You know that feeling you get when Spring arrives? It usually comes on the first clear, warm day, where there’s a shift in the atmosphere. The excitement for summer sets in as winter is in the rearview mirror. For music fans, Coachella offers a similar experience. The Indio, California festival represents the unofficial start to the festival season!
Of course, not everyone can afford or schedule a trip out to the West Coast to attend Coachella. But you can experience some of the best sets of the weekend with only an Internet connection. The festival streams live on YouTube over the next three days. To that end, I put together 10 acts you should definitely check out, listed by day. Before we start, I’ll note that I left out the headliners. If you’re a fan of Radiohead, Kendrick Lamar or Lady Gaga, I don’t need to tell you to stream their sets! But when it comes to the undercard, tune in for these sets.
Friday, April 14
Preservation Hall Jazz Band
I can’t think of many better ways to kick off a festival than with the kinect, feet-stomping rhythms and grooves of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. This is music for dancing, shouting and clapping. But no matter how much noise a crowd makes, it can never drown out the band’s expansive horn section. With an ever-evolving lineup of consummate pros and a lineage going back to 1963, the group is an ideal for nearly any festival. Even if you don’t think you like jazz, their talent and fun-loving attitude will win you over.
A folk trio may not seem like the best fit for a loud festival at first glance. But the three sisters who make up Joseph write songs that can hush a crowd. The tracks off last year’s album, I’m Alone, No You’re Not, takes full advantage of the power, range and control of their vocals. Their voices spiral together into a sound greater than any individual part.
Sampha’s name has floated around for the last few years as a go-to guest for a wide range of familiar artists. When Drake, Kanye West, Frank Ocean and Solange ask you to team up, you’re doing something right! All it takes is a quick listen to any of tracks on his debut, Process, to hear that special quality for yourself. It’s those electronically-tinged piano keys and his infinitely expressive voice. It’s pure soul, raw and unrestrained.
It’s been a long while since we last heard from The xx! After their second album dropped in 2012, the trio went on hiatus, only returning with I See You this year. It’s their most ambitious yet, full of creative beats and unexpected change-ups. But the interplay between the three is still there. In the push and pull between rock and dance, this leans more towards the latter. Even on their subtler material, The xx always puts on a great live show. But with this record, they may have a chance to cut loose.
Saturday, April 15
It’s uncanny. With every album Local Natives release, they just keep getting better! On last year’s Sunlit Youth, they continued their shift towards epic indie rock, while keeping the textures that stick out in all the right ways. You still get that triple-drum attack, synth flows and harmonies that make the group unique. Local Natives has been on the road for a while now so they should be a well-oiled machine for Coachella. When they perform, this band can’t help but attract passersby into their orbit.
Car Seat Headrest
If you visited any music websites recently, it was impossible to avoid Car Seat Headrest. They were eeeeeeverywhere. But, if you listened to anything off 2016’s Teens of Denial, you would be hard-pressed to deny that they deserved the hype. This band plays no-nonsense, great lo-fi rock, with riffs aplenty. This band just plays no-nonsense, great lo-fi rock, with riffs aplenty. Maybe that comes with experience. After all, Will Toledo put out nearly a dozen records on his own before getting picked up by Matador. As for live performances? They play louder and harder than on record.
Warpaint is another band that blurs the line between rock and dance music. All their songs contain an irresistible pulse, forming the basis for the band to lay over whatever they want. Sometimes, it’s a sly, smooth guitar arrangement that flickers in and out. Sometimes it’s an electronic pattern that wouldn’t be out of place on the Top 40 charts. When they play live though, those digital elements are supplanted by traditional rock band instruments. That change gives an added energy and life to these songs that any crowd can pick up on.
Sunday, April 16
Is it possible to have a three-year-long upswing? If you’re Future Islands, the answer is yes. Ever since Seasons (Waiting on You) hit the airwaves, their 80s-inflected synthpop has proven to be unstoppable. The Far Field, just released, contains equally compelling emotional epics like Ran and Cave. Plus, there are very few singers who command a stage like Samuel T. Herring. Did you see his dance moves from that viral Letterman performance years ago? How would you like an entire concert of that?
Okay, this one was a surprise! Yes, it’s that Hans Zimmer, the man who perfected the “BWOMM” craze of movie soundtracks. I have no idea what to expect from this set. Who will join the composer onstage? Which of his many classic scores will he play live? The Dark Knight? Inception? Pirates of the Caribbean? Will there be accompanying footage? I only know one thing for certain. If there’s any score selection that can match the loudest that Coachella has to offer, it’s Hans Zimmer’s.
This is one of the most anticipated sets of the weekend. After years out of the spotlight, Lorde’s returning with her long-awaited second album, Melodrama. I’ve already sung my praises of Green Light. But what else is waiting in the wings for us? This performance may give us a preview of what’s waiting for us in June. In any case, it will be great to have Lorde’s voice, sounds and crazy-fun dance moves back in our lives.