Monday, May 01, 2006

Travelblogue, Coachella 2006 11: Reflections, Part 1

The following was written while waiting in the Ontario International Airport:
Though I’m writing this from the Ontario airport, it won’t be uploaded until later, as the wi-fi here isn’t quite working for me - “limited or no connectivity,” grrr…

The rental car has been returned, I’m checked in, I have my boarding pass, and I’m waiting for my flight. Everything that needs to be paid for on this excursion now has been, and my tax return has arrived to offset the cost. Now it’s time to relax, recuperate, and reflect.

I’m not quite sure what form this or the subsequent posts will take… I just know that I have a lot to say, and I’m not quite sure how to sharpen it all up and organize it, so you might just get some verbal vomit here. Be prepared…

One thing that I have to say concerning my Coachella experiences, and one that I have long felt the need to say is this; what’s with the people attending in groups?

That probably already sounds strange. But let me elaborate. I’ve been to Coachella five times now, twice solo, and thrice with two different sets of two friends. And while it’s nice to have friends around to share the experience, I think I’ve enjoyed myself most thoroughly when going solo. Attending solo has given me freedom to wander on a whim, drifting from show to show without having to worry is the others want to do the same. I haven’t had to worry about anyone but myself, and I like that.

Watching those attending in groups, I’ve been astounded at how much time they waste on the logistics of staying connected. They move through the crowd at a crawl because of their insistence on staying in a tight pack. They get separated, then miss five minutes of the show because they’re texting or calling each other to re-connect. And at the close of the festival, when everybody just wants to get out of the human crush – this is the annoying part – they stand in the middle of the exodus, facing against traffic and slowing things down, as they wave hands and hats in the air to signal to their other group members. Because it’s totally unacceptable and inconceivable that they should, you know, meet out in the parking lot, at the car.

And on another point, what’s up with people’s insistence on using drugs and alcohol at concerts? The marijuana use I can understand to some degree, because I don’t see it having any increased ill-effects in conjunction with the heat – if you have to be inebriated to enjoy the festival, I suppose that’s the way to go. But what’s up with the people drinking alcohol? Now, I love beer. I mean I love beer. But when I’m at Coachella, beer is about the last thing I want. Why? Because alcohol always seems to increase my body heat and dehydrate me. Those are very undesirable outcomes when you are in the bone dry, 100 degree heat of the Coachella Valley. At that point, all I want is water, and maybe some sports drinks.

But on the larger issue, am I that odd for wanting to depend on the music for my intoxication? I have had some amazing experiences at concerts – the most psychedelic, out of my mind and body experiences. Religiousness, we’re talking about here. Transcending the body and self and reaching out beyond. Communing with God. Pure ecstasy, and I’m talking about the state, not the drug. And I’ve experienced this all through the music, with no assistance of drugs or alcohol. I’ve been stone-cold sober at every concert I’ve been to, and I’ve had some damn-fine times. Why aren’t more of the others doing the same?

But then, also, I’ve had a harder time achieving that same state of music-induced euphoria lately. The last time I experienced it was at Coachella 2003, and I experienced it big. All day Sunday I was dancing in the Sahara tent. The day culminated with the a massive set from Underworld, and an amazingly funky techno set from Richie Hawting. I have never danced so hard in my life. I was experiencing complete suspension of inhibitions and self. And it was bloody amazing.

However, in the few years before that, and in the years following – the current one included – I never quite attained that same level of euphoria at any concerts, and I don’t quite have they why puzzled out. Perhaps it’s age creeping up on me. Perhaps it’s related to my overall health (which was peaking in 2003). Perhaps the concerts just haven’t been as good. Whatever the case, I want that same level of rapture that I experienced at Coachella 2003 and Rave on the Rocks 1999 back. I want to experience it again and again. I want it to never stop. Perhaps those using drugs to alter their experiences are seeking the same thing. Not that I can endorse that, but this may give me a certain
degree of understanding. But then again, I think a lot of those folks are just immoral, lowly, dirty, and base party-folk. The same kind that get drunk and high every night of the week, and eat Domino’s pizza while playing video games, only to return to their crap service jobs the next day.
And that's as far as I got before my flight started boarding. Now I'm home, and I've been here for a while. I'm quite tired now, and I have to go to work tomorrow, but I feel satisfied. I feel transformed, if only slightly. I feel reconnected with the music scene, and with youth and energy in general. I feel vitality flowing back into me. Before heading home today, I went by the grocery store to pick up a few items. While I was selecting some mangos in the produce section, Depeche Mode's "Enjoy the Silence" started playing throughout the store. And I started nodding my head. And there was a bounce and sway in my step. And a shake in my ass. And I was dancing. Just so slightly, but I was dancing. That isn't something I would normally do. Normally I would enjoy the music, but find something to grumble about. But I wasn't grumbling, and I was dancing. And that is remarkable.


At 1:21 PM, Blogger Drakage said...

They play Depeche Mode at your grocery store?

At 6:15 PM, Blogger Zac said...

I think it was a freak occurance.

At 8:14 PM, Blogger Zac said...

Seriously. Rocklin is about a sterile (white 7 upper-class) place as you can find this side of Laguna Beach. I don't understand the appearance of 80s "progressive" music in my neighborhood Safeway...


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