Goldenvoice plans to regain the fans’ love after a chaotic 2010 festival. Two words: fewer people
By Steve Appleford / LA Weekly / Originally posted Aug 12 2010
Before April 2010, if you had asked local music fans about the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival, you would have heard a pretty consensual answer that reflected its well-earned reputation as one of the nation’s most satisfying rock fests. Since the festival’s 1999 founding by Goldenvoice Productions, the Coachella sensibility had been rooted in the original L.A. punk-rock scene, delivering good vibes and genuine excitement along with a wide range of alternative sounds chosen with a connoisseur’s touch, from this year’s headlining muscle of Jay-Z and Thom Yorke to the dreamier waves of emotion unfurled by the xx as the afternoon sun slowly slid behind the palm trees.
“The No. 1 thing was just too many bodies,” admits Goldenvoice President Paul Tollett.
But something went very wrong for many fans in 2010, even as the stages erupted with the sounds of more than 100 bands and DJs. There were serious gripes about overcrowding, ticket snafus, parking gridlock and a creeping suspicion of new profit motives. It wasn’t anything on the scale of June’s Electric Daisy Carnival, marred by the fatal overdose of a teenage girl and hundreds of injuries after fans crashed through event barricades at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. And yet it was alarming by Coachella standards, as repeat customers reacted to the problems less with anger than with something resembling heartbreak.
For James Faulkner, making his fourth trip to Indio, his only desire was to recapture the experience of his first Coachella, in 2004, when he watched the Cure perform in an epic landscape with a peaceful, ecstatic crowd of music fans much like himself. “I don’t want to say it changed my life, but …,” he recalls of that first year, but as he struggles to find the words, you know that maybe it had. Now he’s not sure he’ll ever return, calling the 2010 festival a clusterfuck, a word that has come up repeatedly online following this year’s edition.
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