A student goes to Coachella

I remember standing there overwhelmed with joy as confetti rained from the sky. It felt like a scene out of the movies—the kind that’s too special to pull out a phone and record. 

I don’t know whether my joy stemmed from Kid Cudi’s voice illuminating the space within Coachella’s Sahara Tent, or the fact that no matter where I looked I was surrounded by the people I had grown to love so deeply over the past four years. 

It was absolutely impossible to feel alone during that set; there wasn’t a person in that tent who wasn’t singing along right beside you. 

STAR // Gabriella Novello   Sonoma State students, alumni and their inflatable tootsie roll named Teresa pose for a group picture at the first weekend of Coachella on April 12 in Indio, California.

STAR // Gabriella Novello

Sonoma State students, alumni and their inflatable tootsie roll named Teresa pose for a group picture at the first weekend of Coachella on April 12 in Indio, California.

Coachella is interesting because it can appear to be a really vapid place. As you’re walking around the 50-acre festival grounds, you see people posing so hard for Instagram photos that it looks like they’re constipated. 

But then there’s other people who don’t go for the vanity of it. People who go for the music, the late nights with their friends, the art, the not so glamorous car camping, the food, the porta-potties—the whole experience. 

And after camping and attending the festival with nearly 40 other students and alumni from Sonoma State, that is exactly what I got—the whole experience. 

Everyone left Wednesday night around 9 p.m. and caravanned until reaching Indio at sunrise. After an eight hour drive and three hours in line, we finally made it to the festival.

There’s something about spending four whole days with a group of people that’s hard to describe.

You see each other at your best, having the absolute time of your life, and even at your worst too, in the mornings, when you’re sunburnt and exhausted. I wouldn’t trade any of it. 

From Friday to Sunday, every day played out similarly to the others. We’d begin our morning by showering off the previous day’s sweat, eating overpriced burritos, and reminiscing. 

Then we’d take on the challenging task of making ourselves look acceptable through our limited access to mirrors. After a few drinks, and of course our group photo, we entered the festival grounds for our daily adventure. 

On day one, Fisher, a DJ, got the party started, and everybody lost it. 

A stacked day one included hip-hop artists Anderson .Paak and Childish Gambino. 

Them and artist Rufus Du Sol made for a perfect start to the weekend. 

“Rufus Du Sol had beautiful transitional EDM music that sounded like the perfect mix of Coldplay and House music,” says Grant Peters, a marketing major.

Day two had everything. The lineup ranged from Yung Bae to Mac Demarco to Juice Wrld to Tame Impala. It was capped by the unforgettable Kid Cudi, who had us all reliving our middle school memories. 

Day three featured artists like YG, Zedd, Khalid, Billie Eilish, Dillon Francis and Nghtmre, to name just a few. 

The entire weekend, artists decorated the desert sky with beautiful melodies. 

It’s a wonder how a group our size managed to not lose each other at a festival with 120,000 people. 

We carried a giant inflatable tootsie roll, named Teresa at last year’s Coachella, and traded off dancing with it during the sets. We held it up in the air as a beacon to people who wandered off to catch different sets, and it never failed to reunite us.

Teresa was our mascot, our day one, our ride or die, and will peacefully retire in Brady Wells’s closet until next year.

I believe that it doesn’t matter what you are doing in life, it matters who you’re with.

Coachella is a series of top-tier experiences. There’s fascinating artwork and music that leaves you breathless. But if it wasn’t for the people I shared those experiences with, it wouldn’t have been anywhere near the same. 

I won’t forget the value of baby wipes when camping, Lucas Pfeiffer trying to convince us all that the music was making him smarter, and never being able to truly decide if DJ Snake’s set was amazing or absolute trash.

The blisters still remain on my feet, but they were worth the moments next to my best friends that felt like cinematic masterpieces.

At Coachella, I experienced electric moments I wish I could bottle up forever and save for a classic Rohnert Park rainy day.

So, until next year, Coachella.