Marlene Kemp is devastated that she has to wait yet another year before she can experience Coachella again. A veteran of the music festival, Kemp has attended Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival on six separate occasions, and each time she has left the weekend with fewer friends than she started with.
Over the years, Kemp has learned how to distill her festival itinerary into the essentials. Her Coachella must-haves include stylish bohemian outfits, top of the line music performances, and high-octane, drug-fueled fights that she barely remembers the next day.
“This time last year, I was glittering every visible square inch of my skin in preparation to say some of the cruelest words that have ever left my mouth,” she recalls fondly. Instead, I’m re-watching The Nanny for the tenth time, and all my friendships are intact. Life isn’t fair.”
(A fact-checker confirmed that Kemp’s friendships are nominally intact, though this status seems precarious at best.)
Kemp claims she is drawn to the free-spirited energy that Coachella encourages, though some of her peers suggest she simply uses the fest as a chance to be a dick. When asked to confirm, Kemp insisted, “It’s not me, it’s the drugs I knowingly take, despite being fully aware of the way they make me speak and act.”
Like with most petty quarrels that happen among friends while traveling, Kemp cannot remember the precise nature of any past disagreements, nor what exactly she was on while fighting, because she always gets her stuff from that weird guy Shawn with the hair, and who knows what he laces it with. Her eyes tear up when she mentions that she hasn’t had a reason to hit Shawn up in almost two years. “He’s my festival drug hook-up, but where are the festivals?” she sobs.
Like most festivalgoers, Kemp’s number one annual Coachella highlight occurs after the event itself. She’s at her happiest during her post-weekend brunch tour when she tells all her friends in LA about how she “just got back from Coachella.” Because of the pandemic that rages on, this sequence of boastful conversations has been ripped from her.
“Usually, the shit that went down at Coachella provides fuel for gossip that lasts me pretty much the rest of the year. Then by the time that drama feels like old news, it’s ticket-buying season for the next Coachella.” At which point, explains Kemp, the in-fighting is primed to start all over again, because that’s when the friend group needs to negotiate Airbnb logistics months in advance.
“Coordinating that bullshit is never easy,” she says with a glint in her eye. “It brings out the worst in everyone.”
She can’t wait until 2022.