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To some, the success that Little Red Spiders enjoyed in April—the band won a slot at the Tachevah block party, and played on the Coachella stage during Weekend 1—seemed like it came out of the blue.

However, the band has actually been around for a while, and two members are in the well-known Desert Hot Springs band Slipping Into Darkness.

During a recent phone interview, bassist Nigel Dettelbach talked about Little Red Spiders’ origins.

“There was a band a few years back called The Dead Suites. Our former lead singer, Anthony Taboada, passed away last year, and Jesse (Williams), who is now the singer of this band—they would sing together. We had a different drummer at the time, and now we have Nigel Carnahan. So it’s basically the same band with a different lineup. We play one or two of the songs from back then in dedication to our former lead singer. … It feels like a new band, but it’s not, given we’ve been playing together for a long time.”

During Tachevah, the group’s psychedelic rock sound stood out and got people moshing. It reminded me a bit of the music of Ty Segall.

“We all like the ’60s and ’70s psychedelic rock ’n’ roll, blues, and all that stuff. So it just comes out naturally; it’s not contrived at all,” Dettelbach said. “It’s not like we’re trying to fit within a certain genre. If we make a song, we just put our color on it, and it turns out that way. We don’t go out to shoot a certain sound. It’s just all part of our natural writing process.”

Dettelbach said the band went into the Tachevah contest thinking the slot was already theirs.

“You kind of have to go in there thinking you’re going to do it; otherwise, it’s not even worth it,” he said. “I can speak for myself and the rest of the band when I say we’re not into the whole ‘pay to play’ and ‘battle of the bands’ thing, but for something like this? We weren’t going there to lose. We figured that the judges would be hip to what’s going on, and that our sound is a likable sound—catchy, good and relevant.”

Dettelbach said he and his bandmates were never nervous about playing in front of the judges. “For us, it just felt like another show. We didn’t go into it with any butterflies. It didn’t feel much different at all.”

Dettelbach and Carnahan had played Coachella before—in 2013, with Slipping Into Darkness—and they enjoyed their return to the Coachella stage with Little Red Spiders during Weekend 1. The band played with Terry Reid, a vocalist and guitarist who was almost made a member of Led Zeppelin, and who was a judge in the Tachevah contest.

“Nigel (Carnahan) and I were talking about that, and we were really happy and appreciated it,” Dettelbach said of their Coachella return. “It’s great to know even though we’re in different projects that we could do something like that.”

The Slipping Into Darkness crowd has welcomed Little Red Spiders with open arms; in fact, the two bands’ fan bases overlap quite a bit.

“Technically, it’s half the band and the rhythm section of Slipping Into Darkness,” Dettelbach said of Little Red Spiders. “Everybody that’s into the Spiders is also into Slipping, and it’s one big community.”

Dettelbach said a debut Little Red Spiders album is in the works.

“We’ve already started working on the tracking; we’re working on more songs,” he said. “We have a recording facility that we’re able to work in, and we don’t have to worry about paying people to record us, and we can spend as much time as we want on it. It’s a great thing to have. We’ll have something out fairly soon—within the next few months, to be honest.”

Dettelbach thinks both projects can achieve national success through hard work and independent promotion.

“Technically speaking, we are a local band, but we don’t think of ourselves as just a local band,” he said. “…  We plan on leaving the country and being gone for a while. We want to be a national act.”

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/LittleRedSpiders.

Coachella 2015 is now in the history books. There were a few moans and groans when the lineup came out months ago, but all and all, the festival’s performances were a success—including some fantastic shows on Day 3.

One of the most anticipated performances of the late-morning/early-afternoon was Chicano Batman. The group's psychedelic Latin sound was most definitely appropriate for Coachella, and a lot of local fans who had already seen the band’s local shows were present.

Coachella Valley's own Alf Alpha performed in the Sahara Tent shortly after noon and started off his DJ set with a lot of energy. He hopped up on a table and demanded that people raise their hands up—with the incentive of free Alf Alpha t-shirts.

