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Posted at 12:31 PM ET, 04/19/2012

Coachella: A survival guide

The twee-hologram-face-painted fest that is Coachella set a record for attendance last weekend, according to NBC, with some 80,000 people in attendance. I happened to be one of them, battling the hoardes to catch a glimpse of my favorite artists.
This is not a photograph of the author. (Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Coachella)

Here’s what to expect — and how to survive — the desert festival:

1. All the surprises have been ruined by now.

But who cares? Tupac is creepily resurrected in a 2-D hologram, Rihanna makes a cameo during Calvin Harris’s DJ set and rap kings 50 Cent, Eminem and Wiz Khalifa join Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg on stage for a wild, wild, West Coast reunion.


AVICII (Mark Davis/Getty Images)
2. Hydrate, seriously:

The projected temperatures for all of weekend two are above 100 degrees. And dry as West Coast heat may be, you’re no match for triple digits. Fortunately, the festival encourages hydration by tossing out free bottles of water to die hard fans that get trapped in the front of the stages and don’t want to lose their spot to fetch water. Also, if you pick up 10 empty water bottles off the ground, you can turn them in and receive a full bottle of water free.
People dancing amid sculptures at Coachella. (David McNew/Reuters)

3. Ride the ferris wheel:

Cheesy? Maybe. Fun? Absolutely. Due to the $5 charge, the lines during weekend one were small. And the view of the California desert— and the thousands of trustafarians dancing beneath you — is worth every penny.

4. Early birds get the worms:

It might be tough to wrestle yourself out of bed at a decent hour, but beating the crowds pays off. Stand in the front row on Friday as Gary Clark Jr. makes you rethink everything you know about the blues. On Saturday, you’ll have plenty of space to let your freak flag fly while Azaelia Banks dishes out saucy rap. And on Sunday, seek shade in the Sahara tent for Zedd, one of electronic music’s hottest new DJs who is opening for Lady Gaga on her European tour following Coachella.

5. Surrender your plans to the festival gods:

The fact is, you’re not going to make every performance on your must-see list, and that’s okay. The best thing about Coachella is the chance to stumble upon bands you’ve never heard of and fall in love. Can’t see Gotye or M83 because the stages are overflowing? Hit up Afrojack or Nero instead. And no matter what, do yourself a favor and don’t miss Flying Lotus. When he dropped Tyler, the Creator’s “Yonkers,” as half of Odd Future danced nearby, you would have thought the entire Gobi Tent had caught fire. (Hey, I had to brag at least once about weekend one, right?)

By  |  12:31 PM ET, 04/19/2012

 
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