The Coachella experience

Coachella is always a desert transformed — an oasis for the noisy, the avant garde and those who get down and dirty. This year, business executives and punk rockers commiserated in the name of rock ‘n’ roll, electronica and hip-hop — anything to make their head spin, hands clap or hips shake.

For first-timers, the most immediate sensation is the smell — a pungent combination of aerosol sunscreen, cigarettes, horse excrement, french fries and marijuana smoke that wafts to the sky, as if an incense offering to the music gods above.

A crowdsurfer enjoys the Bassnectar set. - Dan Doperalski | Daily Trojan

This is hipster Christmas: high-waisted shorts, fanny packs and suspenders abound. There were endless bad tattoos, fedora hats, exposed bellies (flat and round alike), multicolored dreadlocks, surface piercings, kilt-wielding men, war paint, whimsical feathers and bare feet.

The elaborate campgrounds contained shelters fashioned of car doors, tarps, sticks, PVC pipes, places for community sculptures — even a roller rink and a swing set.

It was strange to see something so subversive and so corporate at the same time. Littered in between giant sculptures made of trash, a huge origami crane and a tube that shoots up intermittent flames were mini marketing havens. H&M, Red Bull and even State Farm Insurance enticed attendees to buy stuff from their white tents.

There were foreign tourists whose English only functioned when rapping along to De La Soul and 12-year-old girls sitting on their fathers shoulders reaching out to B.o.B. Elderly men in mohawks rocked out to The Specials, and groups of frat tanks spun glowsticks to the tune of Tiësto.

Everyone comes back from the weekend with feet covered in a film of mud, dry grass and various food sauces that were spilled on the ground.

Coachella is three days of heightened unreality, hula hoops and ferris wheels spinning to the high-pitched screech of a turntable scratch. It leaves your heart ringing, your wallet empty, your heels aching, your nose burnt and your mouth dry. You mught have lost your phone, broken your camera and forgotten in which dusty, hot lot you left your car, but even during that slow, long trudge back to civilization, one thing can be said — Coachella is a trip.

To view a slidehow of Coachella photos, click here.

For more Coachella coverage, click here.