Coachella 2016: Winners and Losers

Yeah, we went both weekends.
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Winner: DJ Koze in The Yuma Tent
Many artists have showcased their talent on the decks inside the Yuma tent since its inception back in 2013. Our first big memory of the Yuma tent that year was on Saturday night when numerous hard drives crashes brought Richie Hawtin's closing set to it's knees, with Cassy gleefully picking up the slack. The tent, with its smooth wood floors and infamous disco-ball shark hanging over the DJ booth, doesn't always lend itself to memorable sets the way that the rest of Coachella does, but if you are lucky enough to find yourself relaxing inside the air-conditioned oasis when an artist like DJ Koze takes over the controls, you will quickly begin to see the appeal of being able to lose yourself at a nightclub within a festival. At one point during his set, Koze blended his stunningly rhythmic remix of Moderat's "Bad Kingdom" into last years absolute burner of a track "XTC," showing his mixing and track-selection prowess by giving the crowd exactly what they wanted: A flawless set filled with eclectic, driving tracks mixed with the type of precision and thoughtfulness that only DJ Koze can deliver—his set from weekend one stood out so much that the festival moved him to a later slot for weekend two.

Nic Fanciulli performs in the Yuma tent at Coachella, in Indio, CA, USA, on 22 April, 2016.

Nic Fanciulli performs in the Yuma tent at Coachella, in Indio, CA, USA, on 22 April, 2016.

Winner: Nic Fanciulli
XLR8R stood under a palm tree with the Saved Records label-head and one of the festival’s standout DJs.

What kind of socks are you wearing to Coachella today Nic? I see you are rocking some serious white on white trainers there. Very nice.
None! I am very happy with these shoes and I don't see the need for socks.

Tell us about your relationship with Coachella. How long have you been coming out here?
You know what is funny? I have never played here before, but about 10 years ago I was booked to play Coachella and I cancelled. I didn't know where Coachella was and I had a friends birthday—I haven't been invited back for ten years! That’s my love affair with Coachella and now it has grown into one of the best festivals in the world. Coachella definitely sets the benchmark for all other festivals.

Can you tell us a bit about your new residency in Ibiza called We Are The Night?
We Are The Night is going to be my first solo residency in Ibiza. I've been traveling to Ibiza for 16 years, and we did La Familia the last three years with Joris Voorn, so now I am getting ready for something new and to start my own project. The night is going to be held at Pacha, one of the original clubs of Ibiza, so that is very exciting to me.

Will you share any of the names of the special guests you will have at the party?
I can't share any of them just yet, but just know that when the lineup comes out, be ready because it is going to be massive! We have an amazing lineup so far. Milo and I have been working on it for a long time so we will definitely share that news when it is ready.

You have a festival that you produce in Kent, UK called The Social Festival. Can you tell us a little bit about this year's addition?
Well this is our fourth year and we have not gone bankrupt, so that's great! Honestly it's a labor of love, as you can see by our lineup. There is no way that we are going to give our fans anything but the best of the best. When you look at the lineup and you see names like Andy Weatherall, Laurent Garnier, Sasha & Digweed, and Carl Cox, along with the next generation of performers like Guy Gerber and Paranoid London, you can see how much passion we put into this project. Also, to have this festival take place in Kent where I grew up and where I still have friends and family is very special to me. To be able to host a festival like this outside of a major city is incredible for all of us.

Are you going to see Underworld today?
Haha, yes. For the 50 millionth time! I grew up with bands like Underworld, The Chemical Brothers, and Daft Punk, and these are the acts that bridged the gap for me between being in a band and being a DJ. Coachella is really great for these type of crossover acts.

Anything coming up in the future that we should know about?
I'm getting ready to drop my very first album later on this year. I can't share any more details than that, but it will be late this year and the people that I have working with me on this record are absolutely amazing. I can't wait till I can talk more about it and I will make sure that XLR8R will be the first to know.

Winner: Underworld
Not enough can be said about the duo from Essex whose live performances bridge the gap between beautiful burnout trance and poetic rave. With Underworld’s latest album, Barbara, Barbara, We Face a Shining Future, Karl Hyde and Rick Smith have once again shown how in-tune their production and songwriting process can truly be. Underworld had not performed at Coachella since 2003 and, since that day, long time Coachella attendees have been waiting for the day where they would return to the desert. The performance at Coachella this year on weekend one was on another level, but certainly went by too quickly and also seemed to be a bit lost on the crowd in the Sahara tent that evening. When you have a live act that performs tracks that are in excess of nine minutes in length, it can make it feel like they are getting forced to exit the stage right when they are just getting into a groove. Hits like “Rez” and “Born Slippy” truly brought the house down with Hyde up front conjuring the crowd like a true magician. The performance as a whole was truly brilliant, but you don't have to take our word for it, find a friend that has the webcast on their DVR, and bask in the brain-melting sound.

