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LA Times Interview with Paul Tollett Post-Coachella 2022

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    LA Times Interview with Paul Tollett Post-Coachella 2022

    Some noteworthy excerpts:

    “This one was harder on me than usual,” says Tollett, following two years of lineup switches, cancellations and an unprecedented tidal wave of refunds.

    “We refunded two Bonnaroos,” he says, using the rival Manchester, Tenn., music festival’s 80,000 annual attendees as one measure. “I’ve seen big ticket counts go on sale, and it’s fun to watch that graph go up: ‘Wow, look how fast it’s selling!’ I had never seen the opposite with refunds. So it crossed our minds: Is anyone going to come back?”
    The original 2020 lineup of Rage Against the Machine, Frank Ocean and Travis Scott, subject of multiple lawsuits over his role in the Astroworld festival disaster, was scrapped. Eilish subbed for Ocean, who is scheduled to headline 2023. Rage was replaced by Harry Styles, the English pop star whom Tollett had seen perform for the first time this year.

    “When [Rage] pulled out, I let a day go by and didn’t think about it,” says Tollett. “I just let it sit there for a second. I figured people have been waiting forever for the lineup already, what’s another day? I came back kind of mellow and the Harry thing worked out. We got a really good response on the poster reveal. People seemed to have been waiting a long time for some good news.”

    Then, in early April, Kanye West, who was booked to close the festival on Sunday, dropped out, amid erratic behavior in his personal and public life. “I’m good with Kanye,” Tollett says of Ye’s exit. “I Zoomed with him a couple days prior, and I think it was a good decision for him.”

    When Ye bailed, manager Wassim “Sal” Slaiby, who reps acts including Doja Cat, Swedish House Mafia and the Weeknd, rang up Tollett. “Abel [Tesfaye, a.k.a. the Weeknd] and Sal called and said, ‘What do you need?’” recalls Tollett. “I said, ‘I actually don’t know yet. Right now I’m a little stunned with Kanye leaving. I’ve got to think what to do here.’”

    Swedish House Mafia was already booked for the fest, and had recently collaborated with the Weeknd in the studio. It was decided to pool their efforts into a special performance.

    “When all these headliners changed, it was hard, I won’t lie,” says Tollett. “But it’s also just part of what you do. Don’t get upset. Just make a change, you know?”
    When the 2022 festival was announced, Goldenvoice mandated that attendees would be required to show proof of vaccination or a recent negative test. “We really believed that was the right decision,” he says. The same requirements were announced for Coachella’s country music sister event, Stagecoach, beginning this Friday.

    Then a friend gave Tollett a ticket to the Feb. 13 Super Bowl at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood. More than 70,000 people attended.

    “I got there and no one was wearing a mask in the place. No one. So I took mine off,” he says. He soon decided to announce that things at Coachella and Stagecoach would be “back to normal.”

    COVID-19-related deaths in the state have continued to drop sharply, according data from the California Department of Public Health, leading to the removal of many local and statewide safety measures.

    “I wanted to be honest [with attendees] that everywhere they turned, it wasn’t going to be on lockdown, because it’s not anymore anywhere. Especially in the desert, in the Inland Empire, it’s just not,” says Tollett. “I didn’t want someone thinking that it was going to be on lockdown and then be caught short. Maybe don’t come if you’re afraid.”

    (The Desert Sun reported a 77% increase in cases in nine cities across the Coachella Valley in the week that included the fest’s opening weekend.)
    The pandemic impacted the festival in other ways. All the usual partners that provide sound, lights, toilets, fencing and more were still standing, but many had lost key personnel and equipment. Also affected were the “supply chain, buses, anything trucking related. We felt it. Things were slow. We were waiting for parts.”
    Coachella '02, '03, '04, '05, '06, '07, '08, '09, '10, '11, '12 W1, '13 W1&2, '14 W1, '15 W1&2, '16 W1

    I'll do a full read later but those snippets are really interesting