Two Coachella-goers relax on the grass in 2011. (Photo by Dave Brooks)

Coachella fans, consider yourself warned — this year's festival may be twice as long, but tickets could sell out twice as fast.

It’s called the Radiohead Effect and it can be devastating to slackers, half fans and anyone else who didn’t bother getting out of bed Friday to try to buy tickets. If ticket sales for other Radiohead concerts this year are any indication, fans of the band from all over the world (many of whom are better at this than you) will likely try to gobble up tickets. When the band went on sale last year for a 6,000-seat show at the 1st Bank Center in Broomfield, Colo., tickets sold out in minutes and many fans took to Twitter and Facebook to channel their outrage.

Yes, the Black Keys are playing too, and, yes, that song “Lonely Boy” is all over the radio, but no one is going to fly in from Germany or Thailand just to watch them perform. And the reunion of Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg will certainly mean a boost of tickets for their hometown SoCal crowd (Compton and Long Beach together, now you know you’re in trouble), but “The Chronic” rappers are more likely to compel fans who are still on the fence about buying tickets (and will be too late if they don't get their act together Friday).

Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. PST at coachella.com and they’re expected to be gone by the end of the day. Coachella is being repeated over two weekends this year — April 13-15 & April 20-22.

“If you wait till Saturday or beyond – you may run the risk of not getting a ticket at all,” AEG Live Tour Marketing Manager Derek Schafer wrote online. “If you wait, you will only pay more buying from third parties.”

The on-sale is really your best chance to get into the festival — last year’s event sold out a few days after tickets went on sale, stunning less organized music fans who thought they would have more time to pull together $285 (plus shipping and service charges) for a general admission three-day pass. VIP festival passes for each weekend run for $665, plus shipping and fees.

An easy way to get a jump on the line is to create your Coachella account in advance by clicking here for Weekend 1 or here for Weekend 2 — they’ll send you a confirmation email with a temporary password. Getting your account set up in advance of the sale will save you precious minutes as thousands of users storm the Coachella site. Festival organizers Goldenvoice actually have a pretty detailed instruction page telling fans what to expect Friday.

Festival tickets are a hot item this year. The Stagecoach Festival, also booked by Coachella organizer Goldenvoice for the Empire Polo Fields has already sold out. 

Schafer warned that most of the tickets for the first weekend of Coachella have already sold out in presales. Fans cannot swap tickets for one weekend or another once the tickets are purchased.

“Best advice: go straight for Weekend 2 and purchase a GA or VIP ticket,” he said. “Weekend 1 is very limited and you'll run the risk of not getting it.”

And if you plan to camp at the Polo Fields, you will have to buy a camping pass at the same time you buy your ticket.

“These items are not available separately. Camping pass options will be available after you select your festival pass,” the Coachella website reads.

And don’t forget that you’re up against scalpers and StubHub users who have hacker-style computer tactics to jump to the front of the line on-sale day and buy up tickets. Coachella tickets are an obvious purchase for any scalper trying to make a quick buck, although the festival has gotten much better at curbing ticket resales. Last year the festival handed out tamper-proof wristbands to make the tickets harder to sell to someone else, and they added RFID computer chips to the wristbands to fight counterfeiters. But the popularity of the festival and the willingness of last minute buyers to pay huge fees for tickets has created a vast underground market.

This year, Coachella is using the Front Gate Ticketing system to facilitate the on-sale — Front Gate is an Austin-based company that also provides ticketing for Casbah in San Diego, Emos in Austin and the Fox Theatre in Boulder, Colo., among others. Festival owner AEG is pioneering its own ticketing system, axs, and will begin rolling out the system in 2012. 

Contact the author – dave@venuestoday.com