Coachella 2012 Day 1: How Amon Tobin redefined electronic music in the desert

Upon arriving at the polo grounds for Coachella 2012, it was readily apparent that this festival was nothing like those that I frequent back on the East coast. Gone were the bizarrely dressed, pre-teen ravers – instead, fashion-conscious, faux hippi

es took their place. Goldenvoice chose Indio, California for its predictable weather and comfortable climate. It might rain 5 times a year here. Yesterday just happened to be one of those days. Thankfully, the storm that hit California’s coast earlier in the day had lost much of its steam as it barreled towards the festival, bringing with it a wave of cold air that chilled concertgoers. The more creatively dressed Coachellites were forced to abandon their outfits for hoodies and jeans.

Electronic music’s meteoric rise in the last year was fully represented by the massive mob packed underneath the Sahara tent, spilling out of the tent and onto the adjacent lawns. In past years the Sahara tent was an afterthought, with the indie acts taking precedence – but not yesterday. All eyes were on Madeon, Alesso, and Afrojack during their sets, and if it weren’t for M83, I would have never left the Sahara tent.

As M83’s Anthony Gonzalez took the stage to deliver their massive hit “Midnight City,” its countless remixes flashed through my memory. In a scene so flush with remixes, edits, and bootlegs it is easy to forget what made those remixes so special in the first place – the original.

While most of the festival was fixated on headliners Swedish House Mafia, Amon Tobin delivered what could only be described as electronic performance art. I had heard about his insane stage and visual production earlier this year and made it a personal goal to see what all the hype was about. A seemingly senseless barrage of sounds exploded out of the 3D edifice as Amon transformed the Mojave tent into his own personal spaceship. When an opaque window was suddenly illuminated to reveal that our captain was within one of the projection cubes, the crowd erupted. This was EDM for the thinking man, and spectators watched in awe as the projection shot us through space. There was no 4 to the floor beat, no builds or drops, no pitchbends or wobbles – just a euphony of noise. There really is nothing I can say to do it justice. No photo could ever represent the showmanship and risks that ISAM (Amon’s live performance) takes. If you consider yourself more than just a casual electronic music fan, you need to watch the video below to get a sense of the visual and aural assault: it’s inexplicably awesome. I guarantee that you’ll make the same choice I did and skip out on the big name headliner for something wildly unique.


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