Coachella 2012: Under The Desert Sun

I left my heart (and the heat) at Coachella.

One week has officially passed since the end of the Coachella Valley Arts and Music Festival.  Remembering the blistering heat and highs of 110 degrees, the tens of thousands who flocked to the desert are maybe happy that it’s all over. But if you’re still longing for a little sunburn or want to recall that ringing sensation in your ears, here’s a set of Treeswingers’ favorite shots from the gathering in the Indio desert.

Also if you missed it, here are our recaps from the festival: Friday, Saturday and Sunday. 

Check out the photos after the jump…

Look down for "Shook Down."

It was easy to feel bad for Yuck since they were slotted to play at one of the hottest times on Friday afternoon. Coming a bit late to the set, I lost any hope of a good position to other photographers who decided to wait in advance and brave the sun beating down on their exposed necks. Fate seemed to be on my side when lead singer Daniel Blumberg came out to play on stage right where I was standing for “The Wall.”

Wearing a tux because he wanna.

The Hives put on such an energetic show wearing full tuxedos.  It was actually unbelievable how energetic they were in the 100-degree heat. Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist was a fireball, eliciting a call-and-response reaction from the crowd after almost every song with the sun setting. Despite the sun providing perfect backlighting in this photo, Almqvist proceeded to lead the crowd in a coordinated movement to collectively flip the bird at the setting orb.

Crying Lightning.

One of the difficulties of shooting the main stage is that it’s ridiculously high, so photographers always having to look up at an artist, and are never level with them.  In the case for the Arctic Monkeys there would have been another shot I would have liked more –one with lead man Alex Turner leaping from the drumset–but a speaker got in the way because of the stage level. Sometimes you don’t get lucky with those kinds of things.

I'd be your cheerleader

St. Vincent was arguably one of the best performers there.  Animated and more alive than she was in the cold San Francisco weather when we last saw her at Treasure Island, Annie Clark dazzled everyone with her jittery dance moves and guitar skills.  In this photo, she’s both peaceful and chaotic at the same time, with her hair whipping around in the desert night.

Frank E. Honda

I was surprised that the lighting for Frank Ocean was terrible.  There were very few instances where they light would be really good on him, but for the rest of the show it was complete darkness, which made little sense with how happy he seemed to be. Still, with Frank sporting a shirt featuring a pixelated Street Fighter character, this shot turned out pretty well.

Snapping it out.

Without the guitar from the last time we saw Miike Snow, frontman Andrew Wyatt gave me little idea of what to expect.  I actually began to question myself if this was the same guy I had photographed a few years ago.  Regardless, just like most of their performances, smoke and strobe lights marred the best opportunities to get a good shot. Here’s one where the smoke cleared.

Friday Night Lights

You’ve probably seen this photo already in our day one recap, but it’s my favorite from the Explosions In The Sky set on Friday night.  With good timing and a little bit of luck, I was able to get Munaf Rayani (probably the most animated of the bunch) with the lights caught in the cracks of his arms, which is extremely difficult if you have strobes that are constantly moving.

Pretty Flacko

After missing the first three songs of A$AP Rocky’s set, I was afraid I missed out on my opportunity for the Saturday night closer. But then he leapt off the stage over my head clad in an oversized cardigan. Just before I was ushered out of the pit, A$AP turned my way and the lights went on for a second for the perfect opportunity.

Who else skipped church?

For Justice, the photographers were led far back into the crowd, allowing us very little space to get a good shot of Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay unless you had a stool and a huge zoom lens.  It was disappointing since I’ve wanted to see them since 2006. I probably did more dancing than taking photos, but I was able to capture this picture just as the cross and speakers lit up.

Dre and Snoop still got love for the streets

Kanye, imma let you finish, but Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg had the best Coachella performance hands down.  Since it was the main stage and  the last set of the festival, it was pretty difficult to maneuver around the photo pit, regardless of how big it was.  I was fortunate enough to find  a spot which wasn’t occupied, but I’m still sure that fifty other photographers captured this shot.  Nevertheless, the duo’s performance was a great way to close the night and the Coachella music festival.


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