It's hard to believe, but it’s that time again: Time to chuck some sunscreen, a few changes of clothes and a cell-phone charger into a rucksack and make the annual pilgrimage to the desert.
Coachella is upon us.
In a mere 48 hours, a ridiculous amount of music-crazed travelers from all over the globe will descend on a small, sunbaked town in the middle of nowhere and get their groove on. And it’s true -- I’m usually like a 13-year-old girl who just won front-row tickets to a One Direction concert when I'm about to attend one of these back-to-back musical weekends of goodness out in Indio.
Not this year. Well, at least not at first. When 2013’s lineup was announced, I furiously scanned it looking for a single name.
It was nowhere to be found.
What kind of cruel joke was this? Phoenix and Red Hot Chili Peppers were headlining? Did Goldenvoice let the student union at Cal State Dominguez Hills make these decisions? What was going on?
So I did what any sane person would do: I started screaming. I wailed like Brando’s Kowalski and Stallone’s Balboa. But it wasn’t Stella or Adrian I was after. “Boooooooooowie! Booooooooooooowie!!” I mean, after all, Dapper Dave from Brixton did just sneak up and release a pretty decent record after a decade away. Why the hell wasn’t the Starman on this list? I dig the Stone Roses as much as any other sane music fan over the age of 25, but come on. They only have two records to their name and I’m not exactly sure how “Love Spreads” is going to translate when it’s done by blokes in their 50s. I am willing to try, but I’m not betting the farm on it.
Anyway, after a lengthy, self-imposed time-out, I'm ready to discuss all of the positively awesome acts that will be out at the Empire Polo Fields.
Here’s a day-by-day guide (headliners excluded) to 10 of the acts you should see before making the way back to your hotel room or tent each night. And it can double as a survival guide, just in case the roommate who forced you to be in his "Harlem Shake" video is under the impression that he’ll be the one deciding your daily itinerary.
- Palma Violets: Youngsters from London who ape their obvious influences (Clash, Velvet Underground) in very nice ways
- Jello Biafra: He’s playing with the Guantanamo School of Medicine, and I have no idea who that is. But it’s Jello Biafra. Just go
- Polica: Female-fronted niceness from Minneapolis
- Four Tet: Of all the electronic maestros out there, this is one of my favorites
- Johnny Marr: Smiths, dude. Smiths
- Local Natives: Not as jacked-up as everyone else seems to be about this band, but, man, do they put on a great live show
- Foals: See Local Natives. Repeat
- Beach House: Dream Pop yum-yum from this Baltimore duo
- Grinderman: Nick Cave will rock far harder with these gents than he will with the Bad Seeds
- Jurassic 5: The awesome L.A. hip-hop collective is reunited and has the potential to be one of the best performances of the weekend
- Vintage Trouble: After opening on the Who’s latest tour, these guys should be firing on all cylinders
- Shovels & Rope: Probably more comfortable at Stagecoach than Coachella, this dynamic South Carolina duo should be a welcome diversion
- Action Bronson: An ex-chef who sounds like Ghostface Killah and looks like Butterbean. Just don’t let him stage-dive on you
- The Evens: Ian MacKaye, dude. Ian Mackaye
- Janelle Monáe: Gorgeous voice. Gorgeous woman
- Violent Femmes: “When I’m a-walkin’, I strut my stuff …”
- Spiritualized: Jason Pierce is partially responsible for the sound of half of the acts at Coachella every year
- Descendents: Milo goes to Indio
- The Postal Service: Full disclosure: I want to get a good look at Ben Gibbard just so I can ask myself what the hell Zooey Deschanel was thinking
- New Order: You know you want to hear “Blue Monday’ again
- Deap Vally: Why, yes, that sexy chick up there rocking hard and head-banging harder is the same Lindsey Troy that used to play Lestat’s with her sister
- DIIV: Great record hopefully means great live show
- Rodriguez: Searching For Sugarman 3D
- Kurt Vile & the Violators: His new record is fantastic, and the guy just keeps getting better
- Dinosaur Jr.: In case your ears weren’t ringing enough already
- Grimes: Could be a train wreck, could be awesome, but worth the risk
- Dead Can Dance: Because you’re going to have to relax and let the drugs kick in somewhere
- Tame Impala: These kids can play
- Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds: Not a huge fan of the new record, but how can you not go see Nick Cave when he’s playing?
- Wu-Tang Clan: You’ve been warned before, so you know they ain’t nothin’ to f with.
I complain, but, of course, it’s smart to go see the big acts as well. Coachella brings out the best one-upmanship in these people, and you never know what, or who, you’re going to get.
And, hey, Damon Albarn (Blur) is the richest and most influential man in England, right? Maybe, just maybe, his portion of show-and-tell will be trotting out Mr. Ziggy Stardust himself. One can only hope.
Blogger Scott McDonald covers music in San Diego for a few different publications and is the editor of Eight24.com.