I’m not going to be visiting you this year, just like I didn’t visit you last year or the year before that or the year before that. And this isn’t because you’ve turned into a very expensive shadow of what you once were. It is not because of the 18-year-olds running around with their butt cheeks hanging out, wearing fashionable boots that are 100% season-inappropriate. It’s not about the vegan trucks (love those) or the $1000 VIP passes (pretty expensive cage, no?). Nor is it about the eight hours it once took me five years ago to drive from the San Fernando Valley into the crowded Indio Polo Field parking lot, only to miss 90% of the shows and hate most of my friends for no reason.
No, it is none of these things.
Though it sounds like I am a passive aggressive Coachella hater, this is far from the truth. Coachella, you were once the light of my young life. A place I could travel to every balmy April with no plans of where I’d be crashing, what group I’d be ditching when push came to shove, or concerns about the $50 per day ticket I did not yet possess… because, no matter, everything would work out in the end. And it did. Always. There was the year we snuck into artist’s parking with a piece of blank computer paper and a set of balls. There was the year we did it again. Then there was that time I drove Tom back to LA late at night when he begged me, high as a kite, to pull over to the side of the road and make out with me under behemoth wind turbines—a charming offer I declined, as I recall, because his girlfriend was pregnant at the time. And lest we not forget that moment several years ago, dancing barefoot to a then only mildly popular Arcade Fire, toes in the grass, hands in the air. Ah, yes, some real hippie shit.
Coachella, you have brought me some beautiful things over the years, but I am older now, with many memories clogging up my emotional inbox. Now, dear Coachella, you only bring me tears. My dad once bemoaned music videos and their impact on the MTV generation’s ability to conjure up their own memories for a song. Well, fear not, Dad. Music videos are dead and they, unfortunately, never managed to rob me of any music-to-memory connection. Every song is a potent brew of space and time… and some space-and-time shit is sadder than others.
And so, without further adieu, I present a song-by-song list of reasons why I will not be attending Coachella this year. Music, that beautiful bitch, is an emotional minefield.
Aeroplane “We Can’t Fly”
September, 2010. Fresh out of a long-distance relationship, I had just into moved my apartment in Brooklyn. On account of my previous roommate calling the cops on me for domestic disturbance, I smartly decided to not share it with anyone. This place served as my own personal paradise. Until, of course, I started a four-year stretch of unsuccessful dating in New York City. This song reminds me of a dumb, puppy-like buoyancy I no longer posses, which makes me feel old and bitter… a flavor I generally like to keep out of music.
Ty Segall “Girlfriend”
On the sunnier side of things, this album was a godsend when I decided to be an overtly hostile raging bitch instead of a doormat.
The Knife “Heartbeats”
Alright, the song that actually gets me is Jose Gonzalez’s version, which is acoustic and beautiful and was put on a sex playlist by some douche graphic designer I dated with unfortunately good taste in music and bad taste in girls. I think I was traded in for someone who won America’s Next Top Model. But this was, like, 2004 so who cares. Water under a lame bridge. That and he smelled weird.
Surfer Blood “Slow Jabroni”
I do not have enough fingers and toes to count the number of times I have used this song as my sob soundtrack.
Arcade Fire “Afterlife”
After having some dude singlehandedly destroy The Suburbs in its entirety, someone else comes around and shits all over this one. I spend most of the winter dancing around my apartment in the dark with my headphones, music too loud in the hopes of drowning out a massive headful of ringing self-doubt. It doesn’t work. I am, however, impaired in the hearing department.
Blood Orange “You’re Not Enough”
Dum Dum Girls “Coming Down”
If my suicide ever had to be portrayed in a movie, this song would be the lead in. It taps that same button Mazzy Star hit back during my ’90s middle school depression.
MS MR “Hurricane”
I recall an evening spent chopping sweet potatoes through tears. Though surely high in saline content, tears do not make for adequate seasoning, given that sadness is often accompanied by a slackened jaw that refuses to force down food and/or misery-induced cotton mouth.
Skrillex “Whatever This Garb Is”
HAHAHAHA. No. HAHAHAHA. Stop. Really? My only memory of a Skrillex song has been the moment right before I pass out after banging my head against a wall in an effort to make it stop.