Wednesday, April 13, 2011

McQ's Down And Dirty Coachella 2011 Preview

Hey Rock 'n' Roll Fans,

With set times arriving late Tuesday night, we can now finally get down to business making some serious Coachella recommendations. 

I'll be scrambling to get this up over the next two days and posting partials as I go, but before getting to the lineup, my ten commandments on how to best experience the festival.

1) WATER, LOTION, HATS, CHAPSTICK, EARPLUGS - Coachella is hot, hot, hot and loud, loud, loud.  This weekend's forecast is clear skies on all three days with temps in the mid-to-high 90s.  Coachella is a gouge when it comes to it's better-than-you'd-expect food, but they are relatively class acts when it comes to water, charging only two dollars a bottle and making it available everywhere.  Keep a water with you at all times during the day and stay hydrated.  Equally important is to protect your skin.  A lot of the best daytime action this year, especially Friday, is on the outdoor're going to want to make sure you are well lotioned and I strongly encourage regular applications of lip balm and the wearing of hats...your hair will look like shit by the end of the day, but it's worth the sacrifice.  Finally, one of the best aspects of Coachella is how close you will get to the stage for some of the shows...but that all puts you just feet away from the speakers of some very powerful sound systems.  Be sure to have a couple of sets of earplugs readily some point you are going to need them.

2) REST THOSE WEARY DOGS  - There is no adequate description for how destroyed your feet are going to be by the end of day three (and with PJ Harvey, Kanye West, and the Preset closing out the fest Sunday, I don't see many leaving early). So be smart, whenever you're catching a mellower act in an uncrowded set...sit and chill.  If there's a chunk of schedule where you're just not that interested in any of the acts...find a shady spot and take a quick nap.  Basically, Coachella is a marathon.  Pace yourself.

3) CASUALLY LATE ISN'T COOL, IT'S BALLS-OUT STUPID. I say this every year to friends I know who are going for the first time, and every year one or two of them doesn't listen, and every year they get tragically burned, so know this...the longer you wait in the day to arrive at Coachella, the longer it takes to get in, especially Friday.  If you're coming from L.A. and leave at 9 am, you'll probably be on the grounds by noon.  Leave at noon, you may not get in until 4 or 5 pm, leave from LA after 2pm, you run the risk of only catching one or two closing acts.  With added Security around the perimeter and cars being checked for wrist bands a mile away from the grounds, my guess is the initial delays will be even worse.  Besides, this year more than ever, the early hours are loaded with some of the best acts of the entire festival...Black Joe Lewis, !!!, and Titus Andronicus are all on before 3:30 Friday, The Joy Formidable, Freelance Whales, Tallest Man On Earth and Foals are all early Saturday, and then Phosphorescent, Twin Shadow, Menomena, Delorean and OFF! Sunday.  So don't be a chump, go for the whole day, everyday.

4) LESS IS USUALLY MORE. Coachella involves a number of staggered overlapping sets, which creates the possibility of seeing up to maybe 70% of the acts on the bill if you just want to run around and catch 2-4 songs from each act...but while their are times during the day when I like stage surfing, I don't recommend it as a consistent approach.  Over the last three years I found most of my fondest memories come from complete sets, so my suggestion is this...know who your must sees are and try to commit to them in full. Save the partial sets for your lower priority acts.  If you've got two heavy hitters that are square up against each other with little overlap, as I do with The National and Duran Duran on Sunday night...bite the bullet and just go with one.  There's no worse feeling at Coachella than trying to split sets between two favorite acts, leaving the first early, only to find you can't get a good vantage point for the second.  If you do want to split between heavy hitters...I strongly recommend starting with acts in the's much easier to walk in late on the outdoor stages than it is in the Gobi, Mojave, and Sahara (though supposedly they've enlarged all three this year).

