Starry Knight: McCartney to Headline Coachella

Paul McCartney will headline the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, a three-day rock concert that begins Friday at the Empire Polo Club in Indio.

The former Beatle will perform on the Coachella Stage beginning at 10 p.m. Friday. It will be the first time McCartney has performed at an American music festival, according to festival organizer Paul Tollett.

The Killers will play at 10:25 p.m. Saturday and The Cure will cap off the 10th annual festival with a 9:25 p.m. Sunday performance.

Tickets are $99 for a one-day pass and $269 for all three days.

It's expected to be sunny during the day with highs in the 80s and 90s, but evening temperatures could drop into the 50s, according to the National Weather Service.

About 180,000 people attended the festival in 2007, but local businesses are expecting a smaller crowd this year because of the economy, and festival organizers implemented a layaway plan, in which people could buy their tickets in installments, to help bring in more sales.

Tollett told The North County Times that more than 20 percent of this year's tickets were bought on the layaway plan.

"I think it's a good idea because everyone's struggling a little with money right now," Tollett said. "We're doing the same with all of our festivals, and people have really picked up on it. I mean it's a vacation, but
better because you've got your favorite bands there. It's a bigger purchase, and it just gives people a chance to ease into it."

Many motels and hotels that were sold out last year reported vacancies this year with concert-goers opting to stay at the concert grounds instead of at hotels.

The Super 8 Motel on Highway 111 was sold out for the weekend, until a few days ago.

"We are having a lot of cancellations for the weekend," Jay Mainthia, general manager of the motel told City News Service. "People can do the camping for $50 a night."

He said the motel is still about 90 percent occupied, but he believes that people are opting to stay at the concert grounds because it's cheaper.

The Quality Inn on Monroe Street, which sold out last year for the event, is 92 percent full for this weekend.

"It's kind of slower," according to the front front desk agent. "We're getting a lot of calls right now."

Christie Douglass, 22, of Los Angeles, said she will stay with a friend for free.   

"I wouldn't go if I didn't have someone to stay with because it's $200 a night to stay in a hotel," Douglass said."I don't make that much. I can't really afford to spend hundreds of dollars on a hotel."

She said that most of her friends are planning on camping at the concert and are only going one day because "they don't have enough money."

Indio police spokesman Ben Guitron said streets will be congested, and residents not attending the festival should give themselves extra time when driving and avoid Jefferson and Monroe streets, which are the main entry and exit to the polo field.

Security will be increased, but no major problems are expected.

There have been arrests every year, but mainly for public intoxication, drugs and domestic violence, he said.

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