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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Since its inception in 1999, Coachella has continued to evolve—to the point where it’s now one of the most well-known festivals in the world.

This year, it went through a large evolutionary step: The capacity went from 99,000 people to 125,000. The site was also reorganized, with the Outdoor Stage and the Mojave and Gobi tents pulled all the way back against Monroe Street. The Sahara Tent is a permanent fixture on the site, but the interior got all sorts of new effects. There is also a new tent, too: the daytime/early evening-only Sonora Tent. It offered an air-conditioned, club-like atmosphere and hosted a lot of punk-rock acts, like as T.S.O.L., The Interrupters, Shannon and the Clams and others.

Many Weekend 1 attendees took to social media to complain about crowding in the general admission areas. There was some truth to those complaints, as I learned during Weekend 2.

Still, I found it pretty easy to move around the festival with only a general-admission-wristband. I did notice longer lines for the restrooms, and thanks to an increase in the number of disabled patrons attending Coachella, the ADA platforms at all the stages got full early.

Another issue: The lobby area after the security checkpoints got overly crowded throughout the mid-afternoon to late evening. On Sunday night, I at one point found myself in a human traffic jam, in the middle of a large crowd of people trying to push through a bottleneck.

Yes, these are serious issues that need to be addressed for Coachella 2018. Still, I found the festival rather navigable overall.

Some Sunday highlights

• Ezra Furman, the first act on the Outdoor Stage on Sunday afternoon, opened his set with a cover of the Misfits’ “Where Eagles Dare.” His set had a lot of highlights; it was as if Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys and the Ramones had a love child. The mixture of piano, a bit of harmony and a punk-rock sound was fascinating.

• Lee Fields and the Expressions was the first act to perform on the Main Stage. Fields has a very powerful voice, even by old R&B/soul standards, and his songs got the crowd going—singing along, clapping and slowly waving hands in the air as Fields sang slow, ballad-like songs about love or changing the world for the better.

• Future Islands’ early-evening set on the Outdoor Stage was just as impressive as the set I witnessed in 2013 when the band performed in the Gobi Tent. Front man Samuel Herring is well-known for his high-energy dance moves, and on Sunday, he pulled them off quite well. After 11 years together, the band is still climbing the ladder of indie-rock success, and doing so without many stage effects or crazy gimmicks. Who knows what we’ll see from them in the future?

• TSOL closed out the Sonora Tent on Sunday night with a fun performance—complete with old-school Los Angeles punk attitude, mosh pits, circle pits and Jack Grisham’s wild banter. He explained that while the band was recording the recent record, the members were one studio over from Snoop Dogg. At one point, the crew joined Snoop for a game of basketball—when John Fogerty drove his Corvette onto the tennis court. Grisham said he politely asked him to move it, and Fogerty simply walked away. Grisham’s response: He pulled up the door handle and put it between his butt cheeks. When Snoop and his crew said that Jack’s actions were “pretty fucked up,” Grisham responded that they didn’t know what punk was about. Oh, and Grisham said he also rubbed his scrotum all over Fogerty’s hood, too. In other news: Grisham pointed out that keyboardist Greg Kuehn’s son, Max Kuehn (who plays in the band FIDLAR), was filling in on drums.

• New Order put on a tremendous headlining performance in the Mojave Tent on Sunday night; it was one of the best shows I saw. The performance was upbeat, included more of a dance music element, and filled up the entire tent, with overflows onto the lawn area. The band played two Joy Division songs for the encore: “Decades” and “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” both of which paid tribute to friend and Joy Division front man Ian Curtis. 

Photo credits (below): Aerial shot, by Chris Miller/Goldenvoice; Ezra Furman, by Greg Noire/Goldenvoice; Future Islands, by Greg Noire/Goldenvoice; Lee Fields and the Expressions, by Chris Miller/Goldenvoice; New Order, by Charles Reagan Hackleman/Goldenvoice.

From the time it was announced through Lady Gaga’s late addition as a headliner fill-in for the pregnant Beyoncé, this year’s Coachella lineup has been one of the most questioned and talked-about ever.

Beyond the headliners, however, there are always gems among the names in the smaller font on the poster. Here are some acts I’ll make sure to see—and I recommend that you check them out, too.


Friday, April 14 and 21

Tacocat

The name is funny, and so is some of the music, but this Seattle band, around since 2007, has a seriously interesting punk-rock sound. Three of the band’s four members are women, and during an interview with VICE, bassist Bree McKenna claimed that she was the illegitimate child of Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine. She was kidding … we think. Don’t dawdle on Friday; get to Coachella early to catch this band’s feminist messages, humor and sarcasm.

