An iconic time has passed yet again for festival goers worldwide. This year's edition of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival ended it's 2 weekend run with a bang, leaving first timers (like myself) and veterans alike very happy and excited for next year. But what I didn't realize going into this festival after being at purely electronic events like EDC, is that there is way more to it than just the partying and the music. They really pull out all the stops to make sure attendees of Coachella are surrounded with amazing views of the landscape, art pieces that spark inspiration in their minds, and of course, the experience of a lifetime.
After hearing so much buzz surrounding the first weekend, like the whole Drake & Madonna fiasco, I was curious to see what Weekend 2 had to offer. We eagerly arrived to get our credentials, then met up with the rest of the LA Daily Beat Squad to set up our campsite and see what the day before the festival was like. The lot our campsite was located in was by a hill with a lighthouse tower on top, and it overlooked the whole festival. Seeing this on Thursday night just made me more antsy to run wild on the festival grounds for the next 3 days, but that didn't mean I wouldn't stop by the "Not-So-Silent" Disco Party they had going on! This was a great little pre-party filled with deep house music to get everybody grooving before resting up for the big weekend ahead.
I'll make this somewhat brief since there is so much to tell about this festival. The lineup was pretty stacked from the beginning of the first day on, no matter what stage you were at. The main stage was already bumpin' on Friday afternoon, with Vic Mensa opening up the festival followed by Action Bronson.
While that was going on, the Sahara tent was housing acts like Peking Duk, Trippy Turtle, and Alvin Risk. Although these two areas seemed to draw the biggest crowds, that did not mean that there were no other great acts to go watch as the day progressed. The Mojave and Gobi tents were alive with the sounds of synth-pop group Sylvan Esso, psychedelic rapper Ab-Soul, and the Hideaway queen Kiesza.
Now let's fast forward a little bit to the nighttime, which I was ecstatic about because I was about to see one of my favorite bands of all time, AC/DC. After watching Porter Robinson's set long enough to hear his new Nero remix, I made my way over to the main stage. Not only did these old timers play for a full 2 hours, but the sheer amount of Rock N' Roll energy they brought with them made their presence known across the festival. Seeing lead guitarist Angus Young shredding solos live in his iconic schoolboy uniform was unbelievable. After catching the beginning of their set, I walked back to the Do LaB Stage, which was on the opposite end of the map, and I was still able to hear "DIRTY DEEDS, DONE DIRT CHEAP!" like I was right back in the crowd, which put a huge smile on my face. These guys may not have much time left, so if you ever have the chance to see them, go while you still can!
Saturday's lineup packed the biggest punch in my opinion. They had popular artists such as Clean Bandit, Hozier and The Weeknd at the main stage, along with some other favorites like alt-J, Jack White, and Bad Religion.
Those who caught The Weeknd were also treated with a special appearance by Kanye West, who played the ever so classic "Can't Tell Me Nothing" and his new single "All Day."
The Outdoor Theatre stage had the most eclectic arrangement of acts of the day, spanning from indie pop band Belle and Sebastian, to Tyler the Creator, Flosstradamus and ending it with Axwell /\ Ingrosso, who turned the festival into a rave with production that made the stage light up like no other.
There was also a lot of commotion happening at the Do LaB on Saturday, because not only was it easily the most visually stunning stage with the most unique vibes, but Kaskade was supposed to play a redux set at 6PM. Unfortunately, the festival wouldn't allow this for capacity reasons, but instead we were treated to the amazing sunset vibes of Thomas Jack, who to quote fellow squad member Dillon, "laid the sun to sleep" with his set. (Do LaB Photo by Daniel Zetterstrom)
Some other notable acts from Saturday that stuck out to me had to have been Alison Wonderland, Gramatik, Toro y Moi, Glass Animals (who played a fantastic cover of Kanye's Love Lockdown), rap duo Run The Jewels, Tycho, SBTRKT, Duke Dumont, and Ratatat. If you ever find yourself in need of new music, check any of the acts I've mentioned out!
Sunday was a bittersweet day, because everyone was still ready to keep the party going, but we had to cope with the fact that the fun times were soon to be concluded. I got my things ready for the trip back to reality, and geared up to make the final day the most memorable.
I also used this day to be a tourist. What I mean by that is along with catching some sets, I went around the whole festival looking at all the smaller tents ran by event sponsors, all the glorious food vendors, and taking some time to really enjoy the art installations placed around the festival. My favorite one had to be Corporate Headquarters, where they had an office building full of hippos, the boss being on top, followed by all the grunt workers below who spent all day and night doing random things, and it made for an interesting spectacle.
We also had the opportunity to experience a VIP dinner at The Rose Garden, a super exclusive area located next to the Sahara tent. We were treated to an exquisite four-course meal, compliments of the house. I would highly recommend taking the time out of your busy festival schedule to try this at least once. It really adds to the full Coachella experience.
Sunday was also special because the only EDM DJ to play on the main stage both weekends, Kaskade, brought out one of the biggest crowds in the festival's history. Check out this drone video footage of his sunset set!
Alongside Kaskade's beautiful performance were probably some my favorite sets of the entire weekend. Particularly the Dirtybird master himself Claude VonStroke at the Sahara, and French musician Stromae at the Mojave who absolutely killed his set, and even brought out Kanye West, even if it was for about 10 seconds. Speaking of French musicians, the prince of dark techno Gesaffelstein played his last ever live set during the second weekend right after Stromae, and he left it all on the stage. It may have been my 5th time seeing him perform, but I was still just as amped to watch him one last time. I also went to catch some of Drake just because, and he was actually entertaining! He brought out Nicki Minaj on stage, but she literally just stood there for about 30 seconds and left without saying a word. Maybe it was to prevent another fiasco from happening? Who knows. I left about halfway through to go watch Kygo play everyone's favorite elevator music, and then ended my weekend watching Kaytranada close out the night with a unique fusion of trap, house, and funk.
Overall, I had a great time covering this year's Coachella festival. It was my first one, and surely not my last. In my experience of going to mostly electronic events, this festival was a very nice change of pace. I think everybody should experience it at least once, no matter what you're into.
Thank you Goldenvoice for having us, and a special thank you to EarPeace for providing our team's ear protection for the weekend. We didn't want to use those DUBS anyway.
Photos by Simply G Photography
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