Radiohead will kick off the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival’s first weekend of performances Friday, and a record 125,000 sweaty people in 90-degree heat are expected to create traffic jams driving to the desert.
Lady Gaga will be a major draw at the festival.
Gates will open at 11 a.m. in Indio for the annual double-weekend desert spectacle.
Performances start at noon each day at the Empire Polo Grounds, 81800 Avenue 51, with Radiohead, Lady Gaga and Kendrick Lamar set to take on headlining duties. Lady Gaga was tapped after Beyonce pulled out on her doctor’s orders as she’s carrying twins, but she promised to perform at next year’s festival.
The festival figures to be the best-attended Coachella festival in history, thanks to the Indio City Council’s unanimous decision to expand the festival’s attendance cap from 99,000 to 125,000.
Travelers began streaming into the desert Thursday, contributing to the expected heavy traffic near the polo grounds, according to Indio police. Festival-goers and residents alike have been warned of traffic expected to clog local roads and freeways.
The usual festival road closures will be at:
— Avenue 49, between Hjorth and Monroe streets;
— Avenue 50, between Madison and Jackson streets;
— Hjorth Street, between Avenue 49 and Avenue 50; and
— Madison Street, between Avenue 49 and Avenue 52.
To reduce traffic, festival goers were encouraged to use Uber and other ridesharing services and could even win prizes for carpooling with four or more people by displaying the word “Carpoolchella” on their vehivle. Prizes include a VIP pass for life beginning in 2018, backstage passes, merchandise, vouchers and more.
Radiohead will headline both festival Fridays, with the second festival weekend ending the band’s U.S. tour in support of its latest album, “A Moon Shaped Pool.” The festival will mark the band’s third time as a Coachella headliner, after previously appearing in 2004 and 2012.
Radiohead will take to the Coachella stage at 10:35 p.m.
New additions to the festival will include a rock-oriented “Sonora” tent, featuring performances from the likes of punk rock’s T.S.O.L., and the Antarctic, a 360-degree projection dome that will showcase a mix of video footage and computer-generated imagery, taking viewers “on a mind-blowing metamorphic journey through time, space and consciousness,” according to festival organizers.
Though general admission festival passes sold out months ago, those living in the Coachella Valley can obtain weekend passes during a locals-only sale held next Wednesday in Indian Wells.
Those who can’t attend in person can still watch the festival via livestream at www.youtube.com/coachella, where viewers can watch three separate performances simultaneously and even enjoy a 360-degree camera for certain acts. Viewers will also be able to pre-plan their schedule so the stream will automatically switch to selected acts when the time comes.
While gusty winds kicked up duststorms last year, nothing but sunny skies are expected during the first Coachella weekend, with highs approaching 90 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.
Day parking will be available from 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily. Overnight parking is only available for those who purchased Camping Companion Parking. Cars parked in the Day parking lots past 2 a.m. will be towed.
Visit www.coachella.com for a schedule of performances, festival maps and other information.
— City News Service