Kyle Loomis is a journalism senior and Mustang Daily music columnist.
In case you haven’t heard yet, the 2013 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival lineup was revealed Thursday night.
My first impression was mixed. As expected, the festival organizers are bringing in some of today’s hottest names in music, as well as some legacy musicians older folks can get excited about. The usual indie rock presence is there (for all the hipsters), alongside some of the most talented musicians from a wide range of genres. To break down my reaction to this year’s announcement, I’ll separate my positives and negatives, or “cheers” and “jeers.” I’ll begin with the latter.
Disclaimer: I won’t get to mention everyone worth seeing, so do your own research. You won’t regret it.
As is the method of (I think) everyone else, I always first look at the main acts, or the headliners. My initial reaction to the lineup was that this year’s headliners were only good, not great. Lukewarm, not hot. Before you scoff, just bear with me.
I’ll start first with the most exciting 2013 headliner: Sunday night’s Red Hot Chili Peppers. These veteran rockers are going to put on a good show, but a great performance is dependent on the balance between the band’s decent-but-forgettable new material and the immortal hits that dominated the ’90s.
The Chili Peppers’ last two albums — as enjoyable as they are — don’t reach the standards set by the band’s earlier albums. “Stadium Arcadium” (2006) has many good songs, but few epic ones. I want to hear more from “Blood Sugar Sex Magik” (1991) and “Californication” (1999), which were stuffed with the innovative rock-funk jams and profoundly self-reflective ballads.
Saturday night will be capped off by post-indie French rock group Phoenix, whose next album, “Bankrupt!” (Glassnote Records), is set to release in April 2013 (perfect timing). The band caught everyone’s attention four years ago with “Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix” (2009) and performed at Coachella the following year.
I’m skeptical about Phoenix’s ability to draw the same massive crowds as its Saturday night predecessors: Radiohead (2012), Arcade Fire (2011), Muse (2010) and The Killers (2009) — rock acts that have released more than one album that reached gold status. I was disappointed with the other headlining acts. Instead of rock ‘n’ roll legends the Rolling Stones (rumors about which led many to believe the band’s appearance was a virtual certainty), Friday night will be finished with some significantly less famous (but still interesting) Brits: the garage-dance-rock group the Stone Roses and Brit-pop band Blur (it remains unclear which act will follow which). Though each group has generated buzz in the music community with recent reunions, I doubt either of the two will generate much excitement outside of their fan bases, the majority of which comes from the other side of the Atlantic (only one album between the two groups has gone gold in the U.S.).
A far more interesting headlining prospect would have been stoner-rock band, Queens of the Stone Age. The band is set to release its sixth studio album sometime this year and features guest performances from Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor (who will be at Coachella as the electro-industrial-rock mastermind behind How to Destroy Angels) and Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl, who has been making news lately as well. A Queens of the Stone Age-based supergroup as a Coachella headliner surely would have dropped some jaws, but Grohl said he will not be touring with the band.
Aside from the lackluster headlining acts, Coachella 2013 attendees have a lot to be excited about. There are a lot of names in that barely legible, tiny font size on the poster that are definitely worth checking out. The lineup has shifted away from electronic dance music (EDM) superstars dominating today’s radio (Tiesto, Swedish House Mafia, Calvin Harris, David Guetta) in favor of a wider range of rock ‘n’ roll and its many subgenres. Here are some highlights of what I’m most excited about, organized by genre.
Some of the Sahara Tent names you may have picked out already are Benny Benassi, Pretty Lights, Knife Party or Bassnectar (who has delivered two amazing Avila Beach performances). But also make sure to look into Dog Blood, a collaboration project between dubstep producer/DJ Skrillex and German electro genius Boys Noize. Dog Blood’s set should be the ideal middle ground between Skrillex’s heavy, screeching dubstep and Boys Noize’s rolling electro-tech beats.
For a crash course in EDM history, catch minimalist Richie Hawtin, house-specialist Paul Oakenfold and ambient house master Moby — three producer/DJs who were a major part of the ’90s rave scene.
This electronic lineup works well for ravers familiar with the underground scene, as those past Coachella fans overly excited about Avicii or Kaskade will shift their focus to other festivals like Electric Daisy Carnival.
As I said earlier, this year’s rock music lineup is overflowing with diversity and talent. The first names to jump out at me were electronic-influenced groups such as The xx, Two Door Cinema Club, Metric, Purity Ring, Hot Chip; indie rock greats Franz Ferdinand, Modest Mouse, Of Monsters and Men, Tegan and Sara; and indie-folk barnstompers The Lumineers.
Let’s not forget the Violent Femmes’ return to Coachella, or Velvet Underground frontman Lou Reed (for you classic rock fans).
A typical Coachella will have at least a few hip-hop artists, but topping last year’s Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg performance (remember the Tupac hologram?) is an impossible task. Still, Coachella organizers did pretty well.
Two groups deserve the most attention and will surely receive it: Wu-Tang Clan and Jurassic 5.
With a full Wu-Tang Clan force (eight core members, nine if we see an Ol’ Dirty Bastard hologram), the busy stage will get attendees jumping and singing along.
Jurassic 5 will be reuniting for the first time since its 2007 break up, and will be there in full force, according to a tweet by group member DJ Nu Mark.