5) KNOW WHO THE HOT TENT ACTS ARE. Having a sense of which buzz acts are going to draw a big crowd can be a life saver, especially in the tents after 3pm, which do occasionally fill past capacity.  I can't speak to the DJ acts, as I don't track them...but the tent acts I'd consider showing up early for this year are Cut Copy and Robyn in the Mojave Friday, Glasser and Yelle in the Gobi and Foals, Elbow, The London Suede and Scissor Sisters in the Mojave Saturday, and Lightning Bolt in Gobi, and Trentemoller, Ratatat, Leftfield, and The Presets in the Mojave Sunday.

7) LOT 16, LOT 16, LOT 16 - For those without preferred VIP parking or camping permits, I cannot overstate how superior Lot 16 on the far south east corner of 52nd and Monroe is compared to the other lots in terms of ease of exit at the end of the night. Try to avoid lots 4 and 7 at all costs. 

9) DON'T BE AN ASSHOLE - Generally, CoachellaCoachella's

10) ENJOY - Coachella, except for last year's fiasco, is the best run, best organized, best designed festival I've ever experienced.  Cherish every moment, take in the cool artwork, make some new friends, and have a spectacular time.  It's a truly special event.

Okay, now that that's done, the good stuff...the lineup. 

I'm not going to call out every act, but instead break the day down into chunks to highlight my personal favs and the most difficult conflicts.  For those with a DJ lean, know that I gravitate heavily towards the live band experience...if you're looking for the best Sahara or Oasis Dome recs, other sites are probably a better source.  For those with more of an rock and indie lean, you've come to the right place.


This year's Friday line-up is insane.  There's no one band this day that screams have to see like a few of the acts on Saturday and Sunday, but it is without question the densest overall day in the lineup.  Brutal conflicts abound...but here's how I'd tackle it.

11:30 - 1:55 - For those that arrive for the very start of the day, I have no strong preferences in this window.  My night assistant editor is an up-and-coming DJ in LA, hip to all the Sahara/Oasis Dome acts, and he swears by Tokimonsta who's playing 12:30 - 1:30 in the Sahara, and also 2:00 - 3:00 in the Oasis Dome on Sunday.  She's up against much stronger acts Sunday, so if your so inclined, I'd definitely try to catch her here today so you can grab Delorean, Men, Fun, or Jack Mannequin without reservation Sunday.  As for the other acts in this time span, I'm most interested in Latin Soul singer Miquel 12:00 - 12:30 in the Mojave and roots rockers the Rural Alberta Advantage 1:15 - 1:55 on the Outdoor Theater, but again, none of these acts are must sees in my book.

1:55 - 3:10 - Black Joe Lewis/!!! Split Sets - Only one way to play this chunk of time in my opinion...Get to Mojave for very start of Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears at 1:55 and sometime between 2:10 - 2:40 leave for !!! on the Outdoor, whose set runs from 2:20 - 3:10.  Black Joe Lewis is another relatively young soul revival band, but unlike Sharon Jones, Mayer Hawthorne, and many others that have come to the fore recently, the Honeybears aren't totally beholden to past soul tradition, and incorporate tons of straight rock 'n' roll elements into their sound.  I guarantee you this set will be a blast, and can say the exact same for !!! (who have a stellar live rep) and their dance-rock by way of the Clash sound.  This stretch here is possiblely the most impressive 1-2 pre-3pm punch I've ever seen at Coachella.

3:30 - 4:15 - Titus Andronicus (Outdoor Theater) - Again, I feel only way to go in this time slot.  Ozamatli (3:35 - 4:25 Main Stage) is a fabulous live act, but Titus Andronicus is arriving on the heels of their amazing 2010 release The Monitor.  An uber-ambitious mix of Punk and Springsteen influences, played with stellar passion, it's songs scream to be seen live, and I think that's what any attendee with half a brain will be doing at this point, so expect your first massive crowd...and stay til the end, as it's highly likely they will close with 14 minute epic The Battle Of Hampton Roads, one of the very best songs of last year.

