’re reaching out for all those colors around you, and you’re actually catching them. And you go with it. Other days I just seem to fall into the spaces between the second hand tick. The in-your-face alive moments are the ones I remember. The ones I strive for.

We left for Tennessee the first weekend of June. Four of us stuffed into an old Subaru. We drove roads that paralleled the highways. We made frequent stops to let the car cool. We spent hours in Virginia lounging roadside and riverside.

When we arrived at Clean Vibes’ headquarters to work the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, emotions of all types flooded me. I was so grateful to be out of the car; I was overjoyed to be reunited with friends. Mainly, it was happiness. Clean Vibes employees live all over the country. The only time we’re all in the same place is Bonnaroo. I hadn’t seen many Clean Vibers since last summer. Tears broke in my eyes as I hugged old friends.

Clean Vibers are a special breed of people. How many people you know would pickup trash as a job? Would pickup schwilly, nasty bags of poop, god only knows whats and thousands of cigarette butts? No matter the weather conditions: streaming sunshine, pouring rain.

When I explain my job to other people they give me a strange look at first. “I’m pretty much a garbage lady at music festivals,” isn’t something you hear everyday. Clean Vibers are some of the most open-minded people I’ve ever met. Adventurers. Risk takers. Road Less Traveleders. Beautiful in every sense of the word. People with different backgrounds and hometowns coming together to make the world a better place, one cigarette butt off the ground at a time. Part of the reason I pickup trash is because of the amazing people I work with.

Where we camp

The Main Stage

Radiate Positivity: one of Bonnaroo’s themes

The whole gang-she-bang

We camp at Bonnaroo until all of the garbage is picked up and the 700-acre farm is more spotless than it was before the festival started. The cleanup can take a couple weeks. We live together, work together, eat in catering together, shower in stalls beside each other, party together, play together. Forget alone time and personal space. Needless to say you become a family fairly quickly.

This year at Bonnaroo I worked at the Clean Vibes Trading Post.

Here I am working the Trading Post for Clean Vibes

The Trading Post is a recycling based initiative program that promotes sustainability by encouraging festival-goers to recycle. We set-up a booth in Planetroo that’s pretty much a recycling arcade. Festival-goers bring us their recycling and in return they win prizes such as synergy clothing, platypus water bottles, concert tickets and many more. I loved spreading the word about Clean Vibes and encouraging people to help keep the scene clean. For more information about the Trading Post check out their website here.

Because I was tired most days after work, I didn’t see that much music at Bonnaroo. I saw bits and pieces of Soja, Rubblebucket, Feist, Ludacris, Dawes, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Phish. I loved walking around by myself, but I also loved being with a crew of Clean Vibers and dancing our butts off. My favorite part of Bonnaroo was the day after Bonnaroo at the staff party. There’s a DJ, karaoke, free booze, free food, the most crawfish you’ve ever seen and lots and lots of dancing.

Crawfish forever

After working three days of post-show cleanup we said goodbye to Tennesee and drove 13 straight hours overnight to Atlantic City, NJ, to work the next show, Phish. Phish played a three night run at Bader Field. Most of our crew worked the 4 p.m. to 4 a.m. shift.

Phish fans are some of the most respectful fans I’ve ever encountered. So many people came up to us to ask what we were doing, to thank us, and to throw away their garbage. So many fans were extremely grateful and appreciative of our efforts. Who doesn’t like feeling appreciated? Thank you Phish fans. I appreciate you and your appreciation.

Last summer when I worked my first Phish festival, Superbowl, I learned that Phish is much more than a band. I started to understand what they were all about and why thousands of people devote their lives to following Phish around. Phish is the community of people it brings together. Phish is the feeling and energy the fans create. Phish is being kind to strangers and accepting everyone. Phish is unifying. Phish is letting your freak flag fly.

Saturday morning after finishing work at 5 a.m. a bunch of us, the now dubbed ‘Breakfast Club,’ decided to explore AC. We visited one of our friends at a penthouse suite at the Chelsea Hotel; we frolicked on the roof of the Chelsea Hotel; we may or may not have gotten kicked out of some casinos and a bar, but we had an absolute blast.

Things can get a little blurry around 7 a.m.

The Breakfast Club

A few hours later we woke up, started work at 4 p.m. and worked until there was no more trash on the ground. Going into the shift we were presented with the ambiguous time of ‘no more trash on the ground.’ Well, that ended up being until noon on Monday. We worked a 2o hour shift from 4 p.m. on Sunday until noon on Monday. By the time the sun comes up, you don’t know what’s real and what’s not. By that point I was delusional off of lack of sleep and all night work. But we all stuck it out and made it through together. Luckily we had each other for encouragement, silliness and love.

