Coachella 2012: All Of The Lights
Coachella is always the highlight of my year. For five years in a row I roughed it in the scorching heat and danced my heart out sandwiched in the Sahara tent, always stuck between two morbidly foul smelling people who of course had no concept of personal space. Nonetheless, without fail I left the festival already wishing it was that time of year again.
This year it came and although it was not scorching and instead was windy and drizzling, the talent, the lights, the vibes, and the company were better than ever before. There’s nothing like that rush of adrenaline that shoots up your body from your feet to your heart as you walk the dirt path towards the white tents in the distance, and then once you’ve passed security the smell of sunscreen and grass that fills the air and doesn’t leave your nostrils for a week.
This year’s Coachella was different than years past though. The artwork that once mesmerized crowds seemed to be absent. I found out quickly where the spectacle was on the first night, and I was far from disappointed.
After illegally hopping a barrier that separated a good view of the main stage from an insanely amazing view of Swedish House Mafia and all their splendor, I was hit with a beat that took me out of this world. The lighting and visual effects that accompanied the hour and a half set were like nothing I had ever seen at Coachella before.
The sky was completely lit up around me and laser beams drew patterns over layers of fog and smoke that billowed from the top of the stage structure. As I glanced around me at the group of 30 USC students I was immersed in, not one person returned my stare. Each and every person in the crowd was in utter amazement at the visuals and crystal clear sound that emanated from just a few feet in front of us.
The lighting created an optical illusion that made the DJs look as if they were in a large neon house that flashed various colors and patterns dictated by the beats and rhythms playing. It was only after the DJs finished their set that the audience realized they were on earth at Coachella.
Not only is Swedish House Mafia a combination of a few of the best DJs in the world, but every song they play is a single on its own so the crowd is continuously hyped and at its full energy level. Unlike other DJ sets, Swedish House Mafia is able to remain at their highest peak for an entire set.
The other headliners utilized the amazing visual capacity of the main stage to jaw dropping effects including The Black Keys and Radiohead. The Black Keys and Radiohead both incorporated music video-type scenic images that portrayed the bands’ individuality and demeanor to the crowd, making their legendary music all the more unique for Coachella viewers.
Radiohead featured tilted screens that showed close-up images of the band as they were playing, providing a mirror image effect. The screens also depicted artistic lighting and aesthetically pleasing movement that swayed the crowed and drew them into the mystical sounds of Radiohead’s unique melodies.
Ultimately, the money spent on the stages themselves rather than individual art pieces was well worth it. The Coachella experience was amplified greatly by the improved lighting and sound quality, making the individual concerts part of an epic, broader experience that will never be repeated at another venue.
Reach Zoe Chait here.