Coachella 2015: Eight Must-see Artists
By Tobias Pettigrew
Coachella. It’s one of the most legendary, sought-after festivals in the country. Located in the Coachella Valley in California, the three-day desert festival attracts hordes of festival-goers, over 500,000 each year, in fact. With its roots firmly in indie and rock, Coachella has branched out to include an eclectic mix of artists, ranging from electronic dance music (EDM) to heavy metal, and 2015 is no exception to that variety.
While previous years were celebrity-heavy, with the likes of Calvin Harris and Pharrell Williams making their appearances, this year’s strengths lie in the small-to-medium acts, playing to the theme of an eclectic mix of high quality artists. Here are 8 of those acts you have to check out in April:
- Royal Blood
Pearl Jam founded Coachella, and bands like Royal Blood keep that torch lit. Nay, burning furiously. The English two-piece play bluesy, rhythm-heavy rock ‘n’ roll that might make the likes of Led Zeppelin double-take. In fact, they did. Jimmy Page said ‘absolutely riveting, they’re such fine musicians’. Touring with Jack White, Coachella will be the band’s first appearance in the US this year, so expect them to be full of oomph for this festival season.
- Tame Impala
Where better to enjoy spacey, psychedelic fuzz rock than in an idyllic, desert valley of California? Tame Impala provides the tunes, Coachella the location. The band’s vintage sound is reminiscent, even nostalgic of the late 60s and early 70s, an era of free love, eternal summers and, most importantly, groovy, kick-ass music. If you want to be momentarily transported back to this era (then rudely transported back by a drunk EDM gym bro who spills his beer all over you), check out these psych-rockers.
If Tame Impala are for hazy, feel-good summer days, Swans are the soundtrack to a dark, peyote-induced trance in the Amazonian jungle. Reforming a few years ago, the Swans pre-date even the likes of Nirvana, going all the way back to 1982 (likely a good decade before the majority of Coachella’s patrons were even born). While not necessarily a feel-good band, the Swans certainly put on a hypnotic, engrossing show, with experimental instrumentals and a terrifying, passionate energy. Michael Gira, frontman of the band, stated that a live Swans show was ‘soul-uplifting and body-destroying’. If that doesn’t summarize Coachella in 5 words, I don’t know what does.
- Jack White Courtesy of jackwhiteiii.com / Photo Credit: David James Swanson
Medium-to-small sized bands? Saturday headliner Jack White, the creative force behind the Raconteurs, White Stripes AND the Dead Weather? Bear with me, folks. While Jack White might not exactly be part of the underground, I simply couldn’t omit him. The man is a natural showman, and be it marathon sets, guest appearances, or artist covers, he knows every trick in the boot to get a crowd excited. His second album, ‘Lazaretto’, released last June, is a wonderfully eclectic and energetic, and is bound to be a crowd-pleaser at Coachella this year. Don’t miss him!
From melancholic melodies to pulsing beats, Dan Snaith, or Caribou by his most recent stage name, knows how to grip both body and soul with his music. His latest release is ‘Our Love’. If you’re looking for Electronic Dance Music (EDM) that you can rave to, Caribou are not for you. Instead, bask in the feel-good atmosphere, even nod your head a little if you like – just don’t get too rowdy, you might spoil my vibe!
While the festival has been nicknamed ‘Brochella’ for its significant lack of female-fronted acts, St. Vincent is one of the quality few. St. Vincent – or Annie Clark, by her birth name – performs eclectic, often downright strange music that fits in perfectly with the variety of music at Coachella this year. St. Vincent displays an interesting sound, featuring repetitive digital motifs, spasms of overdriven electric guitar, and a spectacularly animated live performance that complements the eccentricity of the music.
- Flying Lotus
Hip-hop infused with proggy, psychedelic, experimental sounds. Think DJ Shadow, but with more of a hip-hop influence. Steven Ellison – the man behind Flying Lotus – creates a rich, thick tapestry of sound, mixing a wide strange of sound clips and styles, and his trippy live visuals accentuate this, particularly the new introduction of Layer 3, a three-dimensional screen that surrounds Ellison, projecting colorful, ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ inspiring imagery. This is definitely a show you do not want to miss.
Another alt-electronic artist, Tycho’s music is warm, layered, and has an almost dreamlike quality. Spacey synth-riffs co-ordinate with warm, bass-laden pulses. Tycho feels deliberate, refined, and even graceful. Imagine the sonic version of Tai chi. These nostalgic vibes would truly be the ultimate come-down to a long, crazy day at Coachella. The sun’s setting down the valley…your closest friends are around you…in that moment, life seems perfect. Here’s hoping for that sunset performance slot
Special Mentions: Toro Y Moi, Run the Jewels, Parquet Courts
While this year’s Coachella may not have many heavy-hitters when it comes to big name acts, we think that there’s plenty to chew on throughout the three-day event. The festival’s lineup is as eclectic as the crowds that it attracts, and that’s what makes it such an awesome, electrifying experience. Discovering interesting, smaller acts – from alt-electro, to psychedelic rock, to experimental hip-hop – is as important as discovering and mingling with new people. On that note, see you in April!