So now that we have had time to let the 2013 Coachella line-up settle in, it’s pretty good, right? People were freakin’ out there for a minute. There has been a universal panning of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers performing as the closing headliner, even though they were a last hour addition. And rightfully so – there have been some popular sets that have shut down Coachella the past few years (Dre/Snoop, Kanye West, Gorillaz).
Goldenvoice clearly lost an expectation game with the reactions to the headliners this year, most notably due to the rumors swirling around Daft Punk and Rolling Stone. That didn’t stop them from selling out both weekends within a day, including weekend one within 15 minutes, so saying Goldenvoice lost anything is pure silliness.
Rock, particularly British Rock, leads the charge this year (Blur, The Stone Roses, the xx, New Order, Hot Chip, Grizzly Bear, James Blake, alt-J, Jessie Ware).
Conversely, Electronic Dance Music bro-house is gone compared to 2012. There is no major DJ act closing out a night on the main stage for the first time in years. There are no EDM acts on the top two lines of any day. It seems like a concerted effort was made by Goldenvoice to enact a change in direction, and it has been welcomed by many Coachella vets.
Friday should be a day to remember, as there are plenty of reunions and first time performances scheduled (see below). Lou Reed fits the “living legend” bill, Nick Cave’s supposedly on-hiatus Grinderman will appear for a one-off, and half of The Smiths songwriting partnership will be present with Johnny Marr performing. Bassnectar or Dog Blood (Skrillex & Boys Noize project) will close the Sahara Tent, and Justin Vernon’s new blues project The Shouting Matches will play one of their first shows. Hopefully Vernon sticks around for the weekends and makes some surprise appearances with the many acts he is associated with.
Damon Albarn’s Blur returning to the US for the first time since their reunion is a pretty big deal, though the American masses may not agree. Sure “Song 2” is a bit played out, but there are albums full of some of the best Brit-pop in decades. Songs like “Coffee and TV” and “She’s So High” beckon back to the 90s for many, but not all. Luckily this reunion is including Graham Coxon, a seminal part to the vocal arrangements of Blur.
The co-headliner for Friday is also an English exported reunion, courtesy of the Manchester sound-makers The Stone Roses, fresh off a 15 year hiatus. Sure, New Order captured American fans a little more than the Roses, but they created a serious body of work for well over a decade starting in the mid-80s. John Squire’s guitar-work is something to marvel in as aspects of the Roses’ sound would be borrowed by some serious US acts like the Pixies. Having released an album last year, the Coachella masses should plan to hear these tracks coupled with hits like, “I Wanna Be Adored.”
Jurassic 5 is a name more fans will recognize over the one-two combo of Blur and the Roses. After a 6 year break, the LA hip-hop collective are back on the circuit with a banner set. The question will be if all the original members show up, as many of the artists have branched off to become successful solo artists; mainly Cut Chemist, Chali 2na and Nu-Mark. While the landscape of hip-hop has shifted a bit since their departure, tracks like “Quality Control” and “Concrete Schoolyard” will whip the crowd into a frenzy as equally as Danny Brown.
Possible Friday Collaborations
Johnny Marr with Modest Mouse
Justin Vernon with Poliça
Friday Firsts (First shows ever/First in the US)
How To Destroy Angels – Trent, Marqueen, and Atticus will debut their newest project on Friday, and boy is it gonna be something. As many miss Nine Inch Nails, this band is pretty damned close in sound and personnel, and their two released EPs show great strength and should be an awesome early evening set in the warm desert winds. Look for their upcoming LP, and likely national tour.
TNGHT – The duo that is Hudson Mohawke and Lunice has almost single handedly birthed the trap music sub-genre that is permeating bass music and hip-hop alike. Their debut EP is so fresh and hot, I needed an oven mitt to flip the vinyl. Having only played a show or two in NYC, this will be the marquee US debut of this Canadian meets Scottish production duo. The kids are gonna be losing their shit for this set, as trap is all the rage on the dance floor. Second in command to this movement is Baauer, who is featured this year as well. Will Kanye make an odd appearance on stage as he did in New York?
