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Coachella 2018: Valley braces for boom as festival season begins

California's Coachella Valley is preparing for the influx of tens of thousands of fans and staff as the festival season begins in earnest

By IQ on 11 Apr 2018

Coachella Music Festival 2017

image © Chris Miller/Coachella 2017

Local businesses in California’s Coachella Valley are stocking up in preparation for this weekend’s Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, the star-studded 125,000-cap. phenomenon that traditionally marks the start of the international festival season.

Promoted by AEG’s Goldenvoice, the event returns to the Empire Polo Club in Indio for its 19th outing on 13–15 April and 20–22 April, with the Weeknd, Beyoncé and Eminem headlining. Around 250,000 tickets were sold for Coachella 2017, making it the highest-grossing festival in the world, and Goldenvoice chief Paul Tollett expects similar numbers this year – as do the small businesses set to take advantage of the event’s huge economic impact.

According to the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership, last year’s festival season brought in $400 million to the Coachella Valley, and $700 million to the surrounding region.

Richard Thomas, GM of Indio’s LG Desert Store, tells local radio station KMIR extra foot traffic not only comes from festivalgoers but also the thousands of employees the event hires. “Police come by, security guards come by, the truckers come by,” he comments. “We will even have an artist drop by every once in a while.”

Chamber of Commerce president Joshua Bonner says Coachella makes up for the slower summer months of business: “Sitting at the end of the [winter] season helped to really expand the shoulder all the way to April, and that’s a massive impact on our economy in every level.”

Commenting on the reaction to Coachella 2018’s hip hop-heavy line-up – in addition to the headliners, Post Malone, Vince Staples, Tyler the Creator, Migos and Cardi B feature prominently –Tollett tells the Desert Sun: “I don’t like when there’s an instant review of a line-up. I wish there was a 60-minute cool-down period of people to be able to click through everything. ”

“It has a massive impact on our economy in every level”

He concedes that “the last couple years we’ve been going a little heavier on hip-hop”, but says it’s “just that this is what it turned out to be. We’ve had all rock headliners before. We’ve had different things. It’s not forever.”

Representing the older demographic, meanwhile, are electronic music pioneer Jean-Michel Jarrre, former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne, UK jazz-funk outfit Jamiroquai and Chic’s Nile Rodgers.

By far the biggest name on the bill, however, is Beyoncé, who pulled out last year on the advice of doctors. Tollett says he’s breaking his own rule on not booking artists already playing in LA in order to get the new mother back to Indio for 2018.

“The Beyoncé story dominates everything,” he says. “She saw her husband play here [in 2010] and came back as a fan. So did Jay-Z. They’ve been friends of the festival. We actually had a blast with them.

“So, she gets pregnant. Twins. Cancellation. Because of the timing of her postponing to this year, they had a whole tour set up, her and Jay-Z. Generally, I won’t let an artist announce a local [Los Angeles] show if they’re playing Coachella. I want them to concentrate on this show. That was the intent here, too, until I started thinking: There have just been so many extenuating circumstances on this one. I can’t even add them all up.

“I’m not looking to put lines in sand right now on Beyoncé. She’s been great to us.”

Coachella 2018 takes place on 13–15 April and 20–22 April.

 


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