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Stagecoach 2009: Day 1, by the numbers

April 26, 2009 | 12:10 pm

Backstage at Stagecoach:

STAGECOACH_DAY_ONE__5

Saturday's opening of this weekend's Stagecoach country music festival drew a sellout crowd of 40,000, the biggest turnout yet for the 3-year-old event, Goldenvoice chief Paul Tollett said near the end of the day, which featured headliners Brad Paisley and Reba McEntire. There's good reason to expect that today's closing show, topped by Kenny Chesney and Kid Rock, will do every bit as well. Year in and year out, Chesney sells more concert tickets than virtually every other act in pop music.

In addition, arrests were down from last year's pace, according to Indio police spokesman Ben Guitron, with 14 arrests Saturday and three on Friday among those who had arrived early to set up in the adjacent campgrounds. Last year, when Stagecoach ran three days, Guitron said there were 80-plus arrests over the course of the event.

Saturday's results represented quite a turnaround for Stagecoach organizers and brought another dose of good news following the response to last weekend's three-day Coachella Music and Arts Festival. That event drew 160,000 total, the second-highest turnout in the decade-old festival's history.

"We actually spent a day last fall discussing whether to cancel both festivals this year in view of the economy at that time," Tollett said backstage just before Paisley went on. The biggest change from 2008 was the loss of one concert stage, making the lineup slightly trimmer as spread over three stages this year. Last year's three-day event was considered an anomaly because the addition of the Eagles to the bill justified adding an extra day, Tollett said previously.

"I've always wanted to play this one," Paisley told Tollett when they were introduced outside Paisley's tour bus and was told his show had pulled the biggest Stagecoach audience to date. "This is the classiest one of these events I've ever seen."

-- Randy Lewis

Photo: Kevin Costner surveys the Stagecoach scene. Credit: Spencer Weiner / Los Angeles Times

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