Coachella 2012: The perks of being a festival one-percenter

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Coachella is a marketer’s deepest fantasy: a captive audience of culture-obsessed young people in the hot demographic from teens to thirtysomethings with tons of disposable income. But if you’re on the other side of the stage dividers, brands not only try to draw your attention, they practically heave themselves at your feet to plead for you to take their stuff.

I’ve been following around the young Kentucky rock band Sleeper Agent for a story to run later this week. The band is an endearingly scrappy sextet, but Saturday it had a brief foray into Gatsby-ish decadence at -- deep breath -- the 98.7 FM/Spin Magazine/Lacoste/Patron tequila promotional house a few miles outside the grounds. If you’re a band playing Coachella, a big part of your day involves being shuttled around to offsite parties for radio sets, interviews and general gladhanding. Sleeper Agent was there to play a few acoustic tunes for 98.7 FM, but this event tilled some new ground in lavishness.

Of course there was an open bar and hotties scampering about to ply you with tequila-infused popsicles and as many carne asada tacos as your hangover could handle. Obviously, there was a crystalline pool full of hipster Adonises asleep in Warby Parker sunglasses while splayed about on inflatable rafts.

COACHELLA 2012 | Full coverage


But the real upsides happened around back. A few handlers would usher guest acts into the garage, which had been rejiggered into a preppy-beach-party closet ripped right from a Bret Easton Ellis narrator’s idea of what greets you at the pearly gates. Bands could walk around and take whatever striped tanks, vintage one-piece bathing suits, yacht-ready sunglasses and boat shoes they could shove in a bag. A typical ‘gifting’ grab bag would probably run a few hundred bucks retail. The only catch? They had to pose for photos with their haul beneath a grove of grapefruit trees in the backyard.

Sleeper Agent seemed pretty amused by the whole deal. Being in a working band is actually rough work -- no sleep, no apartment to come home to, 15-hour drives through West Texas to play for 50 people at a random Dallas bar. But sometimes, even when you’re broke and exhausted and essentially homeless, you still find yourself at the top of the Coachella food chain.


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-- August Brown