Earl Sweatshirt – Years in the making, and the anticipation is still sky high for Thebe’s live, full set premier. Expect massive crowds for this Odd Future cast-away, as his talent is undeniable, his story unbelievable and his allure is unquenchable. This set has lots of guest potential, as his OFWGKTA crew will likely be in tow for support both morally and lyrically. The Earl mixtape from a few years ago is such an impressive collection of explicit, yet Rhodes smart tunes that many fans are dying to hear them first hand from the man himself. Will Flying Lotus don his Captain Murphy cape and back Earl on the massive track “Between Friends?” Will Syd tha Kid be on the decks and buttons?
Best Friday “Bottom-Liners”
•Purity Ring’s sound is as future-pop as it gets, and the light-show matches the duo’s vibe and timing. Each light change is controlled by percussionist & beat-maker Corin Roddick’s drum strikes. Hopefully they are given a night tent set so they can show what they’ve got.
•Jamie xx (Jamie Smith) is the chief producer, percussionist and DJ for The xx (performing Saturday), and he’s already well known for his progressive sound and excellent remixes.
•The lo-fi dream-pop from Trevor Powers’ Youth Lagoon will be a chill way to get started Friday.
•Beardyman uses live sounds to make instant dance grooves, and it’s impressive how good he is at his niche skill.
•Lord Huron is an indie-folk rock group on the rise. Their 2012 record Lonesome Dreams was highly underrated.
•Palma Violets are a buzzy British psych-rock group that wil likely have a big year. Catch them early when most people haven’t arrived yet.
Saturday is stacked: Phoenix, the xx, The Postal Service, Sigur Rós, New Order, Hot Chip, Grizzly Bear. If you are as excited as we are about the top two lines for Saturday, be ready to make tough decisions. There will be conflict. This doesn’t even include Yeasayer, Franz Ferdinand or Spiritualized into the conflict factor. Saturday is fucking stacked. It appears Knife Party will close the Sahara, and Simian Mobile Disco, Major Lazer & Richie Hawtin should deliver top notch electronic sets. Saturday also features FOALS, Ben Howard, Danny Brown, Janelle Monáe, Wild Nothing, El-P, & Booka Shade.
The banner reunion on Saturday is squarely held by The Postal Service, the exciting collaboration of Ben Gibbard and Jimmy Tamborello. Their first announced show since 2005 came as a surprise to most music junkies as mumblings of The Smiths, as always, took first prize in the reunion hype category. Their upbeat electro-pop sound is pretty perfect for a sunset Saturday show, maybe warming up the majority to the dance-rock stylings of Phoenix later that night. Will Jenny Lewis make an appearance to sing as she did many times in their touring days a decade ago?
Many readers and attendees may not be familiar with The Make-Up, and that’s cool, but this soul-garage-politico-punk act is a force to see. The organ driven sound is highly infectious, and their live show has been compared to a punk rock gospel. Having only recently regrouped to play ATP, persuaded by Les Savvy Fav, this will be their marquee return, similar to Refused last year. Maybe Dischord co-owner Ian McKaye will accompany his labelmates for a track.
Violent Femmes slowly faded off the radar about 5 years ago as Gordon Gano and Brian Ritchie were tangled in royalty lawsuits stemming from the sale of “Blister in the Sun” to Wendy’s. It now appears the hatchet has been buried and they are returning to what they have been at for a couple of decades, making kitschy alternative rock. Their folk-driven sound is unmistakably likable, and devastatingly difficult to not sing along to. “Gone Daddy Gone” and “Add it Up” will be heard throughout the polo fields in the afternoon on Saturday. Will we get some surprise members to their infamous Horns of Dilemma?
