Coachella 2015: Dance Music’s Undeniable Presence
While many conversations from weekend one circulated around whether fans would be coming back the following week to catch missed sets at the Sahara tent and LED Day Parties in Palm Springs, or rather planning on spending Memorial Day weekend at Lightning in a Bottle instead, it was obvious one thing was true about Coachella 2015 — dance music had finally taken over the annual event set in southern California. In a similar way to SXSW in Austin, Texas, and WMC in Miami, Florida, Coachella brings with it to Indio, CA (and surrounding cities) a music culture charged with the faces of celebrities, stand out performances, fashion trends, and ultimately, fans of all shapes and sizes.
In 1999, the lineup to the very first Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival was a testament to indie powerhouses from all over the musical spectrum. Rage Against the Machine and Beck headlined the dusty extravaganza set in the desert, but further down the bill featured the faces of A-Trak, Amon Tobin, Roni Size, Carl Craig, Spritualized and Moby. As Coachella rose to become one of the most dominant cultural institutions in festival culture though, the curators began pulling in lineups from mainstream societal tastes and trends. This time ten years ago, for instance, dance music took a backseat and guitar-driven indie culture consumed the lineup from top to bottom.
The rise of EDM began during the moments of Daft Punk’s legendary Coachella set in 2006. It was from that point on that whatever hype the electronic scene was experiencing at the time would be reflected in the following Coachella lineups. Electro, dubstep, big room, trap and now deep house have all had their moments as the percentage of dance acts inched higher and higher.
In 2013, the addition of the inevitable Yuma Tent totally changed the dynamic of the festival. For the first time, deep house and techno acts that weren’t particularly fit for massive stages finally had a home. As an intimate, club-like atmosphere with a disco shark taboot, success filtered through the stages doors, and by 2014 had doubled in size.
With respect to the above, 2015 is officially the year dance music has taken over Coachella. And as we close a second weekend of titillating beats, here are the noteworthy moments from Coachella 2015 everyone in EDM should know about:
Friday, April 9
1. Known to ignite the careers of young upstarts, future house star Oliver Heldens dared to slay the crowd on the very first day of Coachella during his anticipated slot time in the Sahara tent. The DJ played to a large crowd as the day turned into beautiful hues of pink and purple. He brought everything from deep house and garage to big room, and then topped it off with bringing to stage a live string quartet – four lovely ladies dressed as tantalizing angels.
2. On the very first day, the Heineken tent had a special b2b planned. After their Sahara set time, Keys N’ Krates began two straight hyped hours of booty shaking with A-Trak in the Heineken tent. The line was massive but ended up being — completely worth it.
3. Without sounding like too much of a Coachella 2015 cliché, the Gobi tent went from 0 to 100 real quick for Gorgon City’s set. They brought an overflowing crowd to the small stage, covered in velvet red walls and chandeliers; and topped the whole extravaganza with special guest Jennifer Hudson who came out to perform their hit, “Go All Night.”
Saturday, April 10
1. In preparation for his forthcoming Epigram EP, Gramatik premiered his unreleased collaboration with Raekwon and Orlando Napier, who both joined him on stage to perform the song live. The entire set was a perfect blend of hip-hop and jazz meeting electronic music in that way Gramatik is famous for doing so well. Check out the new single, “Native Son.”
2. Last month during WMC, Duke Dumont in an interview with Billboard said of his Coachella set, “I’ve done live shows in the past, but for this, I went back to the drawing board and completely redid everything. And I’ve finally finished my album, so Coachella will be a massive showcase of the album." With the hype for his set at an all time high though, the Sahara tent was billowing over to uncomfortable levels.
3. In the midst of promoting his new album, Deorro brought to stage Travis Barker, formerly known as the drummer for esteemed band Blink 182, and Elvis Crespo, best known for his single “Suavemente.” The two will be featured on the new album, including Chris Brown, who was a surprise guest on Friday at the LED Day Party Deorro headlined in Palm Springs.
