A Guide to Dance Music at Coachella

Don't miss a beat. From 1PM on Friday to 2AM on Monday morning, THUMP has you covered.

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Apr 8 2015, 7:55pm

It begins. Coachella, one of the world's most iconic music festivals, kicks off on Friday with three days and eight stages of the planet's leading artists.

Say what you want about AC/DC and Jack White, dance music represents strong on this year's lineup. So strong, in fact, that all those names and times might get a little confusing in the desert heat. With that in mind, we've put together an official guide to dance music at Coachella.

FRIDAY

Day one earlybirds will have a chance to catch both Duk and Turtle as Aussie bass peddlers Peking Duk and anthropomorphic Jersey club provocateur Trippy Turtle kick off the turn up in the marquee Sahara Tent at 1:20 and 2:30 respectively. Those looking to ease into things might slip into the shadier, clubbier climes of the Yuma Tent as local LA legend Marques Wyatt and Hot Creations hit boy Lee Foss bring the house vibes.

Just before the sun sets, world-beating "Hideaway" star Kiesza will rev you up for approximately 40 of her 45 minute set until she drops the only tune the casual fans know, THUMP's No. 1 Most Vital tune of 2014. And it will be worth it. At the same time, Keys N Krates will undergo the rare task of setting up a drum set on the Sahara stage for their bass-ed out live trap show and Azealia Banks will probably be starting some beef on the Coachella main stage in between renditions of her beat-heavy hits.

The Yuma Tent's first real treat of the day is UK techno producer Jon Hopkins. Back at the Sahara, future house gets its big day in the desert as Oliver Heldens graduates from afternoon sets to a magic hour performance and it should be a whole lot of fun. If you're more into sadboy vibes, prepare your feels for Ryan Hemsworth in the Mojave.

Hot Natured (AKA the K-Train Express) rolls into the Gobi Tent at 6:45. They've written some of the best dance-pop tracks in recent memory, but their inclusion of live elements—with Jamie Jones, Lee Foss, and Anabel Englund on stage—brings inconsistent results. Things could get very interesting. They're followed by UK house leaders Gorgon City who were playing the Do Lab this time last year, so this is a big win for the duo and their recently-minted live band.

The Sahara Tent in 2014 // Photo credit: Rukes

Consider the competition at 8:30 a celebration of the breadth of modern dance music. Indie-dance auteur Caribou will careen into the Mojave while next door, DJ Snake will drop a twerked-out bangerfest with enough middle eastern horns to match the desert vibes.

If you're in the mood to get tripped out by more than just music, head to The Do Lab to get a peek of The Lucent Dossier Experience at 7:30, or stop off at the Heineken Tent for a surprise A-Trak performance. (Just think of how many bottles of Heineken they dropped to pull his set away from a main stage.)

At 10:00, MK, Porter Robinson, Flying Lotus, Todd Terje and the Olsens, Nero, and Tame Impala are all playing at the same fucking time. All but one act is electronic dance music. When we say that dance music is taking over Coachella, we're not kidding. FlyLo, in the Mojave, should bring out all the stops for his homecoming to bring his jazzy (albeit morose) latest album to life. Nero at the Outdoor Stage is a mouthwatering affair; they've only released two tunes from their upcoming album and their set should be a peek into the gnarly heaters we all know they're hiding somewhere in the track listing.

Porter Robinson will be the first to bring a crossover crowd to the Sahara after hours and hours of bangers, but it'll revert to type as Alesso closes, likely with all the hits you can handle. In the Gobi, Squarepusher's extended closer will render your synapses asunder and leave you a glitched-out, quivering wreck at the end of Friday.

THUMP picks: Jon Hopkins, Oliver Heldens, Caribou, Porter Robinson, Nero, Squarepusher


SATURDAY

Electronic music gets an early start on Saturday as all-stars Nortec Collective kick off the Coachella stage out in the sun, followed by Grammy-winners Clean Bandit, who will ask the basic masses of the main stage: "So you think dance music is repetitive...repetitive...repetitive?"

Elsewhere, icons Bixel Boys will mob the Sahara Tent. It'll be a huge moment for the LA locals, but they'll have strong competition as UK live-producing mastermind (and Grammy-winning songwriter) Tourist will make a rare US appearance in the Gobi Tent with a near identical set time. Hashtag: coachellaproblems.

