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Barring any huge surprises, Coachella 2018 will be known as the year of Beyonce … and no rock headliners.

The lineup might be hard to navigate—but I have you covered with this compilation of acts you should make time to check out.

Friday, April 13 and 20

The Buttertones: OK, we did not say Coachella 2018 was going to be completely devoid of rock. The Buttertones are a Los Angeles outfit that has been getting buzz for its brand of garage rock. The band features Sean Redman on bass (formerly of Cherry Glazerr) and Modeste Cobián on drums and other instruments. (I remember Cobián from Jeffertitti’s Nile; he’s a show of his own.) If you want to hear how weird this band can get, check out new track “Baby C4.” If you’re a fan of bands such as Shannon and the Clams and Ty Segall, you’ll love The Buttertones.

Perfume Genius: I first saw Perfume Genius at Coachella in 2015—and it was one of the most mesmerizing things I’d ever seen. Mike Hadreas has invented a pop sound that’s all his own. A lot of his songs are semi-biographical and address the bullying and death threats he received during his youth for being gay. He’s also written songs addressing other controversial subjects, ranging from domestic abuse to the problems younger gay men face in today’s LGBT world.

The War on Drugs: I know a lot of local musicians who were playing the War on Drugs’ Lost in the Dream in their cars or in their practice spaces circa 2014 and 2015. Why? Because the War on Drugs is a great band that has warm psychedelic jams. The band’s keyboard and guitars make me feel like it’s well worth putting down some hard-earned money on their vinyls.

Jamiroquai: My Jamiroquai superfan editor would raise hell if the British nu-funk band were excluded from this list. I’m fascinated by Jamiroquai, given the group is downright huge in Europe—yet all Americans seem to remember about Jamiroquai is the smash-hit song from the late ’90s, “Virtual Insanity.” Jay Kay and co. have been on many Coachella attendees’ wish lists for years. If you’re in the mood for some disco dancing and fantastic funk music, Jamiroquai is who you should see.


Saturday, April 14 and 21

Cherry Glazerr: Named after NPR news personality Chery Glaser, this Los Angeles indie-rock band fronted by Clementine Creevy has been plagued by lineup changes—including going from a four-piece to a trio—but the music has remained fabulous, including sophomore album Apocalipstick in 2017. Creevy is the subject of a documentary put out by VICE called Clementine Creevy: The Millennial Punk Feminist Icon.

Jason Bentley: You might know him from your daily commute as the DJ on KCRW, but he’s also a DJ in the Los Angeles club scene. He told me when I interviewed him a while back that his favorite music to play is house music—specifically at 124 to 126 BPM. Considering he has an ear for great music, Bentley will be a fine Coachella catch.

Chic featuring Nile Rodgers: Nile Rodgers told Rolling Stone that he would be playing Coachella in 2017. That didn’t happen; turns out he was a year off. He played a big part in Daft Punk’s 2013 megahit album, Random Access Memories, and he’s been part of recordings with David Bowie, Duran Duran, Madonna, Sam Smith, Lady Gaga and so many others. Oh, and he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017. Need any more reasons to see him?

David Byrne: Many Coachella attendees will be millennials who have never heard of the Talking Heads; they will be wondering who in the hell David Byrne is. Well, he’s not just a musician; he’s an author, a soundtrack composer, and an artist who created an interactive exhibit combining music and technology, allowing people to “play the room.” Considering he’s worked with St. Vincent, who is performing on Friday night, they may appear during each other’s sets.


Sunday, April 15 and 22

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever: Thisis a pop band out of Australia that has received praise from a lot of rock writers, including the legendary Robert Christgau, who is not easy to win over. The band has a lot of catchy tunes that will get stuck in your head. The group put out the EP The French Press on Sub Pop Records last year, and fans have been waiting patiently for a full-length album. This is one band that could make pop music cool again.

Motor City Drum Ensemble: German house-music producer Danilo Plessow (below) goes by this moniker and is becoming one of the most recognizable producers in the world. The one thing I love about his stuff is that it has elements of soul, disco, jazz and ambient music. Just about anything he puts together can get you grooving. He’s proclaimed he’s bringing the soul back to techno and house … and it’s about time!

The Drums: The Drums made a big splash in 2010 with the group’s self-titled debut album. The duo of Jonny Pierce and Jacob Graham did quite well for themselves in subsequent years, too—but Graham announced he’d left the group last year, leaving Pierce to carry on. The latest album, Abysmal Thoughts, is solid all around, so it will be interesting to see The Drums live without Graham. I’m betting that Pierce will keep the band going successfully for years to come.

Kamasi Washington: You probably recognize his name if you’re a fan of Flying Lotus, Kendrick Lamar or Run the Jewels—and his collaborations with these acts have made him almost as famous as they are. This jazz saxophonist is no stranger to Coachella, having performed here in 2016—and it has warmed my heart to see jazz at Coachella in recent years. I’m really stoked for Kamasi Washington.

Published in Previews

On this week's thirst-quenching weekly Independent comics page: This Modern World catches some of Donald Trump's standup comedy; Jen Sorenson takes a peek at the goings-on at Fox News; The K Chronicles eavesdrops on a post office chat between a kid and a mother; and Red Meat finally forces Milkman Dan to get some help.

Published in Comics

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