One morning before work my lovely lady friend and fellow Clean Viber, Angel happened to be outside talking on the phone at the same time I was. When she hung up she ran over to me and exclaimed, “I have a dream come true offer for you.” She offered me her Artist Hospitality position at the yoga and music festival Wanderlust in Vermont the following weekend. How could I refuse? Seize opportunities. After Phish I went home for a few days and then ventured to Vermont to be swept away in a land of yogis and more good vibes.

Part of the program

At Wanderlust I worked as an assistant to the head of artist hospitality. Our job was to cater to all of the artists’ needs. We food shopped for them, set up the green room, shuttled them to and from stages, filled coolers and did pretty much whatever they needed. By artists I mean Ziggy Marley, Ani DiFranco and Beats Antique. They were the headliners of the festival.

I was so grateful to be a part of such a wonderful festival in such a beautiful part of the world. The festival took place in the Green Mountains at Stratton Mountain Resort.

My ‘office’

I love everything about Vermont and I loved everything about Wanderlust.

A whole program filled with active activities!

Everyday (from Thursday to Sunday) there were guided hikes, multiple yoga classes, live music, lectures and more.

A description of the fest from their website, “Wanderlust is a one-of-a-kind festival bringing together the world’s leading yoga teachers, top musical acts and DJs, renowned speakers, top chefs and winemakers, and much, much more — all in a setting of breathtaking natural beauty. We’re talking about fun in the sun and dancing under the stars. Hiking on peaceful trails and gettin’ your down dog on at the top of the mountain. Sipping poolside cocktails with your friends, and then enjoying a tasty farm-to-table dinner with views of the surrounding mountain peaks. Early morning meditations and all-night chakra spinning musical performances – it’s an all-out ecstatic celebration in the most awe-inspiring locations in the world.”

I was pretty much in Heaven. It’s not too late to experience Wanderlust either! The fest is traveling to different parts of America and Canada. Wander to their website for more information.

I took a class called, “Unleash Your Inner Goddess” with Jennilee Toner. It was the best class I ever took out of any type of anything I’ve ever taken. After the class I felt invigorated, spiritually charged, empowered, connected, strong, loved, happy, refreshed, closer to the Universe, and ecstatic about life, love and the endless possibilities of this beautiful world we live in. It was just what I needed. I highly recommend this class to each and every person. Definitely check out Jennilee’s website and biography. She is such an inspiring person. If you’re ever in the Ballston Spa area in NY check out her studio.

As I finish typing this blog, I’m sitting on the floor of my childhood room gazing out the window at the tops of trees and bottoms of clouds. I’m thinking about those four questions I started the blog off with:

Where did I go? What did I do? Who did I meet? What happened?

Music festivals open up my eyes. After them I realize that I didn’t just go to festivals, but I escaped to a glimpse of what life can be when people strip away their insecurities, fears and doubts. When people join together in dancing, in stretching, in love. When people spend time outside, when people embrace their surroundings. I danced. I played. I loved. I woke up from the doldrums of everyday life. Life happened and it’s just going to keep happening. I’m going to strive to bring pieces of festival happiness into my everyday life and strive to constantly be alert and aware.

Namaste with love and light,

Clean Vibes at The Great Googa Mooga

For me the beginning of festival season is usually served with a nice, long road trip. This start of the season was slightly different. As half of our Clean Vibes crew headed south for The Hangout Music Festival, another handful of us headed north for The Great Googa Mooga. Since the Googa Mooga was in Brooklyn, from New Jersey I didn’t have far to journey at all.

This year was the very first Googa Mooga, a two day food and music festival set in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park on May 19th and 20th. Even though the weather was absolutely gorgeous and the best NYC restaurants were serving food and alcohol, for many festival-goers, the Googa Mooga was somewhat of a disaster. People waited in line after line after line to get everything from wristbands to money to water. Luckily for me, I worked on the clean-up crew and didn’t have to worry about all of those long lines.

Superfly Productions, the company that hosted the event, is giving a 100% refund to the Extra Mooga customers, those who paid $250 plus handling fees (the other tickets were free).

“We promised you a terrific Extra Mooga experience this past weekend and we didn’t deliver,” the organizers wrote on their website. “We’re very sorry if we disappointed you.”  Refund requests can be directed to refunds@googamooga.com and must be made within 30 days.

Clean Vibes

For my second summer in a row I’m working for the waste management company, Clean Vibes. Based out of Asheville, NC, but traveling nation-wide, Clean Vibes takes care of all things trash. For us Clean Vibers this means working pre-festival (mapping out and setting up stations for trash, recycling and compost), during the festival (cleaning up trash on the ground and servicing all the trash stations) and post-show (line sweeping the festival grounds and taking down trash stations).

Clean Vibes’ mission is to actively encourage and promote recycling, composting and proper waste disposal. Our goal is to divert waste from landfills by increasing the amount of material that is recycled and composted, thereby greatly reducing the ecological footprint of outdoor festivals and events.

