Iconic, Eclectic and Immersive: A Dive Into the History of Coachella’s DoLaB Stage
2004 was a historic year. The social media network Facebook launched, Greece hosted the Summer Olympics, and the Flemming brothers, Josh, Jesse, and Dede created one of the most eclectic, immersive, and innovative facets of the music festival scene today, the Do LaB company.
Do LaB was started to create an immersive, innovative, and eclectic escape from traditional festival stages. The Flemming brothers relocated from Pennsylvania to work on their creation. They envisioned an ecologically sound, sustainable, and creative stage for artists to perform, festival-goers to unleash their enthusiasm, and participants to have a good time.
According to an article in Westword, the three brothers pitched their idea for the Coachella Music and Arts Festival in 2004. The Do LaB stage would serve as a respite from the blaring heat, and allow the festival audience to see what else the music scene had to offer (Do LaB aimed to invite underground acts, mainly electronic musicians and DJs to showcase their talent).
The brothers waited painstakingly for the outlet to approve their creation, and a week before the event, they received a confirmation. So, in a pinch, they hustled to the valley to build the first of many Do LaB creations: a 60-foot dome complete with water misters. In addition to providing an alternate location for festival attendees, Do LaB wanted to be a place for the audience to cool off, so water misters dangled from the top of the 60-foot dome, spraying those in the open field as the talent performed on stage.
For a festival with thousands of guests, located in the middle of the Colorado desert, providing a shady (and cool) spot, along with talent, is a guaranteed success. Do LaB has been subsequently invited back each year to create a standalone stage for emerging talent and surprise guests.
The company was so successful that they coined their very own Lightning in a Bottle Festival, an annual celebration in May, focusing on similar ideals: sustainability, creativity, and connection.
Today, 18 years after its formation, the Do LaB’s mission remains the same. “Design, build, and nurture festivals and event experiences that inspire authentic connections to ourselves, our community, and the environment.” as stated on the Do LaB website.
Except for cancellations due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021, Do LaB builds up an immersive and artistic stage on the south end of the valley each year. My favorite Coachella Do LaB stage designs so far have included:
To flex on the ecological impact of the music scene, especially when it comes to the transport, and building up and breaking down stages, Do LaB built the Cardboard Tree in 2006. A light brown intricate tree sprawled into the air made of recycled cardboard and craft paper.
Quinoa is just as cool as it sounds. The airy superfood doubles as an airy tent and relaxation and refueling station. These colorful tents expand over a grassy area in the valley, allowing festival-goers the space to sit under some shade and take a break from hardcore dancing and headbanging. Drink some water, eat a snack, even stretch into a yoga pose while the beats reverberate through to you.
One of the most appealing setups is the 66-foot BEACON, a mammoth of a stage equipped with misters, and a dancefloor. This blue and yellow stage from the 2017 and 2018 festival looks like it waltzed out of a geometry textbook and has a pineapple on its head.
The 2022 Do LaB stage design has not been announced yet, nor have the selected performers, but I can only imagine the complexity and pure awe they will elicit when released.