Big-Time Sound Reinforcement At 2009 Coachella & Stagecoach Festivals

The tenth annual (2009) Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival saw hundreds of performers across five stages, with a wide range of artists including Paul McCartney, Leonard Cohen, The Cure, The Killers and hip hop pioneers Public Enemy, among many others. 

It was followed by the growing Stagecoach Country Music Festival, held on the same beautiful desert location at the Empire Polo Grounds in Indio, CA (east of Los Angeles) and featuring top country artists such as Kenny Chesney, Kid Rock, Brad Paisley, plus dozens of others. The two events offered performances by nearly 160 other artists packed into five collective days.

Attendance reports vary, but the aggregate attendance for both events is estimated to be about 250,000, with the three-day Coachella reporting about 160,000 (its second best ever) and the two-day Stagecoach accounting for the rest, reporting it’s highest attendance figure to date.

Paul Tollett, president of event promoter Goldenvoice, noted that the figures are good news for the concert industry. “Anyone that has a business in 2009 is just trying to make sure that you dodge a bullet,” he told The New York Times in the aftermath. “But this went beyond that. We’re super happy.”

Production Manager Kevan Wilkins is directly responsible for the operation and success of the production of Coachella and Stagecoach, as well as the safety of the 200,000-plus ticket holders. Part of the team since the second Coachella, he’s know for his vision, expertise and, most importantly, calmness under pressure.

At it has for nine of the past 10 years (and all three Stagecoach Festivals),  Rat Sound Systems provided sound reinforcement and support, this year serving all five stages (three for Stagecoach). This year, more than 30 members made up the sound team, headed up company President Dave Rat.

For the main stage, the company assembled a huge main stage system with twin line arrays comprised of 15 L-ACOUSTICS K1 enclosures topped by eight K1-SUB boxes and tailed by three dV-DOSC downfills. Additional arrays of eight K1 plus three dV-DOSC provided far left and right side coverage.

Low-end was delivered 32 SB28 subs arranged in cardioid stacks across the front of the stage. L-ACOUSTICS ARCS cabinets delivered nearfill, while stage monitoring was accomplished via 115XT HiQ wedges.

Two arrays of nine V-DOSC boxes each were flown out in the audience area as delays, and power for all systems was provided by numerous LA-RAK touring racks loaded with LA8 amplified controllers located under the stage.

More than 50 EAW MicroWedge Series MW12 stage monitors were employed over four Coachella stages, the largest outlay of MW units ever for a single event. “The MicroWedge is a great monitor under any circumstances, and I’m proud to have been intimately involved in its design,” stated Dave Rat. “It especially offers an advantage for festival sound because it’s plug-and-play. And the sound is great – it’s full range.”

Jon Monson, who heads up systems and tours for Rat Sound, appreciated the ease with which the large-scale K1 system could be flown, crediting its captive rigging facilities.

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