Coachella 2012 Review
Music, partying, and plenty of fun! Wow, what an amazing experience! Sure the weather may not have been perfect the first day of weekend 1 (it was great Saturday and Sunday though), but that didn’t dampen the music or the experience. There were so many different musical acts to see, and in what seemed like so little time. From up-and-coming bands, and DJs, to long-time music veterans – all genres were represented. And of course, the ever-increasing popularity of and craze for Electronic Dance Music was prevalent in the line-up. The Sahara Tent and Main Stage were stacked with some of the biggest names in EDM, including Swedish House Mafia, Avicii, Justice, Kaskade, David Guetta, Calvin Harris, and Afrojack just to name a few. There were also some amazing lesser-known DJs that put on incredible shows, such as, Dada Life, Madeon, Alesso, Datsik, Feed Me, LA Riots, Porter Robinson, Nero, Flux Pavillion and more.
Throughout the festival, there were so many great acts that it would take far too long to describe them all; so these are some of my personal highlights.
First was M83, a band led by Spanish-French musician Anthony Gonzalez. Named after the spiral galaxy, Messier 83. M83’s style owes something to the shoegazing genre in its extensive use of reverb effects and lyrics spoken softly over loud instrumentals. Their most recent album Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, was “written like a soundtrack to an imaginary movie with different ambiences, different atmospheres, different tempos, different orchestrations and different instrumentation,” explains Gonzalez in a recent interview with Exclaim.ca. “When I make an album it’s always about nostalgia, melancholy in the past and memories.” Their captivating performance was dancey, yet emotional. Safe to say their show at Coachella this year definitely left a lasting memory.
Another personal favorite of that day was Feed Me (Jon Gooch), a drum & bass, electro house and dubstep producer and DJ from Hertfordshire, England. He definitely had the entire Sahara Tent in a fist pumping dance frenzy!
And then there was Swedish House Mafia, the headliner of the first night on the Main Stage. For those of you who are and have been fans of house music you know they don’t need any introduction; these three Swedes Axwell, Steve Angello, and Sebastian Ingrosso have been in the game for a long time and are pretty much as big as it gets! Even though I am sure most people are already well aware of who they are (some people may even consider them too commercial or certain tracks “played out” – regardless, they are who they are because of hard work and success), but I include them in my list simply because their set and that moment (with my special someone) was one of the best memories of the entire festival. They opened with their new track Greyhound, and immediately the crowd erupted in dance and cheer! We were positioned dead center in the sea of people. Their set was accompanied by an incredible laser and special effects graphics show, including real fireworks and flames of fire coming up off the stage! Let’s just say it was crazy enough to make a relatively sober man feel as if he was on psychedelic drugs.
Another memorable act was SBTRKT. Pronounced “subtract,” the stage name and project is headed by Aaron Jerome, a musician and producer from London whose music is a mixture of grime, UK garage, dub, two-step, R&B and Chicago house. SBTRKT is an alias used to support the concept of anonymity; yes, this is the guy who always wears a native ceremonial mask while performing. In an interview with ClashMusic.com, Jerome explains the idea behind wearing a mask; “I’d rather not talk about myself as a person, and let the music speak for itself. The name SBTRKT is me taking myself away from that whole process.” Jerome goes on to say, “I’m not the most social person, so having to talk to DJs to make them play a record is not something I want to do. It’s more about giving them a record as an anonymous person and seeing whether they like it or not. If they play it, they play it.” Moreover, SBTRKT refers also to the musical duo of Jerome and his frequent collaborator Sampha (London-based singer and keyboardist). Their live show consists of Jerome utilizing electronic and acoustic drums alongside mixed samples, while Sampha plays the keyboards, triggers vocal loops and sings. We came across his set in the Gobi Tent after catching a little bit of Miike Snow. As soon as we arrived, he dropped his recent hit Wildfire, and everybody in the tent went nuts and we joined in celebration (bodies moving, feet stomping and arms waving)! One of the most fun moments of the night!
The next highlight on the list was Justice, a French electronic music duo consisting of Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay. Justice is known for incorporating a strong rock and indie influence into their music and image; they also have somewhat of a disco-funk and electro house element. They definitely came out swinging with some of their most popular hits, such as Genesis, D.A.N.C.E., Civilization and Newlands just to name a few. It was another great show that night and another super fun dance party in the middle of the enormous crowd!
The last artist I want to highlight is Gaslamp Killer (William Bensussen), a Los Angeles-based DJ who releases material through Brainfeeder, the record label of Flying Lotus. Bensussen grew up in my home town of San Diego, California (I actually went to Middle school with this guy and grew up watching him party with my older brother), where he began listening to Too Short, Jimi Hendrix, and Dr. Dre. After being influenced by DJ Shadow, he became a DJ in San Diego’s Gaslamp district when he was 17, where his unique sets often ruined the pop music vibe in the clubs, earning him the nickname “The Gaslamp Killer.” After moving to Los Angeles in 2006, he helped found Low End Theory, L.A.’s weekly showcase for uncut beat-driven sounds. It was really great to see “Willie” perform live, and you could really tell he was super into his music and he put on a great show. As his set finished and we made our way through the crowd, even the security staff guarding the front stage said “now that dude was sick” as they talked amongst each other. I hope I get to see him play again sometime soon here in LA.
There were so many amazing bands, DJs and fun to be had this year at Coachella, it was definitely an incredible experience! I would encourage anyone who is in to music and having a good time to attend the festival. For me, it was a great music experience as well as a fun party all around. Put it on your list!
If you attended Coachella, what were some of your most favorable moments, bands or DJs? Share your thoughts and /or any advice for future Coachella visitors.
If you are a Rising DJ go to Talent Rising and create your free profile to share your music, upload photos and video, connect with other artists, and get noticed!
By: Angelo Castañeda