This post has been updated, as detailed below.
Before Coachella kicks off on Friday with headlining sets from Outkast, Ellie Goulding, Girl Talk and others, perhaps a little last-minute geography tally is in order. The festival draws acts from around the world, after all. Even if it's heavily imbalanced toward English speakers born in either North America or Europe, the 169 bands, solo acts and DJs traveling to the desert represent at least a touch of international diversity.
Not much, though. In fact, a mere 14 of the acts performing will be arriving from regions outside the Western world. Only one group will arrive from Asia, a continent with 4.3 billion people. Ditto Africa, with its more than 1 billion. Below, a few more statistics of note about regions represented at Coachella.
North America and the Caribbean: Represented by a total of 93 acts, the home continent is obviously delivering the most music. Among them are 84 American acts, seven from Canada, only two from Mexico (?!) and one from Haiti.
Asia: As mentioned, only one Asian band, the Japanese drone rock group Bo Ningen, will be crossing the Pacific to take part in the festival. That shouldn't be surprising. To the great detriment of pop culture, regionalism continues to rule the world's music despite the borderless promise of the Internet. Barriers both musical and linguistic are to blame, as are snobby American exceptionalism and the cultural challenges of touring the States.
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Africa: Of the 54 countries that make up Africa’s nearly 12 million square miles, the guitarist Bombino of Niger is shouldering the burden of representing the entire cradle of civilization. An embarrassment? Yes, but less embarrassing than the lack of interest among American hip-hop and dance producers to draw on the talent bursting from cosmopolitan areas like Lagos, Nigeria; Johannesburg, South Africa; Kinshasa, Congo, and Porto Novo, Benin.
Middle East: Guy Gerber is an Israeli producer who has just finished work on a new project with hip-hop impresario Diddy. Chances are Gerber will play some of these tracks (hint, hint). An adventurous dance music producer, Gerber is on the rise, as is his fellow traveler Nicole Moudaber, the Lebanese techno producer also making her first appearance.
Europe: With 60 acts crossing the Atlantic, those from Europe include 36 from Britain and six from both France and perennial Nordic powerhouse Sweden. Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands each boasts three entrants, all of whom make music of the electronic dance music variety.
Australia and New Zealand: So far away yet so close in spirit, Australia and New Zealand will deliver a total of nine acts. The most buzzing of them will be the New Zealand singer Lorde. The most promising of them, to my ears, is Australian singer and songwriter Courtney Barnett.
[Update, noon April 9: Coachella announced Tuesday night that it had added three bands, all from the United States. This blog post and graphic have been updated to reflect the new lineup.]
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