Toss The Descendents in the “sort-of reunion” column, but don’t diminish their key addition to the quintessential Southern California festival lineup. Birthed in Manhattan Beach in the late 70s, this seminal punk band that pioneered the skate, even pop-punk sound is still playing shows when singer Milo Aukerman can fit it between his demanding job as a biologist. Surely, the majority of attendees will recognize the Buddy Holly-glasses wearing frontman and his cartoonish caricature. They’ve been back at it a few years now, but mainly at small punk festivals, not the 80,000-size crowd that will be in attendance. Milo Goes to College is a must in your pre-fest rotation.
Danny Brown & El-P
Danny Brown & Purity Ring
Ian McKaye with The Descendents
Saturday “Firsts:” (First shows ever/First in the US)
Savages – London’s all-female post-punk band have been building lots of buzz and lots of comparisons as they bring a fresh act to the music landscape this year. It’s hard to not hear Siouxsie and Banshees and the infectious howl of Karen O at first listen, but there’s a lot more going on here. Coachella will be their first trip across the ‘Pond’ and they will be hitting the road hard before, after and in the middle of the festival.
Best Saturday “Bottom-Liners”
•Birdy Nam Nam is a four man turntabilist crew from France, and their sound champions a mix of jazz, funk & downtempo. Asses will be shaking.
•Action Bronson is fire breathin’ fat fuck who spits mostly about food, and he does it damn well over sick beats. All true.
•Bummed about no Warpaint? Get your girl power on early with Savages (check out the preview above).
•Singer-songwriter Kurt Vile made a delicious record with Smoke Ring For My Halo in 2011, and he’s got a new LP lined up for later this year. Preview his new songs in April.
•If you like Hot Chip, check out The 2 Bears, which is a DJ collaboration between Hot Chip’s Joe Goddard and producer Raf Rundell. Think Hot Chip’s tone with more dancing and less instruments.
Sunday has the “dreaded” Red Hot Chili Peppers headlining, but Wu-Tang will get more love. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and RHCP may create the most empty scene on the main stage ever. Cool dads will profit. On the other side of the field Pretty Lights and Eric Prydz will be spilling ragers outside of the Sahara Tent parameter. If there is a god Tame Impala will get a sunset slot. Where will the house crew consisting of Julio Bashmore, Jamie Jones, Loco Dice, Maya Jane Coles, etc. end up? Sunday has a deep undercard with Grimes, the Faint, Father John Misty, Tanlines, Jessie Ware, Disclosure, Cloud Nothings & Thee Oh Sees.
Wu Tang Clan’s inclusion this year isn’t so much a reunion, but a re-introduction. After talk of a new album around 2011 went quiet, fueled by reserved speculation by some members, it appears this new recording will see the light of day this year, and Coachella will likely mark the beginning of a busy year for RZA, GZA, Method Man, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, Inspectah Deck, U-God, and Master Killah.
Jessie Ware live with Disclosure
Justin Vernon with James Blake
Sunday “Firsts:” (First shows ever/First in the US)
Excision – Many EDM artists are creating bigger, brighter and blinkier stages on the road and festival circuit, and Canadian brostep artist Excision is the next to toss his hat into the ring. Excision presents the Executioner will be making it’s big stage debut at Coachella after a few US dates. It promises to be loud, flashing and full of pre-pubescent kids losing their collective minds.
La Roux – Even though the synth-pop princess and her producer aren’t a new act to the US or even Coachella, their cancellation from last year is being rectified with a slot in 2013. Look for some new material from this act in the upcoming year after a hiccup in the previous.
Best Sunday “Bottom-Liners:”
•Zachary Cole Smith from Beach Fossils started DIIV (originally “Dive” until they were sued) as a solo project, and their dreamy, building indie songs will put a smile on your face.
•Little Green Cars offers five-part harmony anthems in the vein of Local Natives and First Aid Kit.
•The electro-pop group White Arrows put on a great show, and their set can get pleasantly psychedelic and heady at times.
•Wild Belle is a prime candidate to be a 2013 breakout group, and their set at Treasure Island Music Festival went over well last October. Elliot and Natalie Bergman’s debut LP will arrive in March.