4:15 - 5:50 - The Overwhelming between Titus and Tame Impala Clusterfuck - Between these two sets, I feel every act stepping up on the Main Stage, Outdoor Theater, Gobi, and Mojave is well worth checking out...but you're probably best off cutting it down to two or three.  Of these acts, Ariel Pink (5:45 - 6:35 Gobi) probably has the best last album out of this group but the worst live rep. Cee Lo Green of "Fuck You" (4:50 - 5:40 Main Stage) should be tons of fun and I can't wait to see what silly costume he wears, but his band, all woman chosen first for being shorter than Cee Lo, second for chops, is notoriously mediocre, so I doubt a full set is warranted.  The Drums (4:10 - 4:55 Mojave) do short, catchy, early-Cure style singles, but with an endearing, sweet, dated lyrical innocence that reflects songs of the 50s and early 60s (think Surfer Girl/In My Room level innocence), and have a decent live rep, if not a particularly varied sound catalog. Again, a band I'd catch for part of a set, but not all.  The Morning Benders (4:30 - 5:20 Gobi)  have a Shin's/Surfy vibe and a couple really nice songs but overall don't blow me away.  I'm not a big fan of female art-rock collective Warpaint's (4:40 - 5:25 Outdoor) moody new album The Fool at all aside from the song Undertow, but their live rep is phenomenal, so if you do some research before Friday and they agree with you, they may be the band to focus on in this time slot.  The Pains of Being Pure at Heart (5:20 - 6:05) are a really upbeat, jangly C86 shoegaze act.  I love some of their songs, but again, another band where after hearing 3-4 of their tracks I'd probably want to move on.  And then there's Odd Future Wolfgang Kill Them All, rap's hottest new act, over at the Sahara from 4:30 - 5:25.  I'm intrigued, but know that they recently walked out two songs into a recent South By Southwest show.  It's my intent to really stage surf this time period, probably skipping Ariel who I caught a bit of two years ago, and Odd Future, since death rap songs glorifying rape aren't really my cup of tea no matter how good the beats, but trying to catch a taste of all the others.

5:50 - 6:35 - Tame Impala on the Outdoor - Another no-brainer for me, especially given how mediocre reviews of Lauren Hill's recent comeback shows have been.   This young Australian act is possibly the only legitimate old school psychedelic jam band in the 2011 lineup, and has just an unbelievable core sound utilizing over a dozen guitar distortion pedals.  Their songs aren't always great themselves, but the band is such a force sonically, it's hard to imagine this set being anything other than dazzling.

6:35 - 7:25- Take A Break.  I'm going to catch the end of Lauryn Hill (6:05 - 6:55 Main Stage), but after that I'm just not big on any of the acts playing this hour, which includes generic dance rock act Yacht (6:25 - 7:10 Mojave), the very mainstream Cold War Kids (7:00 - 7:50 Outdoor), and lead singer Kele of Bloc Party (7:00 - 7:50 Gobi), another band I've never much cared for.  This might be a good time to check out the Sahara or Oasis Dome.

7:25 - 8:15 Interpol or Sleigh Bells -  I've already seen Sleigh Bells (7:30 - 8:10 Mojave), so I'm going Interpol (7:25 - 8:15), for which the Creator's Project has designed a special light show, but for those that have never caught either act, I'd go Sleigh Bells.  Interpol to me is a once solid band that's best days are clearly behind it, where as Sleigh Bells are just coming off their first classic, the highly original mix of noise and girl group pop that is Treats. It should also be a far livelier show than Interpol.  But if you do go Sleigh Bells, be sure to bring your earplugs.  They are loud, loud, loud.

