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The differences — and similarities — between the Coachella and Stagecoach festivals

Thousands of country music fans arrive at Stagecoach. There are palm trees, a Ferris wheel and mountains in the background.
Thousands of country music fans arrive at Stagecoach. Some make a dash for the best viewing position on the first day of Stagecoach Country Music Festival at the Empire Polo Club in Indio on Friday, April 26.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
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After back-to-back weekends of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, with performances from a reunited No Doubt, Tyler, the Creator, Lana Del Rey and Doja Cat (complete with an entourage of sexy Yetis), sister event the Stagecoach Country Music Festival has rolled into Indio’s Empire Polo Club.

Stagecoach, which will feature performances by Eric Church, Miranda Lambert, Morgan Wallen, Willie Nelson, Post Malone, Dwight Yoakam and others, has grown in popularity since it started in 2007. This year it sold out well in advance of the fest.

So if you’re wondering how Southern California’s two largest music festivals, compare, here’s a primer.

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From Paris Hilton playing cornhole at Vampire Weekend’s set to No Doubt’s reunion, these are the best things our team saw at Coachella 2024.

April 15, 2024

The music

While the lineups are vastly different, there is one artist who is spending three consecutive weekends in Indio: Carin León. The regional Mexican music star attracted crowds at Coachella’s twin weekends. (León joins a small club of artists who have played both fests, including fellow Stagecoach 2024 performers Willie Nelson, Trampled by Turtles and Post Malone, but it’s even more rare to play both fests in the same year, as Nelson has.)

While Coachella is known for plenty of pulsing EDM beats, that has begun to transfer over to Stagecoach in recent years, with Diplo’s name now branding the indoor Honkytonk dance tent that started out as a place for traditional line dancing.

Mexican artist Carin León is set to perform at Stagecoach 2024, the Coachella Valley’s country musical festival.

Sept. 7, 2023

The grounds

The Stagecoach footprint is noticeably smaller than Coachella’s. The VIP rose garden is not part of the fest, nor is the hulking Sahara Tent, although it can be seen in the distance.

The Mane Stage is set up 90 degrees clockwise from where Coachella’s largest stage was, but at Stagecoach there are fewer stages overall. Stagecoach‘s largest music spaces are the Mane, Palomino (Coachella’s Mojave Tent) and Diplo’s Honkytonk (Coachella’s Yuma Tent). The air-conditioned Sonora Tent has been transformed into the Bud Light Backyard, with performances throughout the weekend, but it’s not a full slate of music like it was at Coachella. Some stars who are playing early on the Mane stage, including Josh Ross, Kylie Morgan and The War and Treaty, will perform a second set at the Bud Light Backyard during the weekend. The Stagecoach-exclusive Toyota Music Den features up-and-coming artists such as Shaylen and RVSHVD.

Stagecoach 2024 — who needs tickets and dust? The country festival will stream live on Prime Video and Twitch.tv, kicking off at 4 p.m. daily through Sunday.

April 26, 2024

Coachella’s Gobi Tent has been turned into the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch with meet-and-greets with cast members of “驰别濒濒辞飞蝉迟辞苍别” and “1923” and a merch collaboration between Yellowstone and Stagecoach.

Stagecoach also has VIP seated and standing sections, with the general admission fans being further out on the field for the Mane stage, and fans can bring in lawn chairs, which is a no-no for Coachella. The other stages are like Coachella with first-come, first-to-get-close-to-the-stage access.

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Coachella’s craft-beer barn area has been renamed for the Mayor of Flavortown himself, Guy Fieri, and the food stalls from the last two weekends have been replaced with a large RV and area for Fieri and friends’ cooking demos all weekend long. Perhaps the best detail of the area: a smoker with Flavortown branding that has a metal sculpture of a bull’s head with red eyes.

Goldenvoice’s Stacy Vee talks about Stagecoach’s role in this hot country moment, how Black and Mexican traditions are shaping the genre, and more.

April 24, 2024

Both festivals offer the standards of pizza and chicken tenders, but many of the L.A. restaurants that were at Coachella both weekends have decamped. While you can find some plant-based options, they aren’t as plentiful as at Coachella, while Stagecoach easily has the better barbecue game.

Outside of the main festival grounds, Stagecoach allows RV camping and you can only access the campgrounds if you are camping.

There’s also a space at Stagecoach for demonstrations with the Compton Cowboys.

Oh, and that lush green grass you saw on everyone’s Instagram during Coachella? It’s mostly gone now.

Even as the annual Southern California musical adventure spurs some to wonder if its pull is waning, others have unearthed a bit of the old magic.

April 15, 2024

The art

While the rainbow Spectra tower is a permanent installation on the grounds at this point, most of the large installation art that created the landscape of Coachella is gone.

However, not far from Spectra is Mismo, an art installation of colorful paisley teardrop sculptures by Sofia Enriquez that was originally part of the program at Coachella 2019.

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Stagecoach also has a couple of pieces of large country-themed art, including a horse sculpture and a cowboy boot.

The Ferris wheel is not quite art but definitely a landmark, and it remains in the same spot for both fests.

Check out the best images from L.A. Times staff photographers on the ground at the first weekend of the 2024 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.

April 15, 2024

The stuff

Stagecoach is full of free stuff. If you have T-Mobile you can get a free lawn chair at their activation. The Bud Light Backyard let fans pick up a custom koozie with a choice of four designs. There are also free goodies at the Toyota Music den, including the favorite Stagecoach bandanna.

At Coachella, there were Neutrogena sunscreen kiosks where you could lather on some free sunblock.

These are some of the festival outfits we saw on the field at the 2024 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.

April 14, 2024

The style

Cowboy hats, boots and fringe were favorite fashion choices at both fests in 2024, but the wild and colorful fashionistas of Coachella aren’t posing around the field at Stagecoach. There is, however, much more plaid, and gear covered in American flag prints.

Mullets are definitely back, with Peso Pluma’s Edgar style the most prominent at Coachella. At Stagecoach, you see some young people with mullets but you still occasionally spot someone who has been rocking the style since the early ’90s.

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The one accessory that you will see at both? Bandannas, not just for fashion but a must to try to stave off the festival cough with the gusty winds blowing dust around the site. That’s a souvenir nobody wants to take back with them.

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