After months of speculation the Coachella lineup finally dropped on Tuesday morning. As it was heavily reported, the rumours were right, and the three headliners matched up. Other then previously playing her husbands Made in America festival, Beyoncé is making her proper debut at the top of a poster. Artists like Beyoncé make far more money doing their own world tours and playing to dedicated fans, than they do touring the circuit, which makes her appearance all the more special. Expect some crazy guests to show up like Jay-Z, Andre 3000 or Nicki Minaj.
While Radiohead might not seem super special they only played four North American festivals last year after taking a four year hiatus. Expect them to pop up at a few more fests this year, but probably not at the ones you are planning on going to. They still represent the pinnacle of festival bookings and they actually sound better then ever with their new material in tow.
Lastly is Kendrick Lamar, who has been headlining just about every festival since 2015 and he looks to complete his festival world tour in support of To Pimp a Butterfly this year. For those hoping to get some untitled, unmastered tracks performed, don’t get your hopes up as he is a notorious perfectionist and won’t deviate from his set list unless he is ready to do so. If you have seen him at all in the last four years you will have seen most of his set already. The lesson in all this is that if a site like Consequence of Sound announces your headliners three months early, it’s right (just like how we already know Bonnaroo’s headliners and Gov Ball’s also leaked).
It is always fascinating to see what Canadian bands are making waves in the US both by where they are being booked, but also where on the lineup poster they are placed. Acts like the Arkells are massive up in Canada but appear on the sixth line (third from the bottom) on Day 1, a clear divide on their popularity, but hopefully it helps them get recognized more. Getting prime real estate space is Pitchfork favourite Mac Demarco, New Toronto singer/rapper Tory Lanez and Polaris Prize winner Kaytranada who seems to be working with everyone these days. Both the new version of Crystal Castles and Drake signed Majid Jordan have solid slots and look to make their mark. A bit more hidden on the poster is Daphni aka the solo DJ alter ego act of Dan Snaith of Caribou and Preoccupations the new name for the post punks Viet Cong.
The great thing about festival lineups is they let you know who has new music to play. You can look at the list and see all the bands that released music in the last year like Bon Iver, Empire of the Sun, ScHoolboy Q, Two Door Cinema Club and Justice and know what to expect. What really is exciting is seeing Lorde billed second on Day 3, which means the wait is finally over to hear her follow up to Pure Heroine that came out four years ago now (also she’s still only just 20!!!). Other big names include The xx, who we have heard On Hold by them and Father John Misty who hasn’t even announced that a new album was forthcoming so soon. Capital Cities hit it huge with Safe & Sound then disappeared, other than appearing on BADBADNOTGOOD’s album it has been pretty silent on Future Island news and holy crap is it’s always welcome to know we are getting more Röyksopp. Up and comer Raury always puts out interesting material and we should be prepared to be blown away by both Four Tet and Thundercat with their jazz infused music. Real Estate seems to be a band perpetually unable to make that next big leap, but maybe this is the album cycle that does it for them.
Some real surprises is what really separates Coachella from every other fest and this year they pulled more than a few rabbits from their hat to impress their perpetually sold out festival. The biggest surprise is film composer Hans freaking Zimmer, known best for his work on Interstellar, The Dark Knight films, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Lion King and more. While we don’t know exactly what his performance will include (thus making it a can’t miss set) it will probably be him conducting his most well known pieces to create an atmosphere like no other. Stranger Things composers S U R V I V E, the long awaited return of Australian duo The Avalanches, synth punk pioneers New Order, electronica producer Bonobo, moody electronic artist Nicolas Jaar and lo-fi rockers Guided By Voices all make pleasant appearances on the poster. Coachella will also be the last tour date of Porter Robinson and Madeon’s collaboration, which has yielded excellent results so far.
There really is something for everyone, and Coachella continues to prove they are the leaders in festival booking. As silly as having two weekends of the same festival happen, it works when you are able to please so many damn people it becomes necessary to ensure riots don’t happen. If you have never made the trek to Indio, California this would be a stellar first year to do it.