INDIO, CA.-- APRIL 19, 2014-- An overflowing crowd inside the Sahara Tent celebrates the DJ known as...

From The Magazine

15 Past Coachella Acts On Their Most Colorful Festival Stories

Bad trips, surreal celebrity encounters, and parties that will make you miss Myspace — Coachella alumni share their best memories as the festival celebrates 25 years.

It’s a double birthday: This year, NYLON is marking its 25th anniversary with a relaunched print magazine — featuring new cover star Gwen Stefani — that will be available this month to coincide with the annual NYLON House party at Coachella. Also turning 25 this year? The festival itself, which first took place over a single weekend back in 1999. To celebrate both milestones, NYLON asked past Coachella performers to share their most colorful behind-the-scenes memories in our new issue, from bad drug trips to surreal celebrity run-ins to parties that will make you miss the Myspace era.

Broken Social Scene (2004)

Kevin Drew with Emily Haines at Coachella in 2004.Wendy Redfern/Redferns/Getty Images

Kevin Drew (vocals/guitar): I ate some mushrooms. And a brownie. And there was Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne in a plastic bubble [out in the crowd]. I was watching backstage going, “What is this guy doing?” That’s when I thought, “Oh, I don’t feel so good.” I turned the corner, and it’s Flea, Rick Rubin, and Anthony Kiedis — and I’m about to vomit. I’m trying to find where I can alleviate myself. I said to our bus driver: “If you see me raise my hand, it means I’m choking.” I walk to the hedge, and sure enough, I start to choke. I raise my hand. This man runs over to me, scoops me up, gives me the Heimlich maneuver, and saves my life. At that point, I feel like there’s no greater beauty I’ll ever experience than this moment.

Broken Social Scene plays the Just Like Heaven festival in May.

Metric (2006)

Metric’s Emily Haines at Coachella in 2006.Karl Walter/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Emily Haines (vocals/keys): It was so hot that all our equipment was breaking down in a relay, but we refused to stop playing. It was the era of 20-minute “Dead Disco” renditions. We start the song, we’re having a great time, and then, “Oh no, the guitar amp has gone out.” So Josh would step in and carry it with the bass, and I would be holding it down on the Pro-One [keyboard], and we’d swap. Every instrument went down, other than drums — poor Joules managed to drive the whole thing. There was a level of medical emergency that compounded what was happening on a technical level, but at that time I’d been obsessively doing Bikram yoga, so I was well-primed for the heat. It was a formative identity moment for the band: “We won’t let you down. Nothing can derail our energy.”

Each time we’ve played Coachella was so unique to the chapter that we were in as a band. The next time we played was 2009, when Fantasies was out. I was talking to a friend who was like “I think that was the year NYLON voted you best dressed at Coachella.” This was the hopefully never to be forgotten era of my one-shoulder Lycra borderline-figure-skating outfits. I had about 12 of them, because we toured so much, and I would just alternate between them and wash them in the sink of whatever motel we were staying in. I still have them all. Maybe when we do a Fantasies anniversary tour, I’ll bring back the clothes.

Metric is on tour this spring; the band’s latest album, Formentera II, is out now.

Sleater-Kinney (2006)

Sleater-Kinney in 2006.KMazur/WireImage/Getty Images

Corin Tucker (vocals/guitar): Madonna played the dance tent that year. It was a little tent, and I remember people being rowdy, throwing water bottles, and her calling them out: “Cut it out, you assh*les!” She’s just tough as nails and has performed in so many different situations. I thought it was great that she came to this weird tent in the middle of nowhere.

Carrie Brownstein (vocals/guitar): Everyone was making a fuss because of a rumor that she had brought in all of her own toilets. I was like, “Good for her!” Just some Honey Bucket porta-potty? That’s not going to fly for Madge. Let the plebes use those bathrooms.

Sleater-Kinney is on tour now. Little Rope is out now.

Be Your Own Pet (2006)

Be Your Own Pet’s Jemina Pearl at Coachella in 2006.Bob Berg/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Jemina Pearl (vocals): Our set was so short that we almost didn’t get paid. When you play a festival, there are these contracts involved that say you’re supposed to play a certain amount of time, and we only played 15 or 20 minutes. But we did end up getting paid.

Jonas Stein (guitar): We were all 17 or 18 years old, [having] either graduated high school early or dropped out at that point. I ended up running into Steve Aoki and Mark the Cobrasnake, and they’re like, “Hey, come to this pool party.” We hopped on this golf cart and ended up at a party sponsored by Motorola and DKNY Jeans. The Bloc Party guys were there, and we’re all just goofing off and swimming around. Inside the house, they were giving away the brand new Motorola flip phone. I remember hiding these new phones from the band for the rest of the trip.

Catch Be Your Own Pet on tour this summer. Mommy is out now.

