After a three-hour survey of Coachella 2013, the changes on the grounds are many, chief among them a new feeling of permanence.
The festival, now in its 14th year, is visibly changed and is showing signs of its new extended commitment to the Indio location: There's a new (sixth) stage, a more festive grand entryway and a better organized food and merchandising area. The dance tents have phenomenal surround sound and a massive light system that in the dark will surely trip out many of the ultra-excited dance kids already sweaty at 3 p.m.
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Security has certainly changed, at least in my experience. When entering at 12:30 p.m., only two checkpoints searched attendees. The result: long waits. At the "yellow" entrance, the line was 15 people wide and nearly 100 yards long. There was no organization; no barriers to prevent losers from cutting, no security keeping fans in check. It took a half hour to get in, and I was lucky enough to go through the VIP line (which wasn't identified as such). Fans were barely moving -- and visibly angry -- in the other lines.
At one point an errant 2-year-old made an adorable mad dash for the front of the line -- as his father jogged behind him. Crowds in the line cheered for the tyke as he bum-rushed the gate -- only to be grabbed by his dad and returned to his place in the line.
Music? Thus far two acts have made dents: French turntablists C2C juggled dance rhythms live to an impressively giddy and attentive crowd at the Mojave Tent. Using four Pioneer CD turntables, the crew juggled and swapped beats and samples in real time as synchronized light and video jumped in unison.
And Los Angeles funk king Dam Funk offered his trad-funk sounds -- replete with keytar, Vocoder and five-string bass. He was joined by fellow Angeleno Ariel Pink for a beautiful version of "Baby," the lost 1970s jam by the Emerson Brothers. Playing smoothly and harmonizing, the pair hit it softly, with a floating grace that seemed to foretell the many make-out sessions and campground hook-ups to come this weekend.
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