INDIO, Calif. (CelebrityAccess) Times sure have changed since Coachella launched 20 years ago.
The alt-music festival in Indio, Calif., now exists in the age of security measures, the result of both real and potential terrorist incidents but it wasn’t always so, as noted by the Desert Sun newspaper, which reported on how, back in the good old days, one could get into the festival by hopping fences at the Empire Polo Club.
“I got in for free the first eight years of the festival,” guitarist Damian Lautiero of the rock bands Ghost Notes and Waxy told the Sun. “Wristbands were easy to come by in the early days, before they went digital with everything. One year, we wrapped an ad from a magazine around our wrists that was the same color as the crew wristband and walked right in.”
“One year, we had a friend who was working security,” added Winona McCullum, who lived across the street from the Empire Polo Club. “They only used green-colored wristbands at the time. He grabbed a handful of them from the open box and handed them out to us. We walked right in through VIP parking and past security as if we belonged there. We nodded at the gate guards and kept going.”
Locals used to cross through private property and hop fences to get to Coachella, according to the paper, and former Indio city councilman Sam Torres, now on the city’s Planning Commission once said he took advantage of an opportunity in 2010 when he simply walked up to an entrance.
“We went out to see — actually hear — the concert with my kids back when you could just walk up to the venue,” Torres said in a message (with the text shorthand edited for readability). “The Gorillaz were playing that Sunday night and we hadn’t gone to any of the shows. We waited outside the gate and scored two tickets — yes tickets, not (wrist)bands.
“We had four people to get in and I simply went in with one person. Then I would take the second ticket, exiting through the workers’ gate to pick up another person, and (I) entered through the main entrance. I got all four in and caught a phenomenal show. … We even walked up to the main stage gate on Avenue 50 and listened to Jay-Z back then. Now you cannot gain access to Avenue 50 between Monroe and almost Hjorth (streets).”
“I’ve never snuck in, but have been very fortunate over the years, thanks to many dear friends in one way or another,” said Ryan Edgmon of Palm Desert. “There’s a community of friends that every year looks out for each other. Come April, the phones get real busy. My favorite was probably getting in through the back, being swooped up by a golf cart from a friend and whisked literally through the field and crowd to the bar.”
“In 2003, I didn’t have a ticket,” said Edgmon’s friend, Brandon Ray Henderson. “But I decided to go with a few other friends who also didn’t have tickets and hang out by the front entrance. I ran into a couple buddies who were heading in and then, minutes later, received a call saying one of them got through without their ticket being scanned. He walked right back up to the side of the guards and passed me his ticket through the chain link fence.”
It was also easier in the early days to get free tickets.
“Goldenvoice was handing out tickets like candy,” McCullum said. “I listened to Tool rehearsing the night before the first event. One year, my friend’s mom worked for dispatch at the grounds and we rode in on a cop golf cart through the back.”
The article is available here.