As we sit here at the office trying to decompress from a wild weekend out in the desert, we felt it necessary to pass along a few tips for those heading to the Coachella Music & Arts Festival this weekend. Based on this year’s experiences (and the past 5 years under our belts), there are a handful of sets that we suggest you not miss. Obviously this is all subjective depending on your own personal taste in music, but we will try and hit on some more genre-blending artists.
Goldenvoice curates one of the most diverse lineups of any festival in the world and we always suggest that you try to step outside your comfort zone at least a few times while there. Festivals like Coachella are all about opening yourself up to new things so taking the time to wander to another stage for 30 minutes can make all the difference in your weekend. Here are the 6 sets we urge you make it out to while you’re on the Polo Fields:
1) Shlohmo at Sunset (Gobi) – Friday
Without giving too much away, Goldenvoice gave the Gobi tent a facelift this year and in our opinion, it was for the better. The Gobi has played host to some of our favorite acts over the years (Flying Lotus, Daedelus, Nosaj Thing, etc.) and they gave it a classy spin this year by blacking out the inside and hanging crystal chandeliers from the rafters. It’s always nice to step out of the heat and feel as though you have just entered an unexplored territory. With a gorgeous sunset painting the Coachella skyline behind us, Shlohmo took the stage with a dimly lit sky and line of palm trees behind him. He then took the next 45 minutes to showcase his completely unique style of down-tempo, trippy hip hop blended with electronic elements. It was hands down one of the best sets of the weekend and a perfect way to lead into the night on the first day. The founder of the WEDIDIT Collective left us so pumped that we had done it and it was a flawless set-up for our next stop at Bonobo.
2) Bonobo (Mojave) – Friday
Simon Green, aka Bonobo, intricately pieced together one of the most amazing sets of the weekend. Although lately he tends to play a one man show, he brought a whole band of extremely talented musicians and vocalists along with him for this outing. The set was absolutely stunning and was a perfect example of the acid jazz / chillwave style that his fans have grown to know and love. From the bouncy opening notes of their hit song Cirrus to the slow, trickling last notes of Pieces, Bonobo orchestrated one of the cleanest instrumentally-driven sets we’ve seen this year. We look forward to catching him again if we make it out there this weekend.
3) Cajmere (Yuma) – Saturday
Cajmere, a side project of Curtis Jones aka Green Velvet, is known for being one of the forefathers of the Chicago house music scene. His Saturday evening set had our group of friends stuck in the Yuma until people literally came to pull us out for dinner. Cajmere is well-known for his hit song from 1992 called “Coffee (It’s Time for the Percolator),” which many of you have probably grooved to at some point in your life. This can be put simply – if you do not make it out to see Cajmere, you are doing yourself a huge disservice. He is one of the biggest party rockers to grace the decks and his energy is infectious. Plan on making it out for 15 minutes and I bet you’ll get stuck there like we did.
4) DARKSIDE (Gobi) – Saturday
DARKSIDE is one of the biggest up-and-coming acts that Goldenvoice booked for this year’s Coachella. Comprised of superstar DJ/producer Nicolas Jaar and multi-instrumentalist Dave Harrington, their live set is the epitome of a free-flowing jam session between guitar and DJ. They are one of the more experimental acts that you can catch this year and will take you on a journey from beginning to end. Even though they have only been performing together for about 6 months, they have honed in on something truly special and will only continue to get more in tune with each other. Their rendition of their hit single “Paper Trails” got every single body under the span of the Gobi tent moving in unison and singing along to the soulful lyrics.
5) Nas (Outdoor) -Saturday
Nas made it very clear why he is still one of the most recognized names in hip hop. His legendary album Illmatic is arguably the most influential album to come out of the early 90’s and he took the Outdoor stage Saturday night to play it cover to cover. Three songs into the album, Nas brought out the best special guest of the weekend. By now I’m sure most of you have heard but Jay-Z came out to perform a song that played a significant role in the chippy Nas / Jay-Z relationship. Starting off with “Dead Presidents II,” a song Jay-Z rarely performs, the whole crowd burst into applause. They then performed “Where I’m From” and Jay left the stage after congratulating Nas on 20 years of success. After finishing the rest of Illmatic, he went into “You Can Hate Me Now,” bringing Diddy onstage for some face time. By his last song, every other stage had shut down and he played “One Mic” to a eerily quiet Polo Fields. It was a perfect way to end Saturday night.
6) Laurent Garnier (Yuma) – Sunday
If you’re looking for the biggest dance party of the weekend, look no further than Laurent Garnier on Sunday night. This French techno legend, sandwiched between two live artists, was given a full two hours to let loose and turn the Yuma tent inside out. It was a thing of pure beauty and if you appreciate proper techno music, then this is where you want to be. We would go back just for this set if we could. Not only is the Yuma tent a dance music oasis, but it is equipped with air conditioners and a 5 foot long disco ball in the shape of a great white shark. It doesn’t get much better than that in our humble opinion.
Hopefully this write-up made you all that much more excited for this weekend as it rapidly approaches. If we muster up the energy to make it out again, maybe we’ll see some of you out there. Just remember that these shows are much more enjoyable with proper hearing protection and you will get your first taste of what we mean when you step foot in the Yuma. Stay safe out there and also remember to stay hydrated.
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