Blonde Redhead (2007)

Blonde Redhead at Coachella in 2007.Frazer Harrison/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Simone Pace (drums/keyboards): 2007 was the most memorable time we were there. The whole experience was surreal, as we had to travel through the Joshua Tree desert to get there. We stopped on the way back, and I had never gotten such a sense of cleanliness from a wild place before. Every cactus seemed to be properly placed and shaped, and the tiny gravel they were resting on was compact and perfectly paved out. We shared the bill that weekend with Air, and they sounded so good. I remember thinking how little they were in size. Supposedly, at the time, there was an African “killer” bee invasion, and we were all afraid of getting stung during sound check and the show. Scary stuff!

Catch Blonde Redhead on tour this summer. Sit Down for Dinner is out now.

CSS (2007)

From left: Carolina Parra and Ana Rezende of CSS with Lindsay Lohan at Coachella in 2007.Courtesy of CSS.

Lovefoxxx (vocals): We have a song on our first album called “Meeting Paris Hilton.” She showed up as we were going to the stage. Her security person said, “Ms. Hilton would like to talk to you, is that OK?” We’re like, “Yeah, sure!” She came and was like, “Hey guys, I guess I say ‘bitch’ a lot.” Because in our song [we sing about how] she was always saying, “Yeah, bitch!” on The Simple Life.

Then, Lindsay Lohan showed up. Steve Aoki introduced us, and she asked [my bandmates] Ana and Carolina to take a picture with her. And then Courtney Love was sitting in our little trailer area with Rod Stewart’s daughter Kimberly. Because our trailer had two steps of stairs, when Ana opened the door [to come say hi], she fell down. Courtney was like, “Who are you guys?” And then Ana — a huge Hole and Courtney Love fan — was trying to explain who we were. That was the holy trinity for us.

CSS’ It’s Been a Number of Years Tour kicks off in May.

Uffie (2008)

Uffie at Coachella in 2008.Charley Gallay/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

I almost missed my set because there was so much traffic. Nobody warns you about coming from Palm Springs. We were driving as fast as we could, and thankfully we were able to drive up all the way to the backstage; I literally got there and had to jump onstage. I spent the rest of the day being chased around by this lady and a TV crew — the first and only time I’ve been mistaken for Scarlett Johansson. I kept walking away from her. She probably thought Scarlett Johansson was the rudest person on the planet.

I came back to my dressing room to find someone from Justice’s team asleep in there, and I had to kick them out. Then I ended up at Jeremy Scott’s party at Frank Sinatra’s house. Definitely had one of my favorite powwows with M.I.A. and Jeremy — I think we talked about producers we didn’t love. I was wearing this turquoise sequin dress and realized I had no shoes. I was going to leave, realized I should find them, then realized I never wore them. It was a long day, to say the least.

Uffie’s Oopsie / Alchemy is out now.

Bonnie McKee (2009)

Bonnie McKee at Coachella in 2018.Courtesy of Bonnie McKee.

I performed with Kygo in 2018, but I started going to Coachella around 2003, when it was still a rave in the desert. There was one year I went by myself with no ticket, no wristband, and no place to stay. I was still super broke. This was back when you had to print and scan your ticket. I found a discarded ticket in the dirt, and when I got to the gate this woman was like, “There’s no reentry.” I played dumb and started crying: “Please, Paul McCartney’s onstage, I’ve waited my whole life!” She pitied me and let me in. Once I was in, I talked Diplo into giving me artist passes. And then I ran into Kesha, and I think we ended up sleeping on a pool float underneath a desk in someone’s dad’s office at a random McMansion. You always end up sleeping in the weirdest places.

Bonnie McKee’s “Don’t Get Mad Get Famous” is out now.

Corinne Bailey Rae (2010)

Corinne Bailey Rae at Coachella in 2010.Charley Gallay/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

It was so new for me because U.K. festivals are rainy. Coachella was hot, and all these people were without coats. I saw a huge queue and was like, “What are people queuing for?” And they were queuing for water! It was sunset [when I played], so to watch the sky turn from bright blue to pinks and orange and purple and see the silhouettes of palm trees — it was so West Coast. One of the people we took was my hairstylist, Christian. My partner had really long hair at the time, and he was like, “I want a change!” So we sat in a field for an hour while Christian chopped his hair. It felt really free.

Catch Corinne Bailey Rae on tour. Black Rainbows is out now.

Brittany Howard (2015)

Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes at Coachella in 2015.Tim Mosenfelder/WireImage/Getty Images

It was the first time the Alabama Shakes played Coachella, and on the side of the stage was — what’s his name? — Ringo Starr. Hanging out with Clint Eastwood. They were both watching our show. I was like, “Whoa.” And then Ringo Starr said hello afterward. He was like, “Peace and love,” and I was like, “Yes, peace and love to you as well, Ringo Starr.” Later, we got invited to some weed party. I am at this mansion and people were showing off their giant weed plants. There’s people passing out cookies. There was a doctor writing prescriptions. I’m not even smoking the weed, I’m just hanging out at the mansion. It smelled absolutely crazy in there.

Brittany Howard’s What Now is out now.

ZHU (2016)

ZHU at Coachella in 2016.Michael Tullberg/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Coachella was the first show on the first-ever headlining tour I did. We had rented a house in the Laguna Seca Estates. The entire street was filled with mansion parties. Erick Morillo was doing a party across the street. Maceo Plex was doing one too. People had turned a garage into an underground rave. I woke up super early in the morning to house music playing and a bunch of Europeans pulling up in Range Rovers. We went over, and it was just naked people everywhere jumping in the pool. It was a sick-ass party.

ZHU’s Grace is out now.

Chicano Batman (2017)

From left: Chicano Batman’s Eduardo Arenas, Bardo Martinez, Carlos Arévalo, and Gabriel Villa at Coachella in 2017.Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Carlos Arévalo (guitars): We had just finished a scorching 4 p.m. set. As I entered the artists’ village, Paul Banks from Interpol and RZA from Wu-Tang had just wrapped a chess game on the picnic tables. RZA started asking musician passersby, “Who wants to play me?” As I approached my trailer, he made eye contact with me: “C’mon, let’s play one game, $20?” A couple of things ran through my brain: A) Am I good enough to play anyone in chess for money? B) I don’t have any money on me — I was wearing my stage clothes. Still sweating profusely, I politely declined, telling RZA I had no cash. His face turned to disappointment and he continued searching for his next opponent. When I told my tour manager about the encounter, he freaked out and said, “What!? You turned down chess with RZA because of $20?!” I blame that moment of poor judgment on dehydration.

Chicano Batman’s Notebook Fantasy is out now.

Maggie Rogers (2019)

Maggie Rogers at Coachella in 2019.Emma McIntyre/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

I had the chance to go to Coachella on what would have been my 18th birthday — my friend had an extra ticket — but my parents had this rule that you couldn’t go to a music festival until you had graduated from high school. My mom said no. We still joke about this fight to this day. I was devastated. So when I finally got to play Coachella in 2019, I did a little dance around the stage like, “Check this out, Mom!” It was the first time I really felt like I had left my body in a performance. My voice was crystal clear and razor sharp — I could hit any note. It’s so dusty there that it should be impossible, but it was like video game power-up mode. I could see all my old NYU friends together in the crowd holding each other. It was this unbelievably transcendent moment.

The second time I played Coachella was my first performance back from the pandemic in 2022, so I similarly had a really special moment of “Wow, I love doing this so much!” I remember getting off stage and seeing Karol G’s army of hot dancers warming up in coordinated costumes and just being like, “Good God!” I’m such a Karol G fan. Whether it was 2019, where everything was coming together in this new way, or 2022, where I got to see a version of the world coming back together after these hard and turbulent years, Coachella has really symbolized these turning points in my life and in my career. Even that fight with my mom — I was fighting for music, and it’s nice that I had something I felt that clearly about.

Maggie RogersDon’t Forget Me is out April 12.

Rebecca Black (2022)

Rebecca Black at Coachella in 2022.Juliana Bernstein

I did this DJ set called Rebecca Black & Friends, where I brought out artists for surprise performances. We spent months figuring out who was available, who was down, and the day of the show, my biggest guest performer, bbno$, missed his flight. I woke up at 7 a.m. and saw him be like, “LOL, sorry, I’m not going to get there.” He’s wonderful — I have no ill will at all. But then I realized: “Oh sh*t. It really is on me to figure this out now.”

I speed-dialed my manager: “What do we do?” Everything moved so quickly. I convinced Slayyyter, a friend of mine, to drive up the morning of the show. I texted Yung Gravy to be a part of it. He was like, “Sure, can you pick me up from this girl’s place?” He ended up carrying all of my merch into the festival because we had a T-shirt gun we were using for the first time. It’s definitely borderline weaponry, but as long as you watch a little safety video and you shoot it upward, it’s great.

Rebecca Black’s Let Her Burn is out now.

Alison Wonderland (2023)

I was eight months pregnant when I performed last year under my Whyte Fang alias. My baby was kicking the entire time I was playing, which was concerning, because I didn’t know what that meant. We had a whole ambulance with doctors backstage just to make sure I was safe. After I played, they did an ultrasound and checked his heartbeat and everything. My mum had flown over from Australia to make sure I was OK, but I think she mainly came to see the show and go to Coachella. I would go to bed at a reasonable time, and my mum would still be out, sending me selfies with her and Rae Sremmurd and Halsey. They were all just hanging.

Catch Alison Wonderland on tour. Whyte Fang’s Genesis is out now.