Timothy Norris Main Stage
But which stages are the best? The sound quality varies widely, so much so that where an artist performs can and should affect your choice to attend. Here's our ranking, from the best to the worst.
1. Main Stage
Ah, the main stage, ie the Coachella stage, our reason for living. It's the reason we bring out butts all the way out to the desert, even though L.A. denizens can see most of these bands when they come through town. There are a million speakers, they are mixed properly, and there's a beautiful backdrop. Makes even mediocre acts sound sweet.
What a great idea this was! The Yuma tent, new this year, caters to old-school-style electronic music. You know, the stuff those crazy dubstep kids would like if they had any edumacation. It has numerous advantages: It's fully enclosed, so no dust, and there's air conditioning. But perhaps the best part is the sound quality; there's no bleed from any other stages, and the system is sharp and precise. The lines to get in can sometimes be a drag, but once you're inside you're set.
The Sahara is the size of a freaking airplane hangar this year, and instead of being shaped like a normal crappy tent it's round, like a giant tube, and seems sonically engineered for, like, maximum sound-ocity. Ok, so we don't have the knowledge or vocab to explain why, but it's great in there -- the sound is contained, and you don't hear the nearby Mojave (or anything else) much while you're inside.
The Outdoor "Theatre" (not stage, you cretin) isn't as fancy as the main stage -- there aren't 100,000 speakers, for one thing -- but it's still a great place to see a show. The backdrop with the palm trees, lit up by pastel lights, never gets old, and the sound is decent. There's some bleed from the DoLab stage, but it's not horrible like at some other spots (see numbers six and seven).
The DoLab stage is its own little autonomous bugger; the DJ lineup isn't printed in the Coachella schedule, and it floats in the middle of everything, full of folks who seem particularly interested in getting hosed down with mist. It's not a covered stage, and so long as you're in the middle of the crowd you can hear what's going on. The sound is very loud, however, which causes problems for some nearby spots, particularly the...
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The Mojave Tent has had its problems this year. It's got the Gobi, the DoLab, and the Sahara all more or less adjacent, and they each bleed in. But the Sahara cuts in the worst, as noted by Bernard Sumner during New Order's set, who said something like, "We'd like to play another song, if only someone would turn down the disco next door." Haha.
Like the Mojave but unlike the Sahara, the Gobi doesn't have many speakers at all in the back, so if you want to hear what's going on you have to squeeze in near the front. The DoLab is right next door, and it severely fucks up the Gobi's sound. In fact, at times when you're seeing a performance there you can seemingly hear three different shows simultaneously. Just not the one you're actually at.