10 Reasons We're Excited About Coachella

A scene from Coachella 2014.
A scene from Coachella 2014.
Photo by Timothy Norris

To hell with the naysayers. Coachella 2015 is going to rock. Here are 10 reasons why.

10. More Latin music.

Given Southern California's huge Hispanic population, Coachella's relative lack of Latin and Spanish-language music has always been puzzling. This year's lineup still doesn't fully address the imbalance, but it's an improvement over past years, with appearance by Nortec Collective’s norteño/techno production team Bostich+Fussible, Latin soul jammer Chicano Batman, and Bay Area hip-hop/reggaeton duo Los Rakas. (They lose points, however, for putting Conor Oberst’s Desaparecidos in a bigger flyer font than any of the actual Latino acts.)

9. The return of Father John Misty.

After leaving folk-rock fans slack-jawed with 2012’s brilliant Fear Fun, J. Tillman kept his Father John Misty alter ego on ice for most of 2014. But he resurfaced recently with two more knockout tracks, “Bored in the USA” and “Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins)” from a forthcoming second Father John album, I Love You, Honeybear, due out in February on Sub Pop. In 2013, Tillman played a killer set in the Gobi tent; it will be interesting to see if Coachella lets him cut loose this year on the main stage. He’s more than earned a spot there.

See also: Coachella 2015 Lineup Announced

8. The Drive Like Jehu reunion.

Since breaking up in 1995, San Diego’s Drive Like Jehu has become one of those bands whose influence stretches far beyond their original fan base. Their mix of punk energy, raw-nerve songwriting, math-rock technicality and post-hardcore dissonance can be heard in acolytes from The Blood Brothers to These Arms Are Snakes. After further bolstering their reputation for vicious guitar onslaughts in Hot Snakes, singer-guitarist Rick Froberg and lead guitarist John Reis have reunited Drive Like Jehu’s original lineup to revisit material from their twin landmark albums, 1991’s self-titled debut and 1994’s groundbreaking Yank Crime.

Marques Wyatt
Marques Wyatt
Photo by Alissa Everett

7. More old-school EDM (not a contradiction in terms).

Yes, children, electronic dance music existed prior to 2005, and this year’s lineup provides an excellent history lesson, in the form of appearances by legendary house DJs Doc Martin, Danny Tenaglia and Marques Wyatt, Israeli tech-house veteran Guy Gerber, progressive house icons Dubfire and Loco Dice, electroclash bad boy Erol Alkan, BBC Radio tastemakers Annie Mac and Pete Tong, and one artist in particular who definitely deserves higher billing: Carl Craig, one of the most influential architects of Detroit techno. Class will be in session all three days — mostly (we're guessing) in the Yuma tent, which since 2013 has provided a nice oasis from the more mainstream EDM that’s taken over the Sahara tent.

6. Last chance (maybe) to see AC/DC.

Dementia forced guitarist Malcolm Young into early retirement, and ongoing legal issues are likely to keep drummer Phil Rudd from touring, so the Coachella incarnation of AC/DC will already be a diminished version of Australia’s once-mighty rock legends. Which is all the more reason to see them: This may be one of the last opportunities for any American audience to watch lead guitarist Angus Young, bassist Cliff Williams and singer Brian Johnson strut their stuff in front of a massive festival audience. 70,000 people singing along to “You Shook Me All Night Long”? Count us in.

Need more reasons to go to Coachella 2015? Keep reading...

 

Azealia Banks at Coachella 2012.
Azealia Banks at Coachella 2012.
Photo by Meranda Carter

5. Women killing it at Coachella, part two.

Last year, we noted that artists like Haim, Solange, Warpaint and Lorde delivered some of the year’s most memorable sets. This year, it’s almost a foregone conclusion that, despite the triumvirate of dude headliners, the ladies will once again dominate in the desert. Expect breakout performances by artists ranging from hip-hop troublemaker Azealia Banks to Swedish synth-pop seductress Lykke Li to leftfield electro-folkies Sylvan Esso and their enchanting frontwoman, Amelia Meath. Jenny Lewis, St. Vincent’s Annie Clark and Alabama Shakes’ Brittany Howard should provide further highlights.

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4. Leftfield electronica galore.

The presence of Low End Theory maven Flying Lotus, Canadian ambient maestro Caribou and IDM/breakbeat pioneer Squarepusher on this year’s bill are reasons enough for fans of experimental electronic music to make the pilgrimage to Indio. But look further down the lineup flyer and you’ll find more good news, in the form of rhythm ‘n’ beat experimenters Ryan Hemsworth and Cashmere Cat, bass music maniac The Gaslamp Killer, Animal Collective's electro-pop explorer Panda Bear and British leftfield producer Jon Hopkins. Mind-expanding grooves will abound.

3. The Ride reunion.

Though less celebrated than their contemporaries Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine, British quartet Ride were no less influential in establishing the blueprint for what would come to be known as shoegaze. The cascading guitars and feedback harmonics on seminal tracks like “Vapour Trail” and “Leave Them All Behind” provide the missing link between The Beatles’ most psychedelic experiments and latter-day psych-rock/shoegaze flame-keepers like School of Seven Bells, Tycho and Deerhunter. This will be one of the band’s first shows in over a decade, and a great chance to hear all those layers of guitar distortion in a setting spectacular enough to do them justice.

2. Watching the hipster kids' minds get blown by Steely Dan.

Yes, hearing oldsters throw around words like “musicianship” to describe Donald Fagen and Walter Becker’s hoary ‘70s jazz-rockers gets tiresome. But there really is something to be said for a large ensemble of supremely gifted musicians weaving their talents around the kind of lush rock ‘n’ soul grooves that Steely Dan practically trademarked on landmark albums like Aja and The Royal Scam. Expect to see a lot of younger fans whose idea of great “musicianship” is a ragged Ty Segall guitar solo picking their jaws up off the grass when The Dan cut loose on extended versions of languid jams like “Deacon Blues” and horn-driven rockers like "My Old School."

See also: Why Steely Dan Belongs at Coachella

St. Vincent's Annie Clark
St. Vincent's Annie Clark
Photo by Timothy Norris

1. The coronation of St. Vincent.

Annie Clark had a hell of a 2014, and what better way to top it than with the kind of legend-building Coachella set that Arcade Fire had in 2005, or Daft Punk had in 2006? Her live show is now widely considered to be one of the best in the business, and her four-album catalog (five, if you count 2012’s David Byrne collaboration, Love This Giant) is filled with enough epic, expansive moments to make a Coachella-sized racket. Already a critic’s darling, Clark should emerge from her two weekends in the desert as a full-blown superstar.

We'll leave you now with a little Coachella playlist. See you in the desert!


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