My picks: Blur | Yeah Yeah Yeahs | Modest Mouse | Jurassic 5 | Bassnectar | Dog Blood | Band of Horses | Beach House | Metric | Local Natives | Of Monsters and Men | Infected Mushrooms | Stars | Wolfgang Gartner | Aesop Rock | alt-J | Youth Lagoon | The Neighborhood
The first day of Coachella this year is like a love song to your favorite bands in middle school. Blur is gonna rock (you probably know them as “that band that does the WooHoo song!”), and this is The Stone Roses’ first show in America in something like 15 years, but the biggest story is classic hip-hop group Jurassic 5 getting back together. Their show is gonna be one big trip back to ’90s LA, without all the looting and murder (hopefully).
Modest Mouse is a band you can take or leave based on your taste (that is, if you have it you’ll probably be there), but it’s worth noting that Johnny Marr used to be their guitarist. At Coachella, people have a habit of bringing out surprise guests, and since Marr will already be there for a solo set, it’s a safe call that he’ll come out for Modest Mouse as well. If you want to see Marr but don’t want to see a legion of Smiths fans murmuring about how “it’s not the same,” stick to Modest Mouse.
Dog Blood is a collaboration between Skrillex and Boys Noize, so if you’re into the oontz-oontz-oontz don’t miss the all-star show just because it’s under a different name. Same thing goes for The Shouting Matches and How to Destroy Angels. The former is Justin Vernon’s (of Bon Iver) blues-rock side project, while the latter is the first ever performance of Trent Reznor (of Nine Inch Nails and all those David Fincher movies you love to pretend you saw) and his wife’s new band. Divine Fits is Britt Daniel of Spoon.
If you want some hip-hop to warm up for J5, visit Earl Sweatshirt. He’s a member of OFWGKTA, which includes people like Frank Ocean and Tyler, the Creator. Remember what I said about surprise guests? It’s not even a surprise anymore with the OFWGKTA crew. One of those two (or both) will be there, mark my words.
Nicky Romero and Fedde le Grand (playing Saturday) do a lot of work together, so their DJ sets are sure to have a lot of the same stuff — see one or the other. Saturday is stacked, though, so I’d see Romero today =so you have more time tomorrow. It’s the same reason you should skip Nick Cave’s Grinderman today. His main band Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds plays on Sunday, which is sure to have fewer conflicts. Don’t double dip in Nick Cave. Lou Reed is a big name on the bill, but I wouldn’t bother. The dude’s pushing 70 and his live shows may as well feature songs by the Velvet Six Feet Underground — he just doesn’t have the energy anymore.
Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine is a good alternative: Jello is the old lead singer of The Dead Kennedys and still has that punk spirit. Passion Pit can never seem to get it up in their live acts either (his voice, that is), so if there’s another band you like at the same time, see it.
Coachella is all about compromise. There’s going to be conflicts between sets and between your drug-addled group’s decision-making abilities, so don’t stress too much about who you see. Walk around, take in the sights, stop by the tents for bands you’ve never heard of before. And if it comes down to it, just head to the Sahara Tent, where they stick the DJs. When you’re surrounded by 10,000 dancing people and enough lights and speakers to make a cave fish have an acid flashback, you won’t care who you’re listening to.
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Colin Heinrich has been traveling since the day he was born, though he only realized it recently. Now he's living in LA until the next big adventure. He'll do anything for the experience of it, though his friends still don't agree that's a good enough excuse for eating that grasshopper in Thailand.