Left My Heart in the Desert / by Nadia Fallahi

“Are you just as sad as Nadia is to miss Coachella this year???” -An actual question my mom asked Camille at dinner last week.

Well it’s almost that time of year, and I am pretty sure every person that knows me knows how much I have been dreading the next three weeks.  (I mean, watch the video above and try to tell me that doesn't look like paradise.)  The famous (or infamous?) Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival will be taking place in Indio, California (basically Palm Springs for those unaware) over the next two weekends.  The polo fields will welcome almost 85,000 visitors decked out in flower crowns, flash tattoos and floppy hats for three days of food, music, fashion and good ol times with friends.  

Even though I have only made the pilgrimage East twice, I feel that I have a pretty good understanding of the festival and how to really do the festival right (well, maybe).  From where to eat to what to wear and who to see (and some other hidden gems!), I am here to give you all the Coachella tips that will ensure an amazing weekend.  I mainly had to put this together because it is my only way to live through the festival from sooooooo so far away, but not to worry, I’ll be all up on Instagram, Twitter and YouTube to make sure I am there for almost every minute.

Some of the best memories of college and my life (basic, I know) have been at Coachella.  I have had the most amazing weekends in Indio, and these are (some) stories I will share with my children and their children.  I literally get chills anytime I look back at my photos or hear songs I remember seeing live.  Not to mention, my phone background has been Magic Hour for I don't even know how long.  It’s incredible that these almost one hundred thousand people all come to the polo fields and every single one will have a completely different experience.  I love connecting with other people who have gone and listening to them reflect on their experience.  Whether you are going to see your favorite band, working or just tagging along because every other single person you know is going, you will most likely have a good time.  


Before I get to the other important things, here are a couple tips to keep in mind when going to the desert.  These are things I make sure to do and would highly recommend to anyone.

1. Turn on Find My iPhone & Invest in a Mophie Case

Sunday night of my first Coachella, I was running through the crowd with my friend, Caroline, as we were going to meet up with friends before Disclosure.  I went to text one of our friends once we got to the spot where we were to meet them, but alas, my phone which I thought I had dropped in my bag was gone.  Of course, it was the one and only device on my Apple account not connected with Find My iPhone.  You would be really surprised at how many people find phones at Coachella and turn them in.  Luckily, a girl from USC found my phone, and I collected it the next day.  Either way, I can only very extremely highly recommend registering with Find My iPhone (also maybe back your phone up before you leave).

Additionally, you will be using your phone a good amount between taking photos, checking set times and trying to meet up with people.  I would never go to any festival without a Mophie rechargeable case.  Nothing is worse then getting lost with a dead phone or seeing a celeb you love and not being able to add it to your Snap Story.  Also, take the charger with you so you can get some extra juice if needed.  


2. BYOWater Bottle (and drink a whole lot of WATER)

Surprise, it’s going to be really hot at Coachella.  The easiest thing you can do is hydrate.  I like to bring my own bottle so I can either buy a bottle of water to dump into it or refill at the free stations throughout the grounds.  Having your own bottle makes it so much easier for when you may really need to cool down and grab a sip.  I feel like the most cases reported at Coachella have to do with dehydration, so definitely make sure to stay up on that.  



3. Don’t Eat at the Same Food Stall Twice (Except for the watermelon, of course)

Coachella KILLS it on the food. (Click here to see the glories of last year and here to see what's in store this year.)  While it may seem like whatever, they make sure to bring in actual food establishments to open stalls at Coachella.  Some of the most delicious things I have ever tasted have been from Coachella, like the INCREDIBLE paella, for example.  You can pick up a little booklet at the gates on the first day and read through all the different restaurants that have stalls.  I definitely gotta recommend the paella (I mean you REALLY have to try it), Pad Thai and individual pizzas (also I think I have a burrito either last year or the year before that was really good).  These places are usually from around LA or Palm Springs and have good reputations in the food world.  Coachella was also where I tried Salt & Straw the first time, for which I will be forever grateful.  Literally just try as many different spots as possible, and don’t worry, it’s totally fine to get the watermelon every day and take pictures — we’ve literally all been there.

4. Download the Coachella App

Coachella has their very own app you can download right to your smartphone.  Get updates on any announcements, hear about sandstorm warnings and keep up with artists.  I love that you can build your own schedule right in the app, complete with settimes and stages.  The Coachella app is a LIFE SAVER!!


