Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Paul McCartney gives the event a charge

Paul McCartney's opening-night set at the 10th edition of Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival won rave reviews, and the artist helped promoter Goldenvoice score recession-busting attendance figures. Undeterred by $269 three-day passes, the Friday-to-Sunday festival averaged more than 50,000 people per day, adding up to 160,000, Coachella founder Paul Tollett reported.

The tally is the third highest in Coachella history. The 2007 edition, at which Rage Against the Machine, Björk and the Red Hot Chili Peppers were headliners, drew the most.

"We had no idea what to expect," Tollett said. "Then in the last couple of weeks the tickets skyrocketed. We feel really fortunate."

This year saw headline performances from the Killers, the Cure and My Bloody Valentine. McCartney dominated the talk, thanks to a set that went beyond 2 1/2 hours, and came with an additional cost.

The career-spanning performance continued well past the midnight end time designated by the city of Indio, home to Coachella. Once the clock strikes 12:01 a.m., the charge is $1,000 per minute, said Indio police spokesman Ben Guitron. He estimated that McCartney went "50-plus" minutes past the music curfew.

Was there ever a thought of cutting the Beatle off? "Believe me, some people wanted us to," Guitron said. "We weren't going to, but we are talking to the people responsible. . . . If we end up having artists go a little over, there are consequences."

Guitron said it was up to Goldenvoice to pull the plug.

Sunday night, the Cure didn't get the same extended treatment. Sound was eventually cut off, even as the act continued to play. Ultimately, the Cure went 33 minutes past curfew, Guitron said.

One number was down for the three-day musical party in the desert: arrests. Sixty-nine concertgoers were picked up, according to police. Last year, 91 arrests were made. The majority were alcohol and drug-related, said Guitron.


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