Coachella 2010, beyond the music: Arrests, gate-crashers and volcanic ash
In a year when everything seems bigger at the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival -- more people, a Ferris wheel, more VIP space, room for 8,000 camping vehicles -- here's a number that's trending down: arrests. The Indio police have tallied 12 arrests heading into the second day of the three-day party in the desert town.
Though Coachella has swelled to a 75,000-person affair -- up about 15,000 from the total in 2009 -- the arrest number is shaping up to be down slightly from last year, when 69 arrests were made throughout the weekend. All of the arrests were alcohol- or drug-related, said Indio police spokesman Ben Guitron.
Guitron, however, did confirm reports that a small number of ticketless attendees did attempt to crash the event. Guitron said the event has become such a destination that it's attracting more fans without tickets to the grounds. He added that gate-crashers are the responsibility of Goldenvoice-hired security.
"If we were to deal with every single trespasser, it wouldn't be a wise use of resources," Guitron said.
A Coachella spokeswoman said that she had "no information" on gate-crashers and that she was unable to reach Goldenvoice head Paul Tollett. Those fans with tickets, however, have reported that wait times to get in the venue could top an hour. Henry Conklin, a 19-year-old student from New York University, said one of his friends paid a woman $40 to cut in line.
Maximum capacity for the grounds, said a Fire Department spokesman, was 85,000 people -- a number that the festival has not yet reached. With temperatures on Friday expected to top 90 degrees, officials were, however, bracing for more heat-related incidents. In Coachella's day-and-a-half, including early-bird campers on Thursday, 30 to 35 people had to be taken to the hospital for off-site treatment, but the Indio Fire Department would not offer specifics on causes.
There's still another issue Coachella has had to contend with this year: a natural disaster.
Though all of the European headliners have safely made it to the U.S., a total of seven artists, according to a Coachella spokeswoman, were grounded in Britain because of ash from an Icelandic volcano, including Chicago's jazz-leaning Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, which was taking a break from a European tour to come to Coachella. British rock bands the Cribs and Frightened Rabbit were unable to get in the country, as was Bad Lieutenant, featuring former members of '80s favorites New Order.
"We would have taken any slot, any time, just to play this festival," said Frightened Rabbit's Scott Hutchison on Friday from London. "If you're playing to people who've come to see you at a club show, the battle has been won."
Top photo: Dancers enjoy the music at Coachella.
Second photo: Josh Raimist,18, from Las Vegas, is attending his second Coachella and sports a mask made by friend, supporting DJ artist Deadmau5, on Friday.
Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times