Working for Clean Vibes last summer was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I met some of the most incredible people from all over the country, spent weeks outside without going inside at all, was constantly surrounded by live music and helped keep the Earth clean. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to work for Clean Vibes again this summer and spread the clean vibe to festival-goers.

Some of the lovely ladies I work with

Kate teaching us about a clearstream trash station.

Preparing clearstreams to set up throughout the festival

To learn more about Clean Vibes check out their website. Even though the deadline’s passed for a summer job, you can always volunteer.

Clean Vibes and the whole city shining behind us

GrassRoots: 2009

During my second semester of my junior year (around February 2010) I submitted a non-fiction essay about GrassRoots to The Blue Guitar Magazine. The issue’s just been published online. Check out my essay and the other wonderful writing here. My essay’s on pages 50-51.

My essay’s about my GrassRoots experience in 2009. I just got out of a serious relationship, and I was in a really broken place. Going to GrassRoots and being surrounded by so much love helped heal me in so many ways.

In case you don’t venture over to the website, here’s the essay:

Healed by the Beat of the Drum

“To dance is to be out of yourself. Larger, more beautiful, more powerful.

This is power, it is glory on Earth and it is yours for the taking.”

— Agnes De Mille

Waking up in the same pajamas I’ve been wearing the past five days, I have no desire to leave my bed even as the afternoon sun beats down outside my window. My whole world had come to a crashing halt when my boyfriend confessed he’d fallen out of love with me. Even my bedroom in the house I grew up in — surrounded by pictures of friends, bands and art — couldn’t offer any comfort.

I needed to escape the prison of loneliness, so I fled to my favorite music festival: GrassRoots. Held in upstate New York, GrassRoots is a four-day spectacle of partying, camping and listening to bands from all over the world. The eclectic mix of music ranges from Native American folk and Peruvian electronica to rock, bluegrass, soul, reggae and rockabilly. Because the camping is in tight quarters, festival-goers share food, alcohol, blankets and all other belongings. By the end of the festival, neighbors become family, and strangers become lifetime friends.

Noises in the night

Lying in my tent, I can’t fall asleep, even after an exhausting day of dancing and drinking at the festival. Shrieks, screams, howls, drumbeats and laughter erupt from the woods. The noises call to the wind, to the world, to the wild. A rush of electricity buzzes in my brain. One more “I yi yiiiii!” stabs into my ears, and I leap up. I need to join the people creating the noise.

It’s the first night of the festival, and everyone’s welcoming the darkness with music. As I walk barefoot into the woods, a couple greet me: “Hi friend! Happy GrassRoots!” They share the shine of their flashlight as we drift from campsite to campsite.

People I’ve never met smile and hug me when I walk by. They’re eager to share their belongings. “Hey friend, great to see you! Have a glow stick.” “Hi beautiful, would you like any food?” Their kindness is overwhelming.

As we approach the drum circle, I understand why everyone is still awake. A painted naked woman holds a tambourine with one hand and claps her fingers to her mouth with the other. Her knotty hair sways as she sits cross-legged on the dirt. Next to her, a man attacks the bongo drum with his fingers.

Glancing at the crowd, I realize these people are no different than me. They too have work on Monday. The guy dancing naked hollering in the drum circle will be in a suit waiting for the Metro on Monday morning.  They too have jobs in cubicles, work the monotonous 9-5, cook meals and wash laundry. They too could be suffering broken hearts.

But at this instant, none of that matters. For these stolen moments they have a chance to really just be.

The power of music

In the morning the sun pierces my tent. Crawling out, I stretch and change into my rainbow-hued bathing suit top and wrap a blue sarong with bright sunflowers around my waist. I place my favorite hat from when I was 7 on my head: a pink-and-red beaded veil with long white lace that falls down my back. I head to the festival to prepare for the Happiness Day Parade.

At the festival grounds I look for Ryan, the artist who’d painted my body the year before. He’s in the same spot, next to a maple tree outside the Happiness Day Parade headquarters, a barn filled with medieval costumes and capes for anyone to borrow.

Smiling as he sees me, Ryan says, “Come here, you goddess! Let me paint you.”

With a brush, Ryan splashes lines of blue and green across my shoulders and down my arms. He presses a small dish drainer around my forehead and airbrushes pink against the holes. In the middle of my forehead he sticks a silver-colored gem. With an assortment of other kitchen instruments and metal scraps he airbrushes the rest of my upper body and draws a lime green heart under my collar bones.

“Now that you look beautiful, you better get out there and dance like crazy,” Ryan says.

“Oh, I will,” I reply. Thinking, you have no idea.

After the parade I meet up with friends from home, and we’re instantly pulled to the sound of loud bongo drumming. We run right up to the main stage and see four African-American men shining in long, bright blue dresses. It’s the band Samite of Uganda. The frontman Samite wails tribal African songs as the percussion section bloomswith conga drums, bongos and native African madinas and kalimbas.

