Mother Nature may have a wet, windy addition in store for music fans attending the opening weekend of the 12th annual Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival, which runs Friday through Sunday at the Empire Polo Grounds in Indio and is headlined by Radiohead, The Black Keys, Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre (with several guests who have yet to be formally announced, including Eminem). (The same lineup performs at the second weekend of Coachella, April 20-22. Both weekends are sold out.)
The weather forecast for Friday is for strong winds and a 30 to 50 percent chance of rain, with temperatures expected to drop into the low 50s. Should this come to pass (or, rather, fall), it would be the first rain in the event’s history. Should any mud actually result — a rarity in the desert — Coachella may briefly evoke the fabled Woodstock festivals of 1969 and 1994, when mud ruled the day (and night).
But even a little rain shouldn’t dampen Coachella’s reputation as the quintessential fun-in-the-sun (or clouds) festival -- and one of the most popular annual music events in the world. The 2011 edition drew approximately 75,000 fans a day, with 20 percent of them coming (as in previous years) from San Diego County. An equal percentage of San Diegans attend Stagecoach, the country-music festival staged the week after Coachella at the same site in Indio.
A total of 140 bands and solo acts are scheduled to play on Coachella’s two outdoor and three tented stages, which are spread out over several hundred acres of Indio’s Empire Polo Club. Those 140 acts were selected from an original list of 1,000 or so potential artists, according to Coachella mastermind Paul Tollett.
Tollett, who is also the creator of the country-music-fueled Stagecoach Festival at the same Indio location as Coachella, will be interviewed in the Night&Day Weekend section of UT San Diego. Meanwhile, anticipation is building that Eminem will make a guest appearance Sunday night during the festival's closing set by Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg.
Neophyte Coachella attendees may attempt to see all 140 festival performers, a quest guaranteed to yield fatigue and frustration. The best way to enjoy yourself at the marathon party-in-the-desert that is Coachella is to pace yourself and relax. Dry, wet, or in between, Mother Nature wouldn’t want it any other way.
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