Besides the hellish Indio sun, the burning Coachella question is always: "Where the hell am I gonna stay once I get there?" If you haven't already made accommodations-and don't want to shell out $100 bucks a night for an air-conditioned room 30 miles out of town-then you should definitely camp.
For less than $40 you can camp on-site at Coachella for three nights without the hassle of finding parking the next day. Although there are some added perks this year (an Internet café, a "cantina," etc.), the experience of being outdoorsy with thousands of fellow sweaty music lovers is both enlightening and miserable.
Here are some tips they don't give you on the website to ensure that "roughing it" goes as smoothly as possible:
1. Get there early! The smart ones get there Friday afternoon or evening. If you already have a camping ticket and arrive Saturday morning, you're still likely to get a choice spot next to the porta-shitters. If you don't have a camping ticket (which usually sell out late Friday evening), then you're shit-outta-luck. Have fun with the hippies in Joshua Tree!
2. Spring for a tent. It's all good to just sleep out on the grass. But even with a great sleeping bag, that adiabatic wind can be a cold mistress at night. You can skip the guilt of shopping at Wal-Mart by perusing some of the name-brand tents at used sporting goods stores.
3. If it's worth more than your ticket, don't bring it. Although they now offer storage for your laptop while you're in the concert, why risk it? If you can't go three nights without seeing if anyone left you a new comment on MySpace, chances are your heart's not in this anyway.
4. The security guards don't care. The Coachella website says no alcohol is allowed on the campgrounds. The truth, though, is they don't mind as long as it's out of sight. But as in the real world, don't press your luck and try to sneak beer past the gate. Instead, we might suggest carrying a 24-pack of Arrowhead water and filling a couple bottles with a similarly clear liquid (Vodka, moonshine, frog secretions). The people in yellow jackets don't get paid enough to smell your bottles.
5. Go to bed before dawn. The noise curfew of 2 a.m. isn't really enforced. Everybody's up partying. Why go to bed early at all? Because at about 7 a.m. your tent starts to heat up. By 8 a.m., it feels like you're trying to sleep in an oven set to "broil." Nothing adds to the joy of a hangover like sleep deprivation.
6. Leave the perishables. Eating sushi that's been left in a 120-degree tent all day makes Mr. Stomach sad. Ice chest or not, stick to food that won't go bad in the heat. Better yet, swing by R.E.I. or an Army Surplus and get some M.R.E.s (Meals Ready to Eat). They can withstand any temperature and are surprisingly tasty (I recommend the ravioli).
7. Bring your shower shoes. The joy of your whole weekend will be waiting in line to use one of the type of showers you haven't seen since the high-school locker room. They may look clean, but like Madonna, chances are they're plagued by tiny organisms that a case of Tinactin couldn't combat.
If you follow these steps (and pack some nuclear holocaust-grade sun block), roughing Coachella will be a vastly more pleasurable experience.