Thousands gather in California desert for Coachella festival
Searching for an oasis of music in southern California desert, thousands gathered Friday for the opening day of the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival, AP reported.
Temperatures hovered in the relatively bearable mid-90s as the notoriously hot three-day festival got under way in the desert a few hours drive southeast of Los Angeles. Rogue Wave was the first act to hit the main stage, where Tegan and Sara, the Raconteurs, the Verve and Jack Johnson were to play later.
"It's a clear day," said Coachella founder and organizer Paul Tollett, smiling from his backstage trailer. "You can see the mountains."
Tollett, who heads concert promoter Goldenvoice, reported no major problems as the ninth annual festival got started. Approximately 60,000 fans were expected to attend Friday, fanning out across acres of grounds that included two outdoor stages and three concert tents. Some came for the day from L.A., while others laid out sleeping bags in the camping grounds.
Not all were roughing it, though. For $4,000, VIP camping arrangements were available, complete with candlelit, air-conditioned tents.
Lydia Johnson, 21, left San Jose with her friends at 4 a.m. to make it to Coachella for the first time.
"I love it," said Johnson. "It's cool to see bands I've never heard of. I like discovering new bands and wandering around."
Also to play Friday were Vampire Weekend, the National, Serj Tankian and Aesop Rock. The weekend's big headliner, Prince, is playing Saturday evening.
The unofficial kickoff to the summer's festival season, Coachella is one of the season's biggest attractions for music fans and bands alike.
"We've done a lot of festivals and this is a very well-run festival," Sara Quin, of the sibling rock duo Tegan and Sara said backstage before their set. "It's a clean, comfortable, laid-back festival."
The back-to-back scheduling of Tegan and Sara and Jack White's Raconteurs also afforded the Quin sisters a chance to meet White for the first time. White's other band, the White Stripes, covered Tegan and Sara's "Walking with a Ghost."
"I want to meet him because it was an honor that he covered the song," said Tegan Quin. "In a weird way, it gave us a little bit of credibility in a place where we maybe didn't always have credibility."
Vampire Weekend, the critically acclaimed New York band who released their debut album earlier this year, was playing their first big festival, and planned to stick around to soak it up.
"We're going to hang out the whole weekend," the band's drummer, Chris Thomson, said backstage. "This is our first time at a festival and it's going to be a lot of fun. We're just going to hang out and see what the deal is."