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Coachella 2012

Two weekends of music in the desert

Fan and musical artist share an epic landscape every year at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, which unfolds across 90 acres of grassy polo fields in the desert town of Indio, California. For three days, from noon to the early morning hours, a precession of bands, DJs, rappers, and others take turns on five main stages as a gathering of tribes from across the planet press their bodies toward the baricades and shout, sway, or mosh to the music. This year was headlined by the Black Keys, Radiohead, and a reunited Dr. Dre and Snoop Doog, bringing classic G-funk back to life, along with an eerie “hologram” of Tupac Shakur, finally back onstage after his fatal 1996 shooting in Las Vegas. Stranger things have happened in the desert, and this year Coachella was presented twice this month over two weekends with identical talent lineups, collecting live acts both celebrated and obscure. What couldn’t be repeated was the weather, chilly and moist the first weekend (unprecedented) and dry with triple-digit heat the next (the norm).  Some spent their days at the Do Lab camp at the center of the great lawn, where fans bounced to DJ sets, saw dancers and acrobats, and got hosed down from the stage, cooling down for the long days and nights ahead.

 
Photographs by Steve Appleford
 

 

ALSO: Read "Nonstop Gigs," Steve Appleford's April 2012 profile of the unlikely promoters behind Coachella