Everything was status quo during Benny Benassi's electric set Saturday night at Coachella. Like a little piece of Ultra Fest in the middle of the desert, the Sahara stage served as an EDM cathedral, decked out with lasers, strobe lights and smoke machines, and fans were praying (read: dancing) at the altar.
But in the middle of his set, Benassi brought out John Legend to premiere a new song, "Dance the Pain Away," and Legend stepped out in front of Benassi's giant riser to introduce himself. Despite his adult contemporary leanings, the crowd of mostly 21 year olds gave him a warm welcome. Maybe they were hoping Kanye West wasn't far away? (Legend was the first artist signed to G.O.O.D Music, making him a certified FOK - Friend of Kanye.)
"Dance the Pain Away" is reminiscent of other EDM/singer-songwriter collabos (Calvin Harris and Florence Welch's "Sweet Nothing," Benassi and Gary Go's "Cinema"), and it's catchy and mainstream enough to be a radio success. But does an EDM crowd care about a live singer?
Doesn't seem like it. Seeing an EDM show seems to be much more about the crowd than it does about the performer. After all, most of the time the artist is behind a giant riser pressing buttons and wearing a giant pair of headphones. The crowd comes to get down and throw glow sticks in the air. As long as the music keeps playing, whatever the artist is doing on stage is secondary.
Legend finished the song out on the riser next to Benassi, thanked the crowd, took a bow and sneaked off stage. Benassi continued his regularly scheduled EDM program and the crowd continued dancing in abandon.
Check out a snippet of "Dance the Pain Away" below.