What It’s Really Like for a Band to Play Coachella for the First Time

The Regrettes on how they got here—and who they’ll be fangirling over

For many artists, a performance at the Coachella music festival will be the biggest of their entire career. A good set can catapult a band into the upper echelons of music fame while an off night can make for a major disappointment. The festival attracts nearly 100,000 attendees, and once you add in artists, crew, guests, and staff, you’re looking at a single concert with almost as many human beings as, say, the entire population of Ann Arbor, Michigan.

That could be an intimidating undertaking for any artist, but what if it’s your first time on the Coachella stage—and what if you’re only 17 years old? Well, if you’re Lydia Night, front woman of L.A. band the Regrettes, you take it all in stride.

“I am expecting it to be super overwhelming and rewarding,” she says. I’ve actually gone to Coachella twice in the past just as an audience member, but going because I’m playing is an entirely new level of excitement.”

The Regrettes

Photograph by Alan McCarthy

The current incarnation of The Regrettes formed in 2015, but Night had already been playing guitar and singing for years at that point. She first picked up an instrument at just six years old, after her nightclub-owner dad took her to a concert that inspired her to become a musician. Later, she enrolled in the music education program School of Rock. While taking lessons there, she met her now-bandmates, Genessa Gariano, Maxx Morando, and Sage Chavis.

Within months of playing together, the group released a debut EP, and went out on tour with Sleigh Bells and Kate Nash. By year’s end, they had inked a deal with Warner Brothers Records. From that point on, things accelerated rapidly for the band. They’ve been touring all the time, and releasing new music, including a new album, Feel Your Feelings Fool!

“We have been in this constant go-go-go state of mind for so long that, honestly, I’m pretty used to it,” she says of the intensity. “I almost feel uncomfortable and out of place when I’m not on the road or super busy.”

Night is excited for what playing Coachella might mean for the band at this crucial moment in their career. “I feel like it’s such a cool platform and way to play for so many people who have no idea who we are, along with people who do and have never seen us in that kind of setting,” she says.

And while playing to a big, outdoor audience might be different than their normal setting, the Regrettes can still be counted on to deliver a set that pulses with the mix of joy, anger, and verve that has earned them a growing fan base and a reputation as one of L.A.’s most exciting live bands. “I think I want the festival experience to feel as close to a club show as possible, still very personal and energetic,” Night says.

After the band’s Friday sets wrap up, they get to revert to fan mode. Night is making a point to catch Cardi B and Beyoncé. “I love them both and think I might just evaporate instantly if I met either one of them,” she says.

RELATED: The 2018 Coachella Lineup is Here

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