My body starts to move in ways I can’t even comprehend. My arms propel up and down, left and right. I bend close to the ground, spin on my toes and plunge into the air, all the while swinging and stomping to the beat of the drum. Sweat slides across my face, in between my knees. Paint drips down my forehead. My heart thumps louder and wilder with every beat. The music rattles my senses.

People around us join our circle. We just look at each other—laughing, smiling, twirling into a perpetual state of bliss. The 6-foot-tall man in front of me dances in his huge black top hat and long, sparkly wizard cape. The girl next to him, feathers and flowers in her hair, spins in her bright purple, orange, yellow and blue dress.

On the stage I see Ryan dancing and laughing with his friends. Our eyes meet. He jumps off the stage, shimmies over to me, eyes fiery with excitement, and shouts, “You’re doing it! You’re doing it! You’re getting crazy!” He grabs my hand and pulls me on stage.

As we dance next to the band, euphoria rushes through me. My body no longer belongs to me—some other force takes over.

Nothing matters except that moment. I am infinite.

My wizard friend dances on the other side of the stage. He pulls off his hat, shakes his head and dreadlocks tumble out down to his knees. The crowd roars.

As the music stops, I can’t even breathe. Floating in a trance, I walk off stage and bump into the wizard.

“I saw you dancing up there, getting down!” he says.

“Yeah, I saw you shaking out all your dreads.”

He looks at me, snaps his fingers side to side and starts singing, “Life just keeps getting better. Life just keeps getting better.”

A smile sprouts in my heart and conquers my whole face. All the loneliness from the break-up with my boyfriend disintegrates. Laughing wildly, I join in: “Life just keeps getter better. Life just keeps getting better.”

And even if for a moment, I knew it would.

GrassRoots: The Music

The music at GrassRoots ranges from reggae to zydeco to rock to folk to sitting-on-your-front-porch-drinking-a-beer-bluegrass. For the most part it’s all feel-good, get off your butt and dance kind of music for all ages. There are two main stages, a dance tent and a cabaret stage in a building that’s similar to a barn.

Here’s a playlist with some of my favorite performances from this year. The options on the search engine were pretty limited, but press play to gain an idea of the sounds of GrassRoots.

Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

Read about my favorite performances while you listen:

-Donna the Buffalo:

A five-piece band infused with old-time music, mountain music, blues, rock, reggae, Cajun, folk and bluegrass. After every song, the female vocalist changes instruments: scrubboard, accordion, fiddle, guitar. I’ve never seen someone get as lost in the music as Jeb, the frontman, does. His eyes close, his mouth opens, and he’s in another world.

To quote from the GrassRoots program, “Like the herd’s trail across the prairie, Donna the Buffalo will make her mark in your heart.”

Favorite songs they played:

“Positive Friction” lyrics:

“Positive friction, under the upper crust/What does all this Hollywood really have to do with us/True grit, timeless love/There’s no reason to pretend/Lets get together and become natural once again/Natural once again…./There is a certain vibe, circulating in the air/Cast from all the energy that emanates from everywhere”

“Locket and Key” lyrics:

“There must be something in the moon and stars keeping it together when we’re falling apart.” <there must be 🙂

Check out their website here.

-Arrested Development

We were hip-hoping all over the place to their positive tunes. Most of our camp was together to watch them so it was even better.

Favorite songs:

“Ease my mind” –I need some time to ease my mind, I need some time.

“Tennessee” lyrics: “Take me to another place, take me to another land, Make me forget all that hurts me, let me understand your plan.”

Dear Arrested Development, watching your set, I forgot all that hurts me, and I was most definitely in another land. After their set, we shook hands with the whole band as they reached into the audience.

-Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad

“GPGDS combine the hypnotic sounds of Jamaican music with their own conscious vibrations and eternal truths. Live in the moment, let it happen…you’ll be healed and uplifted, and that’s a guarantee.”

Check out their music here.

-The Makepeace Brothers

Very sing-along, feel-good, grooving tunes. They interact with the crowd and make sure everyone’s having fun. At one point they called contestants on stage to have a twist contest. Most of our camp was together while watching them so it made their performance much more fun.

This performance isn’t from GrassRoots, but this was their last song. Just imagine me and all my friends pointing to each other and thanking each other with every line.

-Kevin Kinsella

Another favorite reggae performance. The reggae really won me over this weekend.

Kevin’s son was at his side for the whole set. He kept singing, dancing and breaking it down. It was the most precious thing. Kevin kept singing to him and playing with him, too.

-Sim Redmond Band

One of my favorite bands. They sing pretty little simple songs that can pull anyone’s heart strings. Their songs can bring you back to a certain moment, can make you yearn for that true love, can dig their way into your heart. We watched from the second row and then moved to the back half-way through.

