Coachella Festival organizers warn about bogus passes, promise more security

Dean Allen Spunt (left) and Randy Randall from the band No Age perform during day three of the 2009 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival in Indio, Calif.
Dean Allen Spunt (left) and Randy Randall from the band No Age perform during day three of the 2009 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival in Indio, Calif. Karl Walter/Getty Images

Organizers of this weekend’s Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio are warning concertgoers to beware of counterfeit passes. Fans should also be ready for heightened security.

Festival organizer Goldenvoice outfitted the three-day wristband passes with microchips that’ll be scanned at the gate. No one will be allowed on the festival grounds or even within a mile of the Empire Polo Grounds without one.

Festival security and Indio police are running traffic stops to make sure of that. The checkpoints are meant to discourage scalpers, street merchants and gate crashers.

Indio police spokesman Ben Guitron says residents who live nearby will need to display special passes to get into the area. “We’ve been making personal contact with all property owners, we do that every year regardless. Most of those are private estates. They were contacted in advance to register their vehicle. All the public passes affects the appropriate car they registered.”

Guitron says some residents are grumbling about the added security but have pretty much learned to deal with the drawbacks of living close to a venue that hosts some of the largest festivals in the region.

“Even though we’ve been planning this for more than 10 months there is always something that comes up," says Guitron. "OK, that didn’t work; we readjust it. Just like our City Council requested a complete review how it affects the city. And working with Goldenvoice, the organization is always amenable, and want to make sure that not only their guests but also the community is not affected as well.”

This weekend’s festival sold out in record time. Some who couldn’t get a three-day pass in time complain they were scooped up in bulk by ticket scalpers.

But organizers say sales were strictly monitored. Weekend passes are selling online for as much as $2,000 a pair.

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