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Coachella 2013: A wind storm, mirages, tent parties and an increase of art (PHOTOS)

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Coachella weekend one is in the books. The lineup for the final night included some big names spanning musical genres and generations. The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Roni Size, Wu Tang Clan, and Vampire Weekend were among those who took to take the stage. 

KPCC's Ben Bergman joined the 80,000 attendees in the desert, and sent these dispatches from the polo fields:

Blinding sandstorm, "Hurricane Wu," ends the festival

After a weekend of dealing with scorching hot weather, attendees grappled with a very different weather problem on Coachella's last night; a good old-fashioned desert sandstorm.

 The normally clear night sky was obscured by sand. At times the sand blow through so hard it         was difficult to keep your eyes open.

Workers were given bandanas to cover their faces. Most attendees made do with sunglasses.

Wu-Tang clan, performing a 20th anniversary show, called it "Hurricane Wu."

"We didn't expect a mother***** sandstorm," they told the crowd.

       “Club Coachella” debuts in the Yuma tent

The grass polo fields that have hosted Coachella for twelve years are such a part of the festival’s identity that when Coachella debuted a cruise a few months ago – the SS Coachella – promoter Goldenvoice laid down a grass field on the ship.
But inside the new Yuma tent, there isn’t a blade grass. Instead, there are wood floors – better for dancing – and couches, faux Victorian paintings, and disco balls. 
From the outside it seems like a simple tent, except for the thumping bass of the music pulsating through the walls.
Once you step inside, it feels much more like you’re at a club than at Coachella, which seems to be exactly the point.

“It was like a clown car,” said Joe Smith, of Los Angeles, who emerged from the Yuma covered in sweat and still wearing earplugs. “Outside it looks really small and then you get inside and there’s a lot of room in there.”

The nightclub-like vibe is meant to attract an older crowd than Coachella's two other EDM venues – the massive Sahara tent and the water park free-for-all, the Do Lab – which qualifies as twenty-somethings at Coachella.  

Long lines to get into the Yuma during the day have snaked around the food court area. The fact the tent is air-conditioned surely added to its appeal. 
The only catch was that you had to wait in direct sun for up to an hour.

A Palm Springs mansion, and a giant slithering snail: Coachella art 2013

There’s so much going on here that it can sometimes be easy to overlook the art part of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts festival. Not this year. 
That’s especially true at night, when many of the installations light up the polo grounds.
The 100-feet long, 80 foot wide art “Mirage” dominates the area behind the main stage. 
Envisioned by the festival’s art curator, Paul Clemente, the installation takes its inspiration from the architecture of a mid-century, Palm Springs mansion. 
With 21 projectors displaying images onto the white walls and floors, the images change throughout the night.
In the middle, there’s a pool projected in such detailed high-definition clarity that you could almost be forgiven for wanting to jump in after a long day sweating in the desert.
On Friday, a foursome of middle-aged female swimmers were seen frolicking in the water. Last night, a woman was seen doing laps.
Upstairs, it looked like someone was throwing an elegant party.
If you couldn’t walk over to “Mirage,” you could just wait for the Helix Poeticus to come to you.
That’s the name of the towering, illuminated snail sculpture that slithers around the grounds, covering an impressive amount of ground considering its glacial pace.
Equally impressive is that the snail is able to burrow through the throngs of people – hard enough for one person let alone a giant mollusk.

Today the snail has an added feature: It leaves behind a trail of bubbles. 
Other Coachella art favorites are back as well.
My favorite is the endlessly fascinating CAUAC Twins by the Los Angeles artist Syd Klinge - better known as the Tesla coils - which shoot bolts of electricity into the air. 

They are the largest dueling Tesla coils in the world, according to Klinge.
Festival goers, half scared and half awed, crowd around to witness the electrical spectacle, before making their way to their next set.

Shuttling to Coachella

“Let’s go to Coachella!” our chipper bus driver exclaimed, and with that, were on our way to the polo fields.
After two years of driving to Coachella, I decided to give the shuttle a try this year after hearing generally positive reviews.
The shuttles started running last year, to ease congestion on the crowded roads near the festival site in Indio. 

I, like other Coachella veterans, can relate any number of horror stories about getting stuck in the parking lot for hours after the last set. That’s what happens when 80,000 people try to leave somewhere at once and there are no freeways or highways.
The shuttles aim to solve this problem, whisking attendees from the polo fields to their hotel via one of eight routes.
A shuttle pass for the 3-day festival ranges from $50 to $80. 
The best part is that the city of Indio has set aside certain lanes for the buses, so coming and going is much quicker.
I never had to wait in line for a bus and most left within minutes of when I got on. The drivers handed out free water and a continuous track of past Coachella acts played on the speakers.
The shuttles are a convenience now but may become a requirement as promoter Goldenvoice looks at adding more events under a new 17-year agreement, one of which could allow 99,000 attendees.

R. Kelly, not Daft Punk are Saturday’s surprise 

There’s nothing Coachella-goers love more them whipping themselves into a harried frenzy over rumors.
Remember when everyone was sure The Rolling Stones were going to be this year’s closer?
Last night all the signs were there – or so it seemed – for the French electronic duo Daft Punk to join their countrymen Phoenix on the main stage.
On Friday, a teaser for Daft Punk’s new album was shown on the jumbotron.
The twitterverse lit up with backstage sightings and more supposed proof – the drum kit Phoenix was using was said to be same one as appeared in Daft Punk’s new video.

But like most Coachella rumors this one turned out to be totally wrong, and it was R & B artist R. Kelly who turned up on stage instead.
He joined Phoenix for a mash-up no one would have expected, combining Kelly’s "Ignition" with Phoenix's "1901".

But it was Daft Punk the crowd wanted, not R. Kelly.
I felt bad for Phoenix, who played a very well-received set that seemed to be overshadowed by the rumor swirl.

RELATEDCoachella 2013, 1st weekend, 2nd day: About last night, a giant snail, and how Daft Punk stole the show

Also last night the electronic musical group The Postal Service delivered in what could have been one of their last shows.
Portugal the Man – the indie group from Wasilla, Alaska – performed an impressive set as the sun was going down , which is by far the most beautiful time of the day, when the scorching heat goes away and the sky turns orange.
The Brooklyn group, Grizzly Bear, has only been around as a full band since 2006, yet this was there third time at Coachella. Their performance in the Sahara tent was their best here yet.

With contributions from Eric Zassenhaus

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