Exploring Indio: Day One at Coachella, ‘Yuma, Yuma, Yuma’
The lush green grass of The Empire Polo Club grounds swelled with half-naked twenty-somethings, bustling and buzzing like tributaries of people cutting through the crowd, flowing forth to the each of Coachella‘s six stages. The massive tents provided little relief from the desert’s sweltering heat, but underneath the Yuma tent, where Luciano would close that evening, was an air-conditioned safe haven. For those daring enough to brave the heat, the Sahara tent presented a spread of talent, including Boys Noize and Skrillex as the tandem Dog Blood. Our first day spent in Indio was defined by the Sahara and Yuma tents – and they will likely define the rest of our stay here.
Dillon Francis‘s mid afternoon set at the upgraded Sahara tent made a statement to those that would follow, setting the crowd into a frenzy of moombahton and trap-induced flailing. The day continued through the effortless mixing and mashing of Thomas Gold, the frantic electro house of Tommy Trash and then Nicky Romero, where Sick Individuals remix of Nicky’s latest hit “Symphonica” was one of the high points of the day’s festivities. His inaugural appearance at Coachella was a memorable one, featuring 2 unreleased edits and heaps of big room appeal.
The day continued to ramp up with Dog Blood‘s performance, a set that transformed the inside of the tent into a maelstrom of drum and bass, hip hop, electro, dubstep and garage, highlighted by Disclosure‘s “Latch” – the perfect momentary respite from the fiery assault of heavy electronica. Challenged with the task of keeping up the energy after Boys Noize and Skrillex closed out, Wolfgang Gartner rose to the occasion, delivering a delightfully tight electro house set into the late hours of the day.
Bassnectar closed out in much the same way he always does – with an unrelenting wall of sound that bounces around your ribcage and makes your hair stand up on the back of your neck.
For fans of dance music, the mysterious new Yuma Tent was probably the most exciting addition to this year’s festival. With the popularity of deep house, tech house, and techno skyrocketing on both coasts this year, it only made sense that Goldenvoice would know there was a demand for music outside of the regular Sahara Tent talent.
Not only was the Yuma Tent hosting artists on the deeper side of dance music, but the tent itself was a sight to be seen. Have you ever wondered what it would look like if a nightclub popped up in the middle of the desert? The Yuma Tent was just that — wood floors, shining disco balls, faux Baroque portraiture, and couches lining the sides of the room. Although at many points throughout the first day of Coachella, the line to enter Yuma was intimidatingly long, the event organizers did well controlling the size of the crowd inside the tent.
Our group entered Yuma around 6pm, just in time for Four Tet — the post-rock electronica DJ who most definitely took an abstract approach to his early evening set. I wasn’t really sure if I had built up expectations for his set, but he controlled the crowd in a way I have rarely seen in the past. He drew out aggressively long builds with elements of live instrumentation and obvious improvisation. It was much more of a show than a DJ set, people seemed to be genuinely listening to the set, anxiously anticipation which direction Kieran would head next.
After 90 minutes, the legendary DJ Harvey took over the decks. Harvey, donning a cowboy hat, stringy hair, and an old statesman kind of look, immediately brought the crowd back into a higher state of consciousness, pumping out straightforward house classics and turning up the energy of the tent again. About 45 minutes in, he started a ten minute mix out of Julio Bashmore’s remix of Bobby Womack’s “Love Is Gonna Lift You Up” — hitting a stride for both the crowd and himself. His mixing was masterful and his control showed a level of sophistication reserved for a DJ who has seen the growth and change of house music for over 20 years.
Seth Troxler was set to take over a 9pm, and it’s unclear exactly what was going on with technical difficulties or the like, but Harvey ended up taking over for a bit longer and Luciano, originally set to play at 10:45pm, began his set at 10:15pm.
Luciano has an uncanny ability to bring his feel-good Vagabundos party brand into whatever venue or atmosphere he chooses and as soon as he took over in Yuma it was clear that Coachella would be no different. There is something that is so indescribably bold about Luciano’s DJing — it’s literally impossible not to move your body to his music. If the other DJs before him were filling the tent with sound, Luci was blowing off the roof. With many other solid choices for closing acts that night, Yuma was in no way at capacity, but for revelers who chose to stay for the sexy minimal techno associated with the Cadenza family, there was no shortage of joy.
Cara Daley and Andrew Spada contributed to this article.