Dally in the Valley: It’s Coachella time again, so we know what that means. Outfits are being chosen, accommodations booked, and the lineup is being carefully scanned as attendees circle the acts that they simply cannot miss. There’s nothing quite like a giant music festival, and they don’t get any more gigantic than Coachella (at least not in this country).

As ever, the lineup is impressive in its diversity of genre, era, gender and culture, and simply the high level of quality. Headliners Bad Bunny, Blackpink and Frank Ocean have enough pulling power between them to excite a massive amount of people from a huge array of fanbases. But the lineup is overflowing with gems, top to bottom, Friday to Sunday (both weekends).

Perhaps the most “vintage” band on the bill is Blondie. The band that arguably invented pop-punk by being both of those things back when nobody thought that you could, has always managed to attract a varied fan base, thanks to the genre-defying music and the undistilled charisma of frontwoman Debbie Harry. They perform on the two Fridays.

Blondie (Danielle St. Laurent)

“My nieces are very excited about going,” says Blondie drummer Clem Burke. “Within Blondie, our audience is pretty widespread over the generations. Our audience and music is pretty diverse, so it seems to translate to a lot of different generations. We played in Mexico City last night, we did an arena show. The audience was quite young and they were very receptive. We’re kind of on a roll. We’ve been on an arena tour of the UK and that was a very mixed audience. So I don’t think it’ll be challenging. I think the legacy of the band is the music, the songs. And I think a lot of young women appreciate what Debbie did in the ‘70s and what the band did in general. It all goes hand in hand.”

In-between the Coachella weekends, Blondie plays a headline set at the Greek Theatre. Naturally, that will be a longer set than the festival show they present at Coachella, but the band never disappoints regardless of the setting.

“We’re probably going to have a special guest or two [at Coachella],” Burke says. “A few surprises. When we’re doing a festival and we’re not the headliner, we usually do about 60 minutes from our two hour show. A lot of hits, a couple of deep cuts, and then a couple of surprises. We’ll be ready for it. We’re playing the Greek in between the two Coachellas. That’ll be the full Blondie show.”

Momma (Ashley Zhang)

Appearing on the Sundays are alt-rockers Momma, a band that has recently been out on tour with Death Cab for Cutie. They’re psyched to be on the Coachella bill

“I was actually pleasantly surprised with the lineup,” says Allegra Weingarten. “I’ve been a fan of Underworld for a couple years, and never thought I’d ever have the opportunity to see them live. Same with the Chemical Brothers and Gorillaz. So I’m really, really excited. As always there’s kind of a shortage of rock bands, but that’s OK. We were all kind of hoping for Blink 182 to headline.”

Weingarten says that they haven’t really planned the set out.

“That sounds bad, haha,” she says. “We’re probably gonna try to put some cool visuals up during our set. But we don’t necessarily have any tricks up our sleeve. We’re just gonna wear some cool outfits and shred. Easy!!”

Etta Friedman says that they are planning on having a great time though.

“We have friends who are also playing the festival, so I am really excited to hang out with all of them in the desert,” she says. “Plus, my brothers are going to be there the first weekend, and we always have the best time together.”

Genre-blurring pop star Ashnikko is equally thrilled.

“This year’s lineup is insane,” she says. “Frank Ocean, Jai Paul, Rosalia, Björk!! I don’t know about y’all, but I am going to have a GOOD time. I have never performed at Coachella, but it has always been the dream festival to play. I feel so grateful that they asked me. I went last year just as a guest and had a silly little time watching Idles, Carolina Polachek, and BROCKHAMPTON.”

The singularly-monikered Chris, of Christine & the Queens, has performed at Coachella before.

“I did perform twice there, on my two previous records,” Chris says. “The first Coachella was very impressive, quite a milestone for a French artist like me at the time. Got me dreaming a bit bigger but you also know as a performer, a stage is a stage, I remember the sand in my nose and my dancers so thrilled to be there and our white t-shirts in the desert, and my big stilts cause I did Saint Claude perched on them, theatrics as always. The second Coachella was a deep performance at night, then my whole life changed so I remember less the festival than the city where my world shifted for ever. Love you mum.”

Bratty (Alan Cortest)

Rising alt-pop star Bratty, from Mexico, is about to embark on her first ever tour of the United States as she promotes her third album. In fact, this will be her first-ever visit to the US. Obviously, it’s her first Coachella, though she has played other large festivals.

“You know there’s going to be people that don’t know you, and you don’t expect how it’s going to come across at the end,” Bratty says. “You have 20 minutes or a little time, so you have to play super fast and connect super fast. It’s fast, and you have to expect that a lot of people won’t know who you are, so you have to present your product in the best way. You know people who attend your own concert know you, they know who you are and they know your songs. It’s a different feeling. It’s more intimate, more like talking to friends.”

Bratty will be performing new songs at Coachella.

“We’re going to play new songs from the third album,” she says. “We’ll play the hits, obviously. We’re planning to elevate the shows in general. The costumes, stage production, visuals. We’re focusing on a show that is more professional. I’m going to release a new song and hopefully we’re going to be playing that at Coachella, too.”

Brit-based, multi-national, instrumental party band Los Bitchos say that festivals are where they’re in their element.

“I think one of the things I’ve enjoyed about being in this band is getting to play so many cool festivals,” says drummer Nic Crawshaw. “I’ve grown up watching other bands play outdoor shows and it looks like such a good time. There’s something about festival crowds that is really unique. It’s just a great time.”

Los Bitchos (Tom Mitchell)

They insist that their set is going to be a ton of fun, full of bangers.

“We’re gonna throw in a couple of newbies as well, I’m hoping,” says guitarist Serra Petale. “We’ve been playing our debut album quite a lot in the last year, which has been amazing, but we’ve been working on some new stuff together. It’s been a real buzz to be able to play those, just to pepper those in over the last few weeks while we’ve been on tour.”

We can expect new music from the Christine & the Queens set. 

“As much as I’m allowed ahead of the album release, but what a release indeed to finally flesh them out inside my bones – for the next album is a heart opener,” Chris say. “Theatrics, poetry. Angels in America inspired set. Killer musicians. A stage design that nods to all i love about musicals and art brut. The stage will give you a sense of the journey I went through, a high distillation of my encounter with the angels. Wings. Little altars. Beings of light. Friends. True love.”

Regardless of age and genre, all of the artists are thrilled to be performing at Coachella, and checking out other acts.

“The Gorillaz are on the same day as us, and I really like them,” says Clem Burke. “Damon [Albarn] is a diverse musical talent. Blur are headlining two shows at Wembley Arena after this in the summer. But Gorillaz, I’m looking forward to seeing. Or seeing their visuals – you don’t really see the band.”

“I’m so excited to see Blackpink, Rosalia, Snail Mail,” says Bratty. “If I take a picture with some of them, that will be great. Say hi backstage.”

And Agustina Ruiz of Los Bitchos says, “I can’t wait to see Blondie. We’re playing on Sunday. Shit, is Blondie on the Friday? We’re there on Saturday and Sunday. That is devastating news. I’m looking forward to seeing Bjork. Also, Blackpink because we’ve never seen anything like that before.”

Dally in the Valley: For all of the festival information, visit coachella.com.

Dally in the Valley

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