Everything you need to know from Coachella Day 1
Everything you need to know from Coachella Day 1
Coachella 2015 has officially kicked off, bringing one of its most dance-heavy lineups to date. While DJs abounded the first day, the best electronic music was easily found outside of the Sahara Tent (with the exception of Porter Robinson, that is). As we’d hoped, the Yuma Tent offered the perfect underground platform for artists like Jon Hopkins and Erol Alkan to get to work. Meanwhile, the Outdoor Theatre and Gobi played host to some of the night’s biggest performances from Nero and Gorgon City.
Read on to check out everything you need to know from Day 1 of Coachella 2015.
Words by Michael Sundius; Photos by Stephen Bondio.
The Yuma Tent Is Just Right This Year
The Yuma Tent has gone through a variety of changes since its inception in 2013, but it’s safe to say Coachella have dialed it in to a T this year. While last year’s setup was significantly bigger than the year before, the L-shape of the tent ultimately felt a bit disjointed. This year it seems organizers have got it just right with the Yuma constructed like an egg and a greater emphasis emphasis on the DJ booth. The aesthetic hasn’t changed, with disco balls hanging like balloons across the ceiling and not an LED panel in sight.
Friday saw performers like Lee Foss, Erol Alkan, Jon Hopkins, and MK test the monstrous system to its capacity. Foss was a standout highlight early in the day, ditching his lighter deep house grooves for a darker, techier set. As predicted, Jon Hopkins delivered what was possibly the most engaging Yuma set of the day, showcasing some his brand of cinematic techno and electronica. MK finished off the night strong to a packed tent with a fine selection of house.
Perhaps most important for a tent like the Yuma is the sound system, and thankfully, this year’s is fine-tuned for house and techno. Though a bit low-end heavy in certain spots, a quick scout of the room will yield plenty of sweet spots.
Nero received a worldwide audience and didn't disappoint
Nero set out to make a statement on Friday night of Coachella. Not only were they perfectly positioned with a headlining set on the Outdoor Theatre, but the group’s entire performance was live streamed via YouTube for the world to see. For a group that prides themselves on secrecy, it was an affirming indication of their readiness to return to the spotlight of electronic music.
The move was compounded hours before, when the band formally announced their album Between Two Worlds, revealing the tracklist, release date, and title single.
With thousands of eyes on them, both in person and online, Nero delivered one of the most calculated performances of their career. Over the course of the hour, the trio would weave through Welcome Reality staples like “Guilt,” “Doomsday,” and “Me & You.” While tracks such as these served to amplify the crowd into a frenzy, the real story of the performance were the variety of new songs that made appearances. From a grime-infused dubstep track to more French-stylized midtempo and electro, Nero showcased plenty of new singles from the album without giving too much away.
Gorgon City are taking their live show to new heights
The evolution of Gorgon City has been a thrill to watch. In the last two years, the duo have taken the project from a collaboration between two underground artists to one of the more successful UK crossover acts in dance music. Friday night, the duo took on the Gobi stage for a live performance of their album Sirens. Having toured their live show extensively by this point, the group’s on-stage chemistry was clear.
Gorgon City included more than a few surprises in their set, from a Jennifer Hudson cameo to plenty of live improvisation on what appeared to be Roland’s new System-1 ARIA synth. At one point they asked the crowd, “who wants to get ravey?,” before proceeding to unleash an acidy old school beat with a 303-styled arp. Later performing a garage and dub-influenced track, a bemused audience member asked, “what is this? It’s not an EDM show…” The question summed up Gorgon City’s approach perfectly. While much of their music may be more commercial-leaning, it doesn’t feel right to classify them under the EDM umbrella. Rather, along with the likes of acts like Disclosure and Hot Natured, Gorgon City are taking the live performance elements of electronic music to new heights.
Porter Robinson debuted his new remix of Nero
While Nero was busy captivating the Outdoor Theatre, Porter Robinson was commanding a sizable crowd in the Sahara Tent. After the far-reaching success of Worlds, there’s a certain buzz surrounding the young producer that won’t be dying down anytime soon.
Amid plenty of staples from Porter’s debut album, the biggest surprise of the night was a brand new remix of Nero’s “The Thrill.” Coachella has become the festival to debut new tracks, and it comes as no surprise that Robinson chose this moment to unveil his remix. With a delicate take on the single, Porter’s new work is teeming with the fairytale-like wonder of his album. Alana Watson’s vocals feel right at home amid his oscillating super saws and twinkling arpeggios.