Thankfully, summer is on its way, and with the warmer weather comes the tendency for people to put on music festivals. Warped Tour hits this summer, but there is festival much closer in time, even though it’s at the opposite end of the country. Coachella Music and Arts Festival hits Indio, California, for a 3-day weekend, April 16-18. They showcase both up-and-coming artists as well as seasoned veterans of their genre on multiple stages, everything from Coheed and Cambria to Jay-Z. The amazing thing about their schedule is that it’s such a variety. I wish I could discuss all of the artists in this article, but there is only time to pick a few that are established and a few that are somewhat unknown.
On Friday, April 16th, the band As Tall As Lions performs. Probably most famous for their song, Love Love Love, they’ve carved a spot in the indie scene, mixing sort of a trance-like jazz sound with Coldplay-type vocals. Kickin’ Myself is another good track by them, and it’s where you really here the amazing vocal range of lead singer Daniel Nigro. In contrast to As Tall As Lions’ breezy indie sounds, the cult legend Echo and the Bunnymen will also be performing on Friday. Their post-punk sounds, and their creation of a sort of ‘80s grunge, were best seen from the soundtrack to the film, Donnie Darko, which featured The Killing Moon. Easily their most famous recording, The Killing Moon, became a hit in 1983 and reached the top twenty charts of both America and their home of England. Yeasayer, a band of recent fame in the NPR scene, will also be playing. Yeasayer creates a very interesting and original indie sound. The way they meld instrumental variety and often harmonized vocals is truly amazing to me, for the exact reason that it is so layered and different from most other music I’m listening to. Tightrope is a good track by them, as well as Wait for the Summer. Other notable artists performing on Friday: The Avett Brothers, Grizzly Bear, She & Him, Jay-Z, Vampire Weekend, and The Dillinger Escape Plan.
The following day, Saturday April 17th, holds a mind-blowing assortment of artists including legendary Primus member and bass master, Les Claypool. For starters, MGMT is a band that has combined 70s style music with electronica to create an amazingly original sound that has surprisingly reached the height of popularity. The band doesn’t have specific songs I would suggest, other than maybe Electric Feel and Kids, because in all honesty, the entire album of Oracular Spectacular is good. MGMT is also working on a new album that’s set to hit stores April 13 called Congratulations. Portugal the Man is yet another brilliant band to grace the stage of Coachella. PTM creates an original, trance-like sound with most of their songs although they began with rather harshly instrumental roots. They often harmonize in their songs as well, with tracks like The Sun and The Woods coming from their 2008 album The Satanic Satanist, as well as more recent tracks like The Dead Dog from their newest album, American Ghetto. Old Crow Medicine Show will also be there with their 6-member folk ensemble that carries bluegrass as well as country influences with them. Their last three albums have all hit number one on the US Bluegrass charts, with the highest praise coming to their newest album, Tennessee Pusher. Probably best known for their songs Down Home Girl and Wagon Wheel, a tribute to Bob Dylan’s work, Old Crow Medicine Show can’t be missed. Again, in contrast to OCMS, Porcupine Tree is playing at Coachella in all of their splendor. This band is one that I’ve loved for some time now. Their lead singer, Steven Wilson, created Porcupine Tree in 1987 and has been what I view as carrying the flame of Roger Waters from Pink Floyd. Porcupine Tree’s music is much like Pink Floyd’s, yet the forms of metal and progressive are seen more in the mix with that psychadelic trance. Some of their best songs are Fear of a Blank Planet, Normal, and Dark Matter, the latter being the first song I heard by them and actually had it mistaken with Pink Floyd’s work. It’s that good. Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros are also playing. This ten person Indie/Pop ensemble band led by Alex Ebert, is probably most famous for their highly praised album Up From Below and specifically the track, Home. The song demonstrates an amazing 70s-style semi-harmonius sound with a story to tell, and this band does it well. Other notable artists performing Saturday: Coheed and Cambria, Muse, RX Bandits, Tokyo Police Club, and Faith No More.
Finally, Sunday April 18th, seems to hold the most unkown artists, and thereby promising new discoveries. Deerhunter is best known for their ambient punk sound that’s really revived an odd mix of Sonic Youth and The Killers sounds. Agoraphobia and Strange Lights are great songs by them, as well as anything of the Microcastle EP. Florence and the Machine highlights musician Florence Welch performing with a four-member support band. Their sound is also another mix of Indie and Pop, but her vocals really stand out against her contemporaries, as she reminds me of another Karen O figure (from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs). Simultaneously, the material they’ve produced has an undeniable and rather original element of soul music. Florence and the Machine is best known for their songs Dog Days and Kiss With A Fist. Local Natives, an indie based rock group from Los Angeles, recently released an album in February called Gorilla Manor. With it being their first album to be released in the US, they obviously had to meat certain expectations, and they did! The band has been a feature on NPR for some time, as well as played on the Jimmy Kimmel show. Best known for their harmonized vocals, I suggest the songs Wide Eyes, Sun Hands, and Airplanes. The French Alternative Indie Rock group Phoenix will also be playing at Coachella. Achieving almost instant fame once their material hit American shores, they are most famous for the song 1901 and their only US-released album called Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. Another couple of songs I would suggest by them are If I Ever Feel Better and Everything is Everything. Recently formed in 2007, the Swedish band Miike Snow will be performing. Also gaining NPR fame upon American arrival, they’re best known for their self-titled album and the opening track, Animal. Other notable artists playing on Sunday: Spoon, Sunny Day Real Estate, Mutemath, Thom Yorke (Radiohead), and Gorillaz.
While this show is in California, and I don’t expect many of you to get out there for the festival, I’ve still provided a variety of bands that can’t be missed. They’re obviously doing great things in the music industry or Coachella wouldn’t sign them to perform. Check them out and see what you think. If you’re anything like me, their music will literally make your day on some days and be exactly what you wanted to hear.