5. Order/Buy Your Outfits and Other Items NOW

I will get more into the clothes in a second, but make sure to have everything you want to take like this weekend (or next if you’re going Weekend 2).  I rush ordered so much stuff last year (fanny packs, face jewels, flower crowns) from Amazon and Etsy last year, and my mom was so confused as to why she kept getting emails about my orders.   It is so scary to wait on your things to come, especially if it’s set to be delivered on Thursday…  Pretty much, just try to rack up on everything sooner than later so you’re not scavenging around.


6. Use Installations as Meeting Spots

Coachella and Goldenvoice commission some of the coolest installations to be exhibited at Coachella every year (see above for a BTS of last year).  While they are very worth checking out, they are also very useful as meeting points.  Since majority of the installations (except like the past spaceman, caterpillar, butterfly and whatever they are gonna have this year) are stationary, you should use them as a place to meet up, especially since your phones are going to not work as well on the grounds.  Last year, Corporate Headquarters was a pretty popular spot for my friends and I to meet up at.  On that note, if you’re going with a bigger group (basically anything over like 3 people), pick where to meet at the end of the night.  That way if anyone gets lost or their phone dies, you can all reconvene in a single spot.  Last year, the girls I went with all decided to meet at the past festival flyer stakes by the ferris wheel under like 2006 or something, which worked really well.

7. Go to Every Tent (Especially The Do Lab and Yuma Tent)

There is a lot going on at Coachella, and different artists will perform all over the grounds.  While I feel like most of the bigger performers will be at the Main or Outdoor Stages, it is definitely worth the trek to the other sides of the grounds to see the other tents.  I spent a hefty amount of time in the Sahara Tent last year (really still not sure why), but I wish I got to spend more time at The Do Lab and the Yuma Tent, like I did in 2014.  The Do Lab is a company that gets to creates their own stage kind of in the back behind the food where smaller DJs will play.  Everyone is having the time of their lives there as every single body is moving every which way while being hosed down from every angle.  It’s hot at Coachella, and The Do Lab is the perfect place to cool down in the daytime.  The Yuma Tent is not as known, but it is probably the coolest.  It used to be by The Do Lab, but they moved it to the front last year.  Smaller DJs will play there too, and it’s the best because it’s all enclosed (hello A/C!) with couches around the perimeter and the infamous shark disco ball hanging high.  The Yuma Tent feels like an underground club, and there is always enough room to bust a move.  Make a stop here to see different people play.  I saw Duke Dumont play there on Friday afternoon my Freshman year, and he played the Sahara Tent on Saturday night last year, so I think it’s only obvious that it’s worth a visit.

8. Be Aggressive in the Crowds, but NOT Obnoxious

I am lucky enough to be pretty small compared to most festival-goers at Coachella, so moving through a crowd to get to the front is pretty easy.  However, no one wants (or needs) to be that obnoxious person taking up a whole space or blatantly blocking someone.  Definitely try to fish through to get the front but know when it ain’t gonna happen.  The easiest way to do this is by looking for open spaces or (my personal favorite) literally follow people who seem to be doing the same.  These people are trying to do what you are, and they will start to break the space up, making it easier for you and your friends to follow behind.  If you’re going to the Main Stage or Sahara, it most likely won’t work as well (especially at Main), so just be weary.  Maybe, though, you'll be lucky enough to have a friend of yours get called over so all of you can be let on to one of the handicap platforms to watch The Weeknd close out Saturday (one of the coolest things, ever).


9. Check Out People You May Not Know or Like

I cannot stress this enough.  I’m not saying that if you’re a huge Black Keys fan, as I am, that you should waste your time going to see Jack White, but maybe go see someone you may not have thought of twice before.  I have seen sooooo many dope performers that I would not have initially tried to see.  Sometimes, they’re not great (Kaskade) but other times they are (Duke Dumont, Anna Lunoe, Sylvan Esso).  The biggest surprise to me was Dillon Francis (right) in 2014.  We were at Kid Cudi, and I wanted to stay for MGMT right after, but Caroline insisted we Dillon.  I hesitated but ended up agreeing, and the rest was history (I really, really love hime now).  One of the biggest points of festivals is to try new things, so might as well do it at Coachella!

Additionally, just because someone is really hyped (Drake) does not mean that they will be.  Even if that performer seems like they will kill it (Drake) and seem to bring out hella guests (Drake), they (Drake) might not be worth it at all. (Any person who liked Drake at Coachella last year or said he was the greatest performer to close the festival is basic and tasteless).  If you want to see someone real bad at the same time (Kygo), go see that person (Kygo) or split your time.  (Can you tell I really regret picking Drake over Kygo???)


