Concert marks 1st show of summer

Chronicle Staff

By Catherine Wang

Frantically searching for their friend’s car, two senior girls ran around the Empire Polo Grounds in Indio at 2:30 a.m. After watching Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival headliner Jay-Z perform Friday night, the girls became separated from their group of 11 friends.

The 13 friends had parked their cars at Palm Spring’s La Quinta Resort, so that they could ride the shuttle to and from the festival. Realizing with dismay that the last shuttle had left the festival at 2 a.m., the pair called a friend and desperately looked for her car among the thousands of cars parked in the festival parking lots. Eventually, they found their friend’s car “behind some RVs” and returned to their rented villa at around five in the morning.

They planned their Coachella trip for several months. They rented a small villa, sleeping in sleeping bags, on couches, and even in a bathtub.

They were among the 225,000 people who ventured to Coachella Valley for the three-day music festival, helping set a new attendance record for the festival, which is in its 11th year. Coachella marks the beginning of the yearly summer music festivals that many students travel to. Despite the festival’s new policy of halting the sale of one-day passes and only selling three-day passes, which sold for around $285, people from around the country and the world still made the trip. Traffic in the four-mile route from the 10 Freeway to the venue was close to not moving during most of Friday afternoon. Once people parked, most had to wait hours to enter the gates.

“For the last mile before we entered the parking lot, it was completely stopped and it took three hours to get in,” Timmy Schorr ‘10, who went to Coachella this year for the second time, said. “Basically everyone would get out of their cars, blast their music, and have a huge dance party. Every 10 minutes we’d get back in the car and drive forwards 10 feet and then get back out and keep dancing.”

More than 120 bands played at Coachella, including the festival’s first hip-hop headliner Jay-Z, Muse, Thom Yorke, Gorillaz, and MGMT. Because of the eruption of the volcano in Iceland, seven artists and bands were unable to fly to the United States in time to perform at the festival.

“My ears were ringing for three days nonstop,” Ben Krause ‘11, who went to the festival for Saturday and Sunday said. “When [we] got back to the condo we were staying at, we had to shout to hear each other.”

Despite the overwhelming crowds, festival-goers enjoyed themselves while dancing to their favorite bands’ music alongside people from around the world.

But underneath the facade of the festival’s bright lights and the fairground’s looming Ferris Wheel lay security and safety issues stemming from what many Coachella visitors say was disorganization on the management’s part.

“There were so many undercover police there,” Schorr said. “You know who [they] are because men that are over 40 don’t go to Coachella.”

Yet, many people, including Harvard-Westlake students were able to sneak themselves into the festival.

“The shuttle stop was a mile away from the entrance,” one girl said. “I saw tons of people climb over the fences without getting caught.”

When Lucille* arrived at Coachella on Friday, all of the wristbands – which would be necessary to enter the festival – had been given away already.

“We just had to show the guards our online print-out verifications,” Lucille said. “They didn’t even scan them or anything.”

Two students bought tickets two days before the festival from second party ticket sellers. At the entrance gate, they were denied entrance and the tickets were ripped by the security guard because they were found to be fake. Lucille’s friends salvaged the ticket stubs and took them to a different security guard, who let them enter the festival.

Security guards searched all visitors for any drugs and drug paraphernalia and minors for alcohol, but students said that security was not as strict as it could have been.

“I saw lots of people get away with some shady stuff,” Molly* ’12 said. “It seemed like security was more concerned about people cutting lines than with what kind of stuff was in people’s backpacks.”

There were a lot of crazy, wacked-out people there,” one student said.

The festival’s medical tent was full throughout the weekend, treating around 1,000 people. According to the Los Angeles Times, 84 people, including students, were sent to hospitals from Coachella this year, due to drug overdoses, a broken neck, a private security officer who fell off his horse and a nawwked man under the influence of “unknown substances” who smashed out the windows of parked cars with his head before he was tasered by police.”

“There were so many undercover police there,” Schorr said. “You know who [they] are because men that are over 40 don’t go to Coachella.”

Even though she missed the final day of Coachella because she had to study for an AP Art History test on Monday, Lucille* was just happy to have had the “Coachella experience,” she said.

She summed up the weekend, despite the nocturnal wandering in the parking lot, as “just absolutely, incredibly amazing.”


*Names have been changed