A sober music festival – not actually as bad as it sounds

Of course you can drink at Coachella. It's just hard work. You have to sit in specially assigned drinking areas, which are normally hot, busy and situated some distance from any of the band's playing.

Still, if the idea of a beer-free festival sounds like the sort of thing that would incite riots in the UK, it's not actually as bad as it sounds. Rather than getting lethargic and cloudy, you end up watching five times as many bands and – better still – actually take in what they're doing. Memories of the night before are crisp and clear, and there's no throbbing hangover that needs slaying the morning after. And yes, we will be taking back every last word of this the minute we turn up at Glastonbury and it starts pissing it down. (Your reporter is pictured in the sun, below).

The professor and the intrepid reporter pause for a moment #coachella twitter.com/indiegodess/st…

— Wendy Fonarow (@indiegodess) April 15, 2013

8pm is the magic Coachella time

On Friday it was the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, on Saturday Hot Chip, and on Sunday it was La Roux's turn. No matter who we saw when the clock struck eight, they ended up being that day's highlight.

Perhaps La Roux was the biggest surprise – despite not releasing any new music for several years, the crowd spilled out of every side of the Mojave Tent. After taking so long recording the follow up to her excellent debut album you'd be forgiven for assuming that good new songs were not in abundance. Yet the tracks debuted during her set (Tropical Chancer, Sexy Talk) were big tunes and La Roux had the stage presence to match them.

Clothes = an optional extra

Unless you're in a band and subject to the rule that you must never wear shorts (sorry Diiv, but your credibility is ruined forever), going to Coachella means packing lightly. Swimwear seems to be the standard dress code, but if you're tanned, skinny and beautiful like 99.5% of the crowd then feel free to bring nothing put a roll of masking tape to cover up the vital bits.

Healthy eating is not always the Californian way

California might be the land of vegan food and pilates, but any notion that we would use this work assignment (for what is three days in the baking sun watching bands if not work?) to get healthy was soon put to bed. Chilli cheese hot dogs, smoked jalapeno mac'n'cheese, fried chicken sliders … if there were healthy options available we were too busy overloading our arteries to notice them.

British bands: less world-beating than we thought

If the Coachella line-up looked like a triumph for the legends of British guitar music – Blur! Stone Roses! New Order! – then the reality proved sadly different. Not only were most punters we spoke to confused as to who (or what) the Stone Roses were, the crowd for both Blur and the Roses on the main stage was far smaller than the kind they've been commanding back home. Should we mock the Americans for not "getting" them? Or ourselves, for assuming anyone cared about our musical legends?

EDM was one of the festival's unsung heroes

No matter what time of day it was, the only tent guaranteed to be packed to bursting point was the gigantic Sahara rave tent. They'd dance to anything in there, even hi-NRG remixes of Coldplay. Which is lucky as that's what the DJs seemed to be playing half the time.

Coachella? Bro-chella more like

The fratboy contingent was out in force at this year's festival –
musclebound jocks shouting a lot and acting drunkenly despite the fact that it was exceedingly hard to get drunk. This state of affairs is something we are more than happy to blame entirely on the presence of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers.

All art should be interactive

Crawling its way around the Coachella site is a gigantic snail that leaves a trail of foam bubbles in its wake (see picture above). Elsewhere there are werewolf-manned power stations and rusting dinosaurs with mouths full of empty water bottles. The art at Coachella isn't going to win the Turner Prize any day soon, but it understands the importance of entertaining people. Basically, if Damien Hirst plonked his sliced-up shark in the middle of the Coachella field it would be laughed off the site unless it started juggling some glowsticks while attempting the Harlem Shake.

Small can be beautiful

There's something magical about the way you can leave your mind in a field at Glastonbury and have literally no idea where you are or who your new friend with a didgeridoo is. But being able to walk past all five stages at Coachella in the space of 10 minutes means you are guaranteed to never miss your favourite band (although you do risk the sound bleeding from the nearest stage and having to encounter the unique experience of watching, say, Father John Misty sing over a drum'n'bass beat).

Coachella can provide a lesson to all UK festivals

If UK festivals could only copy just one vital thing about Coachella then they would guarantee selling out every year and ensuring everyone who went had a great time. Forget about the bands – is it really asking all that much to make your festival 93 degrees fahrenheit every day?

This article originally appeared on guardian.co.uk