WARNING: This is the first time I have told anyone the following story, as I was deeply ashamed of what happened. I would not suggest following any of this as advice, because you'll find yourself in the shit pretty quickly if you do.
Coachella doesn't have in and outs, or as we call them in Australia - passouts. Once you are in the festival, you're in for the day; and once you exit the festival, you're out for the day. While would you want to leave anyway? Coachella is a place of plush green grass, chill people, awesome bands, the makings of a great festival.
So what would you do if you accidently left a festival and weren't done for the day? For me, this was a reality.
It all started earlier that day. My friend Juan managed to get the hookup - premium VIP wristbands that allowed full access. They are emerald green and feature the Coachella logo, clip-art of palm trees and most importantly - the letters VIP. I'm special and can go anywhere - how cool is this! He puts on the band and I celebrate with him, heading to one of the states to catch some tunes. Following said tunes, I see him off and decide to head backstage to check things out. Maybe I'd see a few rockstars and have a real life chit chat instead of a fan/muso convo that I usually have. Maybe I'd get side of stage and get brought on ala Paris Hilton viewing Girl Talk the previous year. I was at Coachella and the world was my oyster.
I walk though a secured exit and I was in the backstage part of Coachella! Score one for me! I walked around for a while, checking things out as people rode by on golf carts and headed to their cars in the private car park. I decided that I'd get side of the stage, but one quick glance of the signs confirmed the bad news - side of the stage requires a special pass along with the wristband. Green wristband only? No entry. Drat.
Backstage adventure done, I decide to head back through the exit I left so I could check out more bands. So I approach to gate ready to go in but the burly American security guard stops me in my tracks.
"Can't enter here - you have to go to the front."
Panic sets in. Does that mean I can't get into the festival grounds? Did I just leave the festival for the day? I start to walk away from the festival and before long I find myself in the VIP Camping area. A person looking after the campgrounds comes up and asks if I need help. I sweat - more so out of panic then the sheer heat of the Californian desert. I consider explaining what has happened, but end up telling the person that I am trying to get to the festival. He looks at me funny.
"Are you stoned?"
"No I'm Australian"
"Ohh an Ozzie!"
After a brief chat about my homeland he points me in the right direction, slapping me five before I had off. Not many people are around the entrance - it's about 8pm and those who aren't inside are bored looking security, sipping on bottled water. Two youngish teens head to an entry gate and I follow closely behind. I notice they both have the same green wristbands as I do. We all walk in together and the person at the booth asks "Where are your ticket stubs?" The boys respond "We sold out tickets to other people" and quickly walk in.
I should have done the same. It was a perfectly good excuse. Instead, I stop. I reach into my pocket to pull out my ticket and give it to her. She isn't that impressed. It's no longer a ticket but a melted mashed up pulp that once resembled a ticket. She takes the barcoded area and I walk away from the entrance with haste, occasionally looking over my shoulder to make sure no security is following behind to throw me out. The plush green grass, chill people, awesome bands - I'm now back at Coachella.
After the show ends that night I meet Juan back at the car.
"How was your night?"
"Interesting. I left the festival and somehow got back in."
"You left? Why?"
"Yeah, I walked through a side exit. I thought you said this was VIP!?"
"Yeah, it gets you into the VIP BARS. Not backstage."
Festival lesson learnt, and almost learnt the hard way. One thing is for sure, if you're not done with the festival don't head out the exit!