The Mojave Stage became the de facto punk-rock venue early in the day. Touché Amoré offered a brutal hardcore set that was scheduled earlier than one would expect, but a lot of punk-rock devotees were present and ready to slam-dance. The energy was incredible during one of the hardest-rocking sets of the day.

OFF! was set up and ready to go when Keith Morris quietly said into his microphone at the 1:55 p.m. set time: "Should we wait another five minutes for 15 more people to show up?" The crowd had thinned after Touché Amoré, but OFF! wound up with a decent sized-crowd. Morris worked himself into a frenzy while screaming lyrics; guitarist Dimitri Coats was active and looked exhausted as they finished their set. A few minutes of tech issues aside, Morris and Coats rocked hard from beginning to end, when Morris thanked the founders of Goldenvoice individually for "making it happen."

Stagecoach is this coming weekend, but Coachella attendees were treated to a preview, of sorts, thanks to Sturgill Simpson in the Gobi tent. He has a sound similar to that of Waylon Jennings. While his music reminded of vintage country, Simpson garnered an appreciative crowd that offered a loud ovation at the end of his set. There’s one thing you can't deny about Coachella: The crowd is open-minded and eager to hear new and unexpected things.

Former child actress Jenny Lewis said she was performing at her seventh Coachella while on the Outdoor Stage. She noted the vibe was much more "low-key" than it was during Weekend 1—and that she liked it that way. Her relaxed, calm show made for a nice set to lay on the grass and take in.

Ryan Adams followed Lewis, and brought with him stage props that included oversized Fender amps, two actual working Atari arcade machines (Asteroids!) and a Dr. Pepper machine. It created interesting ambiance for a guy who has been known to perform punk, metal and country. He mostly played his alt-country material, which included some of his ballads. He pointed out that Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead was standing at the soundboard; some people thought he was joking, but Weir really was at the soundboard.

Florence Welch (Florence and the Machine) made news last week by jumping off the Coachella stage and breaking her foot. Even with the broken foot (although she didn't appear to be wearing a cast), she returned to perform what was supposed to be a half-hour set on the Coachella Stage. Seated at the front of the stage, she managed to put on a spectacular show, and her singing voice was beautiful. Toward the end of the show, she looked over to the edge of the stage and said it was a long way down—no wonder she was injured. Props to Florence Welch for putting on what turned out to be a great 45-minute show and not disappointing her fans.

As Drake took the stage, the Coachella grounds were lit up by the art installations. The caterpillar and the butterfly were both in the Coachella Stage area, as were two of the Balloon Chains. Despite being several minutes late, Drake seemed to have the largest crowd—not bad for someone with some of the weakest credentials for any Coachella headliner in recent history.

Until next year …

Scroll down to see a photo gallery from Guillermo Prieto of the Day 3 action. 

Published in Reviews

For 11 years now, the Do LaB has been part of Coachella.

It’s a festival within the festival that provides a smaller—and, some would say, more fun—Coachella experience. A lot of big names have played on the Do LaB stage, and the area has continued to grow.

“Eleven years ago, the Do LaB was given the opportunity to build a dome on the fields of Coachella,” said Russell Ward, a spokesman for the Do LaB. “From there, they sort of snuck sound into it. It was initially just supposed to be a dome to cool out in a shaded structure. They ended up having a party in there, and it went really well. Goldenvoice had found out about it, and they talked to them afterward and said, ‘Hey, we heard you had a party in the middle of ours. What if we gave you more money, and you did it bigger?’ They got a slightly bigger fee, and it’s always bigger each year.”

It was indeed bigger in 2015.

“This is our biggest structure to date,” Ward said. “It’s already seeming small with the size of the crowd out there.”

While I was waiting for Ward, I talked to a couple of producers for the Do LaB who mentioned some big names who were supposed to show up and play the Do LaB stage. While the Do LaB producers announce a lineup in advance, they always leave room for surprise guests.

