View Full Version : Déjà two: Now what's next for the Coachella Music Festival?

04-24-2012, 04:28 AM
Déjà two: Now what's next for the Coachella Music Festival? (http://www.mydesert.com/article/20120424/LIFESTYLES010102/204240305/D-j-two-Now-what-s-next-Coachella-?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|Frontpage)

12:36 AM, Apr. 24, 2012
Written by Bruce Fessier, The Desert Sun

Before I don a cowboy hat for this weekend's Stagecoach country music festival, just a few more words about the Coachella Music and Arts Festival.

Where do we go from the two-weekend experiment?

According to a Coachella.com poll, most festival goers think the two-weekend format is here to stay. Shoegazer76 was right when he posted that Goldenvoice would stay with the format “as long as they are making money.”

Capitalism dictates that Goldenvoice will have to meet the demand for more Coachella product to continue to flourish.

Coachella has gone viral. Besides all the social media attention, the festival has become so embedded in the pop culture, derivations of the word have come to mean something massive and cool, just as derivations of Watergate mean something massive and scandalous. Snoop Dogg talks of Coachizzle. A gay promoter tried calling an event Gaychella.

Coachella has even invaded prime-time television. A recent episode of the new episodic drama “Awake” was based a storyline on a kid going to Coachella.

We won't soon see a three-weekend Coachella. But I wouldn't be surprised if Goldenvoice added a fourth day as a one-time only event — just as Stagecoach expanded to three days in 2008 for the opportunity to book the Eagles.

Wouldn't it be worth adding a Thursday date to next year's Coachella if the Rolling Stones were touring through the area and wanted to celebrate their 50th anniversary at Coachella? Don't you think Goldenvoice would jump at that?

And look at how Stagecoach evolved. After the publicity shot in the arm generated by the Eagles, Stagecoach grew steadily as a two-day festival for three years and now it's back to three days.

Indio neighbors are concerned that Goldenvoice, which recently purchased 280 acres around the Empire Polo Club, including the Eldorado Polo Club, will try to present year-round concerts on their property.

Indio Mayor Glenn Miller told me, “Obviously, they're not going to buy something they're going to utilize two months out of the year.”

Miller would like to have several “smaller concerts,” drawing 10,000 to 15,000 people per show. He mentioned Dave Matthews as an artist he'd like to see.

But this valley has never been able to draw more than 9,000 people to a concert with the exception of the Coachella and Stagecoach festivals. Most concerts at the Indian Wells Tennis Gardens lost money, according to Raymond Moore, who operated that facility. So why would Goldenvoice want to produce a marginal music festival and risk getting sued, which might jeopardize the future of their hugely profitable Coachella and Stagecoach festivals?

Well, maybe because their Empire Polo Club landlord, Alex Haagen III, wants to stage “smaller concerts”? Haagen loves jazz and blues and has longed to have a festival of “jazz, blues and a little bit of rock 'n' roll.”

He also thinks the valley would support a 10,000- to 15,000-strong Latino concert during the October and May “shoulder season,” which would benefit the local economy.

The Mariachi USA Festival did well during the shoulder months at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden and were a lot of fun.

I'd also like a “jazz, blues and a little bit of rock” festival if a programming artist like Paul Tollett could creatively mix artists like Beirut, which performed acoustic music with horns and an accordion at Coachella, and bands of various genres emphasizing improvisation.

Haagen also suggests a summer concert, which is a very interesting idea.

The one show Goldenvoice presented at the Empire Polo Club that didn't seem right for the area was the all-night Nocturnal Wonderland, which Goldenvoice presented with more than 80 DJs over Labor Day Weekend in 2000 after the first Coachella financially flopped in mid-October 1999.

The Nocturnal Wonderland drew an even bigger crowd than the '99 Coachella, with 40,000 people, but Labor Day was the wrong weekend for a festival. It's a busy tourist time and the all-night loud, thumping, electronica really, REALLY upset the neighbors.

It also was ahead of its time. Up until recently, raves were associated with drugs such as Ecstasy and methamphetamines, and the drug threat scared the Indio police even more than the influx of people.

But electronic dance music is part of the pop mainstream now. If an EDM festival was held at the Empire late at night in mid-August, when few people who belong to homeowners associations are around, maybe it would be viable.

It all comes down to making money for the city and its residents. Indio City Councilman Sam Torres told me some of the Empire Polo Club neighbors would like to cash in on the festivals by selling parking spots on their property.

Goldenvoice Vice President Skip Paige says so many absentee property owners are making money renting their houses during Coachella in violation of HOA policies, the HOAs should change their policies and allow short-term rentals and require fees to pay for security. That could benefit HOAs year-round.

Indio is dancing to the Goldenvoice beat, but it's a delicate dance. It must balance its residents' concerns with the benefits it can provide in public safety and just keeping City Hall open five days a week.

Several 10,000- to 15,000-person concerts a year isn't practical. But a smaller Latino or roots concert in the shoulder season, and a midsummer's night rave isn't just a dream. It might be a way out for a city in crisis.

The Coachella debate

After attending both weekends of Coachella, I must say I preferred Weekend 1 because it seemed fresher and offered greater opportunities for discovery.

The second weekend definitely was impacted by the buzz over Weekend 1. The crowds for Azealia Banks and Gotye were overflowing the second weekend, even though people walked out on Gotye during Weekend 1 after he performed his hit, “Someone I Used to Know.”

I did appreciate seeing more artists and I came to appreciate Bon Iver much more after seeing him up close the second weekend.

Several artists said they preferred the second weekend crowd. If you only went one weekend, the only real difference was probably the weather.

The other desert fest

The Desert Daze Festival at Dillon's Roadhouse in Desert Hot Springs didn't draw the local crowds Dillon's owner John Nielsen had hoped would show up for the 11-day music event.

On Friday night, maybe 150 people, mostly from out of town, watched sets inside the tiny bar and grill and on its patio.

The Desert Daze was originally conceived as the “anti-Coachella” because so few desert rock bands get to play Coachella.

The concept changed when Nielsen brought in promoter Phil Pirrone and Moon Block Party production team from Pomona. Then it became more of an “anti- Coachella parties” festival.

Instead of the L.A. hipster- types attending the smoothly run, corporately backed parties piggy-backing on Coachella, Desert Daze got neo-hippie types.

But the music I heard Friday by The Chuck Dukowski Sextet, the Electric Flower Group (featuring Palm Desert native Imaad Wasif on guitar) and the Earthlings? was largely Coachella-worthy.

Nielsen is hoping DHS will let him continue to present Coachella-worthy music on a regular basis.

04-24-2012, 05:01 AM
A smaller summer rave seems like such a risky idea and would only compete with EDC and Hard Summer, just doesn't seem like a practical move. That jazz festival with the hint of Beirut has given me a chubby

04-24-2012, 12:07 PM
I agree.....Quick question for you? Was Eminem at both weekends?

04-24-2012, 12:09 PM
My Wife and I would most definatly go for a jazz blues weekend. Even throw Beirut with Gotan Project in their.

Miroir Noir
04-24-2012, 12:16 PM
Indio Mayor Glenn Miller: DMB fan.