Saturday, May 09, 2009

Looking Back at 2009 Stagecoach Country Music Festival: Part One

Three years in a row of great weather and music at the Stagecoach Country Music Festival in Indio, California, organized by Golden Voice and AEG during the weekend of April 24 and 25, 2009. What amazes me are the organizational abilities (and tastes in Country Music) of Golden Voice/AEG to pull off something of this scale two weekends in a row. Whereas, Coachella has tent camping, Stagecoach is set up with RV camping. Both are temporary small cities with their own social networks supported by temporary telecommunications infrastructure by ATT and Verizon along with public computers and WiFi, cellphone recharging, breakfasts and Bloody Mary's, ice, portable showers, etc.

With regard to the great weather in the day and cool evenings requiring warmer clothing, a Coachella Valley newspaper ran a headline something like "God is Country Fan" after 3 years in a row of searing weather at the Coachella Music Festival which ran the prior weekend. The other major difference is the Stagecoach fans can bring their folding chairs into the Polo Grounds which are not allowed during Coachella. Finally, I want to give a shout out to Altmans RV Rentals in Carson for hanging in there during tough economic times to provide another hassle free and quality RV rental for Stagecoach living.Almost their entire rental fleet was at Stagecoach.

There is one picture I wish I had taken and that was the security poster with the picture of approximately 50 wristbands reflecting the different types of tickets, vendors, performers, staff, VIP status, press, photographers, over 21 to drink (which changed on the second day), camping, etc. I wouldn't be surprised to see the organizers go to some wristbands with RFID chips next year, as it may make it easier to figure out who is allowed in certain areas in low light situations, and it may also, help in getting people through certain gates that became gridlocked with people traffic. I do want to give cudo's to the California Fire Department for making sure that there were well marked and wide fire lanes that helped to create expressways thru different parts of the venue.

Without the blazing heat, there sunstroke wasn't an issue at Stagecoach for these ERT personnel.

However, one problem was that in the desire of creating an atmosphere of 40,000 around the Mane Stage, the vendors seemed to have been set up relatively too close. Three huge screens make it possible for all to enjoy the stage show from where-ever one sets up. Each day when the gates opened, there was a mad dash for those with general admission tickets to set up their lawn chairs right behind those with the higher priced tickets in their corralled space. We choose to set up near one of the firelanes so we could easily find out seats, once it got dark. The Stagecoach Mane Stage at night with 40,000 people sitting in their folding chairs watching the performers on 3 huge video screens, and several more when Kenny Chesney performed, made me think of a modern drive-in movie theater of the 21st Century. And the setting with the sun going down was always spectacular.

With spaces safely secured, we headed off for the BBQ competition to get our five tastes for $10. There were over 50 competitors, most of which were selling to the public. Number one selling item was pulled pork, followed by beef brisket, then spareribs, tri-tip, and chicken. I tried many different types of brisket, some with sauce and others with lots of smoke. To learn more of the rules of a Kansas BBQ competition, I was told to check out the official KC BBQ site. Picture below is of 3 generations from Ribs A Rockin, followed by some BBQ closeup, and one of the many colorful BBQ displays to entice you to sample.

A carry-over from earlier Stagecoach events was the mechanical bull riding that drew a crowd cheering on all that were brave enough to pit themselves against the bull with 50 people or more watching. New to Stagecoach this year was Sony's Play Station Sing Star Country music karaoke video competition with well over a hundred people crowded into the booth to see who sounded like they could make onto the next Country Star competition. Ironically, I met Paulina Bozek,the executive producer of SingStar at E3 several years ago, and I am sure she would have loved seeing this fully interactive Stagecoach social scene.

Then there were the children actitivities that were organized by the Girl Scout Council of San Gregonio. The kids were having a great time doing arts and crafts, dressing up, playing games, and listening to age-appropriate music. Back again for this year was the hay bale maze. Several too tall kids were seen cheating.
What would be the West without horses, and so this year, the organizers brought in the Budweiser horses for a promotional stint. Here is one taking a morning stroll through one of the RV campgrounds.
Both Coachella and Stagecoach provided temporary weekend jobs for thousands working security, selling tshirts, working behind the scenes, running the campgrounds, and many other tasks that are required to put on a festival of this magnitude. Here is Sara who was one of such workers, selling Stagecoach souvenirs.
And of course Stagecoach is all about the fans of Country Music. Here are Miranda Lambert's fans trying to get a little closer to the music.

Keep watching the ExperienceLA Blog for Stagecoach Part 2 that features performance and music pictures, as I close with pictures of me doing Twitter posts from the RV Campground Interenet and WiFi Tent.

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