Looking back on Coachella: A festival that eloquently mirrors our post-EDM world

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It’s not hard to find electronic music at Coachella. In fact, one could argue it’s the new star of the show. 

A newly-minted superstar Skrillex played his first set at the festival in 2011, joining other rising legends like Steve Angello and Afrojack in welcoming an imminent paradigm shift for the future of dance music around the world. In the process, they helped usher in what would soon be remembered as the halcyon days of what we know now as “EDM.” What followed was an explosion of the sound in the music world at large, and similarly, within the festival’s subsequent lineups.

By 2016, EDM’s influence could be heard on the radio and in commercials. No longer a fringe sound, this contemporary and widely popular form of electronica had permeated into pop and beyond, thanks to artists like Avicii, Calvin Harris, David Guetta, and The Chainsmokers. Coachella attendees can even expect to catch top-tier electronic acts while venturing to other stages as well, like the Do LaB and Sahara tent.

This is the nature of the Goldenvoice behemoth, and what has made the annual celebration in the Indio Valley so incredibly unique. Coachella’s boasted the best and most severely innovative talents of the dance music spectrum since its very first iteration in 1999, all the way into helping commercialize its exploding contemporary form in the late 2000’s. The Chemical Brothers, Underworld, and Moby kicked off the first year, after all.

What’s more is that Coachella’s begun to evolve beyond the capacity of a music festival, and into a cultural touchstone of its own entirely. It’s also come to serve as a directional compass for music’s changing tides, by continuously mirroring and championing the effervescent trends of the times. Despite its shifting nature, electronic dance music at Coachella has withstood the test of time, and the festival is now looking into the future.

The Sahara Tent, in particular, has grown to become a golden standard of electronic music curation. As Goldenvoice’s own answer to EDC and Ultra, the Sahara has morphed into one of Coachella’s top-ranking destinations. 2018’s significant physical expansion was the most outright testament to this phenomenon. Furthermore, the tent’s billing this year of what others are now labeling “post-EDM” — or, the influx of new and forward-thinking strains of electronica filling the vacuum that big room/pop-centered EDM is slowly leaving behind — once more demonstrates just how deeply tapped talent bookers are into the mass musical vein. 

This past year, the Sahara Tent was the proverbial “beacon of hope” for EDM’s burst bubble, and post-EDM provided the light. Though the rising stars under this new umbrella genre are amidst the fine print of the festival — see Petit Biscuit, Ekali, San Holo, Whethan, and more — Coachella has advertently mirrored the state of streaming and post-EDM in its larger bookings, too. Kygo,  ODESZA, and Barclay Crenshaw are three glaring examples. Sahara has certainly grown past its days as a wee tent, evolving into a veritable embodiment of post-EDM’s rise to prominence.  

Depeche Mode headlined the Sahara tent back in 2006. That same year, Daft Punk unveiled their legendary pyramid stage production. Fast-forward to 2018, where Alison Wonderland took the crown atop her bona fide production pyramid as the highest billed female DJ to ever play the festival. She expertly played the cello, sang, and danced live on stage, all while showcasing her most deeply personal art to date before a closing set from one of the most-buzzed-about producers of the last few years — REZZ. The venerable women signified the new dawn of EDM — one that’s embracing producers, classical training, emotion, and pushing the musical envelope.

Goldenvoice is incredibly intuitive indeed, and Coachella’s lineup is well-calculated. 2018’s roster as a whole was a reflection of the streaming and radio-centric era’s beckoning, and the Sahara stage is one of the festival’s largest reflections of forces that will soon take the music world by storm. 

Featured Image Courtesy of Coachella

Rhonda Queen of the Desert and Framework present the pinnacle of Coachella after hours – photography by Randon Vannucchi

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Do LaB acts as a lush oasis, rife with surprises, amidst Coachella’s Indio playground once again – photography by WatcharaPhoto

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Artists at Coachella and beyond remember Avicii in live tributes

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News of Avicii‘s passing hit the dance music fans hard on April 20, 2018. His time came far too soon, at the age of 28 — just two years after the Swedish producer retired from tour life to recover from physical and mental health deterioration. The tragedy once more brought to light the destructive and draining underside of the music industry, and the burden of starhood at a young age.