“There have been some huge names and some really close friends of Do LaB, so it’s really about everyone together,” he said. “There have been so many great sets. It’s hard to pull out one set as a favorite, because they all have different sweetnesses. They all hold some special place.”

Ward explained the Do LaB’s 2015 concept.

“This structure is called Big Fish, and initially, it’s supposed to be inspired by a dead whale carcass. Essentially, Josh Fleming, the designer, is always looking for inspiration in crazy places, and this is a deep paradox to find beauty and the meaning of life, even in death. So you get to look really deep into where you can find beauty and art.”

Every year, the Do LaB includes a performance by the Lucent Dossier Experience, a cirque-style show set to music.

“Lucent Dossier is led by Dream Rockwell, who is one of the initial founders of Do LaB. She was involved from the very beginning and started Lucent Dossier,” Ward said. “All of the festivals where the Do LaB is, Lucent Dossier Experience plays. It’s born from the same creative soul and is two separate creative expressions.”

As for the future of Do LaB at Coachella, expect it to continue.

“The sky is the limit. Every year, it continues to evolve and grow. We’re really excited about the opportunity they see in us, and it’s an honor to play out here. Coachella is one of the world’s greatest stages, and it’s a big honor to play this role and watch it grow.”

For more information, visit thedolab.com.

National media sources have repeatedly pointed out that Coachella 2015 is heavy on electronic dance music.

However, it seems logical that if AC/DC is a headliner, the rest of the festival is also going to have a large rock presence—and that certainly proved to be the case on Saturday, April 18.

Around 2 p.m., Perfume Genius caught our attention on the Outdoor Stage. Perfume Genius, aka Mike Hadreas, was wearing in a long, white Betty Boop T-shirt, black fishnet stockings and lipstick. His music was down tempo, and the bass—strong enough to at times shake the ground—drove some of the songs. His dancing looked like something someone would do in his bedroom when no one was watching. His performance was provocative—in a good way.

Around 3 p.m., Royal Blood took the Outdoor Stage in front of a large crowd that had gathered to catch a glimpse of this rock duo from the United Kingdom—and Mike Kerr and Ben Thatcher gave these fans a performance they’ll never forget. There was a huge mosh pit in front of the stage; half-full bottles of water flew through the air. Their performance made a rock ’n’ roll comeback seem inevitable in the near future. Royal Blood had people chanting the band’s name in between songs—and the chants became louder and louder as the 40-minute performance went on. At the end of Royal Blood’s performance, Ben Thatcher dared to go crowd-surfing, to a massive ovation. I hated to miss any part of the Bad Religion show, but Royal Blood made my decision to do so more than worthwhile.

I did manage to catch the last half of Bad Religion’s set on the Coachella Stage. The large gathering responded beautifully to classics such as “21st Century (Digital Boy),” “American Jesus” and “Generator.” Seeing a mosh pit and the crowd-surfing, it felt almost nostalgic. Bad Religion ended their set with an awesome performance of “Sorrow.”

As the sun went down, Belle and Sebastian took the Outdoor Stage. The Scottish band that transcends genres played a variety of songs from its albums, including the recent release, Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance, which has more of a disco/electronic vibe. Strange videos accompanied some of their songs. One looked like a home of a 1950s couple, where people dropped in to dance. At the end of the set, frontman Stuart Murdoch invited some members of the audience to come up and dance to “The Boy With the Arab Strap,” as is the band’s tradition.

After Belle and Sebastian, Father John Misty appeared on the Outdoor Stage. With a heart-shaped LED sign that hung in the background saying “No Photography,” Misty made his stage performance hard to photograph with red and blue lights and strobes. He was quite animated and put on a passionate show, falling to his knees to sing emotional parts of songs, and dancing all over. Toward the end of his set, he said he had his first “wardrobe malfunction” and asked for the light to shine on one of his pant legs, which was ripped at the knee.

