Coachella Music Festival: A Beginner's Guide to Surviving the Crowds, the Heat, and the Spectacle

The Coachella Music Festival is one the best pound-for-pound musical gluts in the country, attracting the best performers, old and new, from the hip-hop, indie, and alt-rock scenes. If Lollapalooza crafted the template, Coachella perfected it. Coachella 2011 runs from April 15-17. If you want to have a happy (and healthy) weekend, there are a few basic survival tips you need to keep in mind.

1. Pre-show Checklist
The excitement of being at the festival can sometimes trump common sense, and it can be surprisingly easy to leave behind basic items at your hotel or campsite on the way in. So make a list, and check before your crew gets to the parking lot at Coachella. Music festival staff are friendly, but you can't get in without a ticket. And you'll want to bring other items – cash, advil, bandaids, earplugs, and whatever else you think you might need, because once you're in, you're not going to want to leave until it's over.

2. Respect the Heat
For all its high points, it's easy to forget that the Coachella Music Festival takes place in the desert. That means it gets hot. Very, very hot – with daytime temperatures easily exceeding 100 degrees daily during a bad year. Do not forget a good hat, sunglasses, and plenty of sunscreen, and be prepared to consume anywhere between six and ten bottles of water a day (you can't bring water bottles inside, but it's a good idea to buy one and refill it at the water fountains on site). That much water might sound crazy if you're coming from the chilly North, but trust me – it isn't.

3. Don't Lose Your Friends
That sounds obvious, but it's easy to lose someone in a crowd of 100,000 people at Coachella. Makes sure your cell phones are charged (and bring a charger), and pick a good spot to meet up at during the day so even if you lose Jim or Allison, you can be sure at least two or three times a day that they haven't been spirited away by freak-folkers or eaten by coyotes.

4. Proper Footwear
Sure, it's a desert, which means sandals, flip-flops, and maybe even those awful Croc-things (apologies to the Croc-wearing folk in the audience – I don't understand them), but you'll have hours of standing on your feet, moving from stage to stage, getting stepped on by fellow festival-goers, not to mention getting a potentially nasty burn on your toes. So bring sneakers. Your most comfortable ones. You won't regret it.

5. Respect the Rules
It goes without saying, right? But the Coachella Music Festival atmosphere is one that inspires a certain degree of revelry and free-spiritedness. That's fine within reason, but you'd hate to be the one kicked out before your favorite band even starts. The festival website has a handy list of dos, don'ts, and frequently asked questions, so take a good look at it before you go, and be respectful of your comrades-in-music. Be smart and treat Coachella right, and it can be the time of your life.

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