All Aboard for Stagecoach

All Aboard for Stagecoach

by JasonBryan / Mar 07, 2016 / 0 comments
Friday, 29 April 2016 to Sunday, 1 May 2016

The festival season is fast approaching. My personal favorite, Stagecoach, is Southern California’s ultimate redneck party weekend. This year marks the 10th Anniversary of one of Country music’s biggest festivals. I was at the first one, and have attended six more times since. Its three stages do a decent job of getting some of the biggest names in pop country, classic country, classic rock, alt country, folk, bluegrass, and probably some genres I’m not smart enough to know about. Below is a fun little flowchart of how to have fun, but it just scratches the surface.

Here’s some things I’ve learned and have even evolved to make the experience better over the years. But much of this can apply to any festival. It’s 3 days and nights of rock and roll. Pace yourself. Know your limits. Have fun. Don’t ruin other people’s good times, and enjoy the music.

First lets talk about everything that’s not the music; the weather, food & drink, vendors, parking, people, and etc.

The weather: Its likely to be hot and sunny all day long, and potentially windy and a little chilly at night. Dress for your comfort. They do have lockers for rent so you can bring a jacket or change of clothes to switch into as the sun sets. The two smaller stages are covered so during the heat of the day you can enjoy some tunes in the shade. Stagecoach follows two previous weekends of Coachella on the same polo grounds. What was once grass or firm ground has now become dust and is easily kicked up by tens of thousands of people. I recommend a bandana or a mask to cover your breathing holes. Otherwise you will contract what is known as the Coachella Cough and get a sore throat and lose your voice.

The food & drink: this changes every year to some extent and I’ve even seen them fix congestion from one day to the next. Their will be a variety of vendors, from pizza to BBQ to burgers, there are several locations where tents are set up for both food and drink. Some places have a full bar, some have a limited bar, and some are beer and wine only. Keep your eyes out for your tastes, and preferences. Some are in less convenient spots, but have significantly smaller lines and its worth the time to walk farther. I recommend checking out a different quadrant of the grounds throughout the day and if you don’t get to them all, take one day to check out how different they are to the next.

Venders: there’s lots of stuff for sale: hats, shirts, bikinis, suntan lotion, gimmicky redneck items. There is usually a “test drive a four wheel drive vehicle” section and there have been Playstations you can play in a truck. If for some reason no bands you’re interested in are playing, you can check out some other fun stuff.

Parking: There is plenty of parking and its all really far away, even VIP parking is a mile away. Walking back to your car after a full day on your feet and having too much to drink to be herded in a dusty cloud of sheep (I mean people) to buses and cars is tough. They got rid of general camping a few years ago, and Indio has limited hotel options, locals rent their homes and lawns to concert goers, but most people stay in Palm Springs which is about a half hour away. I recommend the shuttle bus if you can deal with waiting in line to get on a bus full of inebriated concertgoers. Other than that I hope you have a responsible friend to stay off the sauce and get you safely to your hotel.

The People: Stagecoach is a good crowd, but they are a heavy drinking crowd. Things get sloppy as the day goes on. The population of the fair grounds greatly increases as the evening approaches when the headliners are playing, you’ll be wondering where were all these people all day. I think most of them were tailgating all day. If you bring chairs or blankets, not a bad idea if you have a specific spot you really want to park at or are with a big group and you want some territory as home base, be careful not to get too close. When the place fills up later in the day your stuff will be overrun by the sheer number of people. There are dividers set up sectioning off the polo grounds in front of the Mane Stage. This does a pretty good job of creating walkways and traffic flow and enables you to get close, without jockeying through a crowd of people the whole way. Its also convenient for helping friends locate you. Also pick some spots that are rallying points for your friends. It’s easy to get separated. You need a beer, your friend needs to go potty, you want to see the act on one stage then the other, but you both want to make sure you’re with each other for the headliner. There will be landmarks and even statues set up in places that you’ll realize you pass a lot, give you a lot of visibility, and are still in a place where you can hear the music from whatever stage is closest. These make great places to find each other at. If you’re doing your own thing and now you’re ready to find your friends, go hang out in this spot. One of them may be there already. They’re your friends, you’re likely to be ready to meet up at about the same time and this is way easier than calling or texting, when it’s loud and battery power is limited. You can even have a couple picked out for different areas of the grounds. It may be a little trial by error the first day, but you’ll be in sync by Sunday.

The Etc.: You will be on your feet most of the day. Yes you can bring blankets or chairs, there are hay bails scattered throughout to sit on, as well as picnic tables, and there is always the ground. But you will be on your feet most of the day, by day 3 you’ll be looking for a chance to sit down wherever you can. I recommend taking the time to find a seat, if even for a moment, as often as possible.

I’m just going to say there are bathrooms everywhere, but as the population increases the lines can get unbearable. Take the time to know where different locations are you might find a secret gem. I for one have a specific area to go to when I have to go #2, air conditioning is way nicer than port-a-potty when you’re going to need a minute. They do regularly clean the port-a-potties and they aren’t too bad especially for the amount of traffic.

That’s kind of just the surface. If you think I’m spilling my secrets and ruining their allure, you’re wrong, but I’ll let you know that if you pay attention you won’t waste your day in lines. Although after dark it may be unavoidable.

Now for the most important feature, The Music: There are 3 stages all of which are playing music all day. As well as a DJ area and some other less visited places where you might here some tunes. The Mane Stage will feature acts from today’s pop country. The Palomino Stage will feature acts of yesteryear and has been recently headlined with big classic rock acts. The Mustang stage, which is sandwiched between the other two, will feature a fantastic mix of multiple genres. The Mustang and Palomino stages are under a canopy and are a great place to listen to some tunes out of the sun, the Mane Stage will not give you this luxury.

I for one eagerly await the release of the set times which is usually within a week of the festival. Know what bands you want to see and which stage they are on. I recommend having a copy of the set list in your pocket and on your phone. They have an app that will help you select who you want to see and will notify you when they are about to perform. Of course your phone battery will die, so be careful. There are signs posted throughout with this information, but the polo grounds are huge, and you may be in a hurry to go potty, get a drink, and get to the next stage. Usually the two bands I’m most excited to see on any given day are playing at the same time. This is a tough decision. Sometimes I go to the earlier starting one and if I hear this song or two, I’m good to go catch the next act. Sometimes its so good I don’t go anywhere. And then as soon as I’m sure I’ve heard the last note, I race across the grounds to the other stage hoping to catch the last song or two, praying it’s the one I most want to hear. When you get to a stage mid-set, don’t trust asking other people if the band has already played a specific song, they are probably not as big a fan as you and don’t know the songs and just say yes or no without thinking.

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