Winner: Sia
Australian artist Sia was arguably the most mind-blowing performance at the festival. Her voice was remarkable to the point of sounding like a recording, which is even more unbelievable considering the dust problems most artists were dealing with. The costumes and stage presence of the performers were goosebump inducing, with each song featuring a short film alongside it—which was shot gorgeously on stage with a cast of world-class actors including Ben Mendelsohn, Kristen Wiig, Paul Dano, and regular Sia muse Maddie Ziegler.

Winner: Despacio, LCD Soundsystem, and 2ManyDJs
There was no one that owned Coachella across the board like LCD Soundsystem and 2ManyDJs did. From the perfectly executed dance fest that was the Despacio tent to the comeback of LCD and 2ManyDJs’ always-stellar video DJ set, the regular collaborators and good friends had an undeniable stranglehold on Coachella’s audience from the main stage to the normally EDM-focused Sahara tent and beyond. With two headlining performances each for the two weekends, as well as three five-hour B2B2B Dj sets, it was an inspiring and marathon trip to the desert for the scene pioneers—and one that nearly every attendee would be grateful for.

Claptone IMMORTAL LIVE perform in the Sahara tent at Coachella, in Indio, CA, USA, on 17 April, 2016.

Claptone IMMORTAL LIVE perform in the Sahara tent at Coachella, in Indio, CA, USA, on 17 April, 2016.

Loser: Claptone IMMORTAL Live
Just take away the golden bird masks and throw in some white face paint and these two guys would have literally been pantomimes—also, the performance was as interesting as watching a couple of street mimes play tug-o-war on an invisible rope. The music was unfortunately flat and failed to live up to its concept and promise, especially in the behemoth that is the Sahara tent.

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Loser: Amnesty Box
A drug deposit amnesty box. Who the hell would ever use this? We guarantee that the cops keep their eye on anyone who goes near this thing.

General Atmosphere

Winner: Security
When you’re on the Polo fields during both Coachella weekends, you can 100% guarantee that you will have more than a handful of encounters with different types of security on every day of the festival. It could be a local Indio police officer, a crew of inland landscapers in a golf cart, or undercover security teams that roam in packs trying to lure festival goers into selling them drugs. Even though you can never truly predict the mind-state of the security staff you are approaching when you are getting searched to enter the festival, we would say that overall the security this year was exceptionally friendly. It even seemed like Coachella hired security personnel just to give "high-fives" and say "right on, let's party" when you made it through the check-in lines. And good on the festival if they did, because these guys ruled the weekend in our opinion. It must be hard for them to see all of these lubed-up campers and dancers with their pockets full of drugs, running into the festival without so much as an afterthought as to how their festival experience is protected by the man and women manning the security checkpoints. We cannot say enough about the positive attitude we received from the security this year. Maybe we were lucky, but nobody's that lucky.

Winner: Camping
Camping is the ultimate way to enjoy Coachella. You come into the campgrounds on Thursday morning and you don't leave until Monday morning. In all of our years of camping, specifically car camping, we would say that we've only had to leave the campgrounds for emergency supplies maybe one time. We brought all of our normal camping comforts like shade, booze, and food, and literally drove right to the exact spot we would be camping and set up shop for the rest of the week—never having to leave the festival or deal with the traffic coming in and out. What happens between all of the EZ-UPs and shade structures on the campgrounds is some of the best partying that happens at Coachella. You will find people playing home-run derby with their empty beer cans, or people will be running around the grounds like a lunatics with thick plastic bubbles of wine asking everyone to “slap the bag.” You can find long-running themed camp sites like Dirty Epic that take their collective space and turn it into a private dancefloor for the weekend, or the Camp All Alone crew, who house all the brave attendees who came to Coachella by themselves. Inside of this dirty armpit of the festival that they call camping is where you will find the true essence of what Coachella is all about.

Winner: Organization
Coachella is absolutely world class on the organization front. Long gone are the days where you would find a rogue churro stand somewhere between the main stage and the outdoor theater. The type of stand that would always be surrounded by hordes of cooked-up ravers in search of stale sugar and $2 water. This is due to the fact that Coachella has become one of the most organized festivals in the world. Every stage is perfectly placed and more accessible than ever before. The paths leading in and out of the festival are exceedingly efficient, even if each attendee has to scan their wristband multiple times a day. You can find free water if you need it, which is an organizational blessing from the gods. No standing in line for water, ever. Want a beer? It is no longer a question of how long, but what kind? We never stood in any lines inside of the festival. There are always open bartenders and we never had to wait around for any kind of food or service. The lines to get inside the festival and inside of stages was never more than a couple of minutes of waiting. Props to Goldenvoice for putting together a festival that is efficiently ran and beautifully executed.

