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Coachella 2012: Afrojack kicks off a pop-friendly dance lineup

April 14, 2012 | 10:36 am


As the lyrics of Rihanna’s “We Found Love” echoed throughout the Sahara tent late Friday night, one moment perfectly encapsulated one of the most obvious trends of this year’s Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival lineup.

Dutch music producer and DJ Afrojack had stripped away the song’s familiar, thumpy 4/4 beat of aggressive sythns and driving electro breakdown to make room for Rihanna’s breathy vocals on the song’s pre-chorus.

“It's the way I’m feeling I just can't deny,
 but I've gotta let it go,” her voice rang out.
”We found love in a hopeless place.”

COACHELLA 2012 | Full coverage

At that moment, the thousands crammed into the tent filled in the chorus' sweeping melody, every word. But they didn’t stop there, they clung to the song’s second verse and continued to belt the lyrics until the DJ took them into a hyperactive techno romp.

It illustrated just how mainstream electronic dance music has become over the past year, especially as Calvin Harris (who produced Afrojack's aforementioned hit single), David Guetta, Kaskade, AVICII and Swedish House Mafia have become major forces on the Billboard charts as well as the Coachella stages, as they all have late-night sets.

Afrojack, who had some massively mainstream moments last year with songwriting credits on singles from Chris Brown and Beyonce and producing Pitbull’s ubiquitous summer single, “Give Me Everything,” used his lengthy set to keep the crowd’s mind off of the blustery wind and focused on glowing blow-up tubes, glittering neon hoops and blinking body jewelry as he explored the depths of Euro techno and house music.

With visual eye candy in the form of lights and videos scrolling on massive screens that dangled from the ceiling and flanked the stage, you couldn’t help but sway your hips with dance fans who tried desperately to work up a sweat, which would have come easily if the night air wasn’t so chilled. 

Sure, the lineup might have taken a dip far into the mainstream, but this is the same festival where a then little-known Skrillex played to a scant crowd in 2011, and less than a year later managed to steal a sliver of Grammy spotlight from Adele. For fans moving their hips to the music, eyes glassy from either bliss or something a little more heavy, attention from Billboard, the Grammys or pop charts isn’t a concern. They came to dance, and the Sahara tent is still the best place for that.  


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Photo: Swedish House Mafia onstage at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times