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Coachella 2012: The Do Lab gets freaky at night

April 15, 2012 |  3:24 pm

The Do Lab at Coachella 2012

Crisscrossing through the Do Lab at different times at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival on Saturday night provided some of the freakier moments likely to happen on the Empire Polo Grounds during the weekend.

Early in the evening, North Carolina-bred producer Machine Drum dialed up experimental sounds that beckoned dancers to overtake the stage.

Photos: The Do Lab

As he dipped into moments of ambient techno, electro backbeats and heavy hip-hop bass, he transformed the Do Lab — where the oasis stage, surrounded by wavy multicolored towers, collides with the trippy art installations — into a midnight basement party with grooves that felt more bedroom than dance floor.

The dancers in the Do Lab moved with less urgency and more sensual intentions than the sweat-soaked, pumped-up kids in the energetic Sahara tent.

One guy stood out, mostly because he perfectly manicured his furry chest hair into a large heart, as he raised his arms and screamed when Drum ventured into the nosier moments and he swerved his hips while locking eyes with a couple engaged in some eyebrow-raising PDA. But then again, everyone around had dance partners in full bump-and-grind mode.

Drum is responsible for some of the more daring sounds recorded by Harlem newcomer Azaelia Banks — an early afternoon highlight despite an abbreviated set — including the drippy, Aaliyah-laced R&B groove "NEEDSUMLUV (SXLND)" and spitfire tracks “Grand Scam” and “L8R.”

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Later in the night, things took and even more sinister turn as the bizarro, vaudevillian-style circus Lucent Dossier Experience took the stage for the first of two performances in the evening.

Imagine if Cirque du Soleil embraced an underworld where abundant sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll reigned. That’s a good way to bottle up what happened on that stage.

As a trapeze artist twisted and tangled her body through a steel half-moon hoisted up above the stage to the beat of a thrashing dub-step number, a wide-eyed festivalgoer, mouth agape, stopped in his path and yelled, “What the … is this?” to his friends. A question that wasn't really answered.

The high-concept circus felt like a musical set against some sort of post-apocalyptic wasteland — apropos considering the desert backdrop — as a Björk-esque vocalist weaved wordless riffs through onstage vignettes that featured aerial artists, dancers and a fire-eating fellow dressed like a punk-rock alien,  whatever that actually might look like.

As an aerialist soared into the air tangled in silk, with dancers dressed like deformed creatures bopping their heads and wiggling their extended fingers to the rocking electronic sounds, you couldn’t help but affirm the overused cliché — the freaks do come out at night. 


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— Gerrick D. Kennedy 

Photo: Dancing fans get cooled off with a giant water gun at the Do Lab at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival on Saturday in Indio. Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times