Sunday, April 11
1. Bonobo came out as a special guest to close out the Do Lab stage for Weekend One. This was the one and only special guest at the Do Lab stage during the first weekend of Coachella 2015 – and is a testament to why Weekend Two is without a doubt the best of Coachella week.
2. For ODESZA’s highly anticipated set, the duo dropped a huge unreleased track with the help of the University of Southern California Marching Band. The band is widely known as the best in college football, and appealed to local fans. The track has been debuted recently while ODESZA was touring, and has been IDed as “Get Up.” The song begins with a calm introduction intended to lull you into an unsuspecting daze, only to hit you with a orchestral, Hudson Mohawke-esque trap drop that differs remarkably from the typical ODESZA production.
3. Honorable Mention: The Queen of Pop made out with Drake.
Friday, April 17
1. While Gorgon City had an epic set the prior weekend, they took the second weekend of the annual event to go full throttle in their performances. Not only did they have Tyga come out and perform with them during their planned set at Gobi, the duo were a surprise guest at the Do Lab stage, closing the first night of the weekend with groovy vibes.
2. During R3hab’s set at the esteemed Sahara tent, Ciara came on stage to debut their new collaborations. Draped in a colorful Dries Van Noten cape, she performed the R3hab remix to “I Bet,” which appears on the deluxe edition of her album Jackie, due May 4. She and R3hab also performed a dance-heavy collaboration, reportedly titled “Get Up,” which is set to appear on the Dutch DJ’s upcoming album.
3. Not only did DJ Snake bring to stage rapper DMX to perform “Party Up (Up In Here)” and “Ruff Ryders” Anthem, the in your face performer also included special appearances from both hip-hop sibling due Rae Sremmurd and electronic act AlunaGeorge.
Saturday, April 18
1. While not exactly the definition of EDM in current culture, Sir-Mix-A lot was no doubt a highlight of the day. With his 30 minute set time in the Heineken tent, the “Baby Got Back” DJ got one hell of a party going, bringing to stage half a dozen girls when dropping his 1992 hit.
2. The Do Lab took the second weekend pretty seriously with surprise guests planned for the entire weekend. On Saturday, Thomas Jack came out for a ‘Redux’ set originally slated for Kaskade. The sunset was breathtaking amidst the colors of the Do Lab walls and dream-catcher inspired stage.
3. For weekend two, Alesso brought to stage special guest Tove Lo to perform their 2014 hit, “Heroes.” The performance was hugely successful especially after following an epic performance between Alesso and his weekend one special guest OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder where they performed their collaborations, “Scars for Life,” and “The Calling (Lose My Mind).”
Sunday, April 19
1. Kaskade had a pretty eventful weekend. He first announced a Redux set at the beloved Do Lab stage, but then cancelled due to the obvious crowd it would pull. While Do Lab has a wonderful atmosphere, it wouldn’t be able to safely host the capacity of people expected to show up for the surprise set. In contrast though, during his mainstage set, Kaskade released “Never Sleep Alone” during an awe-inspiring sunset. His set and crowd were the best before night fell throughout the entire weekend.
2. David Guetta was so impressed by the performance that Flosstradamus put on during weekend one he vowed to add a significant amount of hip-hop to his weekend two set. In the spirit, Guetta enlisted Nicki Minaj as a guest appearance, where she performed their new single “Hey Mama,” and then later went on stage to join Drake briefly on the Coachella main stage.
3. Honorable Mention: For the last day of the event’s second weekend, Coachella coordinators brought to the festival grounds both the caterpillar and butterfly art installations. During the weekend prior, the caterpillar roamed the grass of the festival on Friday and Saturday, only to turn into a beautiful butterfly on Sunday. Bringing us back to our earlier notion of weekend two’s undeniable epic-ness over weekend one, fans were able to embrace the beauty of both the caterpillar and butterfly, dancing amidst everything Coachella 2015 had to offer.