Masha performs onstage at YUMA stage at Coachella, in Indio, CA, USA, on 15 April, 2016.

Masha performs onstage at YUMA stage at Coachella, in Indio, CA, USA, on 15 April, 2016.

Winner: Masha
The rising LA DJ opened the festival for the first time this year with a set of eclectic and groovy tunes.

Hey Masha, how does it feel to play a longer set time than past DJ legends like Sven Vath, Carl Cox, and Sasha & Digweed?
Wow, thats cool, I didn't know that! I played for three hours from 11am till 2pm and it felt great! I am really excited to do it again next weekend, plus I got some self-feedback just now from that experience. I wanted to play some 90's era garage for DJ EZ to transition to but I was just kind of in the moment and I was just taking it somewhere so I hope he was happy with it.

I think he was fine with it. I think he liked it. It was also nice to see all of your supporters on the dancefloor for the first set in the Yuma on Friday.
There were way more people there at my set than I expected to be honest. I thought there was going to be like 20 people for my set! It was good to see all of my friends there for sure.

Do you have any stuff you plan to do between the two weekends?
Back to LA. Back to work. Normal stuff.

How is Dig Deeper?
Dig Deeper is great! We are so excited, we just confirmed Jeremy Underground on June 18 and K Hand on July 15. It's so nice to have Alison (Swing) here supporting me as well and seeing her react to the tracks that I was playing was really fun.

Can you tell us about your personal relationship with Coachella?
I've been coming here every year since I was 18 so that makes a total of eight straight years? It's also so amazing to be on the other side. I feel like I paid my dues to be honest, and I have always had a lot of love for the Yuma tent. It was special to me to play that stage.

Can you name some of your favorite sets from Coachella?
Tame Impala, Todd Terje, and Simian Mobile Disco back in 2013.

Can you tell us a bit about that CBS article that came out about Coachella that pegged you as a country-music artist?
Yeah, really hilarious. Amp Radio announced something about me on their station and a friend of mine heard it and found the article they were referencing me from. They called out another "Masha" who is apparently an acoustic country-metal singer. I mean, it's just so easy to go to the official Coachella website and click on the link of an artist to find out more about them. They never reached out to me at all. I didn't really care to reach out to them, but I did post the link to my profile in the article comments. I think they eventually deleted the article.

Sahara Tent

Loser: Sam Feldt
Is this really what popular electronic music has come to? How many times do we need to see some poser DJ living a pseudo-artistic "good life" while riding around on blow-up boats and doing remixes of shitty pop bands? This is the lowest-common denominator when it comes to dance music. We strolled into the Sahara tent around 3pm on Friday and were really taken back at how watered down Sam's tracks sounded.

Jack U at Coachella, in Indio, CA, USA, on 15 April, 2016.

Jack U at Coachella, in Indio, CA, USA, on 15 April, 2016.

Loser: Jack U
Skrillex and Diplo as Jack U may have finally perfected the most annoying sounds in the entire world. They’ve honed their skills for airhorns and gunshots and have brought them to the world of bad electro-brostep. The music sounds like an uncanningly perfect balance between the two acts, and that is not a compliment. The worst part about this performance was that it was at The Outdoor Stage, so you literally could not escape the ray gun suicide that was Jack U.

Loser: Lack of Soup
After 3 days of breathing dust through various rags and masks, nothing sounds better than having a bowl of soup to burn your throat back into action. We searched for 2 days, and we found out the only soup that is available at Coachella comes in the form of Ramen. While the noodle dish would have done wonders for our sore throats, it was only available in the VIP area so we had to pass.

Wind and dust whips up in the area near the parking lot of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, April 15, 2016.

Wind and dust whips up in the area near the parking lot of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, April 15, 2016.

Loser: Dust
Further to the above point, the dust out at Coachella this year was almost at an unbearable breaking point. By weekend two this year, the usual putting-green-like field grass had been foot stomped into lung-destroying brown dirt. You know it’s bad when the majority of artists are walking onto stage wearing hospital-grade masks before their performances—James Murphy noted how bad his throat and voice felt before the LCD Soundsystem show and was wearing a dust mask while DJing in the Despacio tent.

All photos courtesy of Coachella, Chelsea Bakken, and The Desert Sun.