If you’re going to Coachella, and you’ve never been before, consider yourself warned: It can be a frustrating experience.
Coachella has so many bands, with numerous acts playing all at once, that it can be tough to choose where to go, and who to see. You’ll probably wind up missing some bands that you wanted to enjoy—and don’t be surprised if you don’t realize that one of your favorite artists is playing with a solo/side project you haven’t heard about until it’s too late.
Yes, it can be overwhelming—but we’re here to help, with this list of Coachella performers worth checking out.
Friday, April 11 and 18
Dum Dum Girls: Independent contributor Guillermo Prieto—a fine judge of music, if you ask me—is a big fan of this all-female foursome from Los Angeles. The Dum Dum Girls are on the up and up after getting noticed by indie critics and signing with Sub Pop Records. Now it appears they’re ready for the mainstream. Their single “Rimbaud Eyes,” from Too True, released back in January, is starting to pick up steam. If you like Siouxsie and the Banshees and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, you’ll love Dum Dum Girls.
Anti-Flag: If you’re pissed off at the establishment, and angry about having to stand out in the sun and buy bottled water—yet you’re cool with spending $375 to get into Coachella—you’ll love Anti-Flag. The Pittsburgh punk outfit is known for its sentimental punk tracks such as “Your Daddy Was a Rich Man,” “Your Daddy’s Fucking Dead,” “Captain Anarchy,” “Angry, Young and Poor,” “The Economy Is Suffering” and their best-known anthem, “Die for Your Government.” If you question what they’re being paid to play at Coachella, shut your dirty mouth! They’re being paid in anarchy!
Goat: This Swedish outfit put out World Music, one of my favorite records of 2012. The band wears freaky costumes, offers a hilarious back story about being from a cursed village destroyed by Christian crusaders, and turns in bizarre stage performances—so you probably shouldn’t miss them. Oh, and the music is great, too: A psychedelic-rock sound is combined with Afrobeat cuts. You’ll truly enjoy this band—I promise.
Chromeo: Chromeo is the one EDM act you should catch at Coachella—even if you don’t care for EDM. Dave 1 and P-Thugg will make sure you’re having a good time with their electrofunk anthems such as “Night by Night” and “Fancy Footwork.” These guys are a throwback to the cheesy disco/pop periods of the ’70s and ’80s—in a good way. It’s hard to guess where in the lineup and on which stage these guys are going to be, so figure it out and claim your spot early.
The Replacements: As far as the big names and reunions go, this is the best, in my book. This Minneapolis band (right) formed in 1979 and did great things before breaking up in 1991. They’re being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year for leaving their mark on college radio and the post-punk scene. If that’s not enough to convince you to see them, the song “Can’t Hardly Wait” inspired a film by the same name in 1998, about a high school graduation party during which Ethan Embry tries to give a letter to Jennifer Love Hewitt. (OK, maybe that isn’t very convincing. Just go see them, dammit.)
Saturday, April 12 and 19
Drowners: Make sure you arrive early on Saturday to catch Drowners. If you’re a fan of The Cure, The Smiths or any other ’80s Brit-Pop band, you’ll love them. They’re out to make the ’80s cool again! Since forming in 2011, Drowners have toured with the Arctic Monkeys, The Vaccines, and Foals, and have a new self-titled album to their credit.
Ty Segall: Ty Segall has come a long way since he started his solo recording career in 2008. With his psychedelic-fuzz-fused garage rock, you can expect a noisy and crazy performance that will make the eclectic-music-lover in you feel right at home.
Bombay Bicycle Club: Bombay Bicycle Club is pure fun. Their songs get easily stuck in your head, and you can’t help but smile when listening to many of their songs. If you’re having a bad day at Coachella, Bombay Bicycle Club might be all you need to turn that frown upside down.
Mogwai: This Scottish instrumental rock group will definitely offer a unique experience to those who have never heard of them. Their songs have no real vocal tracks—just some distorted lyrics here and there in the background on a few of their songs. Still, make no mistake: Mogwai is one of the best bands on Saturday’s bill.
Nas: Nas became one of the more-prolific of MCs of the ’90s after coming out of the Queensbridge housing projects in Queens. Prodigy of Mobb Deep mentioned Nas extensively in his autobiography, My Infamous Life; as the story goes, Prodigy and Nas once had a rap battle that ended in a draw. He’s one of NYC’s most-legendary rappers, so Nas will probably shine the brightest among Coachella’s rap/hip-hop performers.
Sunday, April 13 and 20
Preservation Hall Jazz Band: This is a rather strange, if welcome, inclusion on the Coachella lineup. The Preservation Hall Jazz Band is the musical jewel of New Orleans’ French Quarter, and has been going since 1963. They are the house band of New Orleans’ Preservation Hall, so if you want to experience something different at Coachella, they are the one act on Sunday you won’t want to miss. If you enjoy them, check out Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue, who are performing later in the day.
J. Roddy Walston and the Business: Ever since Kings of Leon hit the mainstream, the whole Southern-rock-meets-blues thing has been ruined for me. However, J. Roddy Walston and the Business have restored some hope: There are some genuine blues influences in their music, with some lively Southern-rock touches here and there, too. These guys rock, and I’d imagine they’ll put on a great live show.
Frank Turner: While folk music already hooked up with punk rock due to work by artists such as Billy Bragg, Frank Turner is the folk-meets-punk artist of today. Unlike Bragg, Turner isn’t all that political; however, Turner did get some unwanted attention in his native United Kingdom after The Guardian ran an erroneous story about him being a right-winger; it reportedly led to death threats. In any case, Turner’s music is great, and he’ll offer an enjoyable live experience for those who wish they could have attended Coachella last year to see The Lumineers.
The 1975: The members of The 1975 (below) have been playing music together since 2002, and in 2012 (Enough years for ya?), they signed with an indie label called Dirty Hit. Since then, they’ve released a series of EPs, as well as a self-titled LP in September 2013. They’re a hit in their native UK—and are gaining attention here in the States, too. Their electro-pop sound is catchy, and they manage to include some unique themes in their lyrics. This is one band that will definitely be talked about at Coachella.