In somber times like the present, however, it’s important to recall that the departed is far more than the dark moments at the end of their lives. The joy and good memories Avicii brought to countless people, for example, will be immortalized alongside his impressive song catalog. One way in which this pioneer has been honored so far is through live tributes by his peers in the music industry.

At Coachella, Kygo, Black Coffee, and others embedded his music into their sets and providing heartfelt speeches about their time with him throughout the years. Outside the festival, other singers and DJs have also been honoring him through song.

Keep tabs on this page as we continue to assemble the array of touching memorials as they trickle in.


1. Kygo’s emotional Coachella closer

“Avicii was my biggest musical inspiration and he was the reason I started making electronic music so I don’t think I would’ve been on this stage tonight if it wasn’t for him,” an emotional Kygo told his audience as he moved to close his nighttime set. He played out the producer’s newer single, “Without You.”

2. Black Coffee shares intimate moment

During his set, Black Coffee also shared his most recent interaction with Avicii, not long before his passing. He put up a screenshot of a conversation between the two about working together in the future. Shortly after, nostalgia ensued as “Wake Me Up” poured through the speakers.

3. A One Republic Goodbye

Avicii worked with a good deal of artists in genres outside regular dance music. One Republic was one such outfit. Lead singer Ryan Tedder took to social media to make his own remembrance of his time shared with the deceased icon. He strummed out a piano cover of “Wake Me Up” while performing in India.

4. Nick Jonas is a fan too

Nick Jonas was also one of those profoundly affected by Avicii’s loss. A fan himself, he let his sorrows out in an acoustic guitar cover that had his fans melting.

2018 Coachella Weekend 1 Highlights and Weekend 2 Preview

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As a regular attendee of Coachella for the last 7 years, I’ve seen plenty of changes at the festival. 2018 was no different. The last few years have seen the festival transition from something big to something enormous. With this growth and scale some plenty of improvements, as well as inevitable challenges.

At the end of the day, Coachella may rightfully own the title of one of the biggest festivals in the world. The stages and overall production value has increased substantially. It is now a truly multi-genre festival, ranging from dance to hip hop to rock to indie. Artists now plan their festival seasons around Coachella, and debut their new stage setups and tracks in the desert.

Below are some of my thoughts on the good, the bad, and the music from this year’s fest.

The Good

The Sahara tent is massively improved this year. The stage and tent now resembles those seen at Ultra, meaning that they are much wider than they are long. Overall, the entire stage and accompanying screens are much larger as well. Overall, this meant that the tent never felt like it was too full like it has in years past.

Beyond Sahara, there is a near constant option for dance music. The DoLab, Yuma, and the Heineken House are all heavy on the DJ end, not to mention the DJ parties that happen in the campgrounds.

The growth in the festival’s popularity means that anyone in the world will play this festival, even as just a featured guest. It’s not just an indie rock fest anymore: you can get surprise guests from the likes of Kanye West, Jay-Z, Chance the Rapper, to the freakin WalMart yodel kid. Artists now plan their release and tour schedules around the festival, which means that the surprises are going to keep coming. So don’t rule out that Daft Punk performance just yet…

The Bad

With the tent change at Sahara, one of the most iconic views of the festival is now gone: sunset looking directly west. With the old design, the entire back of the tent was open and you would clearly see the entire Coachella landscape, mountains, palm trees, and ferris wheel included.

With the increase in the size of the festival, as well as the number of attendees, the ability to hop around between stages has been severely limited. It used to be that you could count on seeing acts back to back to back, even with little to no overlap. These days, that is almost impossible. With the stages pushed back and relocated, it can now easily take 20 minutes or more to navigate the maze of installations, people, pop ups, markets, bathrooms, and more.


