Indio, California, seems to be famous for two things. One of them is Dates (yeah, the fruit), which is why the National Date Festival of America is held in Indio every February. But you’ve probably heard of Indio in relation to its other big event, the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. When I first heard of Coachella I thought it had something to do with actual coaches…perhaps being quirkily held on a series of Greyhound buses. In fact, it’s one of the best festivals in the world, and with headline sets from The Black Keys, Radiohead, and Dr Dre & Snoop Dogg scheduled for this year it’s looking like it’s going to go stratospheric.
Tickets for the festival this year sold out in three hours, which is pretty impressive when you consider that Coachella is actually taking place over two weekends in April, an interesting solution to the steady rise in demand that the organisers, Goldenvoice, have witnessed in the past few years. It could also have something to do with the sheer awesomeness of a line-up that encompasses some incredible reunions and resuscitations (At The Drive-In are the big news, but there’s also fIREHOSE, Buzzcocks, and Cat Power on the bill) as well as a nicely genre-spanning mix of artists.
Making their headline debut, The Black Keys are top of the bill for Friday night, ensuring that the festival kicks off with some All-American blues-style rock. The Black Keys have been largely overlooked in a lot of UK reportage about the line-up, perhaps because their level of fame over here is for some reason nowhere near what it is in the States, but they’re sure to be awesome (if in doubt, check them out). Then on Saturday it’s festi-favourites Radiohead’s turn to helm proceedings. As veterans of massive live sets, Radiohead are almost certain to absolutely kill it. It’s the closing act that everyone’s all of a-twitter about however, as Dr Dre and Snoop Dogg will be taking to the stage. Expect a response akin to the adulation Jay-Z’s Glastonbury set received.
As with any major festival there’s a massive selection of bands and artists slated to play, with a good mixture of up-and-comers (We Are Augustines), big hitters (David Guetta), the achingly hip (Neon Indian) and old favourites (Squeeze). The Brits are well represented this year, with Arctic Monkeys and Florence + The Machine high on the bill, as well as Wild Beasts, The Vaccines and Metronomy among others. The mixture of sounds is likely to result in there being something for pretty much everyone available at Coachella this year, with Beirut listed in the same breath as Calvin Harris;The Rapture juxtaposed with Frank Ocean; and tUnE-yArDs hanging out just below Sub Focus on Saturday’s line-up.
So who, for our money, are the ones to watch? London five-piece Yuck, whose ‘Get Away’ and ‘Coconut Bible’ have been insinuating themselves into indie-rock playlists since the release of the band’s (self-titled) album in February of last year, are playing on the Friday in what’s sure to be an assured and energetic set. Also on Friday are French sensations M83, whose shoegaze-influenced set is certain to set the stage alight. Dirty-mouthed and brimming with attitude, Harlem rapper Azealia Banks (whose star was placed firmly in the ascendant when she topped the NME’s cool list last year) is sure to be one of the best acts of Saturday, and would make a brilliant juxtaposition to seeing Radiohead in the evening. Sunday is a toss-up between eclectic DJ The Gaslamp Killer and the moody and atmospheric R&B of The Weeknd; both are sure to provide excellent and unpredictable live shows.
For those of us not lucky enough to be spending an April weekend in California, the only option will be to catch highlights on TV or online. If you have got a ticket all we can say is have a good one, you jammy sh*t.
Let us know who your top picks are for Coachella 2012 in the comments box below. For more information visit the festival site.