10. Don’t Stress and Have Fun!

Coachella is an amazing, fun time, so make the most of it and enjoy yourself!  It only happens once a year (well, I guess technically twice), so you must make sure to leave the stress at the gates and just go for it.  Try something new, eat the watermelon, decide to dance at the back of the crowd to your favorite band, meet up with friends, take lots of photos.  Don’t try to see every single artist you want to because it’s not gonna happen.  Coachella is so incredible, so make sure to just enjoy yourself.  


One of the biggest elements of Coachella is the fashion, without a doubt.  I usually start trying to piece outfits together during Winter Break, so that I have a clear vision.  I opt to go for outfits that are (obviously) cute, but at the end of the day, are comfortable and functional.  I want to look good, but I also need to make sure I can stand by hour 6.  Here are some tips (mainly for girls):


Start looking or brainstorming early.  Try to stay out of Urban, Free People, LF, etc. because a lot of people will go there and get the same things.  I like wearing random pieces I have already owned or going to thrift stores or smaller boutiques so that my pieces are a little more unique.  Obviously, there is a good chance of seeing someone in a similar outfit, so try to stay simple and chic (or pick nothing like these guys on the left).  Also, if your friends are skeptical about something (like my neon dress freshman year), but you are really keen on it, just go for it.  Don’t spend too much money because you will most likely not wear these things a lot (or even at all) again.  Try to stay away from things that are too extravagant or complicated, also.  Finally, DON'T FORGET SUNGLASSES!



First, don’t even think about flip flops or any shoe that can easily fall off.  Also, make sure to bring more than one pair for the weekend because you never know what will happen.  I usually like to go for Converse or boots because they are the most durable and I don’t care what happens to them (getting dirty, ruined).  I have tried to wear sandals before, but I often choose not to because I like my feet and need them, so I would want them to get stomped on or messed up.  Additionally, I worry about sandals creating more problems and having a greateer chance of being ruined, but to each their own.



Coachella is in the desert (duh), so it will be really hot in the day and really chilly at night.  The best thing you can do to withstand the change is to layer.  I’m not saying like a shirt, sweater and coat, but wearing something that can come off during the day and go back on at night or carrying an extra shirt of some sort to put on later.  I always like to wear some shorts and bikini top or bralette under my outfits, so that if I get too hot at day, I can take off my top layer (usually a tunic or flowy top, or see my romper wrapped, right) and have it to put back on at night.  A lot people forget how chilly it can get at night and end up dropping a coin on sweatshirts.  Also, there can be sandstorms (like 2014), which are miserable, so it’s great to have an extra layer on.



Flower Crowns

You know you want to do it, so just do it.  Just don’t do it everyday.

Side note: How dope did my nails look last year!!


Everyone wants their cliché photo in a floppy hat, but just remember that you have to carry it around all day (and it’s hot).  Wear at your own risk.



I never understood the bandana thing until the sandstorm.  Now, I try to always remember to bring one with me in my bag.  The dust can be pretty brutal, so it’s worth having one on you.  Plus, I feel kind of like a badass wearing it around the grounds.


You definitely do not want to be carrying around a ton of things during the day not do you really need to.  My first year, I opted for a small cross-body bag, and last year, I chose a fanny pack.  Both were great, but I would probably go with the fanny pack again.  A lot of people will also choose small backpacks.  All are great options.  Just make sure it’s something you would feel comfortable with carrying around the whole day and will fit everything you will need for the day.  I try to limits the contents I carry to: phone with Mophie, charger, wallet, bandana, water bottle (which usually will not fit in bag), sunglasses and sometimes an extra shirt.  Keep it light!


The single most important part of Coachella is (duh) the music!!! I CANNOT stand anyone who is like “The lineup this year sucks!” because people literally say that every single year.  Not to mention, you go and see people you like and not see who you don’t.  Even with that said, you probably will not see everyone you want to see.  There are a ton of artist I would want to see this year, so I chose to break it into a few categories — Must Watch, Should Stop By and Worth Checking Out.  These are in no particular order within each category, and I also did the favor of breaking it down by day.  Make sure to checkout the set times when they get released and try to plan out incase any artists you like overlap.  Sometimes, they will last minute switch the day an artist will perform -- like with What So Not being moved to Sunday when being listed under Saturday on the lineup.  Also, you probably will not see every artist you like on the lineup, so, again, DO NOT STRESS YOURSELF OUT trying to see everyone!   


Must Watch

Stromae, Cashmere Cat and Jamie xx at Coachella 2015


Jack Ü

Daddy two times!  Diplo and Skrillex will bring their duo project to Coachella.  Jack Ü has seen amazing success since the release of their debut album just 14 months ago (I mean, they even won a Grammy).  Their set is very fun as they bring their songs in the mix with other Diplo or Skrillex songs and other popular songs.  Jack Ü will DEFINITELY bring guests (think Bieber, AlunaGeorge, Kai), so it is not to be missed!