When Jack White went on the Coachella Stage around 9:20 p.m., the first 10 to 15 minutes of his show seemed like one long, improvised jam. Among blue lights and on a stage setup straight out of the 1950s, Jack White kept playing guitar solos and the same few chords over and over as his band jammed. When White finally began to sing full songs, he paid tribute to his late keyboardist, Isaiah Ikey Owens, who died earlier this year.

White’s performance was energetic—and loud. For almost two hours, he played both White Stripes and solo material—and yes, he even played “Seven Nation Army.”

White’s performance was certainly headliner-worthy, even if at times, it seemed like he had to fill in the blanks.

Published in Reviews

Three young homeschooled brothers from St. Joseph, Mo., played Coachella on Saturday—and proved that they belonged.

Meet Radkey, a young band which has taken the Afropunk world by storm.

After their Saturday, April 18, performance, bassist Isaiah Radke discussed their upbringing and their desire to play music.

“That movie School of Rock actually is really inspiring, and that kind of made everyone excited about electronic instruments and stuff like that,” he said.

What’s it like to make music with your two brothers? It’s not bad, Isaiah said, but he added that being younger than 18 poses a challenge.

“It hasn’t been too bad, but it’s really hard to get shows at our age,” he said. “We got some in Kansas City and Lawrence, so it was really cool. There’s not too much pressure on us, and if there was, we didn’t really feel it. Otherwise, people would see us and think, ‘What are these kids doing?’ But we never really felt any pressure—and we just rocked on.”

Radkey—the members added a “y” to their last name to create the band name—has a heavy sound. You can feel funky bass lines like those of Fishbone, combined with heavy guitars.

“We grew up with our dad’s record collection. It’s Weezer, Nirvana, Led Zeppelin—and Fishbone is one. There’s also The Ramones, The Who, and pretty much everything.”

Radkey was recently able to open a show for Fishbone, which Isaiah said was a dream come true.

“As a black band, they did everything they wanted to, and it just sucks that it didn’t work out the way it was supposed to—and it was because they were black,” said Isaiah, referring to the fact that Fishbone never received mainstream stardom. “That sucks, and I have a lot of respect for them to keep it going. We played our first show with them, and it inspired us seeing them, and I want them to know that they (inspired) us. We have a lot of respect for them, because they play whatever the fuck they want—heavy, weird, trippy, and it’s awesome. They’re one of the greatest bands ever.”

In recent years, Radkey has played at the renowned Afropunk Fest, and now Coachella. Isaiah said he and his brothers are enjoying the success.

“It feels pretty unreal,” he said. “Those are all the things you dream about—things like playing Coachella and stuff like that. This has been amazing, being in California. Being from Missouri, it’s like being on a fucking alien planet. It’s an honor.”

Both the band’s Weekend 1 and Weekend 2 performances have been well-received.

“The vibe is cool,” Isaiah said. “It’s super-chill; it smells like weed everywhere, and you couldn’t ask for a better festival vibe.”

Who knows how many couples have fallen in love after meeting at Coachella?

For example, Breaking Bad star Aaron Paul met his wife at Coachella. That’s where Sean Lennon and Charlotte Kemp Muhl met, too—a meeting that led not only to romance, but to the birth of their band, Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger.

“We met here 10 years ago by the fountain in the VIP tent,” said Lennon after their Coachella performance on Friday, April 17. “We didn’t start dating right away, but that’s when we became friends. We met through mutual friends. This festival used to be really relaxed, and it was just a friendlier vibe.”

Muhl agreed.

“There was definitely less people back then, and this was sort of a new festival,” she said. “It sort of felt like being in the wilderness in the desert, running into a stranger by a fountain in the desert. It felt very magical. Now it’s such a scene.”

Lennon and Muhl come from very different backgrounds. Lennon’s father, John Lennon, and his mother, Yoko Ono, defined hippie Bohemian life in New York City. Muhl’s family comes from Atlanta.

“Oddly, we have very similar politics and beliefs,” Muhl said. “I think opposite sides of the spectrum tend to meet in the middle. Our families still haven’t really met.”

