Coachella adding second week

Two more weeks of sockless people watching Grizzly Bear.

Get out your hippie gear and make sure you bring a lot of it, because Coachella has gotten so big it’s spreading across two weekends in April. The annual arts and music festival held just outside of Palm Springs has had such an overwhelming response in the past year its organizers announced today it will now be held two consecutive weekends, April 13-15 and April 20-22. Tickets to the 2011 festival sold out exactly a week after the lineup was announced, spurring organizers to rethink their strategy.

The new festival experience will be like Groundhog Day, with the weekends being nearly identical. From the art to the headliners, Golden Voice, Coachella’s organizers, said they are striving to make the weekends exact replicas. Coachella has major money to spend, but my guess is there will definitely be differences in the lineups from the first to the second weekend.  Asking major headliners (past performers have included Prince, Radiohead and Paul McCartney) to dedicate two weekends to performing in the middle of the desert seems like a stretch.

And doesn’t it just suck some of the fun out of the event? What make festivals so special are their spontaneity, and the air that those few days are fleeting, so you’d better enjoy them now. How can they replicate Beyoncé hoping on stage with Jay-Z or Madonna’s surprise late night dance tent performance? Seems Coachella should have a few tricks up their sleeve for the second weekend or they may be left with the same scramble to get in on the first. Not to mention it’s damn hot at the end of April, so the sooner you’re in Palm Springs the better.

At least Las Vegas, with its close proximity to the festival grounds, will reap the rewards of bonus shows from artists waiting for the second weekend to roll around.  

Advance tickets can be purchased June 3-10. This is the only time to take advantage of Coachella’s Payment Plan.