As far as audience archetypes go, the EDM bro might be the most maligned in all of dance music. Much of this friction stems from the fact that EDM bros are the most obvious examples of straight, white males commandeering dance culture from its queer, minority roots—of the mainstream appropriating the underground into its own image. Plus, these large, sweaty, shirtless men in neon swimming trunks are considered obnoxious, inconsiderate, basic, lecherous—a scourge on the dancefloor writ large.
By virtue of its size and diverse programming, Coachella, more than any other festival, is a cultural melting pot. Which means that instead of comfortably hating on EDM bros from a distance, I had the opportunity to hang out with them in-person, and find out if they really are the monsters that the dance community makes them out to be—or if it's partly a projection. After all, isn't dance music supposed to be about inclusivity, regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation? Even if they're fist-pumping to The Chainsmokers instead of stroking their chins to The Black Madonna, aren't EDM bros going to festivals for the same reasons most of us are—music, partying, community, sex, fun?
To investigate further, I went to their natural habitat—the notoriously bro-y beer garden by the Sahara Tent—and asked people who looked like EDM bros if they identified as EDM bros, and if the stereotypes placed upon them are fair. Below, THUMP presents a Coachella-themed anthropological study: Self-Awareness and the EDM Bro. The results will shock, delight, and confuse you.
Carl, Spencer, and Pete
THUMP: Would you guys identify as EDM bros?
Probably not. We're just music fans.
What's the difference between them and yourselves?
They're jacked guys that are kind of douches. With us, I think there's more of an appreciation for different genres of music, more than just EDM, which is that big room house stuff that the mainstream is all over. But let's be honest, there's nothing wrong with being an EDM bro. If that's what makes you happy, that's fine. But at the same time, an EDM bro is gonna walk into John Digweed [who's playing] in 15 minutes and get pissed off. That's what I don't understand.
Cody, Mike, and Aaron
What did you guys just come from?
Major Lazer. Diplo. It's all I wanted to see today.
Would you guys self-identify as EDM bros?
Uh, yeah. [Everyone laughs]
What does being an EDM bro entail?
Raving. Bitches. Pills. At the end of the day, that's what it is.
What would you say about the reputation EDM bros have?
Douchebags. Losers. Girls think we're losers.
What would you say to all the haters if you had a chance?
Fuck it! Have fun! We're all young. You don't need to be a hater.
What was the last thing you saw?
Honestly, I come here because all my friends are here; I don't come for the musical acts. But I think it was Thomas Jack, right here in the Sahara Tent. The place I always hang out is the beer garden here—it's always a good time. I graduated college about four years ago, and I come here to hang out with all my friends from college that I wouldn't run into normally.
You're obviously in very good shape—would you identify as an EDM bro?
Honestly, I don't know one DJ.
Hey can I ask you guys a couple questions?
I took a molly pill, and I'm about to rage my face off over there in about ten minutes: Baauer. It's going to be literally insane, so you have about six minutes to pitch me.
Would you identify as EDM bros?
No. Absolutely not. I don't really like EDM when I'm just hanging out. For festivals, there's no question that I wanna go to [see] electronic music and just rage with all my friends. Day partying is the best, and electronic music just amplifies that.
It must be fun to work out a lot and then go to a place where it's cool to have your shirt off.
Um, this is actually the first time I've had my shirt off. I'm trying to be a little more conservative. I have a girlfriend now, so showing off to other females is less on my radar. But obviously, stating your dominance at a thing like this is never a bad thing.
Hugo and Carlos
What did you just see?
We were in there [Sahara Tent]. We don't even know what we were watching.
You guys are on a good one, huh?
How would you define what an EDM bro is?
Uh, a white, ripped, beefy person. Rich white kids with low intelligence. I went to a private school, so there were a lot of them.
And how are you guys different?
Not white. We're not frat guys...And we're pretty gay.
Dave and Connor
What did you guys just see?
We just came from The Do LaB. Shit was getting fuckin' nasty. They had the water comin' down, the tribal bump was goin'—there's a lot of energy getting down. As a matter of fact, my pants are still soaked and the problem is that I feel like my balls are gonna be wet for the next four hours.
Would you identify as EDM bros?
EDM bros? No. I like all kinds of stuff, not just EDM.
What else are you gonna see today?
The 1975. We're obviously gonna see The Chainsmokers. They always put on a great show. It's always good to work in two or three things you haven't seen before. But to be honest, I'm gonna spend most of my time running from The Do LaB to the Sahara. The first time I came, I was straight main stage. I didn't even know there were other stages. And now you start to delve into stranger names, you start to feel more comfortable with the people out there. Every time I find out about some cool, new music.
How are you guys different from EDM bros?
To break down your stereotype of the EDM bro: Yes, we have our shirts off. Yes, we have sunglasses on. Yes, we have hats on. I'm gonna be fist-pumping like a motherfucker in about twenty minutes. But it's just a facade. We're trying to smoke the beehive. If women like that, that's what they're gonna find! But also, we've got more to it than that. There's obviously a lot more going on beneath the surface. Like a duck's feet, man, we're moving real fast under the water.
Jemayel Khawaja is THUMP's Editor-at-Large - @JemayelK