Coachella has a ‘Dark Side’

Times Staff Writer

The indie-rock kids of Coachella are in store for a classic-rock moment this April: Roger Waters of Pink Floyd will re-create the band’s trippy 1973 masterpiece “Dark Side of the Moon” on the festival’s main stage, which also will feature the Raconteurs, the Verve, Jack Johnson, Kraftwerk and a reunion of Portishead.

The ninth edition of the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival will take over the Empire Polo Field outside the dusty town of Indio from April 25 through 27. The 125-act lineup was announced Monday afternoon at a press conference in Mexico City with Death Cab for Cutie, My Morning Jacket, Love and Rockets, and Justice among the names on the bill along with M.I.A., the Breeders, Rilo Kiley, Sasha & Digweed, Cafe Tacuba and Fatboy Slim. Tickets will go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday.

The festival has become a touchstone event in California and fan speculation has pinged across the Internet for months, along with a flurry of hoax lineups and posters; one apparently was convincing enough to fool the staff at (KYSR-FM) 98.7, which on Monday breathlessly reported that Radiohead and Muse would top the bill. Prince, David Bowie, the Smiths and No Doubt were the most commonly rumored Coachella acts; the booking of Waters, however, was a left-field choice and a generational mystery to many young loyalists of the Coachella brand.

One comment posted by a reader at was a clear indication that the 63-year-old Waters is on the other side of the wall when it comes to today’s generation of fans: “Is Roger Waters the one with the pig or was that Peter Frampton?”


Promoter Paul Tollett, the architect of the show, has shown a puckish streak in the past with genre surprises, such as booking Madonna for an elaborate dance-tent set or having Willie Nelson serenade fans waiting for Rage Against the Machine.

This year, however, the top of the lineup is already being criticized by many in the cruel ether of the Internet. Some of that criticism is because Coachella is competing against its own stellar history of magic moments (such as the Pixies or Rage reunions) as well as an increasing number of regional festivals fishing from the same talent pool.

Tollett, a partner in the show with the concert promotion company AEG Live, pointed out Monday that there’s always debate about the top of the bill, but for the focused music fan, this year’s Coachella looks to be one of the strongest for up-and-coming acts and the middle tier of the bill. He declined to cite some of his favorites: “You just get in trouble with managers when you do that because you can’t mention every one.”

The press conference Monday was staged in Mexico as an acknowledgment of the country’s strong fan, artist and press support for Coachella, which was staged for the first time in 1999. This year Austin and Porter TV will be among the Mexican acts playing the festival.