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Phish, Festival 8, and Stolen Golf Carts

So Festival 8 was amazing. I had a great time there, and going to a music festival in an RV was a cool thing to experience as well.

Most music festivals have bands playing all day, starting around 11 or 12 and going until the late hours of the night. While this is cool, it also makes for some crappy situations. You don’t get much time to hang out at your campsite and explore the festival grounds, and you (or at least I do) get anxiety about schedule conflicts or bands that you’ve missed. That was not the case with Festival 8. Since Phish was the only (official) band playing, we had plenty of time to mess around in the campsites, hanging out in the RV and getting to know people that we met over the course of the weekend.

 

I may have mentioned before that this festival took place over Halloween weekend. I didn’t really have any costume plans when I left for Indio. We stopped in a Target on the way, and lo and behold, 3 Ghostbusters costumes were left in the Halloween aisle. There were 4 of us going, but we snagged them up immediately, and it worked out perfectly.

The costumes went over very well; it seemed like every 2-3 minutes someone stopped us for a picture, and I heard people sing the Ghostbusters theme song about 500 times on Halloween night. Coming up with new lyrics to the song while walking around and being obnoxious was a lot of fun as well. Tens of thousands of people, many of them dressed up in ridiculous costumes, everyone in great moods (because most of them were there to see their favorite band) – All in all, it made for what was quite possibly my favorite Halloween yet.

A ton of ridiculous things happened over the course of the weekend, but one thing in particular stands out to me. We were getting ready to leave our RV for the night, so we were all dressed up in our Ghostbusters suits, proton packs and all. The plan was to swing by our friend’s RV, which was located in the King Crimson campgrounds, at least a mile and a half from us. So we got our stuff together and started to walk in that direction.

There were a lot of golf carts cruising around, and while we joked around about stealing one, none of us actually planned on doing it. Whenever one flew past us we’d ask them for a ride, but weren’t expecting anyone to actually stop for uys.

About 5 minutes into our walk, I looked up and saw that my friends were getting onto the back of a golf cart. I didn’t think much of it – I hopped on the back with them. Two guys that looked like they were in their mid-30’s were driving, and 4 of us were on the back – 2 seated, and 2 squatting while hanging off of the back. I was excited that we were getting a free ride, but didn’t think much of it at first. I just held on with one hand while holding my beer with the other.

My friend Brooke began to make conversation with the drivers. I wasn’t paying much attention at first, but noticed that she started questioning them, and the tone of her voice became more and more suspicious. At one point, she said “you guys aren’t here to see Phish, are you?” I tried to get her to calm down, as I was unsure why she was asking so many questions. The drivers were pretty quiet, and I had just assumed they were spaced out or something, since they didn’t speak much and just laughed amongst themselves.

As we continued to cruise around it became clear that they didn’t work there, nor were they there to see the band. Okay, so we’re on a stolen golf cart. I did my best to convince everyone that we were fine, that we should just finish the ride and let it go, since we had no prior knowledge of theft when they picked us up.

Before I knew it, we were off of the festival grounds, and driving down alegitimatee road with traffic lights.

We re-entered the festival grounds at another entrance about a quarter mile down the road. We passed multiple security personnel, and none of them looked at all suspicious. These guys definitely seemed unsure of where they were going and were laughing nervously between the two of them.

I looked up and noticed that the gate we were driving towards said “ARREST/BOOKING”. If these guys were police, they would have had no reason to arrest us, let alone trick us and take us to some arrest area, so I held on tight. The gate to this area was closed and guarded by a cop. He asked the driver, “Indio PD?” The driver nodded, and without a second thought the officer opened the gate and let us through.

There were at least 50 police cars parked in this area, and some RVs that looked to be for detaining people. Every vehicle inside of the gate was either police or security. They let us through the gate on the other side in the same manner, casually asking if we were Indio PD, “yes sir”. After we were about 15 feet from the police area, the guys driving looked at each other and shared one of those half nervous/half triumphant “holy crap!” laughs.

We continued on down another back road. Everyone on this road had press passes of some sort around their necks or were some sort of staff/security – It was clear to me that this was another restricted area. The road that we were on intersected a busy road with a lot of foot traffic on it, and there was another gate in front of us, presumably to keep the people from the busy road out of this restricted area. When we got to the gate, the guy told us to wait a minute, and then mumbled some stuff into his walkie talkie. This made me kind of nervous. He then proceeded to stop all of the foot traffic so that he could open 2 gates (the one in front of us, and the one on the other side of the busy road) to let us through.

We continued on down a few more “private roads” in a similar manner until we made it to our friend’s RV. We invited the guys who were driving to come in for drinks, and they didn’t seem interested at all. We convinced them to come in for a shot, and then Brooke got the story out of them… they were there just to steal golf carts. They snatched them up, took them off of the festival grounds, and loaded them into a truck. And they were paid $3000 for each one that they stole.

This blew my mind, and it certainly explained a lot. I also noticed that the front of the golf cart said “Indio Police”, which explains why we weren’t denied access or questioned at any point.

The guys took off pretty quickly, but I couldn’t stop thinking about what happened. If they were stealing police golf carts, why did they pick us up? Wouldn’t they want to keep a low profile? Driving around with 3 beer drinking ghostbusters and a girl hanging off of the back of your golf cart certainly isn’t low-profile, although considering the circumstances I suppose it’s not that abnormal either… Stuff like that was going on all weekend. Maybe the guys weren’t too bright? Who knows – We were the ones paying at least $300 each to be there, while they were making money there. Regardless, it made for an interesting start to a crazy night.

It’s also worth mentioning that I saw these guys again at about 3:00 am on Monday morning. I was walking back to our RV and they drove past me. It was pretty quiet at that point, but as they approached an intersection, I heard the driver quietly tell the passenger to “chill out”. So they were doing this all weekend long.

On another note… I was given a MacBook for work, and I’m still not 100% used to working in the Snow Leopard environment. I erased my camera’s SD cards on the MacBook before I left, but apparently, since I didn’t empty the recycle bin, the files were never really erased. So when I ran out of room on a 16 GB SD card after taking like 50 pictures, I was pretty confused. I didn’t realize that the files still existed on the card and were just “hidden” until I got back from Indio. Anyway, you can check out my pictures from the festival here

I also put together a compilation of some of the videos that I took at Festival 8.

Anyway, I think that this post makes up for my lack of reporting on Rothbury and Camp Bisco earlier this summer.

2 Comments

  1. just found this site, just wanted to say, if you have never been to one of the Festivals yet, then its a MUST, got tickets booked already for this year and costumes already sorted out, cant wait, anyone else got their tickets?

    • You got tickets to what? Phish haven’t announced a festival this year yet, at least not that I’m aware of… Or is this just comment spam?

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