Beyond the music

To most attendees, Coachella is strictly a music festival. But, as those who have attended know, the large-scale public art is half the reason to be there. Each year the creators of Coachella design environments compatible with the day’s desert heat and the night’s darkness and this year, the organizers have outdone themselves.

The Empire Polo Field that houses Coachella was an art installation in its own right with palm trees lining the parameter lit up with brightly different colors.

One consistent installation was the boxed light show outside of the Sahara tent. By day, a metal box gleamed in the sunlight, but by night, surface light bulbs pulsed to the music in a variety of colors projecting various patterns.

This year’s artistic centerpiece, “The Ascencion,” was a giant 45-feet tall solar origami crane located in the main stage arena. At night, solar-powered, color-changing LED lights illuminate the magnificent crane. As always, the Dew Lab was the place to be during the day.

With constant D.J. changes and misters pumping cool water onto the crowd, it was a great place to beat the heat. And at night, you could have caught some live entertainment as dancers fill the stage with tribal accessories and interpretive dancing, making music a secondary attraction for a short time.

In the middle of the field stood a large clear cylinder, which at night mystified its audience, and provided a tinge of heat. Between the smaller Mojave and Gobi tents sat two large pagodas covered in wind chimes.

What appeared to be ornaments only useful during the day actually lit up to provide a group meeting place at night. Spiked throughout the festival grounds were tall silver pod-like structures gleaming in the sun. But as the sky darkened, they cast a patterned light on the ground.

Near the polo field entrance sat large glass and metal pipes that sparkled when under direct sunlight. When you walked by these pipes you could hear them playing sounds much like a light melodic organ.

Though the art might take the second seat to the music for most of the the 80,000 people who attended Coachella this year,  the installations were as unique as ever, creating another visual feast to supplement the sonic pleasures that ran amok at Southern California’s largest music festival.