April is the desert’s official live music month, featuring countless memorable performances, impromptu shows, and two major events that have put Greater Palm Springs on the music circuit map: the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival (April 10-12 and 17-19) and Stagecoach Country Music Festival (April 24-26). The fests’ genres, crowds, and vibes might be different, but they both bring people together from all over the world for three days of music, celebration, and carefree fun at Indio’s Empire Polo Grounds.
Since its humble beginnings as a two-day indie rock celebration in 1999, Coachella has established itself as one of the largest two-weekend festivals in the United States. The event attracted more than 500,000 attendees in 2014 and continues to draw some of rock, hip-hop, and electronic dance music’s biggest names. Paul McCartney, Arcade Fire, Radiohead, Prince, Jay-Z, and Daft Punk are only a few of the music acts that have graced the five outdoor stages and tents throughout the years. Equally impressive, larger-than-life art installations — sometimes functioning as shade structures, water fountains, or cellphone charging stations — are on display to complete the festivalgoers’ sensory experience. Myriad dining options from pop-up restaurants to craft-food makers catering to every palate and wallet are located in different sections of the grounds. Coachella is so popular that this year’s tickets for both weekends sold out almost immediately, but fear not: Goldenvoice plans to sell 1,000 additional passes to Coachella Valley residents prior to each concert weekend.
Stagecoach is a simpler, more traditional affair celebrating country, bluegrass, and folk music and culture. The polo fields are dotted with bales of hay, stagecoaches, and mechanical bulls. While barbecue and beer flow abundantly, family-friendly corners such as a petting zoo and laid-back activities are also on hand. The two tents are usually packed with euphoric line dancers, while some of the outdoor stages’ areas are designed to allow festivalgoers (who purchased seating tickets) to bring their own blankets and folding chairs to enjoy mellower performances. This festival has grown exponentially since its launch in 2007 and offers comfortable options, including an RV camping resort, for a fancier experience.
TIPS FOR AWESOME FESTING
Wristband (your ticket for the weekend), sunblock, comfortable shoes, lip balm with SPF, portable phone charger, ibuprofen, sanitizing wipes, and layers of clothing.
BEFORE YOU GO
Write down and carry your friends’ phone numbers in case you lose your phone. Bring cash, as the ATM fees are high.
GO GREEN AND WIN: Travelers who choose to carpool with four or more people in one vehicle and have the words “Carpoolchella” or “Stagecoach Festival Carpool Convoy” displayed on their car have a chance to be selected by a secret spotter to win VIP tickets for life for everyone in the car.
UBER RIDES: Charge your phone and cool down in the Uber Lounge while waiting for your Uber to arrive. Located next to the taxi stand at the corner of Avenue 49 and Monroe Street.
LOCAL TAXIS: Cabs are not permitted to stop near the venue to pick up riders. Pickup/dropoff is at the taxi stand in Lot 1D near the corner of Avenue 49 and Monroe Street. American Cab: 760-300-0000; Yellow Cab of the Desert: 760-340-8294; Desert City Cab: 760-328-3000.
BIKING: Festivalgoers can lock bikes on the entry/exit chain-link fences.
ANY LINE, ANYTIME SHUTTLE: Purchase a shuttle pass and catch rides to and from the polo fields all weekend. Service begins at 11 a.m. and runs 60 minutes after the music ends. Service from shuttle pickups to the venue ends at 8 p.m. www.coachella.com/festival-passes ($60 each).
WHEN YOU GET THERE
Set up a meeting point with your group in case anyone gets lost. Cell service can be dicey: time-stamp your text messages (i.e., “Meet me at the Do LaB in five minutes 7:38 p.m.”) so your friends know when they read your text whether it is timely or not. Stay hydrated!
Photo by Orlando Welsh
These veteran Aussie rockers celebrate 40 years of doing dirty deeds. Special kudos to guitarist Angus Young, the only man approaching retirement age who still looks cool doing the duckwalk in short pants.
A London art-rock trio all about the layers maps the blueprint for how to merge loops, riffs, and percussion with aural panache. Call them MBWWBR — the Millennial Band Who Went Beyond Radiohead.
An arresting British chanteuse who wears her emotions on her naked sleeve, as set to a haunting, slow-burn sample-and-effects-laden backdrop. Aka, “if Kate Bush went minimalist.”
THE GHOST OF A SABER TOOTH TIGER
The GOASTT — Sean Lennon and Charlotte Kemp Muhl — craft indelible mind-melded earwigs that marry the catchiest pop-experimental creative impulses of their collective DNA.
The French electro-house beatmaster continues to scratch his finger on the pulse of DJ culture. Your mission is simple: Put dem hands up higher and smash this party up. Rave on.
While this Irish singer/ songwriter is wholly willing to take you to church to visit the very depths of his tortured soul, he also knows how to mine some heavenly rhythm and blues.
Canadian electro-pop for the here and now, all delivered with a fierce and feral edge by Valerie Anne Poxleitner, better known by her superheroine name, Lights. Up we go.
RAEKWON AND GHOSTFACE KILLAH
More than being all about the money, the Staten Island hip-hop duo masterfully intersect lyrical Mafioso rap with a relentless flow of stream-of- consciousness Shaolin storytelling. Wu-Tang forever.
This is two-man tag-team garage rock by way of some righteous, gnarly, on-the-pulse blooz. Bang thy head accordingly.
Bold, challenging, quirky, funky, angular, progressive, alternative, individualistic — everything you want music to aspire to, and beyond. A guitar-shredding performance artist nonpareil.
Photo by Chris Miller / Imagine Imagery
The once and forever voice of the now defunct Allman Brothers Band rolls on in the solo spotlight. Don’t miss the ongoing saga of the perennially hard-charging, whiskey-voiced Midnight Rider.
THE LONE BELLOW
Blending the right dollops of guitar, mandolin, percussion, and harmonies, this trio proves that fine indie-folk Americana can come from anywhere — even the very hipster heart of Brooklyn.
Out of the trailer and into the spotlight, Musgraves’ brand of midtempo rockabilly and country is delivered with a keen wink and a nod to tradition, making the rural feel more universal with every little strum.
Hag ain’t here just to take an outlaw-cowboy pioneer victory lap — he’s still growling, picking, and twanging with the fervor of Muskogee Okies less than half his age. (He just turned 78.)
This perpetually sharp-dressed trio of Texas hombres continues to turn the ignition over on deep-pocket, hard-rockin’ blues born from the heart of the cool, cool desert. Give ’em all your loving.
For complete festival coverage, visit www.palmspringslife.com and follow us @palmspringslife on Twitter.