Do LaB, a venture at Coachella operated since 2005 by the now-veteran promoter brothers Dede, Jesse, and Josh Flemming (a long ways away from their JNCO’s and blue-dyed hair during the rave scene of Southern California’s aughts), carries the rebellious torch of ’90s and ’00s clandestine SoCal free parties, at what can be considered the most commercialized music festival in the USA, offering revelers a place to cool off from the desert heat, dance, and be sprayed with water cannons by their favorite DJs.
As one of two tents at the festival dedicated exclusively to dance music, alongside the more warehouse-inspired Yuma tent, Do LaB’s enormous, colorful geometric tent design offers a sunnier, ravier atmosphere in comparison, effectively serving as a cheery oasis of dance music at a far corner of the massive Coachella complex.
The stacked Do LaB line-up featured a variety of artists not playing on the official bill at Coachella, and also additional special guests announced hours before their appearances; these included surprise sets from James Blake, Uncle Waffles, Odesza, a b2b set from Brazilian superstars Mochakk and Vintage Culture, as well as numerous others on weekend 1 announced in advance, like standouts Party Favor and Baauer, Aluna, Carlita and DJ Tennis, all of whom rolled the dancefloor throughout the weekend, regardless of what time of day they performed.
The energy in the Do LaB is consistently celebratory and bouncy, though Coachella attendees also found it a nice place to congregate, to rest on the grass, take in their surroundings and gaze up at the technological feat that is the tent, dubbed “Warrior One”––comprised of 53 hundred-foot long canvas panels, suspended on poles with 12,000 feet of steel aircraft cable and miles of rope, suggestive of a scarab beetle in the desert sun.
New York’s DJ_Dave, a DJ of interest in the New York dance music circuit, who has made a splash in recent years through her live-coded sets, made her Coachella debut in yet another surprise set at Do LaB weekend 1. For some younger artists, Do LaB functions as a proving ground before they go on to play larger stages at the festival, as was the case with the globe-conquering RÜFÜS DU SOL, according to Dede Flemming.
“Last year was my first Coachella and I spent the whole time at Do LaB,” said DJ_Dave. “Thought it was so sick. We literally spent the entire night here… And so this year I was just coming as a spectator and my agent called me the day before and was like, you're going to play Do LaB tomorrow. And I was like, oh shit, that's crazy. So I had to wake up at 6:AM and drive here.” Even fairly early in the day, for her set at 1:30PM, “there were a lot of people here. I was so not expecting it. Everyone was vibing. It was really fun.”
The Flemming brothers’ other venture, Lightning in a Bottle, is an annual festival in Buena Vista Lake, CA that predates the Do LaB and is being held again this month from May 24 to 29 for its 20th anniversary, with its many headliners including Diplo, TSHA, and 070 Shake. Ravers wanting more of the Do LaB’s lysergic atmosphere will certainly find it out there, in an expanded format with multiple specially-designed stages.
David McGraw is a freelance writer and photographer, follow him on Instagram