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Coachella 2012: Variety in weather, but what about the music?

This was the first year of dual weekends. Things went cold to blistering hot. Those were the temps. The music, though, was almost exactly the same both times.

April 23, 2012|By Jessica Gelt and Gerrick Kennedy, Los Angeles Times
  • Tiffany Libby keeps herself in the shade on Day 1 of the second weekend of the Coachella Music Festival, where temperatures reached the triple digits.
Tiffany Libby keeps herself in the shade on Day 1 of the second weekend of… (Arkasha Stevenson, Los…)

Ask anyone who attended both weekends of the 2012 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival what the big difference was between the events, and you'll likely end up talking about the weather.

The festival, which kicked off April 13 and featured 140-plus artists, expanded from one weekend to two this year for the first time in its 13-year history. Although the lineup of artists — from the Black Keys to Radiohead to Snoop Dogg andDr. Dre — was identical each weekend, the same could not be said of the weather.

Weekend No. 1 brought unprecedented inclement weather to the festival, including extreme wind, rain and temperatures that dipped into the 40s at night; five days later audiences baked in oven-like temperatures.

COACHELLA 2012 | Full coverage

Saturday the high reached 105 degrees, just shy of the 107-degree record for April 21 set in 1958, according to AccuWeather reports.

But radical climate changes between weekends aside, did the experiment people are now calling "Twinchella" work?

More specifically, how did the repeat weekends affect the performances of the artists, the feeling in the crowd and the reputation of Coachella itself? And could a festival that has thrived on exclusivity and surprise double its size yet remain as cool, especially given that a wristband for one weekend alone cost close to $300?

COACHELLA 2012 | Full coverage

"The music at the festival is incidental in some ways to the culture," said artist Landon Wiggs, who had come both weekends thanks to a free pass he got from a friend. "With that in mind there were a lot more 'beautiful people' to be seen the first time around. Nobody wants to be second."

This could explain why the parties surrounding the festival were more prevalent the first weekend. Coachella might go into repeat mode, but party producer Brent Bolthouse would throw his chic Neon Carnival only once. The same can be said for in-demand events thrown by Details, Lacoste, Guess and Belvedere.

Also, having revelatory moments about the second weekend was nearly impossible when just about every moment of Coachella weekend No. 1 can be seen on YouTube.

Last weekend's big shocker was the Tupac "hologram" that joined Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dreonstage during their headlining set. As of Sunday on the second weekend of Coachella, a simple Google search of "Tupac hologram" rendered more than 74 million results and a Twitter feed created for the digital creation had more than 34,000 followers.

As a result, the second weekend had fans wondering if the eerie incarnation would appear for a redux or if another jaw-dropping moment was in store, perhaps a new "hologram," this time of Nate Dogg.

Either way, the energy and electricity of the audience's first glimpse of the Tupac apparition (which wasn't really a hologram but a two-dimensional projection) will be impossible to replicate a second time around.

Still, the sense of déjà-two that stalked the second weekend didn't stop the audience from exhibiting giddy enthusiasm.

Charlie Ittner, a die-hard music fan who came both weekends to catch shows he missed by virtue of being at other stages during separate time slots, loved both weekends for different reasons and said he'd see Pulp as many times as he could.

"They haven't played the U.S. since 1998 and probably won't again, so you have to take every chance you can get to see them," said Ittner.

That seemed to be the prevalent attitude of the thousands of music fans who made the expensive, and at times physically taxing pilgrimage to the desert over the six festival days.

Crowds did appear visibly thinner Saturday compared to the week before, and Indio Police Department spokesman Benjamin Guitron said it was likely because of the weather.

Coachella personnel sprayed the crowd while St. Vincent's haunting vocals filled the Gobi tent. But even the singer, born Annie Clark, seemed to take notice of her heat-stricken crowd and asked how they were doing.

"Not in a cheesy rock way," she clarified when she was met with screams. "Like the sun was crazy today. In a medically speaking way, are you OK? I would give you all a ribbon or medal or just a case of … water for being here. You guys get MVP all the way."

Despite the blistering heat, the police didn't have many weather-related problems. Authorities did, however, make 33 arrests Friday and 36 Saturday, mostly on alcohol and drug-related charges.

On Sunday afternoon, patrons who watched culture-jamming singer Santigold on the mainstage found many ways to keep cool — one man fashioned a sun shield out of a white cardboard trash receptacle while a group of girls grooved under brightly colored geisha umbrellas.

Food sales appeared to be down in the heat as well, said Alicia Kirby, manager of the Spicy Pie pizza stand that has provided greasy nourishment to the festival for years.

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