Friday, April 14, 2017


So here we go again.

In a few hours, I will be hitting the road with my kids to meet my regular group of friends from college for our 10th consecutive Coachella Music Festival.

And while there's no question the festival has gone through massive changes over the years and now skews to a younger, more EDM and Hip Hop driven audience than the alt-rock and indie-rock audience that made up the bulk of its attendees during its first 10-12 years of existence, there is still plenty here for rock fans, especially if you are willing to get to the polo grounds early.

Start with the new Sonara Tent, dedicated exclusively to Punk, Garage, Indie and Latin music.  No new wave, EDM, soul or hip hop here.  A lot of the artists here are younger up-and-comers and/or smaller local acts, but you do have reknowned indie mavericks Guided By Voices closing the tent tonight and legendary LA Hardcore punkers T.S.O.L. closing the tent on Sunday, so if you are a rock fan, be sure to give this tent a look early in the may end up making camp there all three days.

As to the bigger tents and stages - Shoegazers Kayves at 12:25 pm in the Mojave, Scandanavian Radiohead/Sigur Ros accolytes Klangstof at 1:25 in the Mojave, and the goofy Lemon Twigs at 2:30 in the Mojave are all good options, and then whatever you do, make sure you get to the festival before 4:10 so you can catch ultra-prolific Austalian jam band supreme King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard on the Outdoor Theatre.

As you move into Friday evening Glass Animals, Father John Misty, Mac DeMarco, Jagwar Ma, and the Rancid-mentored The Interrupters are all there to keep the rockish grooves going until the evening's headliner, Radiohead - without question the very best act on the entire three day lineup.

Radiohead's last three albums have all landed on the mellower side of the spectrum, so don't expect constant fireworks, but recent set lists show that they are working a significant portion of their back catalog into their present tour - so it's very likely you'll hear more than a few favorites from the bands The Bends, OK Computer, Kid A, Amnesiac era to augment their chiller but still excellent more recent material.

And, for Friday's non-rock acts - I highly recommend trying to catch The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, ambient producer Bonobo, turn of the century sample gods The Avalanches, ultra-romantic elecro-rock subheadliners The Xx, and DJ Shadow (who's set  may feature a Run The Jewels guest appearance for recent hit Nobody Speak).

For Saturday, try to get to the fields before 1:00 for the very exciting young LA-based Latin act Quitapenas, who work the full spectrum of Latin-styles - and have a Santana-esque jam or two in their repetoire as well. Then Blossoms, Arkells, the PJ-Harveyish Mitski, LA soft-rockers Local Natives, and soulful electro-rockers Kaleo all have their charms, but the biggest rock act of the day - by far - is Pennsylvania indie up-and-comers Car Seat Headrest at 4:15 in the Mojave.  There 2016 album Teens Of Denial, from which 90% of their set will be based, tops this site's best of 2016 rankings and is chock full of wonderful classic rock riffs and explosive, almost sing-along choruses.  As with King Gizzard and Radiohead Friday, if rock is your thing - DO NOT MISS THIS SET.

Following Car Seat Headrest Friday - Chicano Batman, The Atomics, Two Door Cinema Club, Warpaint are your best Rock n Roll bets.

Among non-rock acts Friday, I'd start with subheadliner experimental folk-rocker extraordinaire Bon Iver, whose gotten increasingly more experimental in recent years, but elevates his material in a live setting to an extent few other contemporary artists do. Trust me, however mellow his music is on record, this will be a dynamic set. After Bon Iver, the day is loaded with fantastic non-edm oriented DJ acts - Tycho, Moderat, Four Tet (performing with Daphni and Floating Points in the Yuma), Nicolas Jaar, Stranger Things soundtrack artists SURVIVE, and my top electronic recommendation for the entire weekend - Floating Points' 3:05 full band live set in the Mojave.

Sunday, on paper, is actually the strongest rock day of the weekend, but scheduling overlaps have watered it down quite a bit.  Still, in the earlier hours - Preoccupations, Ezra Furman, Pond, Whitney and Devendra Banhart are all well worth checking out, leading up to Future Islands at 6:10 who are more synth rockers but one of the best and most reliable live acts on the planet at present. If you've never seen them before, frontman Samuel Herring is not to be missed. Unfortunately, as has been the trend in recent years, once the sun sets Sunday evening, EDM takes over and this year is no different. You're only rock acts in the late hours are chill beach rockers Real Estate, and quintessential 80s band New Order.

For the best non-rock acts of Sunday's bill - you have to start with reggae legend Toots & The Maytals and headliner Kendrick Lamar - arguably the best and most important rapper in the world at this specific moment in music history. I also highly recommend soul outfit Lee Fields & The Expressions, and movie composer Hans Zimmer, who will be playing an hour long medley of his many Oscar winning compostions backed by a near full orchestra.

And that's it folks, my down and dirty recs, and for those joining me this weekend, stay hydrated, and I hope you have an amazing time.

No comments: