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Coachella 2010

The big question heading into last year’s “Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival” was whether the festival would survive the recession. This year, the only question was how fast it would sell out. The answer – nearly a week before the show kicks off on Friday, despite the higher cost commitment to attend this year, LA Times mediates.

What began in 1999 as a two-day event for 38 000 ticket-holders has more than doubled in size, with 80 000 expected to attend each of the three days to hear 135 rock bands in a polo field 125 miles east of Los Angeles.

Most hotels in the desert town of Indio have been booked for weeks or months, even though some have tripled or quadrupled their rates. Festival-goers, desperate to see performances by the likes of Jay-Z, Thom Yorke and Muse, are diving into Craigslist for lodging that in some cases is no more than a grimy spot on the floor of a mobile home.

“We almost did not do Coachella this year,” said 44-year-old Paul Tollett, the organizer and founder of the 11-year-old festival, which is promoted by concert heavyweight Goldenvoice and owned by AEG in LA. “We felt the economy was not looking so hot. But events seem to be hanging in there, and I am as surprised as anyone.”

The sellout is all the more noteworthy given a change in pricing this year that does away with single-day $103 tickets in favor of one entry fee for all three days that, with service charges, pushes the cost above $300.

“Coachella has been established as a tribal rite among hipsters who go just so they can say they’ve been there,” independent music industry analyst Bob Lefsetz said of the sellout.


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