The announcement of the Coachella lineup is always a sad day for someone like me living in Ohio and confined to the final weeks of classes without room for a vacation just yet.
However, I always do enjoy making hypothetical lists of the artists I would enjoy seeing there, and fortunately for those who are able to attend, the setlist is stacked with talent. Here’s my top ten must-see artists if I could go to Coachella.
10.) Glass Animals
Glass Animals were at Lollapalooza 2015 and I refused to go see their show, writing it off as “not my cup of tea” because I didn’t like the song “Gooey.” Since then I have thankfully gotten over myself. The percussion and energy level in each track on their new record was enough to change my mind.
I enjoyed Smith Westerns, so I’m pleased Whitney sprang from their breakup. The upper range of singer Julien Ehrlich’s voice works to his advantage for both songs that make you want to skip with glee (“Wherever We Go”) and dismally reminisce about the one that got away (“No Woman”). I like the balance of acoustic and electric instrumentation as well as the occasional horn performance.
8.) Real Estate
Real Estate is the kind of band you want to soundtrack your November evening drives as you ponder the direction your life has taken over the year. I love how their songs layer repeating riffs on top of each other to make melodic, peaceful, soothing jams.
7.) Father John Misty
Don’t let the stage presence intimidate you-this guy knows how to make music that explores the bizarreness of the human condition in the driest, most verbose and most touching way possible. Watching him sardonically answer fan questions on stage was one of the highlights of Lolla 2015 for me.
I think I want to see Radiohead again based on how talented they are as equally as I want to see them again based on how influential they’ve been to the field of independent rock over the years. (And “High and Dry” is one of my favourite songs of all time).
5.) The Avalanches
This group’s 2016 record “Wildflower” completely floored me in the best way. I’ve never listened much to sample-based music, but the amount of creativity and production skill that goes into creating an Avalanches track, and for that matter a whole record, makes me quite curious as to how a live show would translate.
4.) Mac DeMarco
I have to give a shout-out to my boy Mac! I’ve mentioned my love of his jangly, free spirited, carefree approach to music so many times on this blog. How friendly he is in interviews is enough to peak my interest in his live shows. The fact his music is so easygoing and listenable makes it all the better.
3.) Guided by Voices
This is another one of those bands that is so huge and so influential in creating and changing the shape of the independent landscape that seeing them live would be enough for a music fan. The storytelling and lyrical style of Robert Pollard and the DIY, lo-fi production and performance styles in the GBV catalogue would be a beautiful sight to behold.
2.) New Order
NO is one of my all-time favourite bands and a large portion of that love comes from how creative their music is. The way they use synthesizers and drum machines in building, crescendoing, dancey tracks that often last over the six minute mark has stayed fresh for over 30 years. While I wasn’t the hugest fan of 2015’s “Music Complete” and I love the bass playing of Peter Hook, I’d still love to see these guys live. Also, I just really love Bernard Sumner’s singing voice.
Before we hit number one, I want to give two Honorable Mentions. First, to the singer/songwriter known as Mitski, whose skills as not only a singer and guitarist but also as a lyricist make her a force to be reckoned with in the indie world right now. And second, to Lorde, who’s created some excellent pop songs with her lower range and minimal instrumentation.
1.) Car Seat Headrest
I gotta give it to the Car Seat boys. 2016’s “Teens of Denial” is one of those rare albums where I honestly feel like there’s not a single dull moment. The entire time I listen, every time I listen, I feel completely tuned in and connected to Will Toledo’s stories of self-discovery, navigating postgraduate life and growing up. The instrumentation is lively, sorrowful, passionate, angry and above all else, catchy. The lyrics are relatable, the riffs are loud and sometimes, a song brings on a momentary existential crisis. This is some quality music coming from a group of guys who are in their early 20’s. Hopefully, they’re going to be creating masterpieces like this for the rest of their lives.
What are your thoughts on the 2017 Coachella lineup? Are you going? Who are you most excited to see?
Safe travels to all those attending and have a wonderful time. Thanks for reading, and God bless.