INDIO – Fewer arrests but a fair amount of overtime for city workers were the hallmarks of this year’s Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival in Indio, which came to a controversial end Sunday.
The Cure played past midnight — in violation of the city’s agreement with show promoters — prompting the venue operator, Goldenvoice, to pull the plug as the band started a song about 12:30 a.m., disappointing many fans.
“The music is supposed to end every night at midnight,” said Indio police Cmdr. Ben Guitron, who added that the police department was not physically involved in shutting down the entertainment.
“How Goldenvoice addresses our concerns is up to them,” he said.
According to Guitron, the services agreement between the city and festival promoters mandates $1,000-a-minute penalties for every minute that a show continues past midnight.
He said this year, the shows seemed to run consistently late — 54 minutes Friday night, 30 minutes Saturday night and 33 minutes Sunday night.
According to the Indio police spokesman, the city provides law enforcement, fire protection, public works and a range of other services for the festival, and the extra costs of keeping personnel in place when shows run over are wrapped into the $1,000-a-minute fines.
Paul McCartney went into a long set in the midnight hour on Friday night, much like Prince the year before, but venue operators let the former Beatle play.
Around 100 bands, large and small, entertained fans during the three-day festival at the Empire Polo Club in Indio. Performances by Morrissey, Leonard Cohen, Public Enemy, M.I.A. and The Killers spanned morning to night.
Although temperatures soared on Sunday, no significant heat-related problems were reported.
According to Guitron, there were a total of 66 arrests this year, most of them on Saturday, compared to 91 last year, mostly for drug- and alcohol-related crimes.
“There were some minor fender-benders, but no significant traffic accidents,” he added. “The biggest challenge is always traffic. But some of the city’s capital improvements turned out to be a big benefit as traffic trickled in. We felt very comfortable with it. There was a lot of parking.”
Three-day official attendance figures are expected to be released Tuesday, but early estimates pegged the number of people who showed up at around 150,000, according to festival organizers.