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Coachella 2010: Welcome

April 16, 2010 |  4:53 pm


And so it begins.

Under the chalky blue sky of Indio, they gathered, the heaving throng tens of thousands strong of alt-rockers and subculture aficionados, head trippers and ravers, ne'er do wells with expensive sunglasses and teenagers with deep pockets (at least deep enough to afford the $269 ticket price) -- all brought together as one nation under a specifically Coachella groove.

Standing in the middle of the Empire Polo Club's expansive 400 acres -- beneath an Arc de Triomphe of helium balloons and abutted by an outsize origami crane made of steel girders and tarpaulin -- there is the characteristic wash of sound. The Babel of syncopated rhythms and amplified voices, synthesizer wash and bombastic beats emanating from various stages is more than enough to provoke a kind of summer music festival delirium. We have gathered here to bask in the company of greatness -- or at least an impeccably curated cream-crop of pop musicdom's master class of superstars (Jay-Z, raise your hand) and next-big-things.


And then there is the churn of humanity: a riot of funky sunglasses and bad tattoos, spontaneous dancing and wafts of mysterious smoke. Call this the getting-to-know-you day of Coachella's three-day, 130-odd band music marathon -- a first for the festival that abolished one-day passes in lieu of three-day packages to an outpouring of Facebook scorn.

Amid it all, a small moment of human kindness. A beautiful young woman in a tube top who emerges from the madding crowd, an outlier among the dense throng of hipsters and festivalgoers in pursuit of the grand gesture, the epochal Festival Moment. Extending an un-asked for bit of relief in 87 degree heat: She produces a water gun and pulls the trigger, releasing a burst of mist that says in not so many words, "Welcome to Coachella 2010."

-- Chris Lee

Top photo: John McCauley, center, of the band Deer Tick crowd-surfs at Coachella on Friday. Credit: Karl Walter/Getty Images

Bottom photo: Xavier Minnamon, 8, and his sister Samantha Arias, 13, shoot bubbles while their mother, Maggie Badaraco, rests inside the truck. They're waiting to get into Coachella on Friday. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin/Los Angeles Times