INDIO — The first Stagecoach festival came to a close on Sunday with the prospect of losing money, but also with a big-boned optimism about its future as 55,000 fans over two days came to hear Alan Jackson, Kenny Chesney, George Strait and 50 other acts perform at a country show put together by rock promoters.
The people behind the 8-year-old Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival tried their hand last weekend at a country counterpart, and by the final notes on Sunday they were ready to book year two. The strong walk-up business on Sunday at the Empire Polo Field brought the second day crowd close to 30,000, half the size of the audience each day at the three-day Coachella the previous weekend.
"I think Stagecoach will catch Coachella pretty quickly," said Paul Tollett, the promoter who shaped Coachella and runs both festivals with AEG Live, the concert industry giant.
Backstage before his Saturday set, Jackson said that one of his strongest fan bases is Southern California, and the Georgia native predicted big things for the new venture. With a chuckle, he also said the desert heat and good-time vibe fit like old jeans. "The main thing is to remember that everyone out there has been drunk and sober three times, so when it gets dark, you want to make sure you sing up-tempo songs. You don't want to make them fall asleep."