Apr 23, 2015
An Analysis Of The Electronic Music Environment Of Coachella

Kaskade at Coachella stage, Weekend 2

While Coachella has always had an electronic presence dating back to the inaugural event in 1999 when The Chemical Brothers were given close to top-line billing, the festival has turned into an implied rave in recent years, with major expansions to the exclusively electronic Sahara tent and The Do Lab, and the addition of the underground-centric Yuma stage and multi-format Heineken Dome. Most of the other stages of the festival have also seen a dramatic increase in the number of electronic acts present on those stages, with acts like Kaskade and Calvin Harris drawing some of the largest crowds in to the main stage in Coachella history.

Below, we provide a breakdown of the electronic environment present at each stage, hopefully giving you electronic fans a bit of guidance as to how to plan your schedule before Coachella 2016 rolls around.


NERO at Outdoor, Weekend 2

Festival-goers who consider themselves electronically inclined will not make their way to the Coachella main stage or Outdoor stage until the sun goes down. It’s as if that side of the festival does not exist until nighttime. That being said, Kaskade’s sunset set drew record crowds, despite him being one of the few electronic acts booked on that stage this year. Given this also occurred last year with Calvin Harris, it’s high time we saw an electronic act close the Coachella stage again.

The Outdoor stage was more prone to give top billing to electronic acts, with NERO and Axwell /\ Ingrosso closing Friday and Saturday, respectively. Saturday even got a double dose of EDM, with Flosstradamus immediately preceding Axwell /\ Ingrosso. However, there is still a anti-electro crowd who want to make their presence known at this stage. Steely Dan, who played before NERO, went as far as calling out those who were there to “suck on pacifiers,” though Coachella does not allow pacifiers.


The Do Lab, Weekend 2

Since its start in 2005 as an art display with a couple of performers and a small sound system, Los Angeles-based events company has practically become a festival-within-a-festival at Coachella, with many saying it’s their favorite part of Coachella. Every year the announcement of the Do Lab’s lineup is greeted with almost as much fanfare in the electronic community as the release of the festival lineup itself.

The Do Lab is a home for the more glitchy, bassy side of dance music, with acts like Kraddy, Jackal, and Ooah making appearances, along with housier acts like Justin Jay, J. Phlip, Cassian, and Sebastien Leger, and more left-field acts like Bonobo, who was a surprise closer on Weekend 1.

Didn’t get enough Do Lab at Coachella? They are the brains behind the entirety of Memorial Day Weekend’s Lightning In A Bottle festival.


SBTRKT at Mojave, Weekend 2

Electronic acts that don’t quite fit the four-to-the-floor or bro-bass mold were more likely to show up in either the Gobi or Mojave tents. Flying Lotus and Squarepusher closed the stages on Friday, Kaytranada and Kygo on Sunday, and at least 50 percent of the acts the rest of the time resting squarely in electronic territory.


Vice at Heineken Dome, Weekend 2

The Heineken Dome, previously “The Dome,” has been branded by such outfits as Ed Banger, 1107, Pure Filth, and even played host to a silent disco one year, so we’re dubbing this one the “wildcard” stage. Maybe they’ve just based it off of whoever paid enough money to get their clans in there, but either way, the lineup is consistently good, with 2015 seeing such acts as A-Trak, Gladiator, Ape Drums, and TWRK.


Madeon at Sahara, Weekend 2

Coachella’s Sahara tent is by far the most famous of the electronic-oriented stages at the festival, partially because of the huge names that perform there, and also because of its grandiose dome-like structure that many will recognize as the same architecture behind Ultra’s Megastructure and EDC’s Circuit Grounds. The tent used to be much smaller, though, and void of the LED screens that now line the walls and ceiling.

Sahara is also the most “EDM” of the festival stages, with performing acts including Alesso, DJ Snake, Deorro, New World Punx, and David Guetta, though a definite curveball was definitely thrown when Ratatat closed the stage on Saturday.


Yuma, Weekend 1

Yuma and its famous shark disco ball is a bit of a newer animal, having only been present at the festival since 2013. However, it was a needed addition for multiple reasons. Firstly, there was not a suitable home for techno and deep house acts at the festival, as throwing them in the middle of sets at Sahara or Gobi would likely be too drastic of a change. Besides, everyone knows a big dark warehouse setting is where you want to see some proper techno anyway. Which leads to the next reason Yuma was a welcomed Coachella add-on: it’s entirely indoors. No sandstorms, no hundred-degree heat, no sound bleed–a true nightclub inside a festival.

2015’s Yuma lineup played host to acts like Annie Mac, Loco Dice, Danny Tenaglia, Tale Of Us, MK, Pete Tong, and a special b2b set between Jackmaster, Eats Everything, Skream, and Seth Troxler.

Shea Kopp contributed to this article.

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