Braving the elements is a rite of passage at any summer festival, and Coachella is no exception. The Indio sun can be a blistering factor when deciding how early your must-see band list begins, but there's a handful of acts this year that are well worth overcoming heat and hangovers. Whether you're a diehard Coachellan who lines up the moment the festival gates open or a straggler who's perpetually asking the rest of your crew for “five more minutes,” this year rally your friends, stock up on sunscreen, and get an early start on an blistering adventure in sound. Snagging any timeslot on Coachella's taste making lineup is an achievement, but we feel these particular artists are worth the mid-day sunburns.
The Bots (Friday, 11:40-12:10–Outdoor Theatre)
Brothers Mikaiah and Anaiah Lei are The Bots, a high-energy rock band that's been performing together since they were teetering into their teens. Their sound combines punk, hard rock, and Jack White-esqe blues that's astoundingly satisfying. Over the last two years, the brothers have been tapped for a slew of UK festivals including Primavera Sound in Barcelona, and were hand picked as support for heavy-hitting headliners Tenacious D and The Yeah Yeah Yeah's. The Bots are the type of band that could dominate a massive outdoor stage or light up a crowded, rowdy bar (though getting in may be an issue, neither are of drinking age). Luckily, the polo fields welcome artists of every generation, and catching these young Southern California natives on day one is highly recommended.
Goat (Friday, 1:25-2:05–Outdoor Theatre)
If you're looking for something out of the ordinary, look no further than Goat. These masked world-rockers hail from Sweden and make tribal, psych-laden music that's sure to weed out the weekend hipsters and call to the last crop of hippies that still attend Coachella. Their debut album World Music has garnered widespread critical acclaim and is steeped in folklore. Goat's supposed hometown of Korpilomobo has a rich history of spirits and voodoo, and the group channels this antiquity into their stage performance. Vibey and liberating, this is a band that's going to leave a lasting impression on anyone willing to sweat it out in front of the Outdoor Stage on day one.
Laura Mvula (Saturday, 12:30-1:10–Gobi Tent)
Soul singer/songwriter Laura Mvula gained serious momentum over the last two years with her debut album Sing To The Moon, earning a nomination in 2013 for Britain's Mercury Prize and two nods at this year's Brit Awards. While she's breaking out across the pond, she's just now gaining momentum in the states. The Birmingham born vocalist is keen on complex harmonies and generally performs with a stage full of instrumentalists and back up vocalists. What's interesting about her–and worth slipping into the Gobi tent early for on day two–is her fearless approach to soul music. The distinctive manner in which she shapes her lyrics, her tone, and her conviction on upbeat songs and emotional ballads alike are all factors of her hypnotic allure.
Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue (Sunday, 12:30-1:10–Coachella Stage)
If the physical taxation of being three days into a music festival is creating a need for a little early day motivation, Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue are the perfect catalysts for an energized day three. With nine studio albums and four live albums to his name, Trombone Shorty, aka Troy Andrews, possesses an exuberant stage presence and is no stranger to getting festival crowds on their feet. The trombone virtuoso also handles lead vocals, and his funk-heavy sound and lively band will jump start your final day at Coachella.
Ratking (Sunday, 12-12:30–Outdoor Theatre)
Currently hailed as one of New York's trailblazing hip-hop acts, Ratking is a scrappy ensemble finding their way into the world of musical relevancy. Comprised of MC's Wiki and Hak, and supported by producer Sporting Life, this is a group that offers an upfront, raw concoction of sound. Wiki's magnetism is undeniable, largely due to his compelling vocal tone and ambitious persona. The group's in your face approach to hip hop is jarring and judging by their first full length album, So It Goes, their future in the scene holds serious potential. If Ratking can maintain a point on their stylistic arrow, they'll be unstoppable. In the meantime, they're well worth hitting the Outdoor Theatre early on day three.
More honorable mentions on the next page
Unlocking the Truth (Saturday, 1-1:30–Coachella Stage)
Another group of young rockers, these Brooklyn natives are packing a mean brand of groovy heavy metal. The all-instrumental group has known one another since preschool, and while tween metal heads could be viewed as a bit of a novelty, Unlocking the Truth evokes serious emotion making them both legit and entertaining. Youthful inspiration at it's finest.
James Vincent McMorrow (Sunday, 12:15-12:55–Mojave Tent)
If lulling into festival mode is more your style and artists like Bon Iver chart high on your “Best festival sets of all time” list, check out James Vincent McMorrow. His constant falsettos are angelic and his ability to get lost in song is admirable. His set offers a gentle avenue to ease into day three.
If there’s music or art involved, she’ll take a chance on it.