Last year, the story out of Coachella dance-land was the inauguration of a swank new indoor tent and a shift away from superstars to more underground sensibilities. This year? It’s a bit more of, well, everything.
Unlike last year, there are a few mega-Vegas-residency stars atop the bill. Calvin Harris and Skrillex need no introduction here, and peers like Alesso, Krewella and a (much-improving) Dillon Francis are waiting in the wings.
Martin Garrix is this year’s Avicii-circa-2012 entry: a dashing and frightfully young (17!) northern European producer with a monster single (“Animals,” which has topped 120 million views on YouTube). Garrix’s track is a jerking, playful instrumental, which maybe limits its pop-crossover appeal. But he’s at the precipice of fame, and Coachella could be the set that seals it.
Disclosure’s “Settle” was widely acclaimed as the best dance LP of the year, and if the duo's escalated its live-instrument-centric set, the pair could leave the dance tents entirely for top-tier headliner status at some point.
Pet Shop Boys’ Saturday show is a winning throwback with contemporary cachet; the Knife’s goth-feminist noise-opera Friday will be one of the weekend’s most enticingly weird; and L.A. dubsteppers-gone-prog Glitch Mob are above the fold for the first time, signaling that someone at Goldenvoice thinks they have a breakout coming.
On the underground side of things, the bookings went all-in on the Crosstown Rebels archipelago of Damian Lazarus, Guy Gerber, Art Department and Maceo Plex (its mix of brainy-pool-party jams with dark-techno undercurrents has been a summer staple in L.A. for years). Elsewhere, Darkside will get a chance to prove that its wonky space-jazz jams hold up in a big tent.
Old Chicago house heads will get kicks at Cajmere; the indie-house kids will find theirs at Tiga, Austra (whose “Olympia” was unjustly slept on), Holy Ghost and Bicep. There’s some welcome gender parity in the smaller dance tents, with the rowdy Aussie Anna Lunoe, the appropriately chilly Siberian producer Nina Kraviz and in the polyglot techno of Nigerian-Lebanese-Londoner Nicole Moudaber. And the stoned post-dubstep nods of R.L. Grime and Shlohmo will keep security guards looking for your edibles stash.
Is there a giant shift in vision in all this? No. But this acknowledgement of the many shades of dance music at Coachella, and how central it all is to the plot of the festival, is self-evident.
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