First, the good news: 166 acts are slated to perform at this year’s Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio. Now the bad: 166 acts are appearing at this year’s Coachella. No one can see them all. Here are 10 acts that deserve consideration in planning your weekend viewing.
To describe this Australian artist’s new release, “The Double EP: A Split of Peas,” as the product of a “singer and songwriter” is to suggest something less menacing than she is. Barnett’s got a great way with lyrics and hooks, packing a lot of information, for example, into “Canned Tomatoes (Whole),” about a former neