Coachella 2017 Cheat Sheet: Every Act You Need to Know From A to xx
Those of you who still recall the good ole’ days when Coachella was “still good” can stick to your nostalgia, but I highly advise you to take into consideration this list of personal selections from the 2017 lineup. Most people may not recognize the majority of artists listed this year, but my time as a record store buyer for three years, music journalist for close to eight years, and music digger for my entire life, I can assure you—this lineup is stacked with solid headliners and exceptional burgeoning talent representing the new generation well. Coachella talent buyers killed it this year, and in case you are still trying to make your lineup decisions (or just want to discover some new music), scan through this curated catalog to get the musical nuggets that shouldn’t be passed up while wandering around in the Indio desert this April.
Allah-Las – These Los Angeles boys are on perma-tour all around the world these days, so you don’t want to miss out on hearing their ‘60s vibe and jamming rock sound while you can. Also these guys should come well prepared since they are not new to the Coachella scene, having just played in 2015. Planning to vibe out all weekend? Then consider Allah-Las your perfect soundtrack in Indio.
The Atomics – There better be an influx of dancing during this set. And if you love rapid beats, appreciate the fuzzy lo-fi riffs, and live for rock ‘n roll, this is the mixture that will set you off just the way you want for this massive party.
The Avalanches – Not everyone is into experimental breaks and beats, but if you do have an inclination to see these master mixers, I highly recommend witnessing some of their creative musical magic. I can only imagine what kind of vinyl scores they’ve stumbled upon through the years, and what gems they are planning to bring to the desert.
Banks – From Orange County comes its native daughter, Banks, a somber electro-pop beauty who has certain way to hypnotize. Her name is Banks, and this strong, independent, artistic individual is sure to bring a sultry performance worth a watch and good listen.
Bastille – Londoner’s Bastille have a distinct mix that also remains quite eclectic. Power pop, indie, and folk all mix into a mold of modern electronic music that remains catchy and compels dance movement. These guys have played festivals like Glastonbury, so something tells me they should have just what it takes to get the crowd going at Coachella.
Big Gigantic – Deep house might be all about those mellow vibes, but Big Gigantic has managed to blend that with upbeat electro-pop, elements of trap, and even some jazzy, saxophone soul to create a very eclectic and energetic mix of EDM stylings.
Bishop Briggs – She’s on her way up, and you don’t want to miss the beginning of her ascension. With powerful vocals, cool style, and a dark pop swagger that sets her apart from other similar female artists, the diverse persona of Bishop Briggs will command your attention, and I recommend you be there to watch.
Blossoms – Immediately I’m thrown back into a mix of ‘80s electro-rock and ‘90s Brit-pop. But these British boys are still recent to being nationally known, but will gain even more momentum here in the States after their Coachella experience.
Bon Iver – That voice of Justin Vernon stays with you, with no others being quite like it. His earlier work is so heartbreakingly beautiful and delicately crafted, and as he’s progressed, Bon Iver has become increasingly visceral and varied in his recording style. Expect a captivating and diverse set that will be memorable experience to talk about for years to come.
Bonobo – Intelligent, delicately crafted, deeply felt DJ music headed by Simon Green. The real beauty of Bonobo is the fact that Green has lately expanded his stage performance to include live instruments, leading to what is sure to be an even more visceral sensation than just listening to his already very soul-stirring recorded tracks.
Brodinski – You want to get intense and get lost in a wave of electro? Go see Brodinski. The melody, the basslines, the chosen layers of samples will hypnotize you, and will certainly help you lose yourself completely in the moment.
Broods – This young duo of brother and sister siblings from New Zealand is for fans of artists like Lorde. Perhaps there’s something in the Kiwis’ water that is creating all this great talent? Take a look at Broods and see for yourself.
Car Seat Headrest – Break up the dance party and go thrash around a bit to Car Seat Headrest. This rock full of angst is reminiscent of Nirvana and headliner, Radiohead. So why not get warmed up with Car Seat Headrest?
Chicano Batman – How happy am I to see these guys playing freaking Coachella!? Pretty damn happy. Their Latin flavor and retro rock sound is refreshing and needed at the festival, in my humble opinion. So go support these Angelinos and get lost in their psychedelic sound.
Classixx – Smooth, silky, effortless synth electronic dance music is the name of the game for Classixx. If you haven’t heard of them, you certainly will be soon because they are definitely going to bring the dance party and leave their mark on Coachella this year.
Crystal Castles – I’ll say it, I miss Alice Glass. That being said, she is certainly not the only member of this project, as Ethan Kath really is the brains behind the Crystal Castles framework. And new vocalist Edith Francis seems to be having no problem holding down her new position, so don’t overlook these amazing lo-fi electronic rockers.
Denzel Curry – Let your mind be blown by the amazingly quick flow of Denzel Curry. Not only are the beats solid, but the rhymes are smart and heavy. Get ready for an intense performance.
Devendra Banhart – Devendra is a man dear to my heart, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who can say that. His personality is rich in flavor, his music full of heart and sincerity, and his performance is always personal and memorable. Do yourself a favor, and if you aren’t already acquainted, get to know Devendra Banhart and his sweet, worldly, folk indie rock music.
Dillon Francis – I can’t say that I’ve listened to much Dillon Francis, but I hear his name everywhere, and with over four million monthly listeners on Spotify, it seems like this DJ/producer has got the knack for keeping his fans thoroughly entertained with his electro pop.
DJ Khaled – This guy has got a posse. A posse of the heaviest of pop and hip-hop artists on the charts today. Drake, Nicki Minaj, Kendrick Lamar. You get the picture. Probably don’t want to miss this spectacle at Coachella ‘cause who knows who is going to show up each weekend with DJ Khaled.
DJ Shadow – Legend. Don’t miss. I mean it. DJ Shadow helped start a genre way back in the day, and if you appreciate hip-hop, electronic, experimental beats, with a little funk mixed in, make sure you add him to your list. DJ Shadow is a master of his craft sure to give a lesson on how the DJ profession really started and what it means to be a producer in the field.
DJ Snake – This set is going to be unreal. I’m going to go so far as to say that this pop prince DJ is going to have one of the biggest attendances of the weekend. Just get in there, be part of the crowd, and lose yourself in the music like you should!
Empire of the Sun – There is no doubt in my mind that Empire of the Sun is going to be fantastic and a must-see during the festival. Even if you somehow let their existence slip past you, it doesn’t matter—their music will have no problem captivating you, then sending you into an immediate dancing frenzy. Don’t fight it.
Father John Misty – A little bird told me that J. Tillman of Father John Misty got pulled in to help write on Lady Gaga’s latest album, and there is no doubt—with him being the smart, cynical, charmingly witty person he is—that that experience helped inspire his newest full-length, Pure Comedy. If you can witness his voice, his energy, and his message live, I assure you that it will be an experience you will never forget.
Floating Points – This artist, DJ Sam Shepherd, decided on the perfect name for his act, as Floating Points is an excellent description for his style of electronic music. Savvy, precise, and elegant, yet still grooving and danceable, the tracks of Shepherd are incredibly stimulating, and should not be overlooked.
Four Tet – This electronic music is more my style—a bit more cerebral, a bit more layered, a bit more complex. If you don’t want to get lost in the layers of intriguing musical phrases, this may not be for you. But if you are an audiophile interested in the progressive style of digital compositions, Four Tet is not to be missed.
Francis and the Lights – To be honest, the first track I heard from Francis and the Lights made me think that maybe I was listening to the new Peter Gabriel. For those of you who are unaware of who he is, that is a complement. But Francis and the Lights are so much more—not necessarily to be considered a newer version of Gabriel, but a new generation of musician entirely that was maybe built on the foundation of their predecessor. Go see the future if you can.
Future – Sorry, I’m not a fan of the vocoded style of hip-hop, but this guy has close to 24 million monthly listeners on Spotify so he must be running his game strong. Something tells me Future is going to be bringing a huge crowd to his stage, and I’ll let you use that information to your own discretion.
Galantis – Party vibes radiate from Galantis, and there is no doubt this feel-good party electronic pop is going to accommodate the masses and keep a huge crowd dancing during their set.
Glass Animals – This English ensemble of indie pop rock can’t really be explained so easily. They are distinct and a little strange, a little experimental and dreamy, a little seductive with a straight-forward attitude. The mix is something unique and hypnotic, and surely worth watching.
GoldLink – Damn that’s a smooth mix of soul and hip-hop Goldlink is bringing to the table. Expect the mood to be hot and full of funk during this set, and don’t be shy to let it loose and just get down.
Grace Mitchell – She recently popped up on my radar with her single “Kids (Ain’t All Right)” and if my intuition is correct, she's about to make her mark on the world in a big way. Get in there early to see her in action before she makes her way to the top.
Grouplove – The funky pop personality of Grouplove is infused with an energy that transfers into an incredibly lively live set. If you can fit them into your schedule, they are definitely worth a watch.
Gucci Mane – There is no one quite like Gucci Mane. In your face, unapologetic, rough and blunt, and a leader in the trap movement straight from Atlanta. Hip-hop has had many notable figures, and Gucci Mane has definitely made a distinct spot for himself in the current ranks.
Guided By Voices – Remember when music festivals were about folk, rock, soul, and a thoughtful message? Long-timers, Guided By Voices will be bringing that to Coachella, so go get a taste.
The Head and the Heart – Indie rock is alive and well these days, and The Head and the Heart are top of the genre. If that’s your taste, and you haven’t gotten to see them, get them in the mix for your weekend.
Hinds – This four-piece, all-girl rock band hailing from Spain may not quite seem of age to smoke and drink here in the States, but they sure have a great understanding of how to create that perfect lo-fi sound that’s currently being revived by a new class of kids led by the Burger Records revolution. Cute, a little messy, and all fun, Hinds will be representing the females well during Coachella.
HONNE – Smooth and silky electronic is the name of the game for HONNE, and if you’re looking for a good vibe for some romance, there performance might just be the perfect setting.
Jack Garratt – That falsetto is impressive and soulful, the electro-pop compositions are unique and technically sound, and the mood is deeply romantic and honest. Go be moved by this, and maybe bring along that crush to enjoy it with you.
Jagwar Ma – I first noticed Jagwar Ma when their “Howlin” record arrived at the record store I was working at, and ever since, I’ve noticed their name more and more. Four years later, they have earned their spot on the Coachella lineup, and their experimental indie pop should naturally attract even more attention for the duo.
Jai Wolf – There’s something that sets this relatively new electronic artist apart, and it’s probably a mix of the unique taste of samples, and the epic mood that he instills in to each of his tracks. There is something ethereal about Jai Wolf’s music, which makes it the perfect soundtrack to get lost in while hanging out in the desert.
Justice – Justice is, are, and always will be your friends. So if you have any clue who they are and how fantastic their set will be, you won’t miss this spectacle.
Kaleo – If you on planning on watching Bon Iver during the course of Coachella, let me recommend you also add Kaleo to your list. Their blend of bluesy, folk rock has a beautiful and earnest mix of emotion that should be quite moving.
KAYTRANADA – This was another artist that snuck into the scene from what seemed like out of nowhere, and blew up all of a sudden. Working with the likes of Little Dragon, Badbadnotgood, Anderson .Paak, Goldlink, AlunaGeorge, VicMensa…the list goes on. So get him on your list because it’s hard to say who might end up on stage with him during his set.
Kendrick Lamar – This headliner is one of the best on the entire bill, not just of the hip-hop artists, but all of them. I can’t stress that enough. Kendrick Lamar should be top of your list of sets to see, and if he’s not, I can assure you will regret missing him in action.
Kiiara – This mix of electro-pop and trap music, blended by chopped up samples is a bit of a trip. Combine that with the breathy vocals of Kiiara, and the sultry mood is perfectly set. I imagine a massive crowd falling under her spell and losing themselves entirely during this performance.
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – This is some wild shit that you don’t want to miss! I was lucky to catch them this last October at Desert Daze, and the mix of thrash punk, surf, and rock from this crew of Aussies was one of the most memorable performances of the weekend. Don’t miss it!
Klangstof – Sasquatch, Bonnaroo, and upcoming tours with The Flaming Lips and Miike Snow? Klasngstof, imports from Norway, are making their American debut, and their subtle rock, reminiscent of artists like Chet Faker and MGMT are sure to make them a fan favorite for the weekend.
Lady Gaga: I know everyone is bummed about Beyoncé not being able to take the stage, but if you're going to get someone to even come close to replacing her, Lady Gaga is it. The last year or so, Gaga has been on fire, and there is no doubt she's gonna be the ultimate showstopper at Coachella.
Lee Fields & The Expressions – Fans of Charles Bradley, Sharon Jones, Fitz & The Tantrums—you have found the soul you need for the weekend. Lee Fields & The Expressions have the sexiness, sweetness, swagger, and energy to heighten the mood. If you need to get your groove on, make sure you don’t miss this set.
Little Dragon – The hushed and delicate vocals of lead singer Yukimi Nagano are quite unlike any other current female artists, minus maybe the like of Grimes. But this group laid the foundation for musicians such as Grimes, considering their start back in the mid-90s. More relevant than ever, Little Dragon deserves to be at the top of the bill, and will certainly deliver a memorable performance.
Local Natives – It’s been great seeing Local Natives gain success and notoriety over the last few years, and even greater seeing their name on the Coachella lineup poster. Indie rock at its finest, Local Natives produce dreamy, dynamic, thought-provoking music, and will certainly offer a visceral performance perfect for the desert.
Lorde – The wait has felt long, but from the looks of it, Lorde is back! The soon-to-be-sophomore has already very well established herself with her first full-length. That being said, there’s no doubt her maturity is heightened and we’re about to get a more complex, even more honest version of Lorde with her upcoming release. Chances are, Coachella is going to be a great preview of what’s to come, so don’t miss it.
Mac Demarco – Mac has been a golden boy for Goldenvoice, performing FYF and local concerts for a few years now, but now it’s time for him to bring the fun-loving goofy rock to the Coachella stage. This guy is chill af, like you could just swing by his house for a quick hello which leads to a bowl, a bbq, followed by a hang session with drinks and jamming. If you want a taste of that, get Mac Demarco on your list and get ready to boogie with your buds.
Majid Jordan – Need some of that sweet soulful left-field electronic to wind down a bit without losing the inclination for the party? Majid Jordan is the perfect solution.
Mitski – A bit of a breakout this year with her album Puberty 2, Mitski is eclectic, strange, cute, and beautifully blunt. Want to trip out a little but need some pop sensibility to hold onto? This is the perfect mixture of inventive indie pop rock.
Mura Masa – Multi-instrumentalist Mura Masa mixes that with his DJ production talents to create something unique that has caught the attention of artists like Charli XCX and A$AP Rocky. Even though his work is subtle at times, the vocal accompaniment always seems to add the perfect complement to round out the music and offer that sweet touch of romantic feeling.
NAO – Get NAO on your list if you enjoy artists like SZA, Lion Babe, and Aaliyah. NAO has a distinct pixie-like vocal range that is soulful and impressively dynamic, something definitely worth seeing in person.
New Order – Legends. If you know what’s good, there’s not a chance that you will miss New Order. And, as a fan, it’s easy to worry that your favorite acts will burn out instead of fade away, but New Order’s newest work luckily defeats that inclination. In fact, their album Complete Music is sure to teach the new generation that the old dogs still have plenty of new tricks. Complete Music displays just what makes New Order (and Joy Division) the musical icons they are, and their performance will be one to check off the master lifetime list of artists to see.
Nicolas Jaar – Nicolas Jaar has become a down-tempo heavyweight, between his solo DJ and production work, to his duo project, Darkside. His longevity is completely earned, mostly because of his unique musical vision, which is the perfect blend of somber rhythms and seductive melodies and ambiance. Make sure to go get lost in his wave of sound.
Oh Wonder – Harmony is one of my favorite elements of music, and Oh Wonder fully implement this musical tool in their guy-girl duo of dreamy pop-electronic. You’ll probably want to grab onto that person you’ve been crushing on for this set in order to enjoy to its full potential.
Phantogram – Longevity and relevant are two words that immediately come to mind when I think of Phantogram and their electronic rock intermixed with elements of hip-hop, pop, and experimental styles. It could have been easy for them to fall into the category of one-hit-wonders, but they have carried on steadily and earned their rightful location at the top of the lineup.
Pond – Fuzz. Pop. Indie. Members of Tame Impala. Need I say more? If you like a the idea of MGMT but with more psychedelic instrumentation, Pond should definitely attract your attention.
Radiohead – If you don’t know Radiohead, you’ve been living under a rock and should probably get that checked out. Don’t miss this, you’ll regret it, your children will regret it, your children’s children will regret it…you get the idea.
Real Estate – Need to lighten up with some mellow indie rock? Real Estate can provide! There is a charm about their music, as well as an intelligence that has justifiably earned them the right to be at Coachella this year.
Röyksopp – Hailing from Northern Europe, Röyksopp is a notable addition to this years lineup, especially in the electronic realm. There is an artistic showmanship and intellectual approach to what ultimately yields very danceable tracks. Hopefully they’re set up for the Sahara tent so you can mix together the experience of their music with a world-renowned lighting rig that usually covers the whole inside ceiling of that tent.
ScHoolboy Q – The new generation of hip-hop artists has risen, and ScHoolboy Q is definitely at the top of the class. Anyone who is running with Kendrick Lamar is worth a listen, so make sure to catch that set if you can.
Shannon and The Clams – Lo-fi has been making a huge comeback with that Burger Records movement, and Shannon and The Clams have done a great job leading the way. With elements of rock ‘n roll, doo wop, soul and punk, Shannon and The Clams are nothing but fun and full of talent.
Slow Hollows – Getting on the Coachella bill is a great indication that Los Angeles indie alternative band Slow Hollows is on their way to break-out entirely. This moody rock ensemble certainly has what it takes, so get out there and show some support.
T.S.O.L. – Punk legends T.S.O.L. are here to show the new generation just what old school SoCal punk is really like. Breaking from the standards of other Huntington Beach surf and skate punk bands, T.S.O.L. and lead singer Jack Grisham included elements of goth and even British new wave to create sounds that have stayed relevant through the decades and into current day.
Tacocat – Last year was great for the breakout band, Tacocat. Apparently Tacocat spelled backwards is Tacocat, and that silly sort of playfulness is ripe in their indie punk music. Should be a fun set from a group that hopefully will continue their ascension—and their inclusion on the Coachella lineup is good indication of that.
Tennis – With a little of that ‘80s new wave vibe, modern indie, and psych-pop, Tennis is comprised of husband and wife duo with a clear affinity with one another. Luckily it shows in their music for us to enjoy as well.
Thee Commons – Nothing makes me happier than to see the Los Angeles trio, Thee Commons, on the Coachella bill. Not only are they talented, down-to-earth, hard-working musicians, but they have a style that is as distinct as it is appealing. With a mix of Cumbia, punk, and psychedelic, how can you keep from swaying along in a hypnotic trance?
Thundercat – In my scene ripe with fellow audiophiles, Thundercat has been one of the most talked about artists over the last year. Part of the Flying Lotus and Kamasi Washinton crew, Thundercat (otherwise known as Stephen Bruner) has that musical blood running through his veins, considering that his father was a successful drummer for the likes of the Temptations and Diana Ross. With genes like that, Thundercat has adapted to create an inventive style of soul music that is worth talking about, and definitely seeing live.
Tove Lo – Unapologetic with strength and sexiness, this upcoming pop princess has been making her ascension steadily over the last few years. Expect her to own the stage with her indie electro-pop during her performance.
Twin Peaks – It’s been refreshing to see some lo-fi, fuzzy, doo-wop, psych and ‘60s-influenced artists on the bill. Twin Peaks has a little bit of all of that, and even an additional bit of power-pop included, and should be a fun set all-around.
Two Door Cinema Club – Need that taste of disco, but don’t want to go full electronic to get it? Two Door Cinema Club is the perfect solution to fulfill your need to dance without going to deep down the rabbit hole.
Warpaint – When I saw Warpaint at Coachella back in 2014, they stirred up a wind-storm—or so I like to believe—with their witchy and hypnotic incantations. When I saw them at Music Tastes Good in Long Beach this last Fall, the feeling was similar, but there was a maturity to their stage presence that let me know they have truly hit their stride. The new album is a solid addition to their catalog, and it would be foolish to miss their set during Coachella this year.
The xx – The vulnerable nature of the indie electronic music of The xx has an appeal that is hard to fight. Romantic, somber, rhythmic, and catchy, their music will definitely attract a sizeable and willing crowd.
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