Is it Official? Has Dance Music Taken Over Coachella?
Drake is a techno DJ.
The lineup to the very first Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in 1999 was a testament to leftist sonics from all over the musical spectrum. Sure, Rage Against the Machine and Beck headlined the dusty 'lil shindig out in the desert, but further down the bill featured the likes of A-Trak, Amon Tobin, Roni Size, Carl Craig, Spiritualized, and Moby.
As Coachella ascended to one of the dominant cultural institutions in festival culture, its lineups pulled towards the mainstream and trends in societal tastes. This time ten years ago, for example, dance music was relegated to a backseat as guitar-driven indie culture populated the bill from top to bottom.
Perhaps an early bellwether for the changing tides was Daft Punk's legendary performance in 2006. From that point on, whatever electronic scene was experiencing a crescendo at the time was well represented. Electro, dubstep, big room and trap have all had their moments as the percentage of dance acts inched higher and higher.
In 2013, the addition of the much-lauded Yuma Tent totally changed the festival's relationship with deeper house and techno acts not particularly fit for massive stages. The intimate, club-like atmosphere of the 2013 Yuma Tent had doubled in size by 2014 and it was never left wanting for attendees.
Still, 2015 is perhaps the year that the line-up has officially tilted towards dance music. Sure, the lumbering headliners like AC/DC and Jack White still wield axes, but in looking at the cultural capital on display, what matters most on this lineup is electronic. Even with Alesso, Axwell /\ Ingrosso and David Guetta at the top, Goldenvoive has moved well-beyond pandering to EDM. In fact, there's a vast array of electronic talent on display that ranges from future bass to minimalist techno. The list below doesn't even include The Do Lab's programming, yet to be announced, which will be almost entirely electronic, in addition to whatever sponsored activations are brought in this year, which are also typically DJ-heavy.
It has to be mentioned, that with all of these DJs, producers and electronic music makers headed to Indio, there is a marked dearth of women. In fact, even as Coachella has continued to diversify its lineup in terms of genre, it has doubled down on its status as a bro-fest. Alison Wonderland, Kiesza and Clean Bandit are outliers in a list of dudes (see below). This is not a new trend, nor is it exclusive to Coachella, but as dance music festivals lag in creating gender parity on their lineups, it's incumbent on Goldenvoice's talent buyers to be aware of what they're getting when they tighten their grip on electronic music.
Good festivals aren't ones that react to the whims and fancies of their fans but rather anticipate them. Coachella has maintained its relevance by being flexible with its musical identity and as we come to the halfway point of this decade, that means embracing electronic music, not as an outside force, but as the driving force behind music culture. There's no reason to quesiton how long this will last (forever and ever, of course), but there's still time to question what it will look like and conciously shape the future of the festival and music itself.
See you on the dancefloor.
Electronic Music Artists at Coachella 2015
Alesso, Nero, Azealia Banks, Flying Lotus, Lykke Li, DJ Snake, Porter Robinson, Caribou, Todd Terje and the Olsens, Hot Natured, Squarepusher, Kiesza, Gorgon City, Sylvan Esso, Erol Alkan, Kele, Keys N Krates, MK, Pete Tong, Alvin Risk, Chris Malinchak, Jon Hopkins, Oliver Heldens, Ryan Hemsworth, Jason Bentley, Marques Wyatt (26 electronically-inclined of 48 total)
The Weeknd, Axwell /\ Ingrosso, Ratatat, Flosstradamus, SBTRKT, FKA Twigs, Deorro, Tycho, Chet Faker, Toro y Moi, Danny Tenaglia, Loco Dice, Gaslamp Killer, Alison Wonderland, Glass Animals, Clean Bandit, Gramatik, What So Not, Yellow Claw, DJ Harvey, Tale of Us, Yelle, Carl Craig, Cashmere Cat, Tourist, Matthew Koma, Bixel Boys, Until the Ribbon Breaks (28 electronically-inclined of 60 total)
Kaskade, David Guetta, Madeon, Stromae, Odesza, Kygo, Gesaffelstein, RAC, Jamie xx, Martin Solveig, Duke Dumont, Panda Bear, J.E.S.S., Kaytranada, R3hab, Dirty South, Guy Gerber, Cedric Gervais, Claude VonStroke, John Talabot, Dubfire, Ben Klock, Annie Mac, Mo, Doc Martin, TINI (26 electronically-inclined of 54 total)