Amidst the crazy sea of hipsters, hippies, old folks, pre-teens and babies(!), the first weekend of Coachella was also packed with EDM revelers ready to get their fist-pumping music fix over the course of the three-day bacchanal. In fact, it seems that dance music lovers are growing in numbers, so much that every other car in line at the campgrounds checking in on Thursday was blasting some sort of EDM anthem.
The festival even dedicated a new stage to the more underground side of house music in the form of the new Yuma Tent this year. So now that we've come home briefly from the dust storms and nursed our massive hangovers, it's time to reflect on the top five EDM Coachella highlights for weekend one.
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5. Pete Tong No stranger to Coachella, Pete Tong was added to the line up last minute and, to our delights, it was at the new Yuma Tent powered by Hollywood's Sound Nightclub. This club-style dome was giving the Sahara Tent a run for it's money as lines to get inside were up to an hour long. It was totally worth it though with disco balls, air conditioning, wood floors, couches and dim lights with LED displays all around. Tong showed Coachella what an Ibiza-style party is like setting the tone for Yuma for the rest of the weekend. He played an incredible deep tech house set which combined musical quality with a sense of escapism for the grown ups who may have outgrown the rave scene, but still rejoice in the music. Sure he may be radio's #1 dance music broadcaster, but he is also a taste maker in his own right and knows just what kind of tracks will get the crowd grooving. A definite must see for weekend two.
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4. Cassy International house and techno DJ Cassy Britton made her Coachella debut in the Yuma Dome last Saturday evening, and to her surprise, she played an incredible deep extended set after the legendary Richie Hawtin had technical difficulties with his equipment. Combining swagger into her classic house sound, Cassy is one of the few females who plays mostly vinyl sets even in this male-dominated industry. Playing a slew of new tracks and deep house favorites, she brought the European Berlin discothèques she's used to spinning at stateside. Devoted to her craft, she is also a singer who blends traditionalism with her own deep grooves. Not only did we love her debut, we enjoyed hearing this underground sound which rarely makes it to the big festivals in the states.
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3. Major Lazer Since we last saw Major Lazer at Coachella in 2010 on the Mojave Tent, Grammy-nominated Diplo has parted ways with Switch and added Jillionaire, Walshy Fire and some hot dancers to the live Major Lazer show experience. On Saturday afternoon they pulled out all the stops and made sure the Gobi Tent was turnt the fuck up! Dressed in their suits and ties, the guys brought an insane amount of energy, playing an eclectic mix of everything from tracks on the new Free The Universe album, trap to entice "Harlem Shakes" and even island beats much like on their tour. Flags, inflatable balls and animals where flying all through the sea of people jumping up and down as Diplo even got into a giant ball and rode into the crowd. They ended with hugs and an epic Andy C remix of "Get Free" which had enough drum & bass to make everyone shake it far beyond their "Pon de Floor" days.
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2. Hardwell Always a fan favorite and currently an industry leader, the 25-year-old DJ and producer was a stand out act at the Sahara Tent. Even after shouting "Ultra, are you ready?" he quickly recovered and gave one of the most banging sets of the weekend. There's a reason why he won "Best European DJ" and "Best Remixer" at this year's International Dance Music Awards in Miami. On Sunday night, the Dutch selector unleashed a jam packed set of mash-ups, remixes and his own originals. He didn't give the crowd any break as he kept the energy going hard for his entire hour set. Incorporating old favorites like Empire of the Sun's "Walking on a Dream," the vocals had everyone singing along in harmony. The crowd was probably the largest we saw at the Sahara and rightfully so -- he is one of the few new artist who has mastered the art of producing hits and still reading the crowd when he plays at big festivals or clubs.
1. Eric Prydz Eric Prydz is one of the few DJs out there who opts to play his own melodic progressive sound rather than a playlist of Beatport's Top 40. As he closed down the Sahara tent Sunday evening, we really couldn't have asked for anything more. Unlike Deadmau5 who normally puts you to sleep at a festival, Eric submerses you into his music and takes you on a journey like a true DJ should. He teased the crowd with one of the longest intros ever filled with top notch production of LED lights and fog yet kept things simply flawless. By the time he dropped his M83 remix of Midnight City (which he was nominated for a Grammy for this year), the crowd was bursting with anticipation and fell captive to the next 20 minutes which included his remix of Depeche Mode's "Personal Jesus" and ended with his original track "Everyday." Knowing he is a man of spontaneity, we recommend checking him out this week as well. And you never know when he might drop our all-time favorite jam, "Pjanoo."
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