Beyond the festival experience itself is the music. Hip hop saw another increase in presence this year, but that’s to be expected given the dominance of the genre over the last few years. Despite this growth, dance and electronic is still omnipresent, with three areas almost exclusively dedicated to the genre: Sahara, Yuma, and The DoLab.

The Music

Must see sets from the best in dance and electronic.

Friday Top 3:

Alison Wonderland

Highlight: Alison stepping to the side of the DJ booth to sing vocals on her track “Easy”

Kygo

Highlight: Jamie Foxx making an appearance to sing Kygo’s remix of “Sexual Healing”

Whethan

Highlight: Who knows if Weekend 2 is in the cards, but seeing the WalMart yodel kid live means we have officially reached peak Internet

Saturday Top 3:

Chromeo

Highlight: A daytime dance party at the main stage proves that Chromeo’s four-time billing at Coachella is no accident; their old hits are just as relevant today as their new releases

Ekali

Highlight: Debut of recently released “Forever” with collaborators Elohim and Medasin was a light break from an overall heavy, heavy set.

Snakehips

Highlight: This fast-paced set was punctuated by the entire crowd belting the chorus to “All My Friends” … how about bring out Chance next weekend, guys?

Sunday Top 3:

ODESZA

Highlight: The Intel/HP drone show, which was teased for the festival crowd on Friday, was a fitting addition to “A Moment Apart”

Illenium

Highlight: Utilizing every single inch of the massive Sahara screen’s, Illenium’s visual intro to “Crawl Outta Love” rivaled any graphic / music combo of the weekend

San Holo

Highlight: The bitbird leader brought the energy (and the crowd) for his Coachella livestream

Special Mentions:

ZHU’s set and RL Grime’s surprise slot at the DoLab mean that anything can happen.

LA party crew Brownies & Lemonade put on an all-star show at the Heineken House. If you haven’t been to one of their parties, it might be a good time to book a trip to LA.


Those that also went Weekend 1 — let us know what you think. For those of you going Weekend 2, we’re extremely jealous.

Photo credit: Jeff Zeller

[LISTEN] Oshi releases new track citing he will delete it within a day

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Oshi has released a new track, “h a p p i n e s s,” ahead of playing at the famed Coachella this weekend. On his Twitter page, he notes that he will probably delete the track within a day because it is a ‘throw away song.’

The track’s elaborate combination of instrumentals, synthesized vocal accents, and pulsing beat is anything but throw away, so listen while you can! The song is available for free download via Oshi’s Soundcloud page

Eminem brings out 50 Cent, ODESZA has their crowning moment, Cardi B shows off baby bump: Everything that happened at Coachella Day 3

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The 19th annual edition of Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival is officially in the books. After Beyoncé handed over her empowering main stage performance on Saturday night, fans probably wondered if the final day of Coachella could ever be as iconic. Fortunately for all, Coachella is a festival that always seems to top itself. Marquee acts, such as Eminem, Miguel, and Cardi B, gave attendees a second wind in the sweltering Indio desert with their closing day performances, along with burgeoning electronic talents ODESZAIllenium, and San Holo.

Here is DA‘s guide to the key moments of day three at Coachella 2018.

Eminem brings out an all-star cast in Dr. Dre, 50 Cent, Skylar Grey, and more 

As Coachella’s closing headliner for an audience of nearly 100,000 people, Eminem knew he had a tough act to follow in Queen B’s landmark two-hour set (which made her the first ever woman of color to headline the festival). Marshall Mathers rounded up an all-star roster to join him on stage — including Dr. Dre50 Cent, Bebe Rexha, Skylar Grey, and Kehlani — to perform some of the biggest career hits.

While Mathers was sure to cover his golden-age hits “The Real Slim Shady” and “Lose Yourself,” his set list didn’t just focus on his own discography. The rap icon was joined by his mentor, Dr. Dre, onstage to perform “Still D.R.E.” and “Forgot About Dre.” The pair even nodded back to Snoop Dogg’s classic, “Nothin’ but a G Thang,” along with a cover of Tupac’s 1996 hit with Dre, “California Love” (which Snoop and Dre had previously resurrected a hologram of Tupac in the latter’s own 2012 headlining appearance).

Photo credit: Kevin Mazur, Getty Images for Coachella

Eminem’s mentee 50 Cent then took to the stage for a medley of “In Da Club” and “My Life,” giving the set a nice bookend appeal as it showcased their own hip-hop family lineage. Finally, Eminem was joined by longtime collaborator Skylar Grey as they performed multiple tracks, including “Stan,” “Walk on Water,” and “Love the Way You Lie,” showing off their electric chemistry.

Photo credit: Kevin Winter, Getty Images for Coachella

ODESZA delivers a milestone performance with aerial drones, a live drum line, and many special guests 

Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight of ODESZA had a sparkling 2017 after releasing their critically-acclaimed studio album, A Moment Apart, which netted their first-ever Grammy nomination. What better way to cap a wildly successful year than a spring kick-off performance in one of the world’s most visible festivals.

Back in 2015, ODESZA made headlines at Coachella when they brought out USC’s full drum line for a stunning rendition of their track “Bloom,” along with a live remix of Alex Adair’s “Make Me Feel Better.” So the Seattle-based duo knew they had to one up themselves.

This year, Knight and Mills’ appearance was nothing short of cutting-edge as they filled the late night headlining slot on Coachella’s main stage. Time sped up and slowed down, hearts stopped and began racing all at once, and technological spectacle felt organic in ODESZA’s live performance at Coachella.

Photo credit: Kevin Winter, Getty Images for Coachella

With this year’s inclusion of the highly-disciplined ODESZA drum line — which the pair has been incorporating in their album-accompanying “A Moment Apart” tour — Knight and Mills took this element to its height by incorporating drum line members throughout the entire set. It’s clear that the coveted ODESZA drum line has become a permanent mainstay during the most commanding moments of their live act.

Along the way, ODESZA brought a number of vocalists onstage to perform their various tracks from the latest album. Naomi Wild was first to take front and center in her live performance of “Higher Ground.” Wild’s mic had issues at the start, for which the design team quickly solved as the young singer belted her soft tune to an awe-inspired audience. To cap it all off, Knight and Mills brought out high-powered soul artist Leon Bridges to perform their single, “Across The Room,” as hundreds of aerial drones floated up into the California night sky to erect ODESZA’s icosahedron logo.

ODESZA have been diligently perfecting their live act over the years, working to incorporate immersive visual elements and surprise guest appearances along the way. But never before has an EDM act integrated such a captivating array of LED drones in their act to bring visual production from the screen into the sky. In addition to pioneering their own new genre, the boys can now count themselves spearheads for the visual production side as well.

Illenium brings his full AWAKE live band to the Sahara tent

Illenium is one EDM act that is currently smashing every bar he’s set for himself artistically; and with incredible candor and humility, one might add. The talented and focused artist out of Denver has been selling out arenas, collaborating with everyone whose anyone, and incorporating a live element to his shows. Now Illenium’s AWAKE act has become a mainstay at festivals, including band members Dabin, Day, and Said The Sky.

While in Indio Valley, the artist covered a full spectrum of his own classics in the Annika Wells-assisted “Crawl Outta Love,” his remix of Flume and Tove Lo‘s “Say It,” and his track, “Rush Over Me,”with Seven Lions and Said the Sky. The melodic dub step producer then paid homage to Excision and Zomboy before ending with his track with MAX, “Beautiful Creatures.”

Perhaps the shinning moment of Illenium’s Coachella debut came in the form of a live VIP of his track with 1788-L and close friend, Said the Sky, “Where’d You Go.” Fans have certainly been going crazy over the live edit online.

Illenium x Said The Sky x 1788-L – Where’d You Go (VIP) from EDM

Migos is plagued by sound issues in the Sahara tent

After walking onto stage 30 minutes late, and having sound issues early on, people were apparently not happy with the Migos‘ performance. Yet, within a couple minutes, Quavo, Offset, and Takeoff easily earned the crowd’s forgiveness. The group began with “Higher We Go,” the opening track of Culture II, and by the time they slipped into their second song, “Slippery,” the crowd was in full-frenzy mode. Migos waited until the set’s final stretch to survey their biggest and most recent hits, which included the classic “Bando” for Offset (whose original was given to him by fiancée Cardi B).

