The Coachella Music Festival, Or How Two Middle-Aged Moms Rocked It Out with Their Teenaged Sons and Had the Time of Their Lives

April 16th, 2012

I couldn’t believe it: it was late on Sunday night and time for us to go back to the hotel, get in the car, and head home.  And I DIDN’T WANT TO LEAVE.

And yet the entire previous week, I had been trying to figure out how I could get my son, his friend, his friend’s mother (who’s my friend) to agree to leave the Coachella Music Festival as early as possible on Sunday.  I mean, how much time could someone like me really spend at a music festival?  I have a kid in college.  I wear reading glasses.  I have a band of middle-aged pudge around my waist.  I drive a minivan, for goodness sake!  I’d seen photos of people at Coachella and they’re all young and goodlooking.  Trendsetters.  The girls all dress in adorable little jeans shorts with bikini tops so their flat stomachs can be shown off.  Beautiful young hipsters should go to music festivals.  Not . . . you know . . .  me.

So I figured I’d be uncomfortable and out of place there and counting the hours until I could leave.

And I did count the hours, only it was with disappointment at how quickly they were dwindling.

I had the time of my (middle-aged, suburban) life.  One of the greatest weekends ever.  Over much too soon.

Some stand-out moments:

1. Being basically right in the front of the stage that first afternoon for Jimmy Cliff (whom I adored as a teenager and who’s still great)  and then Arctic Monkeys.  Me.  Right in front.  Screaming and cheering and singing along with the rest.  Happy as a friggin’ clam.

2. Realizing that Jimmy Cliff and Arctic Monkeys were only the beginning of days of fantastic music.  Suddenly totally getting why people love this festival.  Four stages?  Constant choices?  Music everywhere?  Unbelievable riches.

3. Making a mad dash to get Coachella hoodies for me and my son that first night when it started raining and the temperature kept dropping and dropping.  So much for the concept that the desert is always hot.  The cute little girls in their bikini tops were all stealing their boyfriends’ drug rugs and draping them over themselves to keep warm.  No matter–it was great to have an excuse to buy hoodies that listed all the performing bands on the back.  Now we’ll never forget.

4. Walking and standing all day and then collapsing into a nice warm comfy bed at night and sleeping like a baby.

5.  Feist, the Shins, Florence, Fitz and the Tantrums, Gotye, the Black Keys, etc etc etc.

6.  Fish tacos.  Really really good fish tacos.  So good that it didn’t matter that my teeth were chattering from the cold when I was eating them.

7.  Finding a few stolen moments to sneak off for a glass of wine (well, a plastic cup of wine) with my friend, the two of us sitting–actually sitting–music thumping some distance away from us, having a heart-to-heart about our families and lives, then happily getting back on our feet and heading toward the stages again to meet up with our sons and hear more great music.

8.  The young man next to me at Awolnation, who, when people started crowd surfing, turned to me and said, “Don’t worry.  I’ll watch out for you and take care of anyone who comes along.”  And then he really did.

9.  The young man with the top knot and tons of colorful make-up who was standing with a group of his very tall friends in front of me at Gotye, and who spotted me arching my neck and said kindly, “You’re smaller than me.  Come stand in front.”  (Note: I was smaller than almost everyone there.  But he was the only one who took pity on me.)

10. My 18-year-old son telling me he was glad we went together.  Even if I’d hated it, I would have loved it just for that.

So glad I went.  So very very glad.

Strolling behind the boys at Coachella.

  • Aw, I LOVE this, Claire!! I LOVE that you went with your son and I LOVE that you had a great time!!

  • Claire says:

    <3, Erin!

  • Anonymous says:

    Do you think Bono, (whom I adored as a teenager and who’s still great) will sing at Coachella in 10 years? If so, I’m coming out and maybe you can go again with Ross (the little one) and I 🙂

  • Claire says:

    Bono may be too big for Coachella . . . Although he could come as a headliner.

  • Irene Dawn says:

    I’m very pleased and proud that, not only did you actually go, you partied and rocked out with the cutoff/bikini crowd! Claire ROCKS! Once in a lifetime bonding with Johnny..priceless.

  • Anonymous says:

    Claire,
    Maybe next year you should do the New
    Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. It’s like
    Chochella on crack. 10 stages and
    every genre under the sun. Great food
    and culture make it incredible!!!

  • FreeTheMom says:

    Dreamy. I can only pray that my boys want me around when they’re 18.

  • Claire says:

    Oh, Anjale, of course they will! And you’d be the coolest mom at Coachella–you’d LOOK the part, unlike me.

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