As it does every year, the Coachella Music Festival is about to descend upon Indio, Calif.. From April 16-18, the one-horse town will be transformed into an indie music mecca, with hipsters converging from far and wide to soak up the tunes and 115-degree heat.
Coachella can be a terrific time but also a taxing one, so you'll want to get your mandatory three-day ticket's worth. To help ensure that you don't risk all that dehydration and sunstroke for nothing, your friendly neighborhood SoundDiego has compiled a list of this year's must-see bands.
Friday, April 16:
- Them Crooked Vultures: Forget fellow Friday headliners Jay Z and LCD Soundsystem; this hard rock supergroup will be the one to give the opening night a swift kick in the pants
- The Avett Brothers: The Avetts' country-fried ballads pull off the rare feat of getting your toes tapping by yanking on your heartstrings
- Yeasayer: The Brooklyn band's Odd Blood is one of this year's weirdest and most wonderful releases. Don't miss this chance to get your groove on with a bunch of sweaty strangers.
Dishonorable Mention: Vampire Weekend -- the NYC band just released their second album, Contra. Unfortunately, it sounded a lot like Vampire Weekend.
Saturday, April 17:
- Faith No More: The first of the festival's two high-profile reunions finds the always reliable Mike Patton reuniting with his most famous band.
- Dirty Projectors: Bitte Orca was one of last year's best releases, and it's every bit as good live. Give yourself over to the finest, most intricate harmonies in rock & roll.
- John Waters: I'm not even sure if the cult director will be playing music but -- whatever he does -- it ought to be memorable.
- Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros: As Edward Sharpe, the gangly Alex Ebert presides over his band like a benevolent Charlie Manson. Don't miss the inevitable performance of the charming "Home."
- Camera Obscura: The Scottish band craft emotionally sweeping ballads with a dreamy, '60s-pop center.
- Frightened Rabbit: Speaking of Scotland, don't miss this emotional, cathartic band. They're living proof that all you need to do to make emo badass is to sing it with a brogue.
Sunday, April 18:
- Pavement: The festival's second high-profile reunion should be one for the books. Indie rock's founding fathers dust off their old classics for what may well be the performance of the year.
- Thom Yorke: The Radiohead frontman performs some solo material alongside his new band, Atoms for Peace. For some reason, Flea plays bass.
- Phoenix: The French band's rollicking, exuberant shows have a reputation for getting out of hand.
- Spoon: Their urge to be experimental has grown with each album, but so has their popularity. Impress your friends by playing air trombone to "The Underdog."
- Local Natives: This generation's answer to Talking Heads are one of indie's fastest rising bands.
- Matt & Kim: The married couple's energetic pop-punk should provide a welcome shot in the arm to the festival's final day. Plus, if it's hot enough, the duo might take their clothes off like they did in their "Lessons Learned" video.
Chris Maroulakos is a writer and editor for the San Diego music blog Owl and Bear.