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Coachella 2012: Music, and yoga, start the day in Indio

April 13, 2012 |  4:46 pm

The desert sky was overcast and a threat of rain was in the forecast, but as the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival got underway in Indio, the mood was most definitely laid back. Some early morning physical and mental stretching out in the Coachella campgrounds no doubt helped. A shirtless Justin McLaren, back for his second year, praised Coachella organizers for staging yoga sessions for the campers.

"It was cloudy, so it's nice," said the 20-year-old Orange County native. "A little yoga in the morning helped my dance moves."

As performances began at noon, the dance tent was definitely the place to be on the festival grounds. Local dance outfit LA Riots provided an early energy jolt, layering aggressive techno landscapes over a drum and bass grind. Among Coachella's five stages, the big dance tent has one of most impressive audio-visual setups, with multiple screens placed at different sightlines behind the stage and scoreboard-like strips on the roof. When a Coachella worker walked into the tent looking for wayward water bottles, she dropped her bag and began taking pictures of the setup.

COACHELLA 2012 | Full coverage

Elsewhere, the Goldenvoice-promoted festival kept things close to home. Keyboard-enhanced rock band Abe Vigoda has its roots in the nearby Inland Empire, and traces its music to the early '80s. Glistening  washes of guitar are paired with emotional vocals. "This next song is about crying at a concert," said band member Michael Vidal, yet the early Coachella crowd responded only with cheers.

The party atmosphere was in full swing in the tent which housed Oakland group Wallpaper. Imagine an alternative universe where Vanilla Ice is hailed as a rap pioneer and the multi-percussion setup of Wallpaper may make sense. The only subject apparent in Wallpaper's music is drinking, even Listerine, if it's available, and the act's setup, with a neon-haired keytar player, was more colorful than the tunes.

Yet the heavy hitters are still to come, and festival goers were happy to take in the atmosphere.

"I've already decided I will be back next year," said Jane Puchniak, 27, of Winnipeg, Canada. "I called my gay best friend in Winnipeg and told him to start planning. I'm in fiery lust with the great state of California."

Asked if she started the morning off wth some yoga in the campgrounds, Puchniak said no, but she will tomorrow. Then she asked, "Do you know if there's ballet? Or modern dance sessions?" 


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Photo: Justin Dalve, of Los Angeles, uses a parasol during light rain on the first weekend of the 2012 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, Friday, April 13, 2012, in Indio, Calif. Credit: Chris Pizzello / Associated Press