The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is a sensory circus, a grand carnival for the mind. Lights, art, people, and of course music, melt and meld into a Dali-esque mirage of fantastical sights and sound inexplicably at home in this broad stretch of desert. Time does, indeed, seem to liquefy and drip, drop sizzle minutes into hours onto the parched pavement of music worship. Surrealism is the Flavor of the Month. Nymphs with painted nipples cavort in the beer gardens while time-traveling hippies walk the grounds rubbing elbows with desperately rebellious lip-pierced youths, Ray-banned hipsters, and cucumber fresh college kids, while everywhere, the music. Coaxing, crying, demanding, questioning, all equalizing… The Music.
Perhaps it is the hypnogogic landscape of lavender mountains and thousands splashed across the acres that make the experience so deliciously bizarre and ultimately memorable, but everyone should experience this once.
I remember my induction in 2011-- dimension diving. I went to the festival with a friend of a friend and left friends for life: transformed, bonded, our spirits wound by the encounter, bound by what words cannot truly capture… That timeless, transported moment when the energy of thousands of souls rising and falling to the swell of sound crashes upon the rocks of our existence and forever changes us. It’s that exhilarating moment of surrender, etched in the Now, that you try to hold onto after and never quite can… The sweat-soaked embrace of a stranger, the sweetest cigarette shared, shiny eyes, teeth, and a thousand voices raised in unison to lyrics that never made sense before, but now, somehow, they do.
I found salvation at Coachella. There, we are all baptized by the music. Dancing under the California sun with grass in my hair and stains on my shirt, I knew. I reveled in the surging glory of one-ness, thrilled to the soul to be on this electrifying journey of human experience: anguish, promise, hope, redemption… It was all there, and I was saved. Our hearts beat in unison to the bass: we, the lucky united. Together we join in rapture at the alter of audible art.
Dedicated in loving memory to Dustin Hanna. Happy Birthday, my friend.