Preservation Hall Jazz Band

I always love the variety of music showcased at Coachella throughout the weekend—and seeing the Preservation Hall Jazz Band will be a real treat. This legendary New Orleans jazz band has been going since 1963, and an impressive list of musicians has come through the band. The group also recently appeared on the Foo Fighters’ album Sonic Highways. The band played Coachella in 2014—and it felt like you couldn’t escape them. Beyond the band’s scheduled set, the group showed up in the Heineken tent to perform with Angelo Moore of Fishbone, and also appeared with Arcade Fire later in the evening. For a minute, I thought I might even see them busking in the parking lot.

Father John Misty

I’m so happy that Father John Misty is not scheduled at the same time as Radiohead’s headliner set. I included Father John Misty in my Coachella suggestions in both 2013 and in 2015—and both sets were amazing, so there’s no reason to think he won’t be blowing minds again in 2017. The former Fleet Foxes drummer has come a long way as a solo artist. His indie-folk sound has a lot going on in it, and his songs are deep—and often hilarious. Definitely make sure you catch Father John Misty; you won’t be disappointed.


Saturday, April 15 and 22

Yip Yops, Kayves

A different local band or two is announced as a Coachella performer, playing early on a stage, a few days before both Weekend 1 and Weekend 2. CIVX (now Killjoi), Machin’, EeVaan Tre, Alchemy, Brightener and The Flusters have played in this slot. Who will play this year? We received the answer for Weekend 1 today: Kayves on Friday, and Yip Yops on Saturday. As for Weekend 2, worthy contenders include The BrosQuitos, Hive Minds and the reigning Independent Best of Coachella Valley Best Local Band, Venus and the Traps. Locals: Go and support the bands are selected!

Warpaint

Psychedelic pop/rock band Warpaint (upper right) turns in live performances that soak attendees in dark psychedelic vibes—no frills necessary. The group’s most recent album, last year’s Heads Up, took the band in more of a pop direction, but let me assure you: The album is fantastic, and was one of my favorites of 2016. The tracks “New Song” and “So Good” get stuck in your head—and you only want to hear more.

Thundercat

Flying Lotus protege Thundercat is a musician on the rise. After releasing his latest album, Drunk, in February, he’s gotten bigger thanks to the buzz that has surrounded it. Thundercat’s electronic funk mixed with soul somehow sounds both futuristic and traditional. His bass grooves on Drunk are so damn smooth, and his collaborations with people such as Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald are weird and fantastic at the same time. It’s hard to believe this guy was once playing bass for Suicidal Tendencies.

The Head and the Heart

I saw The Head and the Heart’s set at Coachella in 2014, where I learned the band’s folk sound could work well at Stagecoach, too. The Head and the Heart remind me a lot of The Lone Bellow, because the songs are deep, yet The Head and the Heart also can play in styles similar to Fleet Foxes, Iron and Wine, and even Vampire Weekend. The band writes more complex parts for the mandolin and fiddle than most Americana bands.


Sunday, April 16 and 23

Toots and the Maytals

Goldenvoice has put some great reggae legends on the Coachella stage—and Toots and the Maytals, one of the great reggae/ska bands of the early ’60s, is the latest band that is part of that welcome trend. Toots Hibbert (below) is a reggae legend who has the voice of a soul singer; he’s written some of reggae’s greatest songs, and has performed with acts such as the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Major Lazer, Eric Clapton, Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones, and many others.

Hans Zimmer

This one makes me laugh every time I look at the Coachella lineup. One of my friends who worked in the film industry at Warner Bros. asked me, “Hans Zimmer ... how does that work, exactly?” The legend who has created the scores for films such as The Dark Knight, The Lion King, Inception and many other blockbusters is definitely an odd addition to the lineup … but I have a feeling he’s going to silence anyone who made fun of his inclusion, even though I have no idea what his performance will entail. Who knows … maybe Goldenvoice can get Philip Glass to perform in the future?

Future Islands

In 2014, I went Pappy and Harriet’s before Coachella started to watch The Pixies. As I was leaving Pappy’s, one of the owners, Linda Krantz, asked if I was staying for the very late performance of Future Islands; I declined. While at Coachella the next day, I took a short nap on the grass in the media area right behind the Gobi tent … and was woken up by a catchy bass line. I got up and walked into the Gobi to watch Future Islands, which had just started the set. I was blown away, and I can’t wait to see Future Islands at Coachella again.

New Order

New Order is made up of the surviving members of Joy Division (now minus bassist Peter Hook) and was one of the biggest bands of the ’80s and ’90s. Take note: Bernard Sumner is known to be a serial complainer during performances. When I caught the band’s set at Coachella in 2013, Sumner bitched throughout—to the sound engineer about a botched intro (before the band even played a note), and about headliner Phoenix, which was playing on the Main Stage at the same time. That aside, the band turned in a great performance. Expect some great visuals and music to dance to—things any Coachella attendee will appreciate. 