Favorite songs:

“Arms Around the Sun” lyrics:

“I feel strange and I feel cold/and I’m afraid of growing old/and I’m afraid if I look back/I might find a crack/or a hole in my soul…./I’ll wrap my arms around the sun.”

Their songs provide me with some deep satisfying feeling of understanding. The connection hits my heart everytime.

-Oliver Mtukudzi and Black Spirits

As this band was starting on the Grand Stand Stage, everyone in our camp found each other in the dance tent. Once we saw the light pouring from the Grand Stand Stage, we ran to them. It was so incredibly beautiful. Oliver is a best-selling artist in his home country of Zimbabwe and it’s clear to see why. Listen to them here.


Last year while watching this band I had an out of body experience. His hypnotizing music brings me to paradise. When looking around at the audience, it’s amazing to see all the joy Samite brings to everyone. To his spiritual, compassionate music, everyone twirls, spins and smiles. During his last song it started to rain and everyone went wild. When dancing to Samite’s music I turn into a wild animal. He brings out something inside of me I’ve never felt before. Check out a video of his last song in my previous post.


Another beautiful band from Africa. More and more I’m beginning to realize that I need to go to Africa. The drums and chants call to me like nothing else.

After their performance I saw my friend Ryan and he asked if I’d see them. When I told him I caught some of their set, he said, “I woke up crying to their song. It was so triumphant.”

Couldn’t have said it better.

My Coachella Experience

After Coachella, I wrote an article about my experience for ronebreak.com. Check out my article here. While you’re at it, check out ronebreak.com, too. It’s an awesome website.

Here’s the full text of my article in case you don’t click over:

(Just warning you, this is a long one. Once I started writing, I couldn’t stop.)

Getting WET at Coachella

Back in the chilly winter months when the Coachella line-up was first released and I saw that every one of my favorite bands would be playing, I knew there was no question about it: I’d be going to Coachella.

As the days went on and my pockets grew lighter, I grew weary that my Coachella dreams would not become a reality. In order to splurge on the $269+ festival ticket I’d have to give up certain things in my life: grocery shopping, going out for meals, eating breakfast. Ya know, the things that don’t really matter. My rumbling stomach beat out my ears’ desire for live music and my Coachella dreams flew through the pipe hole.

Once the end of March neared, Coachella crept into my mind again. How can you so easily forget about me? For a whole weekend I’ll be home to all your favorite musicians. You know you need a break from school and you need a festival in your life. You neeeed me. In bursts, Coachella urgings took over my brain. I had to go.

After coming to grips with the fact that I couldn’t purchase a ticket, I began thinking of my other options. Suddenly it occurred to me. Why hadn’t I thought of it earlier? Festivals don’t run without help from others. Festivals don’t run without volunteers.

Because I have friends that volunteered at festivals before, I knew of a program called WET (Work Exchange Team). In exchange for working a minimum of 18 hours at the festival, WET provides you with a free festival pass. When creating an application there’s a $15 non-refundable fee and they ask for a $325 deposit to secure your spot. The deposit money is returned to you after you work the festival.

So I rounded up three of my friends and we were all set to get wet for Coachella.


7:25 a.m. Left for Coachella from Tempe, A

12 p.m. Received WET credentials and hopped back in the car to set up camp and hopefully check out some bands before our shift at 2:30 p.m.

3 p.m. Checked into WET 30 minutes late. We spent about an hour in traffic when the festival was less than a mile away. We spent another hour trying to figure out where our camping area was. Everyone that tried to help us gave us conflicting directions. Most people just shooed us away.

We received our schedules and the four of us had the same shifts.

First shift: Friday 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Second Shift: Saturday 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Third shift: Sunday 9 p.m. to 3 a.m.

I’d still see my top three bands that I asked to see when I filled out the application: Jay-Z, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros and Miike Snow. I’d be missing Passion Pit, She & Him, Them Crooked Vultures, LCD Soundsystem, Grizzly Bear, La Roux, and Vampire Weekend.

For our first shift we’d be stationed at Water World. Upon hearing Water World we automatically assumed we’d be playing at a giant water slide all night, spraying squirt guns and staying refreshed. My friend Brittany and I even busted into a Water World chant with another volunteer we just met. We were really ready to get wet.

One of our supervisors asked if three of us wanted to extend our shift until 10 p.m. and not work Saturday or Sunday. Because we were so caught up in our fantasy of Water World, we dismissed her offer. But I quickly realized that two more hours of working in exchange for a free day was much better than whatever mystery Water World held. We told her there were four of us and we took the two extra hours in exchange for a free day on Saturday. We got hooooooked up!

So we got shoveled into a crowd of about 20 other volunteers in yellow WET shirts waiting for orders. A truck came, five of us hopped in and they sent us off, destination unknown. We were clueless the whole time as to what was going on.

We arrived at the front entrance where people were coming into the festival. We got dropped off without any directions. It was a madhouse. Screaming festival-goers frustrated from waiting in line saw our yellow volunteer shirts and started attacking us like vultures. They swarmed us, encircled us, cornered us, and demanded wristbands.

An angry man wearing a cowboy hat leaned against the fence and handed us 10 wristbands at a time. We’d take someone’s ticket and sling a wristband on their wrist. Ten wristbands at a time were not enough. I’d run out in five minutes. Around 5:30 the crowd finally died down and we had a couple minutes to actually breathe.

Even though the scene was a mad house, I was on some kind of crazy adrenaline rush from the fast talking, repetitious motion of applying the wrist band, taking the ticket stub, and saying “welcome” over and over.  Also, it was a good feeling to be able to welcome people, to start their festival experience off with a friendly smile.

As the night progressed every volunteer had at least two bribe stories. In hopes of getting a ticket, hopeful festival-goers were offering wads of hundreds, jewelry, blow jobs, sex, you name it. By 9:45 p.m. with no food in my stomach and exhaustion slowly taking over my body, I could barely say, “Hello welcome to freedom brother,” one more time. I was ready to shove some dinner down my throat.

The granola bar five of us shared around 7 p.m. just didn’t cut it. While working we weren’t allowed to leave to eat and no one fed us. Our supervisors at the site didn’t even know what was going on.

 10 p.m. Freedom

 As soon as we got off, we ran to our campsite, changed, I split half a bagel with Brittany, we chugged some 40s and some wine, and sprinted to the festival grounds to see Jay-Z. For years I’ve been dying to see Jay-Z and damn, did he put on a good fucking performance.

Donned in all black, he rose onto the stage like a king and busted into, “Run This Town”.

He flawlessly worked the crowd, and had us throwing our diamonds up, chanting, “Jigga what, Jigga who, Hova,” singing, clapping our hands, and throwing whatever we had- -shirts, hats, hands, in the air. Frankly, I’d do anything he’d ask. He paused for a good 15 minutes just to holla at the crowd.

“I see you baby girl with your blue jumper. I see you with your pink aeroplane. I see you baby girl.” Apparently in Jay-Z’s world, every female is a baby girl and I’m totally fine with that.

He teased us with “Big Pimpin” and “’03 Bonnie and Clyde” then took us through a tutorial of his old jams. I screamed my ass off to every word of “Empire State of Mind”, and Jay-Z said, “I feel like I’m home,” as his monstrous stage, made up of cut out buildings morphed into the Manhattan skyline. Right after “Jockin Jay-Z” he went into “Wonderwall” by Oasis and the crowd went wild singing along to every word.

By the end, it was clear he poured his heart into the performance, his voice was dying and he kept saying he didn’t want to leave us. Then the magical unifying moment that everyone and their grandmother has heard about by now: Beyonce walked onto stage. I don’t think anyone has ever been more excited to see Beyonce. 

“I want you to do me a favor and always feel like this, always feel this good,” Jay-Z told us before breaking into “Young Forever”. In that moment as the fireworks sparked and the crowd roared, I felt like I could live forever. 


8 a.m. Woke up to the sun scorching our tent, crawled out of the tent, and chugged some wine. 

1:30 p.m. Tried to bring my SLR into the festival, got denied, left the fair grounds, hid the camera in my backpack and walked back in. 

2:15 p.m. Went to the Gobi stage to see Portugal. The Man, one of my favorite bands. I saw them once in Tempe and was naturally super amped to see them again. When they took the stage, I was grooving and singing as much as I could. I had a pretty decent spot about five rows back, stage right 

However, not many people around me were grooving. If you’re gonna demand a spot up front and just stand there, you’re better off leaving. This happened to me throughout the weekend and left me very disappointed with the crowd. I can’t stand when people claim spots up front, and they don’t sing or dance at all. Then they get mad when I do. I came to the front for a reason: I love the band and want to sing every word. 

Portugal. The Man played a pretty solid set. Twenty minutes in they were still on their second or third song. When they play live, they are masters of shredding and jamming out songs for as long as they can, which is pretty sweet since you wouldn’t really expect that by listening to their albums. They also performed a quick cover of “Weekend Wars” by MGMT, which they did last time I saw them. 

The set was a mixture of songs from The Satanic Satanist, Censored Colors, and older albums. All in all it was a good set and I was pretty exhausted after–the combination of wine and little sleep contributed to that. 

Even though I wanted to catch some of Camera Obscura, Girls, and Beach House, I opted for a nap instead. I plopped down by the Outdoor Theatre stage and woke up to crowds of legs hovering over me. Temper Trap was about to start. I’d never heard of them but I stayed for a couple songs and definitely liked their sound. 