8:35 - 9:30 The Black Keys or Cut Copy - My vote for the most brutal either/or conflict of the night.  Both bands have put out great recent albums and have super live reps.  Can't go wrong with either.  If you're determined to split, definitely start with Australian Dance act Cut Copy (8:35 - 9:25 Mojave) they are certain to fill the Mojave to capacity, and then catch back half of American blue revivalists The Black Keys (8:40 - 9:30 Main Stage) . Should also note that very popular DJ acts, Magnetic Man and Beardyman are playing in Sahara and Oasis Dome at same time, and would both be worthy of seeing if not scheduled against these two top draws. I've seen the Keys before, so I'm going with Cut Copy, but I'm going to hate it the next day when I hear how the Keys slayed Ten Cent Pistol with their new full band lineup. 

9:30 - 10:20 Crystal Castles - An easy choice for other band out there packages pure electronica into vintage tasty singles like this Canadian act.  They don't have a particularly good live reputation (lead vocalist Alice Glass's singing can be quite shrill and grating), but I have yet to see them and they have been so good on their last two records, I've got to give them a shot.

10:20 - 10:45 - Catch a bit of Kings Of Leon (9:55 - 11:15 Mainstage) if you want to rock or Sasha (10:15 - 11:30 Sahara) if you want to dance, then leave early to get a decent spot for the World's Greatest Madonnabe.

10:50 - 11:40 Robyn - So psyched for this set, even though am Madonnaesque dance pop isn't normally my sweet spot...but Robyn makes it my sweet spot, because over the last ten years, including her three Body Talk releases of 2010, she's been making it my sweet spot with her insanely catchy melodies.  A supposed spitfire force-of-nature live, this should be a blast, but as with Cut Copy, get here a good five/ten minutes before the start of the set or you might get squeezed out altogether.

11:40 - End The Chemical Brothers/Flogging Molly/Scala & The Kolacny Bros/Gayngs/Boyz Noize Megaconflict - pick your poison here and don't look back on the harshest last hour conflict batch of the entire weekend.  Not as rough for me, I'm going Chemical Bros and then checking out the Justin Vernon lead soul act Gayngs if I get antsy, but you are not going to go wrong with any of these acts here.  Flogging is an Irish Punk act, Chemical Bros and Boyz Noize both DJ acts, though Chems playing on Main Stage this nigh with a full band.  Scala & The Kolacny Bros is a bit of a novelty, the female choir that sung that cool version of Radiohead's Creep for THE SOCIAL NETWORK trailer.


After Friday's epic dance-athon, Saturday looks to be much more of a rock n' roll day.

All but one or tow of my top recs for today...Elbow, Foals, The Tallest Man On Earth, Animal Collective, Arcade Fire, Big Audio Dynamite, Wire, Broken Social Scene, Phosphorescent, Delta Spirit, The New Pornographers, Glasser and The Kills...have their sensibilities firmly rooted in some form of classic rock foundation no matter how cutting-edge contemporary they may be.  Saturday doesn't have the density of top tier acts as Friday does, and it doesn't have the knock-out close that Sunday's final acts portend...but I personally feel it's the strongest lineup overall, and aside from two very painful conflict blocks at 3:00 pm and then from 6:00 - 8:00 pm, the schedule breaks quite favorably.

So here's my recs on what to see on day 2.

11:30 - 12:55 - Whatever Floats Your Boat - Again, I've got no stake in any of these early acts. I'll probably go with EE (11:50 - 12:25 Gobi) and The Love Language (12:00 - 12:30 Outdoor).

12:55 - 1:45 Split Sets for The Joy Formidable and The Henry Clay People - The Joy Formidable, and epic rocking, female fronted trio out of Wales with a Keith Moon caliber drummer starts and ends 10 minutes earlier in the Gobi, I'd definitely begin with them, but be sure to catch at least a portion of Henry Clay (1:05 - 1:45 Mojave), a very likable young garage act.

2:10 - 2:50 Freelance Whales in the Mojave - This very unique rootsy/indiesque act incorporates all manner of highly unusual instrumentation into their songs.  Be sure to catch at least a portion of their set, it's bound to be one of the most original you see all weekend.

