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Musician Zach Ernst of Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears performs during the first day of the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival 2011 held at the Empire Polo Club on April 15, 2011 in Indio.
The three-day Coachella Music Festival is underway at the Empire Polo Grounds in Indio. Nearly 200 bands are scheduled to play. Though the festival is sold out, the crowds might be smaller than usual. That’s because organizers are cracking down on gate-crashers and illegal ticket sales.
Riverside music fan Mark Harris says he hoped the security upgrades make a difference.
“I hope so because I read an article in the (Los Angeles) Times this morning about Friday, Saturday and Sunday of last year, and I guess Sunday is when they really cracked down once they figured out all the people were crashing the gates,” said Harris. “And it was true, that Sunday was noticeably less. I think they said there were at least 10-15,000 less people on Sunday than Friday and Saturday last year.”
Organizers are running traffic checkpoints on streets near the polo grounds. No one will be allowed within a mile of the venue without a festival wristband — or a resident’s pass.
Not that anyone had checked Harris’ wristband yet.
“We didn’t have to display it to anybody,” he said. “We were offering to show it to people but no one wanted to see it.”
This is the eighth Coachella Festival for Harris, who left home early figuring the added security would snarl traffic around the Polo Grounds.
“We just got into our parking, in less than 5 minutes. We’re in the parking lot now drinking canned beer,” said Harris, who’s excited to see the Hurts, Joe Black and the Honeybears, Sleigh Bells, Omar Rodriguez Lopez and Warpaint, among others.
“Yeah, it’s gonna be a fantastic day for music,” he said.
This year’s other big draws include Kanye West, Arcade Fire, Chemical Brothers and PJ Harvey. The Coachella Festival runs through Sunday night.