Jacob Lusk of Gabriels with Sean Cox, post-weep. Credit: Matt King

The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival attracts many varied groups of humans. You’ve got the music lovers, the art lovers, the festival lovers, the influencers, the celebrities, the party animals, the introverts—and everyone else in between.

Seeing as each weekend draws an estimated 125,000 attendees, it’s packed—and with all these different groups of people from all around the world, you’re gonna hear some interesting things.

Here are six interesting things I overheard during Coachella Weekend 2.

“One hundred percent of people who sit eventually die.”

Coachella is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s three days of nonstop music—and increasing heat. This year, Weekend 2 featured daily high temperatures of 95 degrees, 96 degrees and 98 degrees. You have to pace yourself to survive the long, hot, sweaty days, and that means taking a break and sitting down. I heard this at 2:30 p.m. on Friday. Jazz duo Domi & JD Beck were slated to go on in a few minutes. While some people preserved their energy by sitting down, others stood and waited. In one group, the lone member standing uttered this to his friends who were playing the long game.

“You guys enjoying the smell of skin?”

Coachella can, at times, be a claustrophobic nightmare. It’s like any concert where you’re packed in like sardines; just imagine more than 100,000 sardines in a slightly bigger can. Some tents and stages get so packed that it can be hard to leave, and going anywhere after 4 p.m. is going to take a while, especially if you’re with a group. Bass virtuoso Thundercat is no stranger to the festival, performing on his own in 2017 and making a number of guest appearances over the years. He came out with Domi and JD Beck, and he pulled from his Coachella history when he asked the crowd this unique question.

“We’re all gonna sit here, shut down the main stage, and wait for BlackPink.”

A total of 167 artists were featured on the Coachella lineup this year. There was something for everyone, including the most diverse groups of headliners ever—yet a huge group of devoted fans on Saturday were so singularly focused on seeing South Korean girl-group Blackpink headline the Coachella stage that they camped out near the rails of the stage as early as noon, when gates opened, for the scheduled 9:20 p.m. set. Blankets, umbrellas and a lot of sunscreen were scattered around the front of the main stage as fans saved up their energy for the evening’s main performance. Of course, four other acts were set to perform at the Coachella stage prior to Blackpink. Marc Rebillet was first up; he’s an improvisational musician who uses comedy and a looper pedal to create every song of his set from scratch. He relies on the crowd to steer his performance, and asked attendees a few times which bass sounds they liked better. Unfortunately, many of the Blackpink stans couldn’t be bothered to stand and enjoy Rebillet’s set, causing him to get a little frustrated. After busting through some of the breakaway props scattered around his living-room-inspired set, he came out to the catwalk and had a seat after proclaiming this.

“I’m a grown man, and I full-on wept.”

In past years, Weekend 1 has been riddled with tech problems and dubbed as “influencer-chella,” while Weekend 2 features fewer kinks, more locals and a lot more music. This year’s lineup featured acts you can dance to, mosh to, sing along to, enjoy from afar, or bawl your eyes out to. I ran into Sean Cox, owner of Finders Keepers Records in La Quinta, after an emotional moment he had watching soul trio Gabriels. Not only was he wowed by the music they had planned; Cox shared how a technical malfunction led lead singer Jacob Lusk to break into an impromptu, soul-crushing cover of Barbra Streisand’s “The Way We Were.”

“That guy has gotta be hating his life right now.”

Coachella has always been a place to see outfits you’ll probably never see again. It’s almost become a fashion show in recent years—but the hot temperatures are Mother Nature’s way of encouraging people to wear as little as possible. You can see the fundamental conflict here. Right after seeing a woman walk by with a tail made out of what looked to be paper plates, I saw a man in full astronaut attire (see below). This was overheard shortly after.

Credit: Matt King

“Frank Ocean made Weekend 2 the best weekend.”

The festival never comes without controversy, and this year, the disastrous performance by Frank Ocean during Weekend 1 made headlines for all the wrong reasons. What was apparently supposed to be an elaborate performance complete with ice-skaters ended up being a stripped-down, low-key set featuring Ocean either offstage or sitting down. Half of his set was just a DJ’d series of his songs, and he didn’t even sing along to them. Before Weekend 2, it was announced that Ocean had suffered an ankle injury and couldn’t perform, leaving Goldenvoice to replace him with Weekend 1’s last-minute surprise, Blink-182, along with an all-star trio of producers Four Tet, Fred Again and Skrillex. While it’s debatable whether these replacements are on the same level as Frank Ocean, I overheard someone say this to a friend early Sunday.

Matt King is a freelance writer for the Coachella Valley Independent. A creative at heart, his love for music thrust him into the world of journalism at 17 years old, and he hasn't looked back. Before...

One reply on “Coachella 2023: Six Things Overheard at the Festival”

  1. The only thing that was hurting on Frank Ocean was his ego, his performance was deplorable and I’m glad he’s being disowned by goldenvoice for dipping out on his fans for weekend 2

Comments are closed.