[Editor's note: Weekly scribe Jeff Weiss's column, “Bizarre Ride,” appears on West Coast Sound every Wednesday. His archives are available here.]
Beware any tutorial about the “right way” to do Coachella. Stay sentient, steer clear of phosphorescent forms in spirit hoodies, drink water, and never mix barbiturates and liquor. It's a music festival, not an MBA entrance exam. I trust you.
But as Shawn and Jimmy Carter taught us, you've got to learn to live with regrets. Something in the Sahara Tent will overlap with the main stage and you'll have to use the bathroom, the line will be long, and you'll run into that annoying, tank-topped broner from high school. Chaos.
Roughly 150 acts are scattered across three days and 36 hours. You might be unfamiliar with some performers in small print on the flier. Ergo, an abridged Bizarre Ride guide to Coachella — inclined toward those whose eyes are red from things other than the Internet.
If you're there for Earl Sweatshirt, you should see: Aesop Rock (& El-P on Saturday)
To the 17-year-old Fairfax skate kids with a love/hate relationship toward abstraction: A decade ago, your analogues saw Aesop Rock and El-P as generation-defining. And unlike many of their early-'00s peers, they've kept improving as artists.
If you're there for Four Tet, you should see: Lee “Scratch” Perry
Four Tet's electronic numerology is prophetic. Scratch Perry was the original groove prophet, producing Bob Marley's early work and perfecting roots reggae and its dub cousin.
If you're there for TNGHT, you should see: Dam-Funk
Do you like to dance? Do you like bright synths and hard drums? Do you like reaching for higher ground? Do you.
If you're there for Bassnectar, you should see: DJ Harvey
One the most important DJs of the last 20 years, DJ Harvey helped establish house and hip-hop in England. A master selector and mixer, he co-constructed the foundation of bass culture.
If you're there for 2 Chainz, you should see: Danny Brown
No two at Coachella have better punch lines, ideas about fun or more inappropriate advice than the Atlanta chart-topper and Detroit “Hybrid.”
See also: Danny Brown: Hip-Hop's Cormac McCarthy
If you're there for Spiritualized, you should see: Action Bronson
English space-rock fans, meet Queens sativa-rap fans. Mandatory for those with buds and/or beards to burn.
If you're there for Franz Ferdinand, you should see: Savages
After long bombardment from limp, trouser-rock bands like The Maccabees and Glasvegas, Matador Records' post-punk phalanx is one of the few exciting guitar groups the United Kingdom has produced since Franz Ferdinand.
If you're there for Grizzly Bear, you should see: Janelle Monae
Orchestral white guys from Brooklyn are theoretically incongruous with a Kansas City-bred stick of dynamite who sings and struts like an imagined spawn of Andre 3000 and Erykah Badu. But there's a good reason that Solange Knowles is one of Grizzly Bear's biggest fans.
If you're there for James Blake, you should see: Julio Bashmore
London's Blake pulls from Bristol's bass-music tradition. Bashmore uses a Bristol base to explore French house. With Daft Punk ditching the festival, he's the next best robot.
If you're there for Lumineers, you should see: Kurt Vile and The Violators
The Lumineers imitate The Arcade Fire imitating Bruce Springsteen. Kurt Vile lifts a touch from the Boss, Beck, lo-fi '90s indie and John Fahey to start his own conflagration.
If you're there for Red Hot Chili Peppers, you should see: Hanni El Khatib, Thee Oh Sees
A quarter century ago, RHCP were raw and influenced by punk, rap and funk. Then they learned to write pop. Both El Khatib and Thee Oh Sees understand how to balance a savage attack and songwriting, and are still in their prime.
If you're there for Wu Tang Clan, you should see: Raider Klan
Odd Future is more entertaining. A$AP Mob is more polished. But SpaceGhostPurrp's Raider Klan might be the most unpredictable and weirdest of the new rap crews. Never underestimate the aggressive energy of a clan still hungry.