Behind-the-scenes with Our Mercury Insurance Festival VIP Coachella Winner

Behind-the-scenes with Our Mercury Insurance Festival VIP Coachella Winner

Jeff Cagle (pictured left) of Minneapolis, Minn., was the first winner of our Mercury Insurance Festival VIP Sweepstakes. His prize? The ultimate VIP experience at the first weekend of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival April 10-12, 2015. We circled back with Jeff, one of the most passionate music fans and frequent concertgoers we’ve encountered – as of press time, he’s attended 120 shows dating back to his first concert in 1996, the Smashing Pumpkins, and anticipates many more to come – to hear all about how he spent his weekend.

Q: When did you arrive in Southern California to meet up with Colin? Did you spend any time in Palm Springs or did you head straight for Indio?

I arrived in Palm Springs late Thursday morning and was driven to the hotel by Erwin of Desert Limo Services. He gave me some information about the area, along with great advice to stay happy and healthy at Coachella.

After checking in, I walked around the hotel – looking at the pool, spa, and birds throughout the resort. I also took a nap while waiting for Colin to arrive from Huntington Beach. (I attended Primus & the Chocolate Factory with the Fungi Ensemble the night before in Minneapolis, and I was excited for this trip.)

Q: How did you guys travel to Indio?

We took a shuttle to and from the hotel. The bus drivers were nice and did their best to provide air conditioning and music on each trip.

Q: Where’d you stay when not at Coachella?

We stayed at the J.W. Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa in Palm Desert. I recognized it from a two-part episode of Saved by the Bell in 1991. I couldn’t help but to look for some of the spots that were filmed.

Q: How’d you spend your downtime (both at the festival and afterwards)?

At the festival, we didn’t stay in the VIP area all day. We walked around the festival grounds talking to people, looking at the artwork, eating, and even sitting. It also gave us a chance to visit each tent and check out some acts we had never heard of before.

At the hotel, Colin mostly slept while I swam and talked to my fiancée and the birds (don’t judge).

Q: Who was your favorite act to see?

There were many bands I liked, but AC/DC stood out as my favorite. For guys in their 60s (with the exception of Stevie Young), they still know how to rock for two hours and do it right! I could tell Brian Johnson, Angus Young, Stevie Young, Cliff Williams, and Chris Slade cared about giving us a great performance.

My other favorite acts included:

  • Jack White
  • Bad Religion
  • Circa Survive
  • Stromae
  • Running the Jewels

Q: Who were some of the performers you discovered at the festival?

Alabama Shakes, Running the Jewels, Tame Impala, Jungle, and Hozier. I also watched Bad Religion and Circa Survive for the first time and walked away bruised from the mosh pits (it was worth it). I even went out of my way to watch Steely Dan. (My parents saw them back in the 1990s and always spoke highly of them.)

But the biggest surprise was Stromae, who my fiancée recommended. As someone who primarily listens to hard rock and heavy metal music, Stromae’s performance blew me away! He sounded great, and had some dance moves that made me jealous. Needless to say, my fiancée and I will be seeing Stromae when he returns to Minneapolis Sept. 22.

Q: Did you get a chance to meet any performers or see any celebrities?

We met Jason Bentley, radio disc jockey and host of Morning Becomes Eclectic/Music Director of KCRW in Los Angeles, in a production area Friday. We also saw actor and director Clint Eastwood in the VIP section during Florence + the Machine’s set, but didn’t get a chance to say hello (such is life).

Q: Any advice for next year’s (future) Coachella-goers?

  • Stay hydrated and wear sunscreen.
  • Take pictures of the bands, fans, artwork, and other attractions.
  • Budget for the trip and stay with it.
  • Be kind to the bands, security, and other staff at Coachella.
  • Keep an open mind about bands you normally don’t listen to. A band or two (in my case Stromae and Running the Jewels) might leave a favorable impression and expand your horizon.

Q: Anything else you want to add?

This was a great opportunity for me to be a part of a great concert tradition in the U.S. And I owe it to Mercury Insurance and AXS for making it happen. I also got to meet wonderful staff from Mercury Insurance and AEG Global who went out of their way to show Colin and I a great time (thank you Erik and Erin).

There’s still time to win a VIP trip to the last two remaining festivals – Rock on the Range in Columbus, Ohio, and Firefly Music Festival in Dover, Del. – in the Mercury Insurance Festival VIP Sweepstakes. Simply visit ( to get a free online auto insurance quote.

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