The concert lineup, released Jan. 19, includes more than 100 artists and is expected to draw a crowd of about 70,000 concert-goers to the three-day desert festival, said Indio Police Department Spokesman Benjamin Guitron.
“As soon as the doors open, it’s a non-stop party,” Guitron said.
With so many concert-goers, artists and vendors, the concert requires multiple stages and a lot of space. And along with the spacious desert environment, people must also endure the desert weather. In April, Indio averages mid-90s during the day and low-50s during the night, but this doesn’t stop the festivities — or the police that control the crowds.
“We want people to come out and enjoy themselves,” Guitron said. “In order for them to do that, they have to obey the rules and have the respect of others.”
Last year, 49 arrests were made during the festival, and the year before there were 53.
There have been no deaths onsite, but in the past attendees have been involved with issues outside the concert which resulted in death. Any violent crimes, drunkenness or overdosing at the festival, though, were recovered once medical treatment was given, Guitron said.
The concert is held on a four-venue private estate owned by the Empire Polo Club and the use or possession of narcotics or anything illegal is prohibited and will result in citations. However, no citation information is available because tickets can be given for violating municipal, state and even federal laws. Therefore, there is no easy breakdown of how many citations were issued, Guitron said.
To reduce arrests and citations, the police began offering “amnesty cans” a few years ago for concert-goers to throw away anything illegal before entering the venue.
“(Amnesty cans) are making people realize they don’t want to bring in a narcotic,” Guitron said. “They can think, ‘I have an opportunity to drop it in this drop box and just come in to have fun instead of potentially getting arrested.’”
Although Guiltron did not have specific details on the contents of amnesty cans in the past, he said the police have found anything from marijuana to knives to various drug paraphernalia.
It is better for people to make the “adult decision because they know if what they’re doing is illegal, (especially) since many save their money and travel long distances to go to Coachella,” Guitron said.
Palm Springs Convention and Visitor Authority Spokesman Mark Graves said there are about 215 hotels in the area, and they quickly sell out to concert-goers.
As of Jan. 25, the popular car and tent camping provided adjacent to the concert area is sold out, and the closest hotel room to the venue was 25-miles away in Palm Springs, Graves said.
Since the hotels can charge premium rates and still sell out during the festival, it makes a significant contribution to the greater Palm Springs area and is one of the top three revenue-earning events, Graves said.
“Millions are made in just those three days,” Graves said. “Our economy makes $2.5 to $3 billion out here from tourism alone, and all that feeds into the economic impact.”
As a resident living two miles from the venue as well, Graves said the concert isn’t an issue.
“From a tourism perspective it’s all good,” Graves said, “On Friday and Saturday morning you see a lot of people, but they start disappearing when they go out to the site.”
Onsite, from the first opening act until the last, is exactly where chemistry sophomore Derek Barbas said he was when he went to Coachella two years ago, and where he will be when he goes this year.
“(Coachella is) thousands of really happy people stoked to be there watching show after show with all their friends,” Barbas said. “It’s like it never ends.”
Barbas wasn’t able to get a campsite this year, but he still plans to attend all three days, he said.
“I definitely wanted to spend the $300 to go,” Barbas said. “I had to buy all three days, which is a bummer, so I’ll probably just miss school on Friday.”