The first weekend of Coachella 2014 was a brute collision of the biggest names in music, the most beautiful people in the country and the most tenacious brands, who sought to wedge themselves “authentically” into the festival scene.
But what is that scene?
Coachella begins (though event producer Goldenvoice would never admit to it) with the countless poolside soirees where radio stations, magazines and fashion brands keep the cups filled and the burgers flipped for tastemakers and party hoppers in-the-know. For better or for worse, this scene has escalated in the last 5 years and pool parties now flank the festival in all directions from as far away as 20 miles. This is the see-and-be-seen of Coachella.
Of course, we haven’t even entered the festival grounds yet. During Coachella, the campgrounds become a temporary tent village, housing a large cadre of hyper enthused, neon-wielding youth. Due to the heat conditions of the desert and the profoundly stacked lineup, the campgrounds are mostly used for quick wardrobe changes and disco naps, though a few after-parties, most notably “The Jive Joint,” raged on into the wee hours.
Then there are the grounds of Coachella proper. Essentially the same as years past, the festival sprawls across the Empire Polo Field, where the five main stages rise up like mountains amidst countless large-scale art installations. Throughout these mountain ranges and valleys, flocks of beautiful, under-dressed and over-privileged creatures wander, often face down in their mobile device, creating a psychedelic migration of flesh and flash that moves until the final Sunday night performances wrap.
In the most notable landscape change of the year, world-renowned event producers The Do LaB had their prized center-of-the-grounds stage moved to a more remote location at the south end of the field. What they lost in centrality they gained in additional real estate, increased autonomy and deeper loyalty from devotees who made the slightly longer trek to the tent. The fervor of those who congregated at The Do LaB stage was thankfully not diminished by the new location, proving that although The Do LaB is no longer at the center of Coachella, it is arguably still the heart.
And if The Do LaB is the heart of Coachella, Lucent Dossier Experience is the soul. LDE headlined the Gobi Stage Sunday night in a wildly anticipated official headlining slot. Lead fearlessly by front woman Dream Rockwell and buttressed by caravan of profoundly talented (and flexible) performers, LDE is akin to a more sultry Cirque Du Soleil, viewed on acid, performed by jewel thieves, trained by gypsies—then lit on fire.
With The Do LaB now adjacent to the Sahara Tent, where EDM royals Skrillex and Zedd played to crowds numbering in the tens of thousands, there is now a polarizing reality at Coachella. The guitar-laden rock of the main Coachella Stage artists at one end of the field were unintentionally pitted against the bass-steeped, electronic music DJs at the other end. Will the cell telophase? Will the teeter-totter one day snap? Ever since that fateful moment when Bob Dylan struck the opening lick on an electric guitar at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965, we knew this day would come.
Read on. [Words and images by The Confluence]