Five hours, 150 beers and zero boredom: Coachella Day 1 by the numbers

Poetic Kinetics “Escape Velocity” moving sculpture looms over the Empire Polo Field at Coachella 2014.
Photo: Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP Photo

5: The number of hours you can expect to spend waiting in line at the festival

Lines and traffic come with the territory of any music festival—especially Coachella—but this year’s have proved to be egregiously out of control. Much like a Vegas nightclub, unless you plan on shelling out for VIP amenities, expect to factor in some significant wait time to get in anywhere from the festival itself to the different tents inside of it. Leave yourself a solid two hours each way to park at and leave the festival, as surrounding streets are marred by inexplicable road closures that seem designed solely for the purpose of creating blocks-long single-file bottlenecks. While wrangling traffic is an understandably massive undertaking for organizers, you’d think fifteen years into Coachella’s run they’d have figured a more graceful, less caste-like system for getting fans in and out.

Once inside, lines prevail at drinks stands, bathrooms and the Yuma tent, which had fans waiting up to an hour to get inside.

150: The number of beers offered inside the new Beer Barn

Taking a note from festivals like Outside Lands and Life Is Beautiful, Coachella seriously upped its food and beverage game this year with a variety of quality offerings from local chefs and breweries. The Beer Barn’s selections are diverse enough to appease the most seasoned craft brew enthusiast, while still approachable for the Average Joe. Best of all, the space itself is a low-key, shady haven offering the perfect respite—and lots of sprawling space—from the crowds beyond.

12: The number of brands offering festival “experiences”

From a Sephora makeup touch-up booth to a Samsung WiFi space, exploring Coachella’s many sponsored amenities and side experiences can make perusing the festival grounds feel a little like a trip to the mall. While many of the services are useful—who doesn’t want free WiFi, A/C and popsicles all in one place? Thanks, Fruttare!—it’s increasingly difficult to shake the feeling that someone’s trying to sell you something no matter where you go. It’s an awful kind of dissonance with the spirit of escape and community festivals are ostensibly built upon, and in the end maybe we’d rather suffer through the heat and poor Internet access than another company’s new marketing scheme.

15: The number of new art installations

Knock Coachella all you want, but there’s no disparaging the art. The festival ditched the giant snails and Burning Man-style installations of yore for some creative new pieces that might even trump the music. The new Reflection Field by Philip K. Smith initially looks like blocks of mirrors—just what the fest’s selfie-obsessed minions need, right?—but transforms into glowing interactive panels of light and color, come nightfall. “Escape Velocity” by Poetic Kinectics, meanwhile, takes the form of an enormous astronaut leaning forward mid-moonwalk—a truly surreal sight to behold as it roams the polo field, hovering over the throngs of tiny earthlings below it.

Zero: The number of people bored in the Yuma Tent

People say Coachella is no longer about the music, but they probably haven’t been inside the Yuma Tent. The newly-expanded tent, which debuted last year, offers space to both dance and engage with the music, drawing the festival’s most diverse crowd from EDM bros looking to expand beyond Swedish House Mafia to seasoned club kids dancing in memory of Frankie Knuckles. The pop-kissed house beats of wiz kids Duke Dumont and Nicolas Jaar got the crowd moving without the agenda of “raging” or groping, while still managing to train their attention on the music itself. Jaar, with his masterful manipulation of the crowd’s energy, might be the only DJ at Coachella to earn a fervent round of applause rather than cheers and fist pumps from the audience at the end of his set.

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