Putting a band together as a couple can either strengthen a relationship or make it turbulent. However, both Lennon and Muhl said it’s working for them.

“At first, we started the band because we felt like we wouldn’t be able to have a relationship if we didn’t have some project together. She was really busy, and I was doing my solo project,” Lennon said. “It was sort of a solution for us not getting to see each other enough. We didn’t know it was going to be as serious as it is now; back then, it was just sort of a hobby.”

Muhl conceded there are challenges.

“It’s definitely difficult to collaborate with your lover,” she said. “Most bands don’t stay together for more than a couple of albums, and they break up.”

Lennon said his approach to making music is easy-going and just comes naturally.

“In terms of genres, I feel like genres were more relevant in the ’70s and ’80s, and now they’re less relevant,” he said. “I don’t even really think in terms of genres when we make music. I believe in making chords, melodies and lyrics we think are cool, but we’re not thinking of whether it’s reggae or country.”

For Muhl, her modeling career sometimes puts restrictions on her.

“It’s a conflict of interest,” Muhl said. “It’s not just in terms of time. My main contract, Maybelline, is more lenient and supportive of me touring, but there are a lot of conflicts. Right after this, I have to immediately fly to New York to shoot for Maybelline. It’s also a conflict of interest in terms of personal image. I can’t do anything too controversial, per se, so I can’t get that Mike Tyson face tattoo I want, or make that snuff film.

“I don’t make any money from music, so I have to model.”

Coachella 2015’s second weekend kicked off at 11 a.m., Friday, April 17, with a bang for local music fans.

Alchemy—which also played at Tachevah earlier this week, and at Coachella’s first weekend—launched the weekend on the Outdoor Stage. While their Tachevah performance was good, their Coachella performance was even better. Vocalist Andrew Gonzalez noted that the audience was much better this week—and some fans even started a mosh pit during the performance.

After Alchemy, Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger took to the Outdoor Stage. The band is fronted by Sean Lennon and Charlotte Kemp Muhl; it was a homecoming, of sorts, since they met at Coachella 10 years ago. Their music at times sounded like Deep Purple, with a little bit of Pink Floyd thrown in. Lennon made reference to a couple of the band’s music videos, once claiming: “You’ll like it if you like nipples.”

After Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger, Brant Bjork and the Low Desert Punk Band took the Outdoor Stage. Bjork, the drummer of the pioneering desert rock band Kyuss, should have had a bigger turnout. The crowd was thin, but full of desert rock devotees. Bjork and his band managed to pump out a lot of volume and rock the audience at the same time. Desert local and Throw Rag frontman Sean Wheeler joined in for his last number.

I walked into the show by Charles Bradley and his Extraordinaires—and soon discovered that the 66-year-old soul singer had young folks swaying and dancing to his sounds of love. However, Bradley went a few minutes over his scheduled set time—and show organizers cut the sound. Nonetheless, the band continued to play the last two minutes of his song without the PA system.

In the late afternoon, Azealia Banks took the Coachella stage. Banks has taken the world by storm, and I admit I was turned on by the first 15 minutes … however, I quickly grew tired of her act. I like my hip-hop with some rhyme and reason to it.

Speaking of rhyme and reason, Raekwon and Ghostface Killah began playing on the Outdoor Stage toward the middle of Banks’ set. The Wu-Tang Clan’s crowd was huge at the Outdoor Stage in 2013; Raekwon and Ghostface Killah managed to get a pretty large crowd crammed into the Outdoor Stage area for their performance this year. Raekwon handled the first two songs by himself, stating, “Ghostface is out back taking a shit.” After the photographers were ushered out of the photo pit, however, Ghostface Killah appeared. Their set was energetic, and featured songs from their solo efforts along with Wu-Tang works including “C.R.E.A.M.,” “Wu-Tang Ain’t Nuthin’ to Fuck Wit” and “Triumph.”

