Stagecoach 2012: Eli Young Band welcomes the dreamers
As the first act to play this year's expanded three-day event, the Texas band's frontman Mike Eli posed a question to the sea of cowboy and cowgirl hats splayed in front of him across the grass at the Empire Polo Club: "How many of you are dreamers?"
It was intended as a lead-in to the group's new single, "Even If It Breaks Your Heart," but it set up a no-pressure spirit out of the gate.
"Whether it's playing a guitar, being a songwriter, playing the flute or just finishing that beer in front of you," he said, "follow your dreams."
Plenty were heeding his advice on the final part of that list of dreams as the thermometer poked well into the '90s, although a light late-afternoon breeze is helping to mitigate the heat.
Either country music is a young person's passion, or festival-going in the desert is, judging by the vast majority of teens and 20-somethings who make up the crowd, which will swell to 55,000 per day once everyone arrives for the event that sold out weeks in advance -- a first for the SoCal country blowout.
Either way, Stagecoach 2012 is officially under way.
-- Randy Lewis
Photo: Mike Eli performs with the Eli Young Band on the first day of the three-day Stagecoach Country Music Festival at the Empire Polo Fields in Indio, Calif. Credit: Al Schaben / Los Angeles Times