Something almost as ubiquitous to the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival as the glowing Ferris wheel and epic sunsets is the colorful Do Lab stage with its pumping electronic beats, crowds of people and water cannons.
The Do Lab has been a staple of the festival for the last 15 years and has been regularly evolving with the times, with a new design out once every couple years.
This year’s design, dubbed Warrior One, is not only bigger than the stages from previous festivals — it stands 46 feet tall, 225 feet wide and 272 feet long — but it’s also more detailed with tech being built into the design rather than being an afterthought, said Josh Flemming, head of design and one of Do Lab’s founders.
Flemming said that one of the unique features of this year’s stage is that LED strips have been embedded in 38 columns. The columns range in size from 20 to 40 feet around the perimeter of the dance floor.
“Basically each one of those columns are laced with a golden rope that we’ve had specially dyed and inside of that rope is all the LED strips,” Flemming said. “The LED strips kind of shoot inwards and they light up all of the rope so the columns themselves become like a giant LED, too, which is a really cool effect that we’ve been testing out.”
He said the LED strips also function as low resolution video screens that custom content can be fed through.
“If you were to take all the columns and line them up in a row they would essentially be creating a video screen where you could run content through it but we’re spreading them out,” he said. “They’re all about 25 feet apart around a dance floor so when you’re standing inside of it you’re still going to get this feeling of like one cohesive video experience blowing around you.”
Another consideration with the design of the structure was inclement weather. Wind tore through the previous structure, Beacon, before weekend two of last year’s festival. The Do Lab crew had less than three days to rebuild.
“Last year our structure didn’t really have any air gaps or availability for wind to blow through it and this year we designed it with that in mind, knowing that it’s going to happen again,” Flemming said. “It does get windy out there, so there’s a lot of air gaps and a lot of areas for wind to pass through so we expect that it’s going to be OK.”
Flemming said that all the iterations of Do Lab before Beacon had those air gaps.
“Last year is the first time we tried something different and now we know that maybe air gaps is the way to go,” he said.