Updated on April 11 after release of set times.

Published in Previews

It’s definitely hot out here.

The second day of the second weekend of Coachella 2013 featured high temperatures in the 90s by mid-afternoon. But despite the heat, most of the attendees were having a good time.

Still, many sought shade under the Mirage art exhibit, designed by Paul Clemente of Los Angeles. Mirage, a Frank Lloyd Wright-looking housing structure, was crowded in the open spaces under the roof.

“It’s pretty hot, but not too unbearable,” said John, from Santa Monica. “It bothers me a little bit, especially right now.”

The Helix Poeticus—a large mechanical snail that moves around—was close by, attracting the curiosity of attendees who were snapping photographs and touching it as it slowly slithered around the main stage area, close to Mirage. Eric Hendricks, from Orange County, was in awe.

“I love it; I love the interactiveness of Coachella with the people,” he said.

However, there was a potential downside.

"It’ll run you over if you’re not paying attention,” Hendricks said.

The Do LaB, a long-running exhibit at Coachella, features live DJs in an area within teepee-like structures. “The vibe is great, and there’s a lot of bass,” said an Indio man coming out of The Do LaB. The dance floor and the DJ stage resemble a smaller version of the dance parties once shown on MTV’s Spring Break.

On the subject of electronic dance music, Saturday’s lineup of EDM artists was featured in the Mohave tent as well as the large EDM-featured Sahara Tent.

Major Lazer took the Mojave stage at 6:25 p.m. on Saturday to a full house that extended to areas around the stage. Jillionaire and Walshy Fire jumped around, barking orders to the crowd to jump, put their hands up, and remove their shirts and toss them into the air. The people obeyed, sending a collage of various colored shirts into the air. Diplo stayed at the mixing board, offering remixes of songs from Nirvana, Damian Marley and Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Toward the end of the set, the group was joined by 2 Chainz, who performed earlier in the day.

The EDM in the Mojave and Sahara tents drew a large chunk of the crowd, trying to get a peek at artists such as Grizzly Bear and Fedde Le Grand. The main stage and the outdoor theater saw drops in crowd sizes between 6 and 8:30 p.m.

The ‘80s British ska band The Selecter took the stage at 7:10 in the Gobi tent to a small crowd. Many of the attendees had most likely never heard of the group, yet were dancing and bouncing around to the band’s anthems such as “On My Radio,” “Missing Words” and “Too Much Pressure.” The crowd had very few people “skanking”—a signature dance move done by ska devotees. But regardless, attendees couldn’t resist dancing or bouncing.

Punk icons the Descendents took the outdoor theater stage at 9:05. Milo Aukerman walked on and started playing “Everything Sucks” with some technical difficulties (the volume was too low) to a smaller-than-expected crowd. The band only plays a few shows a year due to Milo’s gig as a “plant researcher” at DuPont, and he chooses his vacation days wisely when it comes to touring. Still, the band had incredible energy and managed to pull in an audience that increased in size throughout the entire set. Milo read off a list if “punk commandments,” some of which were “thou shalt not commit laundry” and “thou shalt not take the van’s name in vain.” During what seemed to be a longer set than last weekend’s show, the Descendents looked happy and energetic.

The EDM presence remained strong through the evening. Moby … ahem, DJ Moby was performing at the Sahara, which was packed to capacity with an overflow. Moby, dressed in a Black Flag T-shirt, jumped up and down to pump up the crowd. He moved between fast-paced beats, ambient, trance, dubstep, and even a few cuts from his own albums. The visuals that flashed through the video screens were at times psychedelic, somewhat chaotic, and breathtaking. 

As The xx prepared to take the main stage, with Franz Ferdinand scheduled to play in the neighboring Mojave tent, DJ Moby’s audience began to thin out.

While Phoenix played on the main stage, New Order headlined at the Mojave tent. For a moment, it felt like a Metallica concert: New Order used the same intro as Metallica, Ennio Morricone’s “The Ecstasy of Gold.” When Bernard Sumner and the rest of the band took the stage, Sumner addressed a technical difficulty, thanking the sound engineer for failing to fade properly.

While Sumner (guitar and vocals) and Stephen Morris (drums) both look like they have aged into AARP status, make no mistake: They still rock! While Peter Hook is sitting out this reunion (and took a shot at the band in the press by referring to them as a “tribute band”), Tom Chapman fit in nicely on bass guitar.

Throughout the set, Sumner took shots at main stage headliner, Phoenix. “Thank you for being here instead of over there,” he said. Later on, he said—while experiencing technical difficulties in between songs—that they were out to prove to Phoenix that louder doesn’t mean better.

