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Grading the Coachella Lineup

Neko Case
Neko Case
Timothy Norris

Coachella announced its 2014 lineup the other day. Word. Some people think it's amazing, but those folks tend to think  it's amazing every year, when what they really think is amazing is doing drugs with their friends in the desert. Others think it's terrible, but they would probably think it was terrible unless they personally curated it themselves, and even then they would still think it was terrible. 

So, the question is: How good is it, really? To determine exactly that, we brought in a panel of goddamn experts.

Headliners: B
A reunited Outkast is the best Coachella "get" in years. Let's not act like it's not a big deal, or pretend their appeal is limited. They're the most-revered rap duo in history, perhaps the most revered hip-hop act, period, and they were presumed dead. Speakerboxxx/The Love Below is the best-selling rap album ever. As for the others: The selection of Muse again displays Paul Tollett's obsession with graying British bands, and his presumption that we over here care much. (But he's still presumably pestering Morrissey via telegram on a fortnightly basis about resurrecting The Smiths, so we forgive him.) As for Arcade Fire, that selection is so predictable and so playing to the base that wishing it weren't so is like running outside in the rain naked and wishing you wouldn't get wet. -Ben Westhoff

Chvrches
Chvrches
Lina Lecaro

Indie: B-
The majority of Coachella acts this year, as every year, could be roughly classified indie. But the problem is that so many are playing other festivals these days. MGMT and Empire of the Sun are starting to feel old hat, while one expects Foxygen will just keep getting put on festival bills until they actually show up. But even though newcomers like Haim and Chvrches were expected, we're still looking forward to them. Other redeeming acts include Temples, Blood Orange, Jagwar Ma, Dum Dum Girls, Daughter, and Anthony Green. Overall: Meh. -Artemis Thomas-Hansard

EDM: B
Coachella's EDM offerings this year are so dance-fest mainstream (Calvin Harris, Skrillex, Chromeo, Alesso, Zedd, Zedd, Krewella) that 2014 is more Brochella than ever. Long gone are those days of discovery, when Air played a main stage at sunset, Daft Punk introduced a new generation to dance music, or all three of Detroit's techno forebears (Juan Atkins, Kevin Saunderson and Derrick May) sermonized through vinyl. That said, the fine print includes many deeper, dance floor pleasers well-worth the cost of admission: Hot Since 82, Maceo Plex, Duke Dumont, Damian Lazarus, DJ Falcon, Guy Gerber, Classixx, Art Department, Lee Burridge. Some old guys - Fatboy Slim, Armand Van Helden of Duck Sauce - will surely represent too. -Dennis Romero

 

Grading the Coachella Lineup

Hip-Hop: B
Though, again, you can't downplay getting Outkast to reunite, hip-hop feels like an afterthought at Coachella 2014, as it does pretty much every year. Still, any time you get see Nas, Chance the Rapper, A$ap Ferg, The Internet, Big Boi, and Andre 3K on the same lineup you're doing all right. Also in attendance will be Pharrell and Jhene Aiko, however you might classify them, and Kid Cudi, as well as Flosstradamus and some other DJs who skew toward rap. One obvious complaint is that there is again no Kendrick Lamar, or any members of Black Hippy, for that matter. And, in general, there's a sort of lack of imagination in the booking. Why not old-timers like Slick Rick? Juicy J? Juvenile? Geto Boys? Dj Quik? Oh, and finally - where's Drake? :/ -Ben Westhoff

Lemmy of Motorhead
Lemmy of Motorhead
Timothy Norris

Metal: B
The legend of Motorhead has been well-established for several decades, but this will still be a great opportunity for those who have never experienced the power of Lemmy in person. We're most happy, though, for the inclusion of Swedish rockers Graveyard, who recall the era of Black Sabbath and Deep Purple. In any case, that's about it as far as metal - though one could make a case for the late '80s output of The Cult. The curators certainly exercised quality over quantity. -Jason Roche

Punk: C-
As usual, there's a token punk element. The good includes The Toys Dolls, not to mention Bryan Ferry (punker than you can ever dream of) and Bad Manners, one of the best oldies acts going. But, that's when it begins to fall off. AFI and Anti-Flag? Eek. And while it's nice to see Jon Spencer, the Godfather of blues punk, get his due, one wonders what kind of draw he will be. Plus: no real punk can afford five bucks for water. -Nicholas Pell

 

The Replacements
The Replacements
Ivy Lovell

Old-Timers: A
Booking the Replacements was pretty choice; sure, they'd already done a few reunion shows, but seeing them on this lineup was still pleasantly shocking. And we don't have a problem with almost any of the over-35 acts, which range from comfortably predictable to stellar: Beck, Neko Case, Motorhead, Neutral Milk Hotel, Bryan Ferry, Afghan Whigs, Pet Shop Boys, etc. Oh, and don't sleep: Fishbone could steal the show. -Ben Westhoff 

Overall Grade: B
Even if it lacks imagination in parts, this is most certainly not a shitty lineup, and fans of just about any pop music genre will find something to enjoy. But is it worth shelling out a week's pay or more? That, we will debate on these pages next week. 

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