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The Coachella Valley Music and Arts festival is unlike any other festival you might attend on the West Coast, or any coast, for that matter. Tickets typically sell out within the first hours of going on sale for the multi-day event featuring some of the top acts in popular music. 2014 marks the 15th incarnation of the festival, which debuted in 1999.
The Coachella Valley is most widely known because of Palm Springs, historic playground to rich and famous Los Angelinos, and home to many excellent resorts, restaurants, and golf courses, as well as spectacular desert views. Winter isn’t even a visitor in this part of the world as average temperatures between November and March are typically right around 60o Fahrenheit, so it is an ideal place for a large music and arts festival in the month of April. The Festival itself, often referred to as just "Coachella" happens in Indio, a few miles down the road from Palm Spring. Indio is the largest town in what is known as the "Inland Empire," and the venue in question is the Empire Polo Club.
The Empire Polo Club played host to its first large rock concert in 1993, when the band Pearl Jam was looking to host a concert in Southern California at a venue that was not aligned with Ticketmaster. With huge fields of grass for polo playing, this venue is perfect for the occasional music festival and based on the success of the Pearl Jam concert, the idea of building a festival around this particular site stayed with Goldenvoice promoter Paul Tollett, who had worked diligently to bring the Seattle rock and rollers back to Southern California. It took six years for his vision of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival to come to fruition.
In 1999, Tollett and his partners convinced headliners Beck and Rage Against the Machine to take a gamble on their fledgling festival by accepting delayed payments for their performances. Other notable musical acts that took part in the inaugural festival were Morrissey, Tool, The Chemical Brothers, Modest Mouse, Pavement, and many others. 10,000 tickets were sold and the festival ended up losing about three quarters of a million dollars, but the promoters knew there was still a great deal of potential.
After taking 2000 off due to a lack of a headliner, the festival returned in 2001 and has grown every year since. One of the early challenges faced by Coachella organizers was the daytime heat during October in the Coachella Valley, so they made the call to have the festival take place in April instead, where average temperatures are right around 85 degrees during the day and 60 degrees at night. With a combination of great musical acts across a variety of different genres and wonderful weather, Coachella is, as mentioned earlier, a highly sought after ticket.
Over the years, Tollett and his team at Goldenvoice have refined the Coachella experience considerably. This festival is one of the most forward thinking of its kind and caters to almost every possible fan. Amenities at the Empire Polo Club include food selections for all diets and tastes, including vegan, gluten-free, and kosher options. Water stations are set up all over the venue, so concert goers can remain hydrated, and bottled water has always been just $2 per bottle since the inception of the festival. With crowds of around 70,000 people per weekend, having a little something for everyone is no small feat.
In 2014, all 140,000 passes were sold in under three hours, which set a new Coachella record. While tickets can still be found, Coachella organizers urge interested parties to use reputable ticket agencies to purchase tickets as there are a number of counterfeit tickets created for the festival every year.
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