New Order played songs from throughout their career. “Your Silent Face,” from 1983’s Power, Corruption and Lies, featured a makeshift film in the background that made light of mankind’s destruction, showing shipwrecks off the shores of beautiful islands, helicopters flying over ravaged cities, shanties in parts of Los Angeles, and a big tidal wave hitting homes on the L.A. coast line. The band’s performance of “Blue Monday,” their hit single that was later covered by Orgy in the late '90s, delighted the audience. The former Joy Division members paid tribute to the late Ian Curtis with a portrait of him appearing on the backdrop as they played “Love Will Tear Us Apart.”

While I was leaving, I had one question in mind: Phoenix who? Performances on other stages stole the show from the early evening until the very end.

Photos by Noelle Haro-Gomez

Published in Reviews

After a flurry of rumors, parodies and anticipation, the lineup for Coachella 2013 was finally released earlier this week.

While those of us here at the Independent have our own opinions on the lineups (No Daft Punk?! Damn it!), we'll shut up for now. Instead, we scoured the good ol' Weekly Wide Web for reactions.

We did find a wee bit of consensus. For example, everyone was understandably bummed that some of the rumored headliners (Stones, Bowie, Daft Punk) were just rumors; and there's a surprising amount of consensus that the second-tier acts are rather strong. 

Here are eight bits of reaction worth noting, in no particular order:

  • The Los Angeles Times' August Brown was surprised by the lack of EDM (electronic dance music) in the lineup. "One has to scroll down to the third line of any given day before a proper dance act is listed (some electro-leaning bands like The Postal Service and New Order have higher billing). In more recent years, EDM acts like Swedish House Mafia and Tiesto have closed out nights on the main stage and drew more fans than the ostensible headliners," Brown notes.
  • The provocateurs over at Spin offer 10 reasons why the lineup sucks—and 20 why it doesn't. Spin's Chris Martins, for example, is excited about the reunion of The Postal Service, but pissed about the apparent lack of holograms. (RIP, Tupac.)
  • Across the pond, the folks at The Guardian seem thrilled that British bands "dominate" the lineup. "Joining Damon Albarn and co on the first night of the event, which takes place over consecutive weekends in April, will be the Stone Roses. The band will be playing their first US gigs since re-forming in 2012," the paper notes. "The lineup has a heavy UK presence, with performances promised from the xx, New Order, Hot Chip, Two Door Cinema Club, Biffy Clyro, Foals, Franz Ferdinand, Jessie Ware, Jake Bugg, James Blake and Johnny Marr."
  • Speaking of the Stone Roses: An entire Tumblr page has been developed to compile the reactions of (mostly younger) Twitter-users asking: Who in the heck are the Stone Roses? It's an oddly amusing read. (Doesn't anyone know how to use the Google these days?)
  • The folks over at MTV.com (Remember when MTV had music credibility? The folks who have tweets on the aforementioned Tumblr page probably don't!) focus on the reunions. James Montgomery writes (after actually using the word "kvetching"): "Late Thursday night, (Coachella) organizers took to Twitter to reveal the full lineup for the 2013 edition of the fest, which features recently-reunited acts like the Stone Roses, Blur and the Postal Service, returning indie champs Phoenix, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Vampire Weekend and, uh, the Red Hot Chili Peppers."
  • Up in the Pacific Northwest, Portland, Ore.'s Willamette Week is decidedly unimpressed with the lineup. "Coachella’s hotly anticipated lineup is out and—woof. If this lineup was announced for (George, Wash. festival) Sasquatch, we’d be ho-hum. But for the West Coast’s premiere music festival to have Blur, Phoenix and the Red Hot Chili Peppers headlining is really bumming us out." Writer Martin Cizmar then goes on to list holograms that could save the festival. Har!
  • Hollywood.com's Jean Bentley sees evidence of Coachella organizer Goldenvoice's disappointment in the lineup announcement's timing: "The fact that the lineup was announced via Twitter after 8 p.m. (Pacific time!) on a Thursday—and the fact that it's out weeks later than in past years—is also quite telling. If bigger names were playing, it seems like the bands wouldn't have been revealed at such a random, late hour."
  • And finally, the granddaddy the alternative press, The Village Voice, gives the lineup a thumbs-up—albeit a weak thumbs-up. Brian McManus writes: "So what do you think? There's lots to like in there if you drill down far enough. Visions of a reunited Postal Service and the four Wu Tang members who actually show up wandering the camp grounds together are already swimming through our heads."

For more information on the festival, including an inaccurate countdown clock (as of this writing, the clock says the April festival is just two days and change away, which we don't think is correct), head over to coachella.com.