3:00 - 4:05 The Weekend's Number One Worst Conflict: The Tallest Man On Earth or The Foals - This conflict breaks my heart like no other.  From a scheduling standpoint it makes sense...they are tremendously different acts...but I've also got them listed as #2 and #3 on my overall must see list for the day.  And unfortunately, I think the crowd for Foals is going to be past capacity, meaning if you want to see them, you'll need to get there a good five-ten minutes before start.  I'm going with Foals, their staccato harmonic dominated Radioheadish second album Total Life Forever was one of 2010's very best and portends to an amazing live translation given it's captivating sonics and anthemic nature, but Tallest Man, with his gorgeous, simple, acoustic Dylan-styled songs, is one of the best songwriters working today.   If Friday suggests that Goldenvoice has indeed addressed the gatecrashing that plagued 2010 and gotten crowd sizes under control, then I'll take a chance and catch the opening 10 minutes of Tallest Man on Earth's set and pray for Burden Of Tomorrow, but if crowds do indeed prove to be as much of an issue as last year, then people are going to want to get straight to the Mojave before the start of Foals set.

4:05 - 5:10 Stage surf between The Radio Dept./Delta Spirit/Erykah Badu - Three very different but equally interesting acts of note during this hour.  The Radio Dept. (4:05 - 4:50 Gobi) out of Sweden is another chimey, soothing shoegaze act very much in the vein of The Pains Of Being Pure at Heart, though a little less uptempo.  They've got a great sound and a few fantastic song, but such a samey feel I wouldn't give them a full set.  Delta Spirit (4:05 -4:55 Outdoor) is a rollicking indie/roots rock act very similar in sensibility to Deer Tick (with whom they collaborate), though a touch more indie, a touch less rootsy.  They too have a solid overall sound and a few knockout tracks (Trashcan, Children, Streetwalker), but again, not sure you want to give them a full set.  Then you'll have time to check out contemporary soul great Erykah Badu, assuming she doesn't pull a diva act like she did at last year's Lollopalooza and come out half an hour late ready to get combative with the crowd.  Assuming she's on her best behavior you can either ride her set out to the end, or leave early as I intend to for...

5:15 - 6:00 Glasser in the Gobi - For those looking for this year's Florence and the Machine-styled breakout, this is the place, right here.  Fronted by monster-voiced Los Angelo Cameron Mesirow, Glasser dabbles in exactly the same kind of epic, emotive, moody art-rock that's made Florence and Bat For Lashes such popular names in recent years, and tends to play wonderfully in festival settings such as these.  If you're going to go to this set, you'll want to be sure to get there for the opening number, which is almost certainly going to be Apply...a track which has the potential to be one the most memorable single song performances of the entire weekend.

6:05 - 8:10 What To Do With The Dreadful Broken Social Scene/New Pornographers/Elbow/Bright Eyes Overlap - This is a two hour conflict block that is bumming just about everyone out.  Starting out is the easy part, Broken Social Scene (6:05 -7:00 Main Stage) is one of the premiere live acts of the last decade, but does one then leave halfway through for The New Pornographers (6:35 - 7:25 Outdoor) bright, buoyant power pop, or full set BSS right into Gabriel-led Genesis clone Elbow (7:00 - 7:50 Mojave), and then catch the end of Bright Eyes (7:20 - 8:10 Mainstage).  Personally, I'm of the mindset to skip Bright Eyes altogether (their new album isn't very good), and favor BSS and Elbow, traditionally the two strongest live acts of the batch, but try to catching a song or two of New Pornographers along the way.  Elbow's the real wild card here.  One, if crowds are a problem, theirs is another set that could fill beyond capacity.  Second, they just dropped an new album this week, and while quite good, it consists almost entirely of ballads...meaning if the band is favoring this new material and the many truly stunning softer entries off 08's The Seldom Seen Kid, this could be a very moving but sleepy set.  So I think a game time decision is required here...If you're in the mood to chill around 6:50...definitely go with Elbow, they do gorgeous, nuanced art-rock ballads as well as anyone today, but if you want to adrenalize, go New Pornographers and Bright Eyes.