Skepta is probably the name on this list most people will be unfamiliar with.  Maybe his track “Shutdown,” or recent news of Drake joining Skepta’s label will help refresh your memory.  Over here in the UK, Skepta is a bit of a bigger deal, and you will not go to any club without hearing a track of his.  His fusion of rap and grime (and I ain't talking RL, yet) mold into this stunning collection of songs that would be bangers anywhere.  Skepta is sure to blow up after this year, so this can be your “I saw him before he was popular” nod.  I love how distinguishable and stark his voice is, and I think he would create a lit set for Coachella.


Purity Ring

Purity Ring has literally played in LA like three times in the last year, and I have managed to miss every single one of those performances.  I originally got hooked on Purity Ring my freshman year with songs like “Lofticries,” and my love for them has only grown since then.  They put out their latest album Another Eternity in 2015, which has mindblowing tracks I can’t even imagine live.  Their show will be really sweet and emotional, in the sense that the songs aren’t hard like RL Grime’s but still being able to touch each person.  



RL Grime

One of my biggest regrets was not stopping at RL Grime’s set my freshman year.  He has been blowing up since then.  Part of the Wedidit Collective, Grime has had incredible collabs and tracks released.  His sound is so crisp and strong, and I cannot help but want to “go in,” as the kids say, whenever I hear one of his tracks.  He plays one of the hardest sets (I haven’t even seen him, just listened to sets and mixes online), so I know that he will BRING IT for Coachella this year.  I will be excited to see what he plays and if he introduces any new tracks.


A$AP Rocky

Brenden and I saw A$AP Rocky at the Fourth Annual Odd Future Carnival in the Fall, and boy, what a set.  It literally got so out of control, that we opted to leave for Tyler, which is saying a lot.  A$AP Rocky has been everywhere the last couple of years, and his fans are very loyal.  Expect to hear all the bangers along with a moshpit or two (or ten). The crowd will be really hyped and ready to go.  Enter at your own risk and be prepared to be amazed by every aspect. (Here’s to wishing he would bring out Lana and do “Ridin.’”)



I literally have the worst luck with trying to see Grimes.  Homegirl and I are always crossing paths in some way, yet I still have never seen her.  I became obsessed with Grimes in high school after being so fascinated by her craft and voice.  She is immensely talented, and every time I watch her liver performances I am so taken aback.  Not to mention, she does most of her creation, production and performing alone, so it shows how talented the girl is.  I love watching her interviews because she’s like a little fairy.  Grimes’s album Visions is probably still my faborite, but her new album, Art Angels, is really amazing.  I hope that she also plays OSL because she is literally playing every other festival this year.  I also love how close she and Blood Diamond are because they create such rad music together (tbt to the two times I’ve met him in LA randomly).



A lot people don’t realize that AlunaGeorge is actually two people.  With that said, however, I am not even sure if George is still technically a member as Aluna seems to be everywhere these days and really taken over he project.  Either way, I would KILL to see AlunaGeorge at Coachella again.  They performed there in 2014, and we stopped by for a quick second on our ways through the grounds.  I really wish I would have been able to see more of the set as I have heard that they really put on a good show.  Aluna will also be sure to pop up at a few different sets as homegirl was featured on hella tracks this year.



Major Lazer

Anyone that knows me how much I love (Daddy) Diplo.  Major Lazer is a collaboration project he runs with Jillionaire and Walshy Fire.  Diplo had an incredible year in 2015 with his own projects, Major Lazer and Jack Ü, so I do not doubt that 2016 will be even more unreal.  I personally prefer Major Lazer to Jack Ü because I love the more reggae, moombahton feel to the music.  I vibe more with the songs, and I think that the Major Lazer live set is more fun.

Major Lazer has been releasing banger on banger, so their set on Sunday night will be incredible.  This set will definitely be well worth your time, as they will play their oldies (“Jet Blue Jet”) as well as their newer hits (“Lean On,” “Light it Up (Remix)”).  They will also bring out special guests.  No one can deny the contagious energy their set brings, and I am so unbelievably upset to be missing this.   Also, they will REALLY BLOW YOUR MIND when they drop "Sound Bang," so make sure to familiarize yourself with that banger (the video doesn't seem as dope but this was the best way I could show what they do).



I keep telling people I would rather see Sia any day over Adele. Now, I know you must think I’m crazy, but that’s because I would rather pay to see a talented performer with an actual show.  Sia’s known for covering her face in public and not being the center of attention in her shows (so now you must think I’m really crazy for choosing her over Adele).  This is all because, she wants the audience to focus on the music itself as it comes alive through dancing and other shenanigans.  Knowing how crafty and sharp Sia is, along with how much I love her voice and music, I know that she will create a very special and unique performance for Coachella.  I am PRAYING she plays Outside Lands or tours so I can finally see her.  Her new album, This Is Acting, is so so so good, but I would be most excited to (of course) hear “Elastic Heart.”


My bebe!!!! Flume and I shared our first Coachella together — well kind of.  He played the first time I went, and he dropped that oh so well-known “Tennis Court” remix.  Flume was INCREDIBLE at Coachella in 2014, so I wonder what he will do this year.  With this new album, Skin, coming closer to release, his show will feature a bunch of new tracks.  The two singles he has put out so far, as well as the LP Preview he did, were unreal.  His live show is so fun, and his mixing is next level.  Between Coachella and the other club show I saw of his, Flume knows how to work a crowd as he masters his craft.  




Also, never forget that one time I met Flume at a Kanye West show in LA.





Calvin Harris

I am not even gonna try to admit that me tearing up when hearing “Sweet Nothing” in Harrods the other day was embarrassing.  I can’t even count how many times I have seen Calvin Harris live, but each has been especially phenomenal.  This is so basic, but I do love Calvin Harris’s live set.  He has so much amazing material the play, along with a bunch of other tracks that mesh so well together.  Calvin Harris was a highlight from 2014, and I literally get goosebumps every time I hear his music.  He played right at Magic Hour, so it was just perfect.  Calvin Harris will (probably) close out the festival, so make sure to end your weekend here (I promise, it will be a TON better than Drake.)


Should Stop By

What So Not at Coachella 2015; Kid Cudi and Shlohmo at Coachella 2014


Sam Feldt

Literally everywhere with his songs and remixes this year.  Will be a vibey, fun set.


I loooooved their abum, Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, so I would be interested to see how they translate live.

Louis the Child

Shoutouts to the Trojan Fam!! So cool to see their growth since I found out about them in the Fall.  Expect a lot of USC kids there and a whole bunch of basics.  They also have a really good new track on Soundcloud.

Of Monsters and Men

Their Glastonbury set from a few years ago is so perfect.  Their songwriting is incredible and each song is so sweet and would sound so crisp live.

Rae Sremmurd

Bound to be a very lit set.  Tons of people will roll through, including (I hope) some great special guests.  Don’t forget to Snapchat when they perform “No Type,” or as Nima calls it, the “let me Snapchat this” song.


Vince Staples

Bro has been gloin’ up in the last year.  He’s come a long way from just being another name on the Odd Future roster.  Expect him to play a killer set with some guests, and he will probably show up at other sets too (FLUME).


A recent love of mine, RÜFÜS DE SOL, is playing hella festivals this year alllllllll over.  Their songs have been on almost every playlist I’ve made recently.  Definitely worth checking out, even if you’ve never heard their material before.


The first time I saw Disclosure at Coachella in 2014 was AMAZING!!!!! Then, I saw them in LA this last fall and was not any bit impressed.  I’m not too hyped on their recent album, so I probably wouldn’t stay the whole set, but I would in hopes of special guests and the older bangers.

Guns N' Roses

Just come thru because when else would you see them.

Run the Jewels

I wish I liked Run the Jewels more last year because I would have definitely have seen them (same with how I feel about Carnage).  Run the Jewels really has some heavy bangers that are probably unreal live.  Expect them in Sahara. 


Another member of the Trojan Family, ZHU has seen immense success in the last few years.  I think that “Faded” was probably one of the biggest songs of 2014.  His tracks with Aluna are some of my favorites, and I am interested to see how his set will pan out.  You probably will recognize a lot of his material.



Pharrell, Anna Lunoe and Flume at Coachella 2014


Nina Las Vegas 

Years & Years

Robert DeLong



Miike Snow

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros



And there you have it, folks.  My short(ish) guide to Coachella.  I am insanely devastated to miss the festival this year, but I cannot wait to see what happens.  I am going to have the craziest FOMO, so expect many a throwback Instagram from my weekends there.

Coachella has taught me many life lessons: sacrifice, stamina, persistence, organization, prioritization, etc.  The festival will forever hold a special place in my heart forever.  I hope to tell my grandkids about my memories that I cherish so dearly.  If USC wasn’t screwing me out of a Spring Break, you know I would have come back in a heartbeat.  At the end of the day, I am grateful to be in London and know that I will have an even crazier time next year.




Matcha Had me...reminiscing over the most amazing weekends and starting to stock up on caffeine to get ready for that live stream.