In full grips of the dry desert heat, the fine art of day drinking at Coachella becomes a game of survival of the fittest. Sweltering temperatures in the high 90s aren't necessarily ideal conditions to bombard your liver with alcohol. And unless you've been used to trekking through sand in the Middle East in full combat gear, it's very possible you're not ready to do the amount of guzzling that you think you are. Fortunately for Jimmy English and Tidas Friday (two Marines who thought it best to keep their real names a secret), they're already used to such conditions. Less than two months ago, they were lacing up combat boots and shouldering 60-plus pounds of equipment in a rumbling military convoy in Kuwait. It's hard to believe now–considering neither one of them is old enough to legally rent a car–that they've been repairing tanks and other military vehicles as mechanics in the Marine Corps for several years each.
But for the last couple years, two weeks of their leave time while they're in the service is dedicated to one thing: A roadtrip to Coachella. They didn't seem psyched to see any artist in particular this weekend (though we did follow them around to check a few acts like Dam Funk and Alt-J ),but they are definitely serious about was blowing off steam no matter who was playing. And by that, we mean drinking as much as humanly possible–brutal sun be damned.
"This is like freezing weather compared to Kuwait," says English, 22, in a syrupy, North Carolina accent. When he walks up to meet us, his long thin legs holding his 6'1 frame were about as white as his Nike Shox. "Right now it's about 120 degrees there. In Afghanistan the hottest it got was 156 degrees. You walk outside and you're just cooking."
To his left is Tidas Friday–a shirtless, a fast-talking, wise-cracking 24-year-old sporting a six pack and bomber shades. He instantly chimes in: "And we were in uniform. So the fact that we get to wear shorts today is fucking amazing, bro. Time to start sippin' on something!"
Emerging from their campsite on Friday around 2 p.m. after a night of Jäger shots and beer pong tournaments, we bumped into them on the way to see Dam Funk, whose glammed out Prince-era synthesizers weave across the lawn. Wasting no time, we kick things off early with a trip to the beer garden near the Coachella stage on a mission to get sauced in broad daylight. With a Jack and Coke, two shots of Jameson and couple beers couple beers down the hatch, things were getting off to a solid start. As the buzz slowly took hold, English and Friday took the time to sweet talk a few of the female servers with every weapon in their arsenal of charms, including English's fake British accent that one young beer server was definitely buying.
Adding fake accents on top of their military mystique is a tried and true gimmick that often results in a few phone numbers, but more importantly a few free drinks, English says.
"We don't really hide the fact that we're Marines," says English. "But there's a lot of aspects of our experience and our job that are just depressing and we'd just rather not talk about. And it's fun to divert attention from that by using these fake back stories or whatever, it's comedy for us. And if the ladies buy it, then all the better." Stoked by the success with the suave U.K. accent , English would break out his best James Bond impression a few times before the end of the day.
After returning to their campsite, anchored by a few tents and a rented, silver Toyota Prius Friday and English school us on the various bootleg mixology techniques they've mastered during their time in the military that they'll be concocting at the campsite. Here are a few:
Swamp Thing: Jameson, Jägermeister, Blue Monster Energy Drink, Tropical Punch Kool-Aid and mashed blueberries. Drink with caution, this shit is black out in a cup.
Brain Hemorrhage: This one requires two shots of Peach schnapps, Bailey's Irish Cream (great choice in the hot sun!) and red grenadine. Grab a clear cup (or in their case, half of a used water bottle) and pour the peach schnapps in first, then you pour the Bailey's in over the spoon to it floats on top as it curdles. Then you take red grenadine, take that same spoon and you pour it in the spoon and drop it in the center of the cup then it drops a straight red line to the bottom "so it looks a brainstem," English says." It'll take you a few you nice and buzzed. I had five yesterday, you just gotta bomb 'em back."
Jack, Coke and…Listerine?: Because when you're drinking like a fish all day, it's important to maintain fresh breath for the ladies.
The rest of their stash–hidden under the spare tire hatch in the back of the Prius piled with water and luggage–seems far more classy. Friday lifts it up and points to several bottles of red wine and a full mini keg of expensive Heffeweizen along with a stash of Bacardi 151, more Jägermeister, Jameson and cases of Bud Light.
As the weather starts to cool off, Friday's buzz is turning into a full on stupor. And afternoon of keg guzzling is taking its toll–so much so that he's resorted to writing his campsite address on his stomach. After all, can never be too careful–even if you are a Marine. Fortunately he and English didn't end up wandering too far before the sun went down…
Nate Jackson is the gatekeeper to your dreams of local dive bar stardom. If he writes about you, expect your band to be offered at least one more drink ticket than the rest of the bands on the bill. Get his attention with some groovy tunes and he might just do it. Then, boy will you feel special.