As the sun began to set, Lykke Li began to play in the Mojave tent. The Swedish indie-pop singer put on a mesmerizing performance with a combination of songs both slower and upbeat. The visual effects at times made it look as if she were performing in a forest; at other times, the effects offered a light show.

I admit I had my doubts about Steely Dan performing at Coachella. Well, now, I can eat my words: Steely Dan performed to a large crowd, including many younger fans who obviously knew the material. The jazz/blues combo sound of Steely Dan was a hit, with many festival-goers screaming “STEELY FUCKING DAN!” in between songs.

While Steely Dan came from the initial psychedelic era, Tame Impala comes from a new era of psychedelic music. The Australian outfit had a large turnout at the Outdoor Stage when they played Coachella in 2013, and it was fitting for them to play on the main stage before AC/DC. The intro was Elton John’s “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?” As Tame Impala played, the psychedelic visuals were fantastic; a combination of older songs and new songs filled the setlist. Tame Impala is new and improved: The band sounds a lot tighter now than it used to. When frontman Kevin Parker announced their last song, he told the crowd not to be sad, because AC/DC was going to come out—and it was going to get crazy.

He was right. AC/DC took the Coachella stage crowd by surprise when the stage got dark and the band got down to business—with no intro whatsoever—opening with “Hell Ain’t a Bad Place to Be.” The setlist was pretty close to the Weekend One show, and the performance was just as good.

I overheard many younger people saying things like, “I can’t believe I’m seeing AC/DC,” and, “My dad is going to be so jealous.” This proves that AC/DC is for everyone, including the children.

Scroll down to see a photo gallery from Friday’s Coachella goings-on.

Published in Reviews

Sales of music have been on the decline—yet vinyl has enjoyed a recent resurgence, a fact that’s apparent on the third Saturday of April each year, a day now known as Record Store Day.

A co-founder of Record Store Day, Michael Kurtz, explained the genesis of the idea during a recent phone interview.

“At the time in 2007, all the media coverage of record stores was negative,” Kurtz said from his home in New York City. “They were all going out of business, and people used to talk about us being the equivalent of selling monkey whips. It was just a dark time. We modeled Record Store Day after free comic-book day after we saw the success they had bringing common folk into stores.”

While the idea is to support local businesses and create enough sales to help them survive, Kurtz said there’s also a sentimental meaning to it beyond the limited editions and special releases.

“People focus on that because of the dollar amount—but it also misses the whole point of celebrating the local neighborhood record store,” he said. “All the stores are doing in-store performances, and a lot of them link up with charities and so forth. It’s all about the celebration, but people focus on the releases.”

At Coachella on Friday, April 17, the craziness started at 11 a.m. when the festival’s store opened, although it calmed down through the day. Jon Halperin, who orders the product and helps manage the Coachella record store, said he expected heavy sales to continue through the weekend.

“We sold well over 1,000 records this morning,” Halperin said. “We sold probably half of our Record Store Day product (even though it was the day before Record Store Day). We had a line of 20 or so people, and then when doors opened, everyone just came in. We sold more product today than we did last year on Record Store Day.”

What are some examples of a limited release for this year’s Record Store Day?

“Everyone is into something different. … The most popular records this year are the brand-new reissue of the Whiplash soundtrack, and The Lego Movie soundtrack was really popular. We only get so many; no matter what I order, it doesn’t mean I’m going to get it. We were supposed to get two Elvis Presley 10-inch records that were put out by Third Man Records, and they weren’t able to pull them in time, and we didn’t get them.”

Halperin said Record Store Day craziness should continue at Coachella through the weekend.

“Coachella has always done it on Friday. Record Store Day might be on Saturday, but the way we see it is most of these kids are stuck here anyway, so why not let them do their shopping on Friday afternoon? For $5, we’re going to hold their bags back here all weekend long in an air-conditioned trailer.”

As for the independent stores who are not at Coachella, does Record Store Day help pay the bills? Kurtz said it does.