After that I met up with my friends, poured as much water over me as possible to cool down, and rushed the stage left to get a good spot for Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros. They’re very much a commune band of sorts, with 9-12 members, tales of traveling around in a big white van, and lots of love and good feelin’ vibes. 

5:20 p.m. When they swayed onto the stage, I was ready for a magical journey. I wasn’t prepared for what came next. Alex Ebert, the group’s messiah, began the set by knocking his mic stand onto a member in the audience. Alex leaned down to the guy, ripped his own shirt off his chest and wrapped it around the dude’s head. You could sense the sincerity and empathy Alex felt. 

While he was wrapping his shirt around the dude’s head, the two of them had a sweet little moment. It looked as if Ebert kissed his head and whispered something to him. Heck, I wouldn’t mind trading places with that guy. After that Ebert jumped up and the band began with their most energetic song: “40 Day Dream”. 

It was such an intense moment from the mic falling, the apologizing, the jumping up, and going wild to “40 Day Dream”. My friends and I danced like crazy. 

The set was one of my favorites of the whole festival. Even though the band was a little disorganized and disheveled, they seemed so comfortable just walking around, dancing and bopping freely, just hanging out on stage. However, Jade, Alex’s gal-pal and lead female singer in the group, seemed a bit shy. She sat on the stage for most of the performance and kept shaking her head “no” when Alex would make suggestions to her. 

At one point they brought a baby on stage and sang and danced around the baby. They even mentioned Jay-Z, “Who saw Jay-Z last night? Fucking genius.” And shouted out to the crowd, “I see you baby girl with your pink flamingo.” 

All set I crossed my fingers and waited for them to play, “Home”. An uplifting, sun-shiney song that Jade and Alex sing to each other. It didn’t seem like they would play it but they finally did at the end and it was definitely a crowd pleaser. My voice was shot after belting, “Alabama, Arkansaaaaaaaas.” My smile never left my face their whole set and I can’t wait to see them again. 

We missed Dirty Projectors, the XX, and Hot Chip to go re-energize and eat at our campsite. 

8: 40 p.m. We made it back to the festival in time for MGMT. I’m sure you’ve heard by now, they were the biggest disappointment of the whole festival and they didn’t even play “Kids”. And I almost picked them as my top 3 bands to see. I am sure glad I didn’t. 

They started their set with two new songs off of Congratulations that were pretty slow and boring. Those themes continued throughout. By the time they sang “Electric Feel” and “Time to Pretend” I couldn’t even get into it. Their vocals didn’t even sound that good. They definitely sound better recorded. 

We were able to inch closer to the front without even trying because so many people kept leaving. I’ve never seen so many people leave a set. They seemed pretty unenthused and bored on stage as well. They had nothing to say other than, “There are a lot of people here and a lot of bands. Who’s on drugs?” and, “Go buy our new album.” 

Once MGMT’s set was over we sat in the back of the crowd for Muse. I only know a few of their songs but they definitely put on a good show. Their vocals sounded really clear and strong. The interjection of blue and green laser lights was pretty cool, and the crowd seemed way into it. It was cool to catch a glimpse of their set. Just the basic loud, rock band with clear, strong vocals. Nothing inspiring or moving enough to make me wanna get up and groove. 

Before Muse finished we rushed to the Outdoor Theatre stage to get a good spot for the Dead Weather. Just seeing Jack White and his musical genius was enough for me. He is such a bad-ass and front-woman Alison Mosshart is smoking hot. Their performance was one of my favorites of the whole weekend. 

When Alison took the stage she emanated sex and rock and roll. Every movement she made was filled with vigor, energy, and of course, sex. Clad in her all black outfit she ferociously wiped her hair and commandeered the stage. She was basically fucking the audience with her eyes the whole night. 

The best part of the performance came when Jack White got up from behind the drums, grabbed his guitar and duetted with Alison to, “Will there be enough Water?” 

Their heads were pressed together as they sang into the mic, “Just because you caught me, does that make it a sin?” Even though they were barely touching, it was like they were having sex right there on stage. With each word they got more intense, till they eventually backed off the mic and screamed the lyrics at each other. Sin or not, I felt damn good after their performance. 

As we were leaving we caught the sounds of Tiesto’s beats and decided to stay. His music gave me a second wind. We stayed pretty far back in the crowd so we could have as much dancing space as we wanted. Even though it was past midnight and the temperatures had cooled down, I sweated my ass off twirling, stomping, fist-pumping, and doing all sorts of grinding to Tiesto’s beats. It was the perfect way to end the night. 


2:20 p.m. I was dying to see Local Natives at 2:10 but we got into the festival a little late. We still caught the end of their set, which seemed like the most fun anyway. I, along with everyone in the Gobi tent, raised both my hands in the air as they shouted the lyrics to “Sun Hands”. Really catchy song, tribal-y drums, has the “ahhhhhs” and quiet singing of the chorus then they bust into this back of the throat, husky singing that’s really fun to sing along to. Definitely a band that’s about to take off. 

