Now that the Coachella Music and Arts Festival’s lineup has been out for a few weeks, the larger acts have had time to sink in. This year, Coachella boasts headliners that could be worth the trip and price alone, but the small-font musicians are not to be ignored. Although being serenaded by Beyoncé, Kendrick Lamar, and Radiohead sounds more than ideal, several other talented musicians are well worth our attention and praise.
Popularized as the desert festival characterized by unbearable heat, flower crowns, and slices of watermelon, Coachella was once actually dedicated to punk-rock. Birthed from a boycott against Ticketmaster by members of seminal Seattle grunge band Pearl Jam, Coachella was born from the band’s search for a venue that was unaffiliated with Ticketmaster, eventually leading them to Indio, Calif.
After their sold-out desert concert demonstrated success, Coachella Valley became the venue for the now infamous three-day music extravaganza representing genres from EDM to indie rock and everything in between. From underground artists like Jurassic 5 to big name headliners like Weezer and Drake, it’s clear that Coachella has always attempted to keep their lineup as genre-diverse as possible.
For hip-hop, Travis Scott, Schoolboy Q, Denzel Curry, Gucci Mane, Lil Uzi Vert, and Future will take the stage. Bon Iver, Mac DeMarco, Father John Misty, The xx, Local Natives, and Grouplove, among others, fill the indie category. For those interested in EDM, the lineup offers Dillon Francis, Martin Garrix, Tycho, Madeon, Justice, and Porter Robinson. Other highlights include some R&B from Kehlani and Majid Jordan, and some house tunes by Kaytranada and Little Dragon.
Peering past the larger font acts, here are five picks deserving of concert-goers’ attention (in no particular order):
- Chicano Batman
The name of their band is reason enough to give them a listen, and their unique mix of psychedelic, soul, and funk makes Chicano Batman truly notable. Comprised of Bardo Martinez (lead vocals/organ/guitar), Carlos Arevalo (guitar), Eduardo Arenas (bass/vocals), and Gabriel Villa (drums/percussions), Chicano Batman expands across a spectrum of genres, from rhythmic cumbia that urges the body to move´ to romantic and feel-good songs.
In an interview with KCET, the LA Chicano/Latino band described their sound as “modernizing what our tíos taught us.” Their music, explained Bardo, speaks to a whole generation of people who grew up in Los Angeles.” Their lyrics and song titles are equally intriguing; get a feel of them with their album Cycles of Existential Rhyme.
What Chicano Batman’s name does for their publicity, Mitski’s tweets do for her music. Her twitter presence is enough to make you like her, from tweets about our generation and insightful life advice to ones highlighting an overall incredible sense of humor, the New York-based Japanese-American singer-songwriter deserves all the praise. Beyond her twitter lies a realm of music that conveys emotional experiences, cathartic sounds, and really skilled lyrics. Distorted guitar and vulnerable yet empowering lyrics create an unprecedented approach to the indie rock canon.
Mitski is inspiring, relatable, and incredibly talented. Her songs are inundated with references, metaphors, and honest storytelling. You’re doing the world a favor when you support this artist. Listen to Townie and watch the music video for the full Mitski experience.
I first heard Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner in 2012 at the Eagle Rock Music Festival and was immediately captivated by his ability to make the crowd sway to his smooth vocals. Thundercat is yet another artist unable to commit to one genre, and instead effortlessly fuses jazz, synth, and vintage soul. The Los Angeles-based musician, who is signed under Flying Lotus’s Brainfeeder label, has worked alongside a large range of artists such as Erykah Badu, Snoop Dogg, and Kendrick Lamar, among others.
Thundercat, the multi-talented bassist/songwriter/vocalist, generates tunes that sound like a funkier Daft Punk combined with electronic and jazz, always boasting fluid basslines. He’s been deemed the “prince of head-trippy future soul”; decide for yourself and indulge in “Them Changes.”
- Devendra Banhart
This Venezuelan-American musician will melt your heart with his soothing vocals and gentle guitar chords. He’s a dream boy in all senses of the word — from his ethereal music and angelic voice to his artistic talents, Devendra Banhart will sweep you off your feet. His music is consistently in the realm of strummy folk guided by warm lyrics. With his acoustic guitar and occasional songs in Spanish, Devendra Banhart transports listeners through wistful peaks and valleys. “Mi Negrita,” from his 2013 album Mala, will pluck at the heartstrings. Consider yourself warned.
At only 20 years old, this Atlanta native, mixed-genre artist has been co-signed by Kanye West, Miguel, OutKast, and Pharrell, and collaborated with SBTRKT and Chance the Rapper. His music merges rap, electronic, and alternative folk while incorporating lyrics from intimate feelings to a call for peace and unity. Although Raury’s influences jump from King Krule to Andre 3000, and his style is somewhat blurry, a little patience can reveal this up-and-coming musician’s full potential as an influential voice in the music world. Listen to “Trap Tears” for a glimpse into Raury’s vision.