Hotter Than the Temperature at Coachella? Black Lips, Animal Collective, Duffy and 43 More

Battles: super-smart and catchy as hell

46 Acts That May Be Hotter Than the Temperature

By Vickie Chang, Tom Child, Erin DeWitt, Nathan Jackson, Rich Kane, Amanda Parsons and Dave Segal


AESOP ROCK Step right up for a dose of spit from this Long Island-bred lord of the long-winded lyric. Definitive Jux rapper Aesop Rock’s acrobatic use of vocabulary and storytelling are deeper than the gutter bass vocals that have backpack-rap crowds eating out of the palm of his hand. (NJ)

ARCHITECTURE IN HELSINKI Everything’s bigger in Australia, including this band’s instrument collection. Five members contribute to the fractured-pop output from Down Under (not Finland, as their name would suggest). AIH draw from dance music and indie pop that favors a love for bizarre noises, similar to the recent work of Of Montreal, who contributed a jingle to the Australian-themed Outback Steakhouse chain. And the circle of life continues. (TC)

BATTLES Brooklyn’s Battles have concocted a thrilling hybrid of math rock and abstract electronica that’s super-smart, catchy, otherworldly yet visceral. If George Lucas’ THX 1138 had had a club scene, Battles would’ve been the perfect band to wow those denizens of the stark, scarily efficient future. (DS)

BLACK LIPS Notorious as one of the wildest bands to come out of Georgia, Black Lips play swaggering rock that could very well cause some rioting in Indio’s three-digit temperatures. Their explosive combination of brash rebellion and garage-quality blues/punk will surely result in a raucous eruption of pure rawk. So stand back. Or not. Don’t say we didn’t warn you. (ED)

BUSY P Busy P (Pedro Winter) is Daft Punk’s manager, a producer and a DJ of some repute. The aptly named Frenchman also runs Ed Banger Records, which has been dominating hipster dance nights since you bought your first pair of skinny jeans. Monsieur P. truly has his digit on the pulse of au courant jams. Paris is burning, and it’s largely his fault. (DS)

DATAROCK Campy and boisterous, this energetic duo comes to the desert all the way from Norway. You know that “Computer Camp” song that gets stuck in your head? Yeah, that’s Datarock. With the power of two that seems like 20, these guys craft tunes that are both ridiculously original and catchy as hell. (ED)

DIPLO M.I.A.’s former DJ and occasional producer can rock parties in many idioms. The taste-making selector scours the globe for the hottest dance cuts (what haters call “cultural pillaging”), then cleverly blends them with finesse. Diplo possesses an unerring ear for what stokes crowds and finds the perfect balance between fresh nostalgia and futuristic hybrids. Booties everywhere win. (DS)

GOLDFRAPP Bathed in all things glamorous, Alison Goldfrapp brings the gorgeous to dusty ol’ Indio. Mixing disco with futuristic synth and charm, she and synthesist Will Gregory create a sound that’s as ethereal as it is hedonistically sharp. We can’t imagine how this enchantress will weather the heat and the muck, but we bet it will include heavy air-conditioning. (ED)

THE JOHN BUTLER TRIO This Australian jam band—whose acoustic-folk-fused-with-bluegrass tendencies made them Down Under sensations—had a long journey to the Coachella Valley. Led by dreadlocks-wearing guitarist/vocalist John Butler, the band began playing on the streets of Perth in the mid-’90s and were such a success they’re now sittin’ hippie pretty and playing pot-smoking music with the bong-friendly likes of Dave Matthews Band and John Mayer all over the world. (AP)

JACK FUCKING JOHNSON! Snoot snoot, hipsters. What’s Jack Johnson doing at Coachella, you ask? He doesn’t fit in with the rest of the bill, you say? Yet Johnson’s completely harmless, morally defensible soft rock can easily sell out Sunday. And if you could put up with the Red Hot Chili Peppers invading your ear and desert space in 2003 and 2007, then you can put up with this. (VC)

SHARON JONES & THE DAP-KINGS Sharon Jones is Coachella’s oldest female performer this year, but she suffers no energy crisis. Rather, the engaging diva’s a dynamo onstage, channeling her inner James Brown (seriously) for wicked dance moves and righteous soul belting over the Dap-Kings’ vintage funk resuscitations. Their eternally golden 1970 tops nearly anyone else’s sparkling 2008. (DS)

LES SAVY FAV Les Savy Fav’s rad live shows have become legendary among indie-rock connoisseurs. In a flurry of thrashing, gyrating groove, these East Coasters have been making sweet music together for more than a decade, and they’re one of the rare groups that improve with age. (ED)

THE RACONTEURS Getting a regular dose of super-sexy Jack White, this year, Coachella features that other band he’s in, with melody virtuosos Brendan Benson, Patrick Keeler and Jack Lawrence. The Raconteurs, who formed in 2005, are as fresh as the modern folk/rock/blues they’ll be blasting through the festival’s massive sound system. (ED)

REDD KROSS After a hiatus lasting more than a decade, Redd Kross have somehow made themselves relevant again. Though the Hawthorne band’s lineup has been a revolving door since their inception by brothers Jeff and Steve McDonald in 1980, Redd Kross’ punk/power pop spurts from their debut full-length include nods to everyone from Linda Blair to Tatum O’Neal. And instead of straying from that sound, the band have embraced it, even playing Born Innocent in its entirety with Sonic Youth last summer. (VC)

ROGUE WAVE Funny how Pitchforkers around the country turned their noses upward when they heard Rogue Wave had left behind the Sub Pop shuffle for singer/songwriter Jack Johnson’s Brushfire Records. Did they really think lead vocalist Zach Rogue would suddenly trade in the band’s consistently dreamy, layered sound of guitar droning and near indistinguishable vocals for some innocuous new age folk and an acoustic? (VC)

SPANK ROCK Electro MC Spank Rock and his party-rap crew have spent the past few years picking up steam in the sweaty neon world of underground club rap. All the fun of 2 Live Crew chauvinism, Afrika Bambaataa beats and a porn magazine rolled into one live booty-bumpin’ mix. (NJ)

VAMPIRE WEEKEND First acknowledged by music blogs, New York buzz band Vampire Weekend emerged on the indie scene last year after the release of their upbeat African-pop/ska-influenced self-titled EP. The single “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” was ranked by Rolling Stone as the 67th best of 2007. But you probably know Vampire Weekend for the single “A-Punk,” which is fucking awesome and makes you want to kick your shoes off and dance. (AP)

THE VERVE Can these reunited British space rockers still reach the stars? I’m skeptical. Those expecting the bliss torrents of pre-“Bitter Sweet Symphony” Verve may trudge away deflated from the sound of stodgy, midtempo dad rock and maudlin ballads. But all will be forgiven if the majestic “Butterfly” or serenely gorgeous “Man Called Sun” emerge. (DS)


120 DAYS Named after De Sade’s life-enhancing tome about four eventful months in Sodom, 120 Days are Norwegian, but they sound like England’s Hawkwind chugging down Neu!’s autobahn on a badass chopper (think Hopper and Fonda in Easy Rider). 120 Days’ cool, linear, expansive sound should be a treat in 100-degree-plus weather. (DS)

AKRON/FAMILY If the frenzy of Coachella gets to be too much and you just want to calm down for a bit, head over to Akron/Family, now joined by members of Megafun and the Dodos. Originally a three-piece and now living in Brooklyn (not the Black Mountains?), Akron/Family invoke the kind of music you want to listen to as you sit on a mountain porch while the sun sets. Catch them here, no matter where the sun is. (TC)

ANIMAL COLLECTIVE Animal Collective’s music is almost indescribably fantastic. Tribal chants and drums, otherworldly shrieks and howls, looping layered keyboards, static, and noises unrecognizable to the human ear coalesce into some of the most original and beautiful-sounding music to ever be played on FM 103.1. It’s as close to pop as an experimental band can get. (TC)

BONDE DO ROLE These Brazilians brazenly mash together baile funk, club rap, heavy metal and schoolyard chants into a hedonistic barrage of party jams. Their records emit a raucous, ramshackle charm that should appeal to fans of M.I.A., Spank Rock and Santogold—all of whom are playing Coachella this year. Somebody involved with booking the fest knows about synergy. (DS)

COLD WAR KIDS Let’s hear it for local bands! Fullerton’s Cold War Kids have definitely blown up over the past few years with their penchant for harmony and hauntingly beautiful story lines. Their live show is phenomenal, especially the amazing version of “We Used to Vacation.” Learn the words now because everybody will be singing along. (ED)

DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE Thanks to The O.C.—we have a lot to thank The O.C. for, it seems—Benny Gibbard has become a household name and a KROQ regular. Their latest, Plans, spurred complaints from longtime fans: too produced, too clean, they said. Everyone else, however, fucking loved it. Either way, you probably still have a giant soft spot in your heart for cuddly ol’ Ben. Stop by Death Cab’s set—even if just for old times’ sake. (VC)

DEVOTCHKA Most of this Colorado-based band’s set will likely center on tracks from their recent jaw-dropping album, A Mad and Faithful Telling, but let’s hope this whimsical, Latin-inspired group will include some material from the wildly romantic Juno score they composed. It did earn them a Grammy nomination, after all. (ED)

HOT CHIP Mixing electronic riffs with digital chirps and grooves, these British lads prove they’ve got the ultimate dance-party mix right in their well-tailored pockets. If you can find room to dance, Hot Chip will—paradoxically—cool you off. Either that, or an $8 lemonade will do the trick. (ED)

STEPHEN MALKMUS AND THE JICKS Few people saw it coming, but Pavement’s figurehead has reinvented himself as a prog-rocker extraordinaire after his iconic ’90s band’s split. The Portland-based family man has eased into middle age with grace and splendor, composing ambitious songs that unfurl baroquely, without forgoing attractively contoured melodies. Forget “Cut Your Hair”—Malky’s writing soundtracks for growing it. (DS)

MAN MAN Rabbit Habits, Man Man’s third full-length, shows them progressing in a slightly more accessible direction, though their live show is truly where the band’s genius is revealed. Much has been made of Man Man’s Captain Beefheart/Tom Waits sound, but their music is easier to digest than the former, and they’re much more viscerally exciting than the latter. (TC)

MINUS THE BEAR Minus the Bear are song-title geniuses (“Get Me Naked 2: Electric Boogaloo”). But they’re equally known for edgy guitar tapping and driving rhythms. If you can listen to their set without clapping your hands to the kick drum, then you probably don’t have any. (NJ)

KATE NASH This sweet little redheaded British girl’s songs mostly consist of her griping in a Cockney drawl about a boyfriend or lazy friend, but goddamn if she isn’t fun as hell to listen to—especially if you’re going through a man-hating, PMS-ing, bitch-fest phase. (AP)

PORTISHEAD It’ll be fascinating to see how Portishead’s noirish, ominous, torch-song funk will work in the steamy expanses of Coachella. Out of commission for the past decade, Portishead wield a mean mystique, and reports of a challenging, template-deviating new album have us stoked to see these recluses wreak havoc. (DS)

PRINCE The only real successor to Sly Stone in the soul/funk/rock/showman/shaman realm, Prince can still dazzle huge crowds with his guitar pyrotechnics and an absurdly rich stockpile of songs. There’s going to be hella crying and fainting Saturday night when he takes the stage—and not all of it due to port-o-pottie stench. (DS)

RILO KILEY Rilo Kiley are still juggernauting through widespread fame, signing to a major and issuing a mediocre album that still somehow goes down like honey. Why? Because they’re Rilo Kiley. More specifically, because of Jenny Lewis. The singer has recently delved into some highly successful solo projects—including an upcoming album with guest vocals from Chris Robinson and Elvis Costello—and it has been speculated that Under the Blacklight might just be Rilo Kiley’s last. But that’s what they always say, right? (VC)

MARK RONSON This British-born/NYC-based crate digger and mini mogul is renowned for sprucing up old soul sounds with his eclectic, innovative hip-hop productions. After hearing Ronson’s 2007 album, Version, any self-respecting hip-hop head, party animal or fashionista should be psyched to catch his spinning skills in the desert. (NJ)

DWIGHT YOAKAM Like Willie Nelson last year, Yoakam is the one guy who’s alterna-country enough to be booked at both Coachella and the following weekend’s shitkicker-friendly Stagecoach bash at the same Empire Polo Field. For both sets, expect big hats, gaudy Nudie suits and the ghost of Buck Owens fluttering in the hot Mojave wind. (RK)


AUTOLUX LA sweethearts Autolux are fairly new to the game—having formed in 2000, they’re working on their second album as we speak. The band’s dreamy pop-and-pedal-laden debut, Future Perfect, hits all the “right” influences, if you know what we mean—My Bloody Valentine, Sonic Youth, Velvet Underground. But despite the co-ed vocals, beautiful guitar noise and hooks, all the “right” references start to go astray when you hear their perfected, strangely calculated sound. (VC)

BLACK MOUNTAIN Dark and trippy, Black Mountain explore new ground in regions of opium-drenched prog-rock. This Vancouver band’s two excellent albums make metallic guitars and droning vocals sound exciting (and keep it from nearing too closely to clichéd ’70s stoner rock), thanks largely to drummer Joshua Wells’ wicked rhythms. (ED)

DUFFY This beautiful, blond singer with the soulful, retro vocals fronting smokey blues beats had her first hit with Rockfurry and has gained loads of critical acclaim, often being compared to Amy Winehouse. Duffy possesses all the talent of Winehouse, but (sorry, tabloids) thankfully lacks the drug habits, bad beehive and excessive eye makeup. (AP)

THE FIELD Kompakt Records’ rising star’s gonna make you break into a cold sweat. The Field (Sweden’s Axel Willner) specializes in buoyant, hypnotic dance tracks that deploy manipulated vocals—the meaning’s obscured, but the emotion somehow comes through even stronger. Prepare for sublime microhouse epics filtered through shoegazer-rock’s diaphanous textures. Woosh, there it is. (DS)

GOGOL BORDELLO The frantic, spastic, gypsy-polka mayhem that is Gogol Bordello just might steal the entire festival. Pair the NYC band’s outlandish, surreal stage shows with front man Eugene Hütz’s arresting presence (did you see Wristcutters?), and you’ve got one helluva show that’s going to make that Indio heat all the more scorching. (ED)

GRAND OLE PARTY Yeah, yeah, yeah: Grand Ole Party sound a bit like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Drummer/lead vocalist Kristin Gundred bears a passing resemblance to Karen O, plus they share similar vocal styles, and even their music inhabits the same garage/blues/punk universe. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs aren’t playing Coachella this year, but Grand Ole Party will fill that void very well. (TC)

HOLY FUCK This Toronto group’s live show may be the best (legal) high going. Holy Fuck have become the apotheosis of mantric propulsion—an exhilarating update of Neu! and Silver Apples’ motorik pulsations and bleep/whir/ping science. Prostrate yourself before Holy Fuck’s mighty steamroller of sonic voltage. (DS)

LOVE AND ROCKETS In their late-’80s heyday, Love and Rockets gave the Goth kids who followed them something they weren’t accustomed to: happiness. After all, Love and Rockets were basically Bauhaus minus Godfather of Gloom Peter Murphy, and when the trio had their sole monster hit with “So Alive,” complete with lusciously cooing female backup vocals, well, what else was there to do but grin through all the wrist-cutting darkness? (RK)

MY MORNING JACKET My Morning Jacket’s intricate, Kentucky-fried, psychedelic-sprinkled anthems could be hit or miss in Coachella’s stinky human fleshpool, even if they have played Bonnaroo about 400 times. They should go over well, but you’d do better by catching ’em when they have the whole stage to themselves this summer, touring behind their new Evil Urges disc. (RK)

SPIRITUALIZED God: Spiritualized made even atheists see that fraudulent phantasm on many occasions during the stroboscopic brain-bangs they called their concerts back in the ’90s. Similarly, Jason Pierce and co.’s first three classic albums of gospel-and-junk-fueled psych-rock elevated more minds than JetBlue. This year, expect a mellower, acoustic Spiritualized—more coffeehouse than opium den. Sigh. (DS)

ROGER WATERS The brain behind all post-Syd Barrett Pink Floyd releases, Waters will be performing the Dark Side of the Moon album in its entirety—perfect for all the acid-eaters in attendance (parents and their kids). It won’t exactly be Floyd at Pompeii, but Waters’ psychedelic swirling should still make the desert atmosphere feel just as surreal. Odds on a surprise cameo by Prince in his bikini thong during “Us and Them”: bazillions-to-1. (RK)

Coachella at the Empire Polo Field, 81-800 Ave. 51, Indio. April 25-27. Set times and stages unavailable at press time. Please consult for updates.

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