It's A Wrap For Coachella, But Not Festival Traffic

Street Style At The 2019 Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival - Weekend 2

INDIO (CNS) - Around 120,000 people are expected to pour out of the desert today over area freeways, causing backups and delays for miles following the second and final weekend of the annual Coachella Music & Art Festival at the Empire Polo Club in Indio.

Westbound motorists leaving the festival area in the morning hours will find smooth travels on the 10 Freeway with slight congestion at Cook Street in Palm Desert, according to the California Highway Patrol. But clear traffic conditions will not hold out all day as nearly a third of the travelers leaving the Coachella Valley will be campers, Indio city officials said, with shuttles and buses adding to the festival's traffic exodus.

To ease the traffic woes, officials alerted the public to several significant road closures for the day:

-- Avenue 49 between Hjorth and Monroe streets;

-- Avenue 50 between Madison and Jackson streets;

-- Hjorth Street between Avenue 49 and Avenue 50; and

-- Madison Street between Avenue 49 and Avenue 52

City officials recommend that north- and south-bound motorists use Washington, Jackson and Calhoun streets as well as Golf Center Parkway; while east-west travelers were advised to use Highway 111, Fred Waring Drive, Miles Avenue, Dr. Carreon Boulevard and Avenue 54.

Festivalgoers paid anywhere from $400 to $900 apiece to catch world- class art and artists. This weekend's edition of the festival featured around 160 acts at Indio's Empire Polo Club.

Street Style At The 2019 Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival - Weekend 2

Kanye West got things going on the last day of this year's festival, leading an Easter service featuring funky up-tempo grooves, soaring worship anthems and some of his own songs. He directed his traveling choir group atop “The Mountain,” a man-made knoll in the campground area, surrounded by thousands of onlookers in a highly anticipated performance announced just a few weeks ago.

Throughout the two-hour performance, which blended gospel hymns and hip-hop, some of the musicians and vocalists were seen wiping away tears, including West, as the band moved through renditions of “As” by Stevie Wonder, Otis Redding's “Try a Little Tenderness” and West's own “Jesus Walks.”

The rapper, who reportedly pulled out of headlining the festival this year due to a stage design disagreement with the event's producers, made an unexpected appearance late Saturday night during part of Kid Cudi's set.

Officials performances at the Empire Polo Club began at 3:05 Sunday and included the Grammy-winning singer-songwriter H.E.R., the rapper and flautist Lizzo, Khalid, Dillon Francis and Blood Orange. Headliner Ariana Grande began her set late in the evening.

Near the end of her well-received set, she was joined by a special surprise guest: Justin Bieber.

“We thought it might be fun to do something for you guys,” Grande said before the pair, who are featured on Lil Dicky's new single “Earth,” performed his 2015 hit, “Sorry.”

“I haven't been on stage in like two years. I came out here I had no idea I was going to be on stage tonight,” Bieber said. “So anyways, this is my first time on stage in two years. I had to get my groove back, my swag back. By the way, album coming soon.”

Grande concluded her show with “no tears left to cry,” then performed “thank u, next” for an encore.

Last week, Grande welcomed NSYNC stars Lance Bass, JC Chasez, Joey Fatone and Chris Kirkpatrick to her set to sing their 1997 hit “Tearin' Up My Heart.” Justin Timberlake was not there.

Grande is only the fourth woman to ever headline Coachella, after Bjork in 2002 and 2007, Lady Gaga in 2017 and Beyonce last year.

The Indio Police Department is expected to release figures later this week on how many people were arrested during the festival's second weekend. The 99 arrests made over the festival's first weekend represented a 7% drop from the previous year's first weekend.

Of the 99 people taken into custody... roughly 90% were arrested for drug- or alcohol-related reasons, according to Indio police. Six people were arrested for false identification and three for possession of drugs for sale. Three of the arrests were categorized as “other.”

The drop in arrests coincided with law-enforcement changes at the festival, including the use of drones to monitor crowds and traffic conditions. Indio police spokesman Ben Guitron said those tools -- along with an online reporting system that diverted many festivalgoers' lost-and-found inquiries away from the emergency lines -- helped law enforcement better prioritize their time and resources.

But he also credited “positive growth and positive people,” saying attendees generally seemed to be making better choices.

Photos: Getty Images

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