Cowboy boots in the California desert

Grab your boots, put on your cowboy hat, and polish your belt buckle because we’re going line dancing, Toreros.

Stagecoach is one of California’s largest country music festivals. The annual weekend festival is held at the Empire Polo Grounds in Indio, Calif. and feels like a desert dust bowl after two weekends of Coachella in the weeks prior.

The well-attended festival features three days of country music with cowboys, cowgirls, and wannabes trotting through the polo field’s 250 acres of country-inspired artwork and agrarian props.

Since its debut in 2007, Stagecoach has continuously navigated the many forks in the road of country music with dynamic performances. Stagecoach will have four stages, The Mane Stage, Palomino Stage, Mustang Stage, and the Honky Tonk Stage.

This year’s lineup will feature Dierks Bentley, Shania Twain, and Kenny Chesney as the concert’s headliners, staples in a country music fan’s repertoire.

Oddly enough, the festival lineup also includes artists of genres not as familiar to some country music listeners. With acts including The Zombies, Los Lobos, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Cyndi Lauper, country music fans seem to be in for a musically-diverse treat.

In the past, sister festival Coachella has partnered with YouTube to stream many of the festival’s performances. This year will be the first that Stagecoach partners with another large streaming platform. As of earlier this week, the online music streaming platform Pandora announced that it will partner with Goldenvoice to host an exclusive audio live stream of performances from the Stagecoach festival.  

Pandora’s Chief Marketing Officer, Nick Bartle, shared that country music listeners represent a large presence on the service.

“With over 60 million listeners every year, country fans are [some] of the biggest, most engaged and loyal audiences on Pandora,” Bartle said. “Partnering with Goldenvoice to livestream one of country’s biggest events allows us to connect our listeners with this year’s amazing lineup of talent at Stagecoach for three days of exclusive live performances and content.”

Although the number of Stagecoach attendees is significantly lower than Coachella’s, the number of visitors has been steadily increasing over the past few years. It seems to cater to a smaller crowd of University of San Diego students, but those who do attend share that they are happy to have a country alternative to Coachella.

Senior Delaney Kipple is an avid country music listener, but she said she has never attended Stagecoach. Kipple shared her thoughts about both festivals.

“If I could manage to get most of my friends to go with me, I would probably choose Coachella,” Kipple said. “But I’d rather go to Stagecoach for the music. To me, country music paints a story, and I feel the vibe at Stagecoach would be more laid back than Coachella.”

Many students seem to share this mindset. Senior Emily Burke will be attending the festival for the first time this year.

“I’m going to Stagecoach because I love country music and the environment of country concerts,” Burke said. “There’s seriously nothing better than listening to country music and partying with your friends on a nice day.”

USD student Sapphira Viddauri said this year marks number two for the Coachella Valley local. Viddauri shared about last year’s lineup and her high hopes for this weekend’s sets.

“Last year was amazing, and the lineup was amazing,” Viddauri said. “This year will be exciting because of Shania Twain because she [is rumored to] be introducing new music. I’m hoping to see Thomas Rhett [bring out] Snoop Dogg [to sing with him] this time.”

Unlike Coachella, Stagecoach only makes its way to the desert for one weekend in April. But it’s here where folks from all around come to fasten their britches, wear their cowhide leather boots, and two-step their way across the polo fields while listening to their favorite country music stars.

Written by Diego Luna, Managing Editor