7:50 - 8:40 The Kills at the Outdoor - Originally, I wasn't going to recommend minimalist blues/punkers The Kills, I caught half off their '09 Coachella set (which was solid, not great), and also got my fill of Alison Mosshart last year with The Dead Weather.  But two things happened.  First, the schedule opened up for them like the Red Sea...they are the best thing going in this time frame by a mile, and two, I love their just released new album Blood's gotten somewhat mixed reviews, but I think it's their best album yet.  Much like The Black Keys with Brothers, they really developed a feel for greater textural complexity this time out, and I'm just excited to hear the new material live.

8:40 - 9:45 Honor Your 80s Forebears by splitting time between Wire and Big Audio Dynamite - This is the way I'm planning on going for this hour, starting with Wire (8:40 - 9:30 Gobi) but probably ditching at 9:00 sharp to catch the first forty minutes of Clash Founder BAD (9:05 - 10:00 Outdoor).  But I do want to note that two other fine bands I've already seen multiple times are playing in this time slot.  For folk with an energetic, populist, mainstream feel, you've got Mumford & Sons (8:30 - 9:20 Main Stage), and over in the Mojave you've got the entertaining, Van Morrison-ish, Oscar winning The Swell Season, fronted by the motor-mouthed, hysterical, hyperactive, genuinely spontaneous Glen Hansard...stage banter/crowd interaction is rarely as much fun as it is with this band.  If you haven't seen them, and your not a huge BAD or Animal Collective fan, then I strongly encourage going with The Swell Season, every show of theirs is an entirely different experience.

9:45 - 10:55 - Animal Collective On The Mainstage - Like Interpol the night before, Animal Collective will be working with The Creator's Project on a unique light show for this set, but unlike Interpol, Animal Collective's bizarre cutting-edge psychedelic pop seems a natural fit for such a collaboration.  This could be the head-trip set of the entire festival, and in my opinion, even though I'm not the biggest fan of their music, one of the weekend's absolute "I don't care who they are up against" must see sets.

11:00 - 11:30 - Catch the end of either Empire Of The Sun or The London Suede - not a huge fan of either act, but both are worth checking out, and Empire of the Sun (10:25 - 11:20 Outdoor) has a reputation for really bringing live with costume changes and all many of additional gimmickry.

11:30 - End Arcade Fire -I loved The Suburbs, Arcade Fire's recent grammy winning album, but I'm not sure its subtler, flatter material is going to translate live as well as that from the band's first two, more anthemic albums, so as popular as they are, and as great as they were last time I saw them live in 2007, I'm not sure this is going to be the knock-out show most are anticipating.  Still, when they hit it on numbers like Wake Up, Neighborhood #3 (Power Out), Rebellion, or No Cars Go, they are a force to behold, so definitely the act to run with to close out the night.  If it's not working for you, I'd try either Daedalus (12:05 - End Gobi) or gay-camp oriented dance outfit Scissor Sisters (11:55 - End Mojave).


Sunday has a very weird flow to has a very strong rock opening with Phosphorescent, Twin Shadow, Menomena and OFF!, but then from 3:30 - 6:00 is as weak a 2 hour late afternoon lineup as I've ever seen.  Thankfully, some of the week's top draws in the Sahara and at the Oasis dome are up in this timeframe.  Sunday night is loaded, and has the potential to end up flat-out legendary if acts like DFA 1979, The National, Lightning Bolt, Trentemoller, Ratatat, Chromeo, The Strokes PJ Harvey, Leftfield, Kanye West and the Presets all bring their A-Game.