“What I hear consistently is that it pays the bills for two months,” Kurtz said. “The neighbors come out and support them and everything, so it’s definitely very positive. I hear, too, that stores that were struggling became sound after (the invention of) Record Store Day. Because of that and Black Friday, they have two very strong things they can do, and it helps them connect with the community so they get more regular customers coming in.”

As for the resurgence of vinyl, Kurtz said he thinks the format will stick around for a while, even though a brief 1990s resurgence quickly fizzled out.

“All the vinyl manufacturing plants are now running at maximum capacity, and turntable manufacturers are seeing their business doubling every year,” he said. “Everything is moving in that direction. We’re optimistic.”

It’s becoming an age-old tradition to gripe about the Coachella headliners. However, if you look past the big names on the poster, you’ll find a lot of great acts. Here are some to consider including in your Coachella schedule.


Friday, April 10 and 17

The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger

I’m amazed that this band is listed so low on Friday’s lineup. The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger consists of American fashion model Charlotte Kemp Muhl and Sean Lennon (yes, John Lennon’s son). After meeting each other and falling in love at Coachella in the mid-2000s, Lennon realized Muhl had talent as a singer. In 2010, they released their first album, Acoustic Sessions, which was warmly received. This band definitely belongs at Coachella.

Brant Bjork and the Low Desert Punk Band

Sadly, this is another small-print booking. Locals should recognize this name—and if you don’t, you have some learnin’ to do. Brant Bjork was one of the founding members of the legendary desert-rock group Kyuss, with John Garcia and Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme. You definitely don’t want to miss Bjork’s performance at Coachella, given he’s one of the people who put the Coachella Valley on the map, music wise. Check out our interview with Bjork at the start of the music section.

Trippy Turtle

Last summer during one of Splash House parties, Independent contributor Guillermo Prieto and I were mystified by this young DJ who wore a green hoodie with a turtle on it. His DJ set was upbeat and fun—and you’ll hear a clip of that YouTube video of the little boy saying “I like turtles” several times throughout his set. (See a photo from Prieto at the top right.)

Steely Dan

This was the one listing on the lineup that had me saying “WTF?” when I first saw it. Steely Dan is a delight for true music-lovers, even though many of the people who will be at Coachella did not yet exist (myself included) back in 1972 when they first formed. Donald Fagen and Walter Becker are musical geniuses, and while their blend of jazz and rock is considered “soft rock,” Steely Dan shouldn’t be lumped into the same genre as the Eagles and Michael Bolton. This is a strange booking for Coachella—but it will probably still be awesome.


Saturday, April 11 and 18

Parquet Courts

This New York City post-punk/garage band has managed to drum up momentum from the DIY, indie and mainstream scenes since it seemingly came out of nowhere in 2010. I’ve seen them once before, and I can say that if you like an edgier and dirtier (in a good way) sound, Parquet Courts are for you.

Royal Blood

A gentleman I talked to not too long ago at Pappy and Harriet’s suggested this band to me after we talked about the White Stripes and the Black Keys. This duo from the United Kingdom has an impressive sound, and the self-titled debut album is balls-to-the-wall rock ’n’ roll from beginning to end. I can’t wait to see Royal Blood’s live show.

War on Drugs

While the name is amusing, War on Drugs is no joke: Front man Adam Granduciel has exemplary skills as a singer-songwriter. War on Drugs, which once included Kurt Vile, has a sound similar to that of Destroyer, The New Pornographers, and Real Estate. Make sure you check this band out. (Photo below.)

The Weeknd

In 2010, this guy became the talk of the underground-music scene, and his debut album, released a year later, was highly anticipated. The Weeknd has an interesting genre listing: PBR&B, in reference to the hipster culture’s love of Pabst Blue Ribbon and R&B, or hipster-based R&B. Whatever. The bottom line: The Weeknd makes great R&B that is soulful and dark at the same time—and the fact that he’s on the reclusive side adds a little mystery.


