Stagecoach 2012: The wrap-up, stats, random moments

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Final stats, thoughts and impressions from the 2012 Stagecoach Country Music Festival that took place Friday through Sunday at the Empire Polo Club in Indio:

• Indio Police spokesman Ben Guitron said his department and other city emergency teams overall were ‘very pleased’ with new measures taken to alleviate traffic problems going in and out of Stagecoach. Shuttles to and from area hotels helped considerably, he said, even though far fewer attendees used shuttle buses than those who attended Coachella two weekends earlier. Close to 25,000 people used the shuttles during Coachalla, only around 3,000-4,000 did so at Stagecoach. But more Stagecoach-goers camp in adjoining campgrounds than at Coachella.

Guitron reported a total of 139 arrests as of 6:30 p.m. Sunday, the vast majority for alcohol-related offenses. That compared to 134 arrests on the first weekend of Coachella, and 102 on its second weekend, mostly for a combination of alcohol and drug issues. The most serious incident was a sexual assault on a 17-year-old girl, who was attacked by three men on her way into Stagecoach on Friday night. The girl was taken to a local hospital and treated. The three men fled, and Indio Police are investigating, asking anyone with information on the incident to call (760) 391-4057.

PHOTOS: The scene at Stagecoach 2012


• One key logistical change this year was the cordoning off of several “standing room only” sections of lawn near the stage but behind the reserved/VIP seating area immediately in front of the Mane Stage where all the big guns played, including Brad Paisley, Jason Aldean, Miranda Lambert, Blake Shelton, Sheryl Crow and Alabama. It allowed more fans closer access to the festival’s headliners. In years past, die-hard Stagecoach goers would arrive early, much like the homesteaders of yore, and plant blankets and lawn chairs, occupying in all areas close to the main stage. The new standing room sections allowed more mobile festival goers to check out performances on the Mustang and Palomino stages and still be able to get relatively close to the main stage acts after sundown. Goldenvoice capped the ticket sales this year at 55,000.

• Favorite instrument of the weekend: the gas-tank bass cobbled together and employed Sunday by Split Lip Rayfield member Jeff Eaton, a single string variation on the old-school washtub bass, the version used a day earlier by San Fernando Valley’s Old Man Markley.

• Favorite T-shirt slogan of the weekend: “Rehab Is for Quitters.”

• Festivals such as Stagecoach and Coachella often serve as weekend soundtracks for those who aren’t totally immersed in the music. One woman sat near the back of the lawn Friday night during Aldean’s closing performance, far enough that the audio from the stage and the video on the bank of screens near her were a couple of seconds out of sync, and happily read a book on her Kindle.

• The sight of Goldenvoice founder Gary Tovar, the man who built the firm booking hard-core punk, metal and industrial bands in the 1980s before selling it in 1991 to current co-owner Paul Tollett, happily snapping photos early Saturday afternoon during the day’s opening performance by sweet-voiced bluegrass singer and fiddler Sara Watkins.

• Musical surprise: Kenny Rogers, who turned an over-packed Palomino Stage crowd apoplectic Sunday night with his late-'70s hits “The Gambler” and “Lucille,” went deeper into left-field than many might have expected with his rendition of singer-songwriter John Hiatt’s “Have a Little Faith in Me.”

• Three young women industriously created matching homemade tank tops, each emblazoned with the name of a different male country heartthrob playing over the weekend: Aldean, Blake Shelton and Luke Bryan.

• There’s a rich trove of roots music written about the hard life in rural regions of Appalachia and the American South. Downey native Dave Alvin expanded that musical cache with folk songs for the rest of us as he sang his song “Dry River,” which includes the line: “I was born by a river, but it was paved with cement/Still I’d stand in that dry river/And dream I was soaking wet.”


PHOTOS: The scene at Stagecoach 2012

Stagecoach succeeds by promoting from within

Stagecoach 2012: Steve Martin goes whole hog in Indio

-- Randy Lewis

Top photo: Sold-out crowd during Luke Bryan’s performance at Stagecoach on Saturday. Middle photo: Split Lip Rayfield member Jeff Eaton playing his gas-tank bass. Bottom photo: Kenny Rogers. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times.