After Local Natives my friends and I split. They went to Matt and Kim, and I went to Florence and the Machine. 

4:30 p.m. As much fun as a Matt and Kim set sounded, Florence is my girl. I knew I had to see her. And damn, I am glad I did. She was 10+ minutes late but when she came out she was an almighty goddess. She wore magnetic gold shorts and a white shirt with wide flowing sleeves that made her look like she just fell from Heaven. 

She opened up with, “Howl” and the audience howled along. Her voice was so powerful, and her energy was radiating as she jumped, pranced, and hopped around stage. She also knew how to work the crowd–constantly saying thanks, and encouraging us to dance. 

I almost lost control when Nathan Willet of Cold War Kids joined Florence to sing my favorite Cold War Kids song, “Hospital Bed”. It was one of my favorite performances of the whole festival. I felt very connected to Florence and could feel her energy throughout. It was one of the only times I felt comfortable in the crowd too. People around me joined in on the singing and jumping around and no one got mad when I sang too loud. 

5:30 p.m. After their set I met Brittany for a quick dance party at Club 75 in the Sahara tent. We snuck in the side and crammed in the corner but still managed to get our groove on as the collaboration of DJ’s spun energetic and dancey beats. 

Left the Sahara tent to get a glimpse of Julian Casablancas set and hydrate at the water station. We stopped the Outdoor Theatre tent to use the Port-o-Potties, and ended up lying down in the grass listening to the peaceful, melodic sounds of Jonsi’s set. 

Then it was off to another dance party. Time for my number 3 band to see: Miike Snow. 

6:45 p.m. We packed in the Mojave tent, stage left, about 10 rows back anxiously waiting to watch our favorite electro-pop Swedish lads take the stage. They came on stage wearing solid white masks and soon ripped them off as the synths and lights buzzed in and out. Most of their tracks started off slow and steady and morphed into an intense build-up of dancetastic sounds. The vocals were clear and almost sounded better than they do on their album. My favorite tracks were, “Silvia”, “Animal”, and “Burial”. I quite possibly danced more in the Mojave tent than I had the night before to Tiesto. Sweat dripped from every inch of my body but it was worth it with each and every beat. 

After Miike Snow, Brittany and I went to the water refill station and literally began bathing. Instead of drinking the water we dumped it over our heads, our arms, and our legs. While “showering” in the water tent, three guys came over to us and insisted we have a dance party. We danced all the way from the water tent to Phoenix’s set. The crowd for Phoenix extended on and on and on and on. We danced through too many groups of people to count. We caught the end of their set then watched a little bit of Pavement before we had to check in for WET. Phoenix definitely stole most of the crowd from Pavement. When we reached the Coachella Stage, we could have easily gotten up front for Pavement’s set. We heard, “Shady Lane”, and a couple other songs before heading back to our campsite. 

9 p.m. We checked in for WET, and this time we were really set to work Water World. We chugged some free Red Bull in order to make it through our 9 p.m.-3 a..m. shift, and rode a golf cart to a water station in front of the festival gates. 

Water World wasn’t the great big slide we hoped it would be. Once again we turned into greeters. We welcomed people into the water refill station and made sure they only entered with a blue water bottle. It was fun because a lot of the people drifting in were rolling or fucked up on some kind of drugs so we got to enhance their experience. “Welcome. You have arrived. Welcome to Water World,” Brittany and I would say in sync. Since we both lost our voices by this point, we welcomed people in lower, hushed voices. It was definitely funny to watch people’s reactions. Our supervisor was bomb and ended up giving us $40 for food. He even let us run into the festival real quick to watch the Gorillaz. We ended up staying at the water station till 1 a.m., walked around the campsites till 1:45ish and then we got to go home. 

Total Hours Worked for WET: 11 

Basically, I got WET at Coachella and I absolutely loved it. 

Overall Impression of Coachella: 

I got to see a lot of incredible performances and I loved the experience, but the festival lacked the community vibe I’ve felt at smaller hippie festivals such as Camp Barefoot and Grassroots. Then again 75,000+ people were at Coachella and less than 10,000 people go to Grassroots and Camp Barefoot. At Coachella I felt like I was going from concert to concert, not welcoming stage to welcoming stage where people are psyched to meet you. Although there were some unifying moments at Coachella that really captured me, I never felt an overwhelming rush of happiness and connectivity. Even so, I’d definitely go again. 

My Highlights of Coachella: 

I threw my diamonds up with Jay-Z and became a part of Roc Nation 

I danced in a field with Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros (their back drop was a picture of trees and a field) 

I succumbed to the techno bug 

I howled with Florence and the Machine 

I danced like a wild animal to Miike Snow’s ‘Animal’