“We thank God for making us the greatest group in the world,” Quavo proclaimed as a closing statement. It was the kind of humble arrogance that didn’t quite match the trio’s rather plagued live performance at Coachella.

Photo credit: Scott Dudelson, Getty Images for Coachella

THEY.’s performance included a nod to Kurt Cobain 

As THEY. took to Coachella’s Mojave stage, the rap/R&B hybrid duo surprised attendees with an refreshing and intriguing rock-crossover by covering Nirvana‘s “Rather Die.” Intriguing, because of how odd it seems to take on such a disturbing song and refit the track with a hip-hop drop. Refreshing, because hip-hop acts rarely, if ever, sample rock ballads. THEY. were certainly keen to rework a song from Nirvana’s Nevermind album beyond the wildly overdone “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”

Perhaps Kurt Cobain might have appreciated the subversive move.

Photo credit: Scott Dudelson, Getty Images for Coachella

Pregnant Cardi B brings out Chance The Rapper, Kehlani, and G-Easy 

Cardi B, who recently revealed her baby bump during an SNL performance, brought out a number of superstar friends during her afternoon Coachella performance, with live collaborations with Chance The Rapper on their single, “Best Life,” and G-Easy on “No Limit.”

The “Bodak Yellow” rapper also performed livcuts of “Bickenhead,” “Drip,” “Bariter Cardi” with 21 Savage, and her remix of Bruno Mars‘ “Finesse.”

Photo credit: Christopher Polk, Getty Images for Coachella

Photo credit: Scott Dudelson, Getty Images for Coachella

Portugal. The Man trolls ODESZA fans, delivers rock history lesson 

Portugal. The Man are known for their silly pre-set messages. Just last week, the band used amusing musings like “Having fun? Getting fucked up? Talking politics at family dinners?” and “Kevin’s got a boner” at a performance in Reno, Nevada. During closing night of Coachella 2018, as the sun began to set, the Alaskan rockers delivered a message to ODESZA campers in quirky fashion.

Portugal. The Man – “If you’re here for Odesza, you’re a little early” from Coachella

Yet it wasn’t only fun and games for Portugal, as they spent the entirety of their set schooling attendees with a serious rock music history lesson. After kicking off with Metallica‘s “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” the alt-rock band then surveyed a broad range of classics from Pink Floyd, T. Rex, and Black Sabbath, before ending with a “Hey Jude” sing-a-long.

“To anybody who says that there’s a lack of rock bands at Coachella, it’s not about genre — it’s about music,” the group’s front man shouted. “But if you are gonna complain about the lack of rock bands at Coachella, this is the only band here you need to see.”

Photo credit: Scott Dudelso, Getty Images for Coachella 

Featured photo credit: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Coachella

Barclay Crenshaw blesses Coachella with beat-heavy Bon Iver renegade cut, releases it as free DL

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Self-proclaimed bass daddyBarclay Crenshaw, the extraterrestrial-steeped hip-hop alter-ego of Claude VonStroke, closed out Coachella‘s Gobi Tent on the first weekend’s final night.

In what can only be described as an over-the-top delivery of high frequencies and off-kilter, bass-driven meanderings, Crenshaw was in top form. Though much of his background is in jungle and drum-n-bass, Crenshaw still infuses his musical pursuits with pieces of his earliest musical fascination — hip-hop. Appropriately, he’s imbued his love for the genre on a new rework of Bon Iver‘s “715 – CRΣΣKS,” off the group’s electronic-tinged album,  22, A Million.

A highlight in his sets over the last four months, Crenshaw’s Bon Iver cut now sees its official renegade release, as both a nod to the artist and an amplified testament to Bon Iver’s electronic production potential — may that someday see that light of day.