Around 2:00, the Goldenvoice booking squad will remember that female DJs exist with LA by-way-of NY DJ Lauren Lane in the Yuma and, fresh off her debut album release, Alison Wonderland in the Sahara. She'll be followed by crust-bass superstar Gramatik bringing the squelchy, heady bass vibes. Prepare yourself for the patchouli.

Hopefully the Yuma Tent will be a little more boppin' than this // Photo credit: Coachella.com

Yuma Tent, 4:25, Tale of Us: We'd suggest being there. The duo are deep house darlings at the moment and their recent Essential Mix is still on repeat around these parts. If you're feeling more booty-poppin', you've got options: Amsterdam twerk icons Yellow Claw, Ariana Grande's bestie Cashmere Cat, and bearded electro-crooner Chet Faker all perform concurrently elsewhere.

While New York house legend Danny Tenaglia and Cali-funked Brit DJ Harvey offer lessons on the art of being a DJ in the Yuma, Duke Dumont well be basking in the bright and shiny lights all around him as he gets a big shot at the Sahara Tent.

In the dance-adjacent space, FKA Twigs will fill the Gobi tent with her wide-eyed, trippy neo-soul and Tycho will lull you into an electronically-wound post-rock swell-fest in the Mojave. Loco Dice will harsh up the Yuma tent with some harder-edged techno while the Outdoor Theatre won't know what hit it when Flosstradamus' HDY Nation wreck the place.

Ratatat will enjoy a buoyant return to their throne by closing out the Sahara tent on Saturday, as masked electro-soul producer SBTRKT will vibe out the Mojave. Afterwards, the world's most famous backslash-joined duo, Axwell /\ Ingrosso will try their best to recreate the magic of the Mafia at Coachella. Annie Mac rounds things out at the Yuma in what will be a huge occasion for one of the BBC's favorite selectors. On your way out, check back at the otherworldy Do Lab for Ooah of The Glitch Mob closing things out.

THUMP picks: Tourist, Tale of Us, Cashmere Cat, FKA Twigs, Loco Dice, Ratatat, Annie Mac.

SUNDAY

The Sahara gets going later than usual on Sunday when dirty bearded Dirtybird Claude VonStroke brings weirdo-house to the big stage. He'll be followed by What So Not, and hey, we're telling you now: Flume is not in What So Not anymore, so don't get all sadgirl when you see no Harley. Even after arming a generation of pretenders to Aussie bass, it's good to remember that What So Not was doing it first.

Panda Bear and RAC will toe the line of dance and indie in the Mojave (even though nobody at a Panda Bear set dances). Instead, John Talabot in the Yuma tent at 4:00 will bring perfect daytime vibes. The Spaniard has an iron grasp on deep, clever, engaging house music. Following him is a poetry reading by velvet-voiced Jason Bentley. Just kidding. He'll probably be playing music in between hosting the Goldenvoice livestream all weekend. Berghain hits the Polo Field as the steely-gazed Ben Klock will wave the flag of techno in the desert as part of a stacked day at the Yuma.

Kaskade will be dance music's only big shot on the Coachella Stage, and only for 50 minutes at that. He'll warm up the crowd for Florence and the Machine, and then we can all go back to the other side of the festival.

Get your dance moves ready // Photo credit: YourEDM

At 9:00, David Guetta will try not to repeat his Tomorrowland 2014 performance at the Sahara, and Jackmaster, Eats Everything, Skream and Seth Troxler will act out dance music's version of The Hangover in Indio under their new JESuS moniker (billed here as J.E.S.+S.).

Gesaffelstein in the Mojave Tent will be chaos. The blasé and eternally smoking Frenchman could turn a liturgical reading into a dystopian bacchanal, and a late slot at Coachella is a career-defining moment for the pop-industrial producer. What follows is probably the most vast stylistic switch-up possible within the confines of dance music as Gessafelstein leads into thick-necked Norwegian Kygo. If you love one, you probably hate the other, so don't be surprised to see a tussle or two when the post-Gesaf exodus and trop-house arrival goes down.

The Gobi tent ends the festival in with a triumvirate of Jamie xx, college-girl-crushes ODESZA, and Montreal future-everything producer Kaytranada each right after the other. If you're feeling a swerve, definitely check out M.A.N.D.Y. closing out The Do Lab.

THUMP picks: Claude VonStroke, John Talabot, Ben Klock, Gesaffelstein, Kaytranada

Check out this map for more info. See you in the desert. If not, SiriusXM will be playing the whole fest: