Beyond the Headliners

[Coachella 2010] Nine acts that stand out from the sweaty, dusty crowd

FRIDAY, APRIL 16

Sleigh Bells: The love child of a former hardcore musician and a sugar-voiced teeny bopper (who’s all grown up now), Sleigh Bells have rocketed upward in the year they’ve been airborne. After a much-hyped performance at last year’s CMJ festival, the Brooklyn duo of Alexis Krauss and Derek Miller have become a favorite among fans of crunchy, low-budget, written-on-a-laptop digital music—as seen by their smashing success at SXSW. With the louder-than-loud “Crown On the Ground” and the starry-eyed teen anthem “Ring Ring,” Sleigh Bells seem a perfect fit for MIA’s NEET Recordings label, to which they were just signed. Highlighting tracks from their album Treats (to drop in May), their beat-heavy Coachella set will be equal parts tough and pretty. (Erin DeWitt)

 

Friday: Sleigh Bells
Aaron Richter
Friday: Sleigh Bells
Saturday: Flying Lotus
Warp records
Saturday: Flying Lotus

Yeasayer: Returning from a trek through Europe and diving straight into a U.S. tour while the landing gear is still warm, Yeasayer are nothing if not hard-working, as they relentlessly promote their recent album, Odd Blood (in heavy rotation on satellite radio). Their sophomore effort may see the group honing Western pop skills more than before—but they’re in no danger of being labeled mainstream. Taking cues from African and Middle Eastern folk music and blending those with traditional hipster pop, Brooklyn foursome Yeasayer have that Animal Collective spastic-worldbeat thing going, with a nice dose of electro dance and some seriously trippy visuals during live performances. (ED)

 

Wale:Jerry Seinfeld is not a rap icon. He was, however, a rapper’s inspiration in 2008. That’s when Washington, D.C.’s Wale dropped The Mixtape About Nothing, 19 tracks that channeled the seminal ’90s sitcom by rolling its title-sequence bass slaps and Michael Richards’ racist rant into a package that, at first, seemed like a genius gimmick and later just seemed genius. Like “the gang,” Wale is both a navel-gazer and a guy with a chip on his shoulder, which means his rap persona is part aggrieved Everyman and part self-aggrandizing schizo. It’s hard to say who exactly he’ll be at Coachella, but it’s likely his set will be the only place in Indio where it’s okay to throw down the Elaine Dance. (Spencer Kornhaber)

 

SATURDAY, APRIL 17

Flying Lotus: The man to go see right as those mushrooms (you can get a prescription for those now, right?) start kicking in. As experimental and psychedelic as the name suggests, his is a saturated hip-hop offset by a digital foundation and jam-band vibe—long, looping verses peppered with computerized blips and shiny instrumentation that leave listeners no choice but to go down the rabbit hole. FlyLo (to his fans, but Steven Ellison to his family) debuts a new album in May, Cosmogramma. Adult Swim fans should take note: This is the guy who creates all that awesome bumper music. (ED)

Mew: Are this Danish trio an embarrassing prog act? The title of their latest album—No More Stories Are Told Today I’m Sorry They Washed Away No More Stories The World Is Grey I’m Tired Let’s Wash Away—would appear to be damn good evidence for “yes.” So would the fact they’ve got songs meant to be played backward, their guitar lines twist into rainbow-toned knots, and vocalist Jonas Bjerre seems most comfortable singing in a reverb-washed, plaintive, uh, mew. But their songs are more spiky and purpose-driven than, say, the average Dream Theater wank. Mew have the power to go wherever they want; lucky for us, they’re using that power for good. (SK)

The XX: Boy-sings-to-girl-who-sings-to-boy indie-rock outfits are as played-out as Zooey Deschanel’s sundresses or Matt & Kim’s cribbing of “The Final Countdown.” But London trio the XX aim for something darker and newer than all the other couples’ acts. On their 2009 debut, Oliver Sim and Romy Madley Croft whisper obliquely to each other over spare drum clicks and guitar tones that could have been lifted from some grimly existential spaghetti western. In concert, the black-clad band members are dwarfed by giant white X’s on their amps. We’d call it mood music if it weren’t so captivating: Seductive and profound, their performance might come off like passionate pillow-talk between people just back from a funeral. (SK)

 

 

SUNDAY, APRIL 18

The Big Pink:Past Coachellas had My Bloody Valentine and the Jesus & Mary Chain; this year, the best you can do if looking for candy-sweet melodies swathed in fuzz would be to stop by the Big Pink’s set. To be clear, this London duo’s tunes are more sing-songy than those of the band’s spiritual/sonic forbears. After all, noise alone didn’t get them onto the U.K. rock charts. But when the Big Pink came through Southern California late last year—even stopping at Detroit Bar—their glossed-up single “Dominos” didn’t seem so glossed-up. Instead, you got the sound of what might have been the continents breaking and, in the middle of the calamity, a man singing the last love song on earth. (SK)

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