Owner security

Security guards reveal the biggest fan complaints

  • Insider asked security guards on duty at Coachella what festival-goers should stop doing.
  • Many said fans should follow the rules, especially when it comes to barriers and prohibited items.
  • Others said male attendees should stop trying to intimidate or “coax” female staff members.

Coachella may have a reputation for being a well-oiled machine, but all music festivals are about rule breakers and rowdy behavior – just ask security.

Insider’s music team was on hand for the first weekend of the famous event in Indio, California.

We asked security guards on duty about the worst behavior they’ve seen from fans. Keep reading to see the four most common responses we received. (All but one asked to use pseudonyms chosen by Insider, for fear of professional reprisals, but Insider confirmed their identities.)

1. “They think they know everything”

Steve, who signed on to work at Coachella this year for his first-ever safety gig, said he was amazed at how cheeky some fans are. (He asked that his last name not be published for fear of professional reprisals.)

“They think they know everything. We know, you don’t,” he told Insider. “If you’re not allowed in a section, it’s for a reason.”

Brad, a Marine who was also new to the job, agreed with Steve’s sentiment.

“They don’t listen,” he said. “I’m not allowed to touch anyone, so if I tell them to do something, like they can’t get through somewhere, they go anyway.”

According to Brad, the owner of one of the private security companies hired by Coachella is a former military man and “gives a lot of volunteer spots to the military.” The majority of employees interviewed by Insider were serving members of the United States Marine Corps and new to security work.

2. “They lie saying they have stuff and try to pretend it’s not there”

2017 glastonbury festival security

Festival security check bags at Glastonbury Festival 2017.

Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Like most music festivals, Coachella provides a list of prohibited items on the Rules page of the website. There is also a link to the list on the FAQ page of the website, under the “What can I bring?” »

“It’s so obvious and they’re still lying,” first-time security guard Brianna told Insider. “We can see it !”

“And then they get mad and try to convince us to let them in,” she continued. “But we could really get in trouble. We could go to jail for that.”

Some prohibited items may seem trivial, such as umbrellas, flashlights, stuffed animals and Sharpies. Others are more obvious, such as weapons, outside drinks, and drugs.

The Coachella site also states that “any item deemed inappropriate by festival security” may be confiscated.

“We’re just very, very disappointed that these people are constantly bringing these items,” Caleb, who said he’s been doing this work for “several years,” told Insider.

“We tell them and let them know every time, ‘You can’t bring alcohol or drugs or anything like that,'” he said. “We’re trying to keep you safe. And if you don’t follow the rules, what makes you think other people will follow the rules?”

Jordan, a first-time security guard standing nearby, also added: “They don’t take our authority. Sometimes they just try to get through. They don’t care what we say, like:” You gotta pour that,’ they’ll try to go anyway.”

3. People try to jump barriers – or even bribe security to give them access to restricted areas

“I was in front of the stage and a guy tried to jump into the fucking bar and I had to stop him,” said Hunter, a Marine who said he volunteered because that he thought Coachella would be “cool,” told Insider.

“It’s definitely harder than I expected,” he said of the job, adding, “They’re cool if they don’t know the song. But if they know it, they start jumping everywhere. It’s chaos.”

2021 music festival loud crowd

Some fans, like this one at Rolling Loud in 2021, need to be removed from the crowd for safety reasons.

Rich Fury/Getty Images

Another Marine named Elijah said a fan even tried to offer him $100 to look away, so the fan could jump the barrier into a VIP section.

As Elijah spoke, another festival-goer heard his comment and interjected, “That’s what we’re trying to do too. How much?” Her friend added, “I’ll give you $200.”

4. Some male participants attempt to intimidate or “schmooze” female staff members

“What bothers me? When my friend is on security, when guys try to bother her because she’s a woman,” Elijah said. “When she’s working at a door, they’ll try to love, use male aggression to try to get through.”

He said some fans seem to think it will be easier to “take advantage” of a woman to find a way to break the rules.

“Friday was my first day. After Sunday I retire. It’s not worth it,” he added.

Follow Insider’s Coachella coverage here.