Coachella 2014: Five early tips on acts, rumors, reunions, more

Lana Del Rey
Lana Del Rey is playing Coachella this year. But how will the crowd react?
(Lawrence K. Ho/Los Angeles Times)
Los Angeles Times Pop Music Critic

Five quick reactions to the Coachella 2014 lineup announcement. 

1. The Daft Punk factor: The presence of vocalist/Neptune/producer Pharrell Williams as a headliner is notable for a few rumor-fueling reasons. First, he’s not necessarily performing in support of a new solo album, but he’s been ubiquitous on the charts over the last year. Among his most prominent hits? His vocals on two tracks on Daft Punk’s “Random Access Memories,” most memorably “Get Lucky.”

That fact will no doubt spark rumors that the two Frenchmen might make a cameo. But add in the booking of DJ Falcon, a French producer whose only prominent release, “Hello My Name Is DJ Falcon,” was issued nearly 15 years ago by Daft Punk-operated Roule Records, and it’s not hard to start triangulating -- granted, with absolutely no concrete evidence -- a possible Daft Punk surprise.

Wait, though, there’s more: DJ Falcon’s only other major credit is as co-producer on “Random Access Memories,” where he’s listed as working on the album-closing jam “Contact.” Falcon played the Treasure Island Festival last year, so it’s not like the gig offers solid evidence of a Daft Punk surprise. Still, the question to ask is: Why is DJ Falcon on the bill? How can Pharrell do a 2014 set and not perform “Get Lucky”? Somebody start monitoring Nile Rodgers’ and Paul Williams’ tour itineraries.


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2. Tonal shift ahead?: One bellwether in Lana Del Rey’s race toward commercial acceptance will be the Coachella crowd’s reaction to the singer’s set. The polarizing chanteuse set the Internet ablaze in 2011, only to mostly vanish after shaky performances suggested she wasn’t yet ready for prime time. The singer of “Video Games” and “Summertime Sadness” will no doubt face a crowd looking for proof that there’s an independent voice in there somewhere. Still, combined with the inclusion of Lorde, the Knife, Ellie Goulding, Little Dragon, AlunaGeorge, Laura Mvula and others, 2014 suggests a year in which bro step gets a hip check.

3. Reunion watch: A few generations of indie rockers are rejoicing at the chance of seeing  the Replacements and Neutral Milk Hotel in the same weekend. The former, a Minneapolis rock institution featuring Paul Westerberg’s scratchy throat and biting lyrics, reformed for a series of shows in the spring. Whether the aging Gen-Xers who really care will trek to the desert is a bigger question.

More likely is a pilgrimage for indie rock kids excited to finally see Athens, Ga.,  band Neutral Milk Hotel. A resurrection of the long silent project by founder Jeff Mangum was teased a few years ago when he appeared at Coachella to perform as a solo artist. But the explosive sound of the influential band at full strength should feed the desire. Also arriving for nostalgia sets will be influential pop-punk band the Toy Dolls, riff kings Motörhead, funk rockers Fishbone, doom rockers the Cult and second-wave ska band Bad Manners. 


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4. Local dubstep stepping up: Notable amid the mess of genres at Coachella is the above-the-fold appearance by certified superstar Skrillex and fellow L.A.-area bass-droppers the Glitch Mob. The latter team has been gradually accruing fans for the last half-decade, touring nonstop and locking in a devoted tribe. Their highly anticipated new album, “Love Death Immortality,” out in February, will arrive just in time for the Glitch Mob to take its place as an EDM headliner -- and confirm a maturation in the sound and popularity of Southern California dubstep. For his part, Skrillex has been holed up in his Chinatown compound crafting new beats, some of which he’ll no doubt tease in his solo set. 

5. Taking Chance: What a year Chance the Rapper is having. During Coachella 2013, he was still a few weeks away from dropping his excellent “Acid Rap” mixtape, a virtual unknown outside Chicago. But the deserved acclaim that has accompanied the release of “Acid Rap” has propelled the young wiseacre to a respectable slot in the desert. He’ll be in the company of lyricist peers Nas, ASAP Ferg and Kid Cudi.

Oh, and OutKast is playing too. 


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