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Coachella 2011: New Security Measures and Mainstage Whoops!

Finally In !
Finally In !
photo by Wendy Gilmartin

What so many worried would be a police state on lock down in Indio never really happened on Friday. New scalper-proof wristbands and stiff security measures made for a trip to Coachella that was just as easy as getting there last year. The painful drive and clusterfuck of traffic leaving L.A. was totally typical too.

Sure those days of loading up a friend's car, driving east three hours and scoring scalped tickets are gone for sure. And it's kind of eerie with out the scalper element, but besides that, things were pretty smooth.

With fewer paper tickets, Will Call was moved off-site about 5 miles from the polo fields, but most fest-goers just used the Will Call lot as another pre-party destination worthy of Jamison shots and joints . . "One more step closer to Coachella, man!"

Give Us a Parking Lot & We'll Party In It
Give Us a Parking Lot & We'll Party In It
photo by Wendy Gilmartin

LAWEEKLY asked a few of the security guards - and there are a lot more of them this year - why they weren't checking wristbands on attendees in cars (like Coachella organizers said would be happening). Most guards either shrugged, said they didn't know or hadn't heard of the rule.

Even at the front gate there were virtually no pat downs for ladies, a few for guys and not much being confiscated - although, as was the case last year, security will most likely get stiffer as the weekend progresses. The micro-chip-embedded wristbands and wristband-reading sensors at the entrance were completely hassle-free as well - but when the LAWEEKLY started taking photos of the sensor machines, we were kindly asked not to.

Chemical Brothers
Chemical Brothers
photo by Wendy Gilmartin

The day-one technical difficulties were more obvious inside the festival than outside. The mainstage sound system seemed muffled all afternoon, which pissed off a lot of fans, and got them chanting "Louder, LOUDER" - especially during the Black Keys' set.

Since it underwent a massive architectural face-lift this year, the Coachella mainstage looks like a launch pad wrapped up in a scaffolding of flashing, pulsing screens - which is cool, but the engineers are obviously still working out some bugs. Some of the screens were dropping out during the Chemical Bros. lightshow (essentially the exact same stage set and graphics show that backed them at the Bowl last summer), even though the set had already been delayed about 35 minutes while the screens were tested.

The crowd passed the time with their own quick and dirty lightshow of sorts, tossing hundreds of glowsticks up in the air simultaneously - which, if you squint - looks a bit like fireworks going off. Through out the Chemical Bros. set the crowd continued to pelt the security guards with their floppy rainbow-colored paraphernalia.

We're proud of you, Coachella crowd. Today you learned that you don't need million dollar light stages to have a good time, as long as you have un-confiscated weed and a multitude of rave toys.

Security hit by glow sticks
Security hit by glow sticks
photo by Wendy Gilmartin

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