April is one of a hell of a month for students living in Isla Vista; from the untamable madness of Deltopia to a certain celebration on April 20 that no small portion of Isla Vista residents take part in, the beginning of spring quarter often seems like one giant party. For music fans, the party extends to the desolate desert south of L.A. for the annual Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. This year, Weekend 1 falls on April 10-12, and features both music’s most celebrated stars and anticipated newcomers. Here are five acts from this year’s lineup, representing the best talent in modern music whose songs haven’t been drilled into your head nonstop by FM radio. Needless to say, they’re guaranteed to rock your socks off.
Run the Jewels
This Atlanta hip hop duo is known for hard-hitting, futuristic beats accompanied by rapid fire, sharp-witted lyricism that is both bold and unafraid to offend. The group consists of Killer Mike and El-P, both of whom split time spitting over the production created by El-P in collaboration with a slew of other producers. Their newest album Run the Jewels 2 earned them spots on numerous best of lists in prominent music magazines like Rolling Stone and Pitchfork, making away with awards like the jewelry thieves they portray in their albums. Their danceable beats go hand in hand with their dense lyrics, packed with wordplay and deeper meaning, making for one of the craziest acts at Coachella this year.
Carefree and blessed with a childlike goofiness, Edmonton’s Mac DeMarco’s songwriting style has set him apart as arguably the best up-and-coming musician in indie rock. The reverb tinged tones he uses on his guitars and keyboards will immediately put you at ease without sapping your energy. His personality onstage is even sillier than his persona on his records. It isn’t uncommon for Mac to break from his set and play parody versions of classic songs, like “Blackbird” by The Beatles or “Takin’ Care of Business” by Bachman-Turner Overdrive. It’s pretty hilarious. Also, if you feel bad for missing out on the end of his Hub concert after he was taken away by the police, this would be a good opportunity to make up for it.
Put away your sunglasses and get ready to mosh as the darling children of post-hardcore take to the stage. Hailing from Burbank, CA, Touché Amoré brings a hard rock edge to the more EDM-friendly atmosphere of Coachella. Expect dueling melodies and riffs dripping with distortion from guitarists Clayton Stevens and Nick Steinhardt, while vocalist Jeremy Bolm screams his anguished poetry to the crowd. All of this is backed up by the unshakable bass of Tyler Kirby and thunderous, rolling drums of Elliot Babin. If you want to witness a truly powerful rock performance by a group belonging to an interesting but often overlooked genre and get away from the basic crowd in the process, definitely check these guys out.
British singer FKA Twigs flaunts her unusual style of experimental R&B on her newest album, LP1, which has some of the most layered vocals and production I’ve ever heard on an album of any genre. It earned spots on several Best Albums of 2014 lists, even a Top 5 spot in some publications. This type of music is usually difficult to pull off onstage, but Twigs enlists the help of percussionists who play a variety of electronic drum sets and pads during her performances. Her instrumental setup combined with her lamenting croon results in some of the sexiest and unique-sounding music you will hear at Coachella this year.
Tulsa, Okla.’s St. Vincent has established a strong reputation in the world of indie rock as one of the genre’s most heartfelt songwriters and intricate instrumental arrangers—not to mention a badass guitar player. Her songs range from warm, keyboard-entrenched ballads to epic, guitar-driven anthems. She turns normally mundane struggles into beautiful displays of rock and roll bombast, and every aspect of her music garners critical acclaim. In addition, her newest album, St. Vincent, just won Best Alternative Album at the Grammy’s this year, cementing her place as one of indie rock’s top-tier musicians. Needless to say, she’s one of the best acts at this year’s festivities.