Sunday, April 12 and 19

The Orwells

This Chicago outfit has been on the rise since 2009. After they toured with the Arctic Monkeys, played at Lollapalooza and recently appeared on Late Show With David Letterman, it makes sense to see The Orwells playing at Coachella in 2015. I suggest listening to the band’s most recent album, Disgraceland, before the festival; you won’t be disappointed.

Chicano Batman

I have had a number of opportunities to see this band—and thanks to bad luck, I’ve missed them every time. These guys are not only one of the best DIY indie-bands in the Southwest U.S.; they also have a unique sound that combines Latin music with soul and psychedelic rock. Check out The Lucky 13 on Page 38 for more info.

Jenny Lewis

When I was a third-grader, I was a Nintendo-playing kid who was fascinated with the movie The Wizard, which Jenny Lewis, then a child actress, appeared in with Fred Savage. Lewis is now all grown up and playing music—and she’s pretty awesome. Her Americana-meets-pop sound is a lot of fun; she was even a part of Bright Eyes at one time. For giggles, look up the Christmas-themed comedy skit she took part in with Megadeth back in 2013 on Jimmy Kimmel Live.

Marina and the Diamonds

Marina and the Diamonds were beloved by some of my co-workers at Borders Books and Music (R.I.P.) back in 2010 after she dropped her debut album, The Family Jewels—and Marina Diamandis has been pushing the envelope ever since. She has a new album out, and Marina and the Diamonds should be a highlight of the festival.

Published in Previews

Benjamin Booker has had a busy couple of years: His blues-meets-punk style has gained him a growing audience, as well as the attention of Jack White and major music publications. He’s made appearances at Lollapalooza and other big-name festivals—and he’ll be at Coachella on Saturday, April 11 and 18.

Booker was born in Virginia Beach, Va., into a military family—his father served in the Navy—and eventually settled in Tampa, Fla. Booker wasn’t available for a phone interview due to the fact he was touring in Europe, but he did answer questions via e-mail.

“We lived in Virginia Beach, which I believe holds the entire Atlantic fleet. It was better than it was for most,” Booker said. “We never moved until after my dad retired. My only memory is passing by huge ships every day in the car, and some (people) walking across a terrifyingly thin metal walkway to get on them.”

Booker said he discovered punk rock through a friend.

“When I was 14, my friend who I used to skateboard with handed me a burned copy of Minor Threat’s Complete Discography, which I listened to constantly in high school,” he said. “‘Seeing Red’ and ‘Filler’ were a couple favorites. I just liked the energy, I guess. I’ve always liked all things noisy and fast.”

He later discovered that punk and blues could co-exist. He also said gospel music was helpful in finding inspiration.

“I guess I realized you could combine blues and soul with punk from listening to bands like T. Rex, the Gun Club, the White Stripes, TVOTR and the Gories,” he said. “There have been several bands who have done it, but I wanted to do something a little different. I was listening to a lot of gospel singers at the time, and I wanted to add some of that, too—people like Viola James and Mahalia Jackson. I think the two genres are both very honest, because you have to mean it when you’re doing either.”

NPR reported that Booker once applied for an internship there; he was rejected and told to focus on his music. I asked him where he thinks he would have ended up had NPR accepted him.

“Maybe I would be doing the same thing. Alex Spoto, who plays bass for me, actually got that same internship the year I applied for it,” he said.

When Booker began to make a name for himself, Jack White came calling—and offered him an opening slot on tour.

“I was surprisingly not nervous,” Booker said. “It turns out that it’s easier to play for bigger crowds than smaller ones. I didn’t get nervous again until our small-club shows afterward.

“I had a good time on that tour. Everyone was very kind, and it was incredible touring with people who have perfected the living experience. Getting to see it every night was like going to the best class ever. We all took notes.”

As of now, Booker said he is focusing on live shows, and he added that he’s excited about coming to the desert—especially to see some of the other Coachella performers.

“I love California, so I’m always excited for a trip there,” he said, “As for Coachella, I’m excited to see Perfume Genius and a bunch of other people playing.”

Published in Previews