Here's how I'd attack Day 3.

11:30 - 12:15 Go With The Flow - I've got no strong leanings towards any act in this time range, though I anticipate I will  go with soft rockers Good Old War (Outdoor 11:30 - Noon) and a touch of the Amy Winehouse like Eliza Doolittle (12:00 - 12:40 Gobi) over the other options.

12:15 - 12:45  Phosphorescent at the Mojave - Huge recommend for this alt-country act, my favorite Americana/Roots act in the entire 2011 line-up (and yes, I'm factoring Bright Eyes and England's Mumford and Sons in that equation).  Basically a one man recording project, I'll be interested to see how many able bodies leader Matthew Houck brings in for assistance, but with his warm, early 70s country-rock vibe and clever lyrics, this is one early in the day set you definitely don't want to miss.

12:45 - 1:10 Riva Starr in the Sahara - Not a huge fan, but the best option in this time frame for sure.

1:10 - 2:00 Twin Shadow or Menomena - Another pick your poison and be happy about it conflict.  Twin Shadow (Mojave 1:10 - 1:55), the oft-called Black Morrissey, dabbles in a highly romanticized, synth-heavy brand of 80s flavored chillwave.  Menomena (1:20 - 2:00 Outdoor) is one of the better art-rock bands in the present indie landscape, with an electric, unpredictable cut and paste style, wonderfully idiosyncratic vocals, and a deep catalog of strong, slightly Peter Gabrielesque material to pull from, including cuts from 2010's excellent release Mines.  One of their key members, Brent Knopf,  recently left to pursue his solo side project Ramona Falls full time, which is why I think Goldenvoice gave Menomena this surprisingly early time slot.  But Menomena was and is very much a collective effort, and Knopf was the band's least engaging lead vocalist (though he will definitely be missed on tracks like Wet and Rusting and Killemall) so despite the recent lineup turmoil, I think the band will do just fine.  I plan on catching Twin Shadow's opening two songs, and then watching Menomena in full, but both sets are well worth checking out.

2:00 - 2:45 Delorean in the Gobi - This assumes you already caught Tokimonsta in the Sahara on Friday, if not, you may want to catch her at the Oasis dome (2:00 - 3:00), but otherwise, I feel this popular contemporary electronica act is the way to go.

3:00 - 3:30 OFF! - OFF! is Black Flag lead singer/Circle Jerks founder Keith Morris's new punk outfit. They crank out blazing traditional punk tracks that tend to clock in under a minute.  This is your best punk offering of the entire weekend...don't miss it, and be sure to get there for the start...if you're ten minutes late, this set may already be over.

3:35 - 4:35 Take Your pick of City And Colour, Wiz Khalifa, or Angus and Julia Stone - None of these acts thrill me, though Wiz (3:45 - 4:35 Main Stage) is huge comer on the rap scene...but all are worth giving a few minutes before heading over to the Sahara/Oasis Dome for one of the best DJ stretches of the festival.

4:35 - 4:55 Jack Beats at the Sahara - I'd go for the middle portion of this DJ acts hour and a half set.  They've got a hard-hitting crunchy vibe sometime reminiscent of early Prodigy.

5:00 - 5:30 High Contrast at the Oasis Dome - Without question, this will be the biggest draw of the weekend at the Oasis Dome, when glorified Welsh drums n' bass producer Lincoln Barrett makes a very rare stateside appearance.  Get to this set early.  I'm leaving halfway through to catch another top DJ.

5:30 - 6:00 Sven Vath in the Sahara - Known from the beginning of his trance-techno heydays in the 90s for his epic length sets, German DJ Sven Vath has been given an unheard of full two hours for his mid-day set.  I'm eager to check out his first half hour before moving on for Sunday evening's epic close.