Download it here

Photo Credit: Get Tiny Photography

 

Louis the Child debut unreleased remix of Khalid’s ‘Love Lies’ at Coachella [Watch]

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Louis The Child

Louis the Child have followed the release of their new single, “Better Not” with a brand new and unreleased remix of Khalid’s Normani feature, “Love Lies.” The DJ duo debuted their future bass tinged take on the track during their Saturday evening Coachella set.

Louis the Child did not divulge any information regarding a drop off date for the remix, but as Dancing Astronaut‘s live video from the set very clearly suggests, the Louis the Child revamp is destined to become a summer staple pending its official release.

Beyoncé takes the throne, Ekali sends it, David Byrne rewrites history & more: Here’s everything that happened at Coachella day 2

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Ekali played to a packed Sahara tent in the middle of the afternoon

As if closing out the Do LaB tent wasn’t enough of an achievement, Ekali’s Sahara tent set was a testament to his massive growth and range as a producer. With over 20,000 in attendance, it’s for certain that Ekali’s destined for a monumental year, and to that, a congratulations is in order.

When you bring @denzelcurryph to your @coachella set and he incites a riot 🤷🏻‍♂️

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Party Favor delivers a star-studded set

Party Favor‘s set was filled with surprises. Dropping off a fervent performance with surprises from Tyga, Jamie Foxx, and Rich The Kid, Party Favor saw that things got a even hotter out on the polo fields.

OSCAR WINNER @iamjamiefoxx #coachella @ohdagyo

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Louis the Child brought out Joey Purp and debuted some new music

EDM’s fastest rising duo, Louis the Child, dropped their new original and confirmed a new remix of a new Khalid song.

MØ brought out Diplo and Charli XCX

Danish pop artist  graduated from her “Lean On” performance two years ago at Coachella with Major Lazer and blew the crowd away with her main stage sunset performance, where she even managed to bring out a few friends along the way. In addition to performing a solo rendition of the Justin Beiber featured “Cold Water,” MØ brought out Charli XCX for “Porsche,” and danced onstage with Diplo for their collaboration “Get It Right.”

Photo Credit: Kevin Winter, Getty Images for Coachella

David Byrne rewrote history

Talking Heads’ frontman David Byrne took the stage with a performance of past and present classics in Stop making Sense fashion, even finishing on a cover of Janelle Monae’s “Hell You Talmbout,” listing names of black victims of police violence with an absolutely epic drum-heavy rendition.

Photo Credit: Frazer Harrison, Getty Images for Coachella

Beyoncé took the throne

Queen B delivered. As expected, Beyoncé’s headlining performance was nothing short iconic. Undoubtedly, it’ll go down as one of the greatest Coachella performances in history with Beyoncé standing as the first ever woman of color to headline the festival. “Ain’t that ’bout a bitch?” she quixotically squealed, when talking about the phenomena.

Photo Credit: Larry Busacca, Getty Images for Coachella 

Moving through her performance with poise, hair flowing, barely seeming to break a sweat, Beyoncé’s energy and the performance’s production proved she’s one of the greatest entertainers to ever grace the stage. The New York Times has even gone so far to call her bigger than Coachella in their latest editorial.

She opened with a performance of “Crazy In Love,” brought out her husband JAY-Z for one of their many collaborations “Déjà Vu,” had her sister Solange come out for “Get Me Bodied,” and then she did the unthinkable. She saved humanity. I mean—and then she reunited Destiny’s Child.

Although rumors of a Destiny’s Child reunion have been circulating for months, nothing comes close to the real thing. The trio performed “Lose My Breath,” “Say My Name,” and “Soldier.”

“I was supposed to perform last year but I got pregnant, thank God,” Beyoncé said before closing her set with an a cappella rendition of her uplifting “Love On Top.” “I had time to dream with two beautiful souls in my belly and this is everything and more I had in my dream, so thank you for sharing this with me. I want to sing this last song to all my incredible, beautiful fans. Loyal fans. Ride or dies. I love y’all.”

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Larry Busacca, Getty Images for Coachella