After 2010's remarkable lineup, Coachella 2011 had some big shoes to fill, especially after selling out of its 70,000-plus allotment of wristbands in under six days. But after historic and eye-stunning sets from headliners Arcade Fire and Kanye West, this year's Coachella managed to outdo itself again with some major and minor improvements. From the extra visual elements supplied by the Creators Project to one of the most diverse lineups the festival has ever displayed, Coachella won over Spinner's heart and we're already planning our trip to the festival for next year. Check out some of our favorite things from America's biggest and baddest music festival.
New and Improved Wristbands
Simone Joyner, WireImage
After last year's traffic fiasco, Coachella worked hard to make sure the same thing didn't happen twice, and succeeded majorly thanks to a new, high-tech wristband system. When wristbands were sent out, they came with detailed instructions: "Treat your wristband like cash" and "Your wristband should have no more than one finger width of slack around your wrist." The festival made it a new rule this year that attendees would "not be allowed within one mile of the perimeter of the venue without your wristband properly applied to your wrist." The bands were also checked by police "from one quarter mile to one mile outside of the festival perimeter." A plastic bar code was attached to each wristband this year, and when you approached the entrance all you had to do was swing your wrist by the scanners, wait for the immediate beep and walk right in, all with barely a pause.
Young Thai Coconuts
"I couldn't even breathe while I was singing," Delorean vocalist Ekhi Lopetegi told Spinner after their hot and sweaty 2PM Sunday set that had people high-fiving him and drummer Igor Escudeo on the way to get one of Coachella's hottest scores -- the $6 Young Thai Coconuts from the 118 Degrees raw foods tent. "The water is very high in electrolytes," 118 Degrees executive chef Jenny Ross explained, "so we call it nature's Gatorade and it has the ability to completely replenish your body in a matter of minutes." Other fans of the nectar over the weekend included Flogging Molly, actress Patricia Arquette and members of Arcade Fire, who came back for the machete treatment where servers hack the coconuts in half after they're emptied so you can spoon out the juicy flesh. "We served Chromeo, who bought a whole case of them," Ross revealed. "We just kept them in the fridge and gave them out as often as the band came back over the weekend."
Joseph Llanes for AOL
Spinner made a lot of new international friends this weekend, especially a lot from below the Rio Grande. There was Alberto, a fresh-faced 27-year-old who's been coming since 2006 because the drive up from Tijuana is "only three hours away and it costs $6 to cross the border," and Carlos, who flew up from Mexico City and held up his cell phone -- at a $2-per-minute roaming charge -- during the Strokes' set so his girlfriend back home could hear.
Trampled by Turtles
When Coachella began as a DJ-fueled dance party 12 years ago, you wouldn't have seen a band like Minnesota string-dusters Trampled by Turtles on the bill. Last year, the high-tempo folk band played the fest's country alter ego Stagecoach and admitted they were "very surprised" when asked to play be part of the Coachella 2011 bill. "It's cool that we can play at that festival and this festival," banjo player Dave Carroll told Spinner. "One difference between the festivals is they only have chew at Stagecoach. Here, they have actual smokes. Dave [Simonett, frontman] was saying he was wandering around looking for free smokes at the Camel tent, and they'd be like 'Nah, sorry, we only got chew.'"
The Creators Project
Joseph Llanes for AOL
Coachella is already known for it's many art installations but with the help of the Creators Project, the audience got more involved in the visuals. "Designing something for Coachella is different in that at Coachella, it's the collective experience of the group," director Chris Milk, who was behind the glowing balloon project (dubbed "Summer Into Dust") during Arcade Fire's epic headlining set, told Spinner. Other installations included UVA transforming the Coachella Stage into a light-and-sound sculpture, the trippy footage by Black Dice for Animal Collective's set and Interpol's 'Under Surveillance' project that premiered acclaimed director David Lynch's 'I Touch a Red Button Man' animated film. Designer Muti Randolph transferred the techno-heavy Sahara Tent into a 360-degree light sculpture that pulsed to the music of DJs like Axwell, Paul Van Dyk and more. Check out all the crazy happenings here.
With more people camping this year, Coachella added plenty of fun activities for the revelers. For the daytime, there was a Framers Market and Yoga studio; at night, campers could dance and rollerblade at the Roller Rink while a DJ kept the party going. A pinball arcade, bike rodeo and some amateur carnival rides also meant the fun lasted longer, while the JOY swings transformed your average playground swing set into "part-time thrill ride" with a glowing seat that changed to the beat of the music playing.
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