As they do every year, Coachella’s organizers don’t just land blockbuster headliners galore -- they also spend a ton of time curating the artists you’ll find in a smaller font on the festival’s poster. And as they usually do, they’ve tapped more than a few great acts that are poised to be the next huge thing. Don’t just stick to the main stage for Gaga, Kendrick Lamar and Radiohead -- branch out across those Polo Grounds and catch these 10 future headliners before they hit the big font.
Blossoms: If you’re looking for a group that’s most likely to step into the 1975’s arena-ready realm in a couple years, you’d be making a huge mistake if you're not at the Outdoor Theatre at 1:10 p.m. on Saturday. This UK buzz band delivers hook after sticky hook in a style that recalls Duran Duran at times, Hall & Oates at others, and the Arctic Monkeys at others. If that’s not the recipe for breakout success, I don’t know what is. Best part? They’re also playing the Casbah on April 19. Boom.
Caveman: In short, these Brooklynites are aging like fine wine. Wading in mostly indie-rock waters for their first record or two, they’ve evolved over the past few years to incorporate folk and electro elements into grander cinematic themes. Their show at the Belly Up last year with Frightened Rabbit was insanely good -- so I can say with confidence that you won't be disappointed when they play the Sonora Tent on Sunday at 2 p.m.
Dreamcar: What’s there to explain? You get No Doubt (sans Gwen) and AFI’s dreamy Davey Havoc at the same time, on the same stage, playing music that’d be right at home next to Spandau Ballet or Tears For Fears. Ride the ‘80s revival wave to the Gobi Tent on Saturday at 7:15 p.m. And if, for some reason you miss them there, they play the Music Box on April 19 (hope you snagged tickets in advance though as its currently sold out).
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard: This fantastically named stoner/prog-rock outfit shouldn’t be unfamiliar to you -- but if they are, consider yourself in luck: They’ll be delivering psychedelic riff after psychedelic riff at the Outdoor Theatre at 4:10 p.m. on Friday. Pro tip: Wear extra sunscreen so your face doesn’t get completely melted.
The Lemon Twigs: If you’re one of the fine folks in the world who think music hasn’t gotten better since the late ‘60s, prepare to get your mind blown in the Gobi Tent at 2:30 p.m. on Friday. This Long Island band fronted by the teenaged D’Addario brothers mines elements from classic troupes like the Kinks, the Beach Boys, the Zombies and those pesky Beatles for an instantly familiar -- yet altogether new -- take on pop music. Also, heads up: They play X-Fest at Qualcomm Stadium on June 11!
Grace Mitchell: If you missed Mitchell at her intimate Casbah show on Wednesday, you’ll get your chance to revel in her schizophrenic brand of highly addictive (and funky) experimental pop in the Gobi Tent at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday. Want the hard truth? Grace Mitchell is doing Lady Gaga better than Gaga these days (please send all hate mail to email@example.com). In other words, don’t miss her.
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Mitski: Hadn't planned on catching indie/grunge-rock’s new torchbearer at the Gobi Tent at 2:45 p.m. on Saturday? Don’t worry -- there’s still time to fix your gigantic blunder. Mitski’s latest album, “Puberty 2,” is defiant, personal, powerful, and brutal -- all at the same time. Don’t be the only person at Coachella missing out. (But if you are, be sure to catch her and her band at the Irenic on April 19).
Pond: Tame Impala fans, eat your heart out. Pond, which features former and current touring members of Impala, hit the Gobi Tent on Sunday at 2:35 p.m., exactly one day after they'll blast the Casbah with their mix of late-‘60s psychedelia, funky grooves, and modern pop experimentalism. I interviewed them, so trust me, I know what I'm talking about.
Slow Hollows: This LA born-and-bred band will undoubtedly draw a crowd of SoCal locals already clued into their melancholy-tinged lo-fi dream-rock. If you're savvy, you'll join ‘em at the Sonora Tent on Saturday at 4:15 p.m.
Twin Peaks: Sure, these Chicago garage rockers play the Irenic on April 20 with Hinds, but you can get an early taste of ‘em at the Sonora Tent on Sunday at 6:35 p.m. Full of reckless fuzz anthems and rickety surf rhythms, they channel equal parts the Clash, the Rolling Stones, and the Cars -- and they do it with style to spare. Coachella-goers, your new favorite band awaits.
For a full list of performers and set times, proceed to Coachella's official website.
Dustin Lothspeich books The Merrow, plays in Diamond Lakes, and runs the music equipment-worshipping blog Gear and Loathing in San Diego. Follow his updates on Twitter or contact him directly.