6:10 - 7:00 Death From Above 1979 on the Main Stage - This time slot should have gone to the vastly superior National, but DFA 1979, with there hard-hitting mix of dance and metal, is the easy choice in this time slot.  If you're not up for heavy, the either surfy girl group duo Best Coast (6:05 - 6:55 Outdoor) or the Joseph Arthur, Ben Harper, Dhani Harrison folksy acoustic supergroup Fistful Of Mercy (5:55 - 6:45 Mojave) are both decent alternatives.

7:10 - 7:20 Trentemoller in the Mojave - I know nothing about this French act, but their video which was playing a few months ago on the Coachella website home page floored me, so got to give this act a few minutes.

7:25 - 8:25 Choose between The National or Duran Duran - Outside of Kanye West, no one at Coachella 2011 is coming in on the heels of a better last release than The National are with High Violet, and it's their third knock-out LP in a row.  On top of that, though almost all of their material falls into a very consistent brooding, mid-to-slow tempo 80s niche, they are a phenomenal live band capable of generating massive emotional crescendos on a almost U2ish level.  If you haven't seen them before and can get over the nostalgia blast of seeing a reunited Duran Duran, they are definitely the better act of the two.  That said, I've seen The National three times already, so while I'll start with them at the Outdoor at 7:25, I'll be scooting over to catch Duran Duran on the Main Stage as soon as their set starts.  Sad, as I said before, this is the biggest scheduling fuck up of the weekend...The National and Duran Duran should have followed one another with DFA 1979 taking the counter programming slot rather than having these two acts battle it out.

8:25 - 8:35 Run like the wind to catch the closing moments of Lightning Bolt in the Gobi - For a blast of sheer noise, no one does it better than this drums n' bass monster.  If Duran Duran isn't nailing it, I'm heading over even earlier.  Expect a big crowd despite the assaulting nature of this act's music.

8:40 - 8:55 Catch a Touch of Ratatat in the Mojave or Chromeo on the Outdoor before The Strokes.

8:55 - 9:40 Grab first two-thirds of The Strokes - Liking their new album well enough, this should be a lot of straight up fun, but you need to be ready to leave early for...

9:45 - 10:35 PJ Harvey on the Outdoor - It's taken Goldenvoice over a decade to get Harvey, a seeming natural fit for the festival, to play Coachella.  As such, this is going to be the number one must see act of the entire weekend for a boatload of attendees including myself.  I'm not saying it's going to be the best show, just the number one show you don't want to miss.  Whether she's emphasizing material from her killer new protest LP Let England Shake, our pulling out older bad-ass classics like Long Snake Moan doesn't matter...this set is required viewing...and don't leave early for Kanye...even money says he's at least twenty minutes late taking the Main Stage.

??? - End - Kanye West...coming on the heels of the unbelievable genre-smashing 2010 release My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, imho already a given as one of the 5-10 best rap albums of all-time, this set is an absolute must see...but I wouldn't worry about getting to the main stage for the start of the set.  First, despite Sunday night's awesome lineup, by this time the crowd's will have significantly thinned as people, exhausted to the bone and having to be at work first thing Monday, head for home, so your going to get a decent vantage point no matter when you walk up.  Second, as I alluded to before, I think it's inevitable that Kanye makes the crowd wait so my suggestion is don't waste that time.  Head over to the Mojave or Sahara and catch some of Leftfield/Bloody Beetroots/maybe even the Presets and don't return to the Main stage until you can see Kanye's show has actually started.  Yes you'll probably miss likely opener Dark Fantasy,  but the trade-off of catching two - three top dance/DJ acts is worth it...but once Kanye starts, get your ass over, because I think this show is going to be wild...don't know if it will be good, but I definitely think it will be highly memorable.

And that's it folks.

If you make it this far, all that's left is that excruciating 20 minute death march back to your car, a long drive home, and another 363 day wait for it to start all over again.

I hope you all have a phenomenal time! 

Readers, especially DJ/Dance fans, would love to get your thoughts, please feel free to comment.

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