Coachella Vaughn Youtz /

Ed. Note: Make sure to check out Part 1, Hip Hop in Coachella and Part 2, Rock Music in Coachella.

The 2011 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is right around the corner. While thousands of people will be returning to the Empire Polo Field in Indio, California, for the three-day event, there will be just as many making the trek for the first time in their lives. Justin case you are a newbie to the arena, here is quick crash course of everything you need to know about the mini Woodstock that is Coachella.


Paul Tollett and Rick Van Santen, the founders of Goldenvoice Productions, birthed Coachella in October 1999 with the vision of holding a festival that reached out to the alternative, hip-hop, indie rock and electronica audiences. Though its inaugural two-day outing featured the likes of Tool, Rage Against The Machine, Beck, The Chemical Brothers and Jurassic 5, Tollett and Santen lost $800,000 out of the deal. Needless to say, the concert didn’t return in 2000.

Feeling the financial strain, Tollett and Santen had no choice but to sell Goldenvoice Productions to Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG). Tollett and Santen would stay on as the head honchos at Goldenvoice and brought Coachella back for one day only in 2001, this time moving the event to April and bringing the newly re-united Jane’s Addiction on board as the headlining act.

Despite still being at a loss, AEG believed in the pair and made some wise changes. For starters, they brought on sponsors and extended it to a two-day event in 2002. Then, in 2003, tent camping at the festival became an option. The success continued -- so much that Coachella was extended to a three-day event beginning with the 2007 installment. Since then, tickets have been selling out. Between that and a wide-range of musicians tapped for the bill every year, Coachella has become a primary destination for the industry elite.

Music Artists

Music lies at the core of Coachella and there have been several big name artists who have rocked out at the festival. Literally, a who’s who of music artists have performed at the Empire Polo Field and this year’s edition will feature the Kings Of Leon, The Strokes, Arcade Fire, Kanye West, Wiz Khalifa, Jack’s Mannequin, Jimmy Eat World, Cee Lo Green, The Black Keys, Interpol, Ms. Lauryn Hill and nearly a hundred other acts.

Coachella has featured well-established artists while they were dominating the mainstream. Among those include Beck, Rage Against The Machine, The Chemical Brothers, Jurassic 5, Weezer, Bjork, Oasis, KRS-One, Queens Of The Stone Age, The Pharcyde, Beastie Boys, Ben Harper, Ben Folds, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Sonic Youth, Radiohead, The Cure, Ghostface Killah Manu Chao, The Verve, Serj Tankian, Madonna, Portishead, The Pixies, Prince, Flogging Molly, Franz Ferdinand, LCD Soundsystem, Them Crooked Vultures, Muse, Faith No More, MGMT, Gorillaz and Jay-Z.

You can even bring fanny pack -- but don’t. You might get ridiculed like no tomorrow.

The festival also gave a chance for younger bands an opportunity to develop a name for themselves. Artists to come out of recent Coachella while still building their name include Modest Mouse, Aceyalone, The Roots, Saves The Day, Jack Johnson, Citizen Cope, Hot Hot Heat, The Hives, Murs, Black Eyed Peas, The White Stripes, Death Cab For Cutie, Arctic Monkeys, The Decemberists, Silversun Pickups, Lupe Fiasco, The Airborne Toxic Event, The Ting Tings, The Knux, Ghostland Observatory, Cage The Elephant, B.O.B. and Florence + The Machine.


There might not be a dress code, but there are rules put into place that will help make Coachella a safe and pleasant experience. No instruments, weapons, chains, blankets, video cameras, recorders, stuffed animals, umbrellas, glass containers of any sort or drugs (including medical marijuana, which is legal in California) are allowed on the premises. However, you can bring a medium sized backpack, hats, sun block, lighters, shades, cigarettes, walkie talkies, and film/digital cameras. You can even bring fanny pack -- but don’t. You might get ridiculed like no tomorrow.

While there are over a hundred hotels in the area, most of the Coachella attendees go to Indio to pitch a tent. The campgrounds are right next to the concert area, making easy access to see the performances throughout the day. The same rules apply though -- but you are allowed to bring your own food, beverages and beer (except each person is limited to bringing one case for personal consumption). No hard liquor, animals or George Foreman grills of the sort are allowed!

Additional information: There are supermarket shuttles, yoga classes, a farmer’s market, roller skating party, pinball tournament and many other activities! Bathrooms and showers located on the campgrounds for festival goers to use. Food booths, both vegan and non vegan, will be located throughout the Empire Polo Fields, as well as a general store, food court, vendors and an ATM. Water will be $2 per bottle and many water fountains, so a riot shouldn’t break out. And yes, Coachella has a “green” attitude, so you’ll be given wrist bands instead of tickets.


Though mostly known for the music, the festival will also quench all of your artsy needs. There is a Fashion Theme Workshop, where you can custom design a piece of clothing, Paper Themed Workshops where you can design postcards or magazines and even draw portraits, and a Recycle Goods Workshops where you can get creative by going green. There is also an Art In The Dark Workshop where your imagination can run wild. Evidently, the party never ends.


One of the many reasons why music artists decide to perform to Coachella is because it raises money for charity. This year the festival will be giving back to the Indio Youth Task Force, a non-profit committed to connecting families and community together in an effort to direct youth on a positive path, and the Silverlake Conservatory Of Music, a non-profit dedicated to facilitate basic music education. For more information on these organizations, visit their websites: Indio Youth Task Force and SilverlakeConservatory of Music.

Ed. Note: Make sure to check out Part 1, Hip Hop in Coachella and Part 2, Rock Music in Coachella.

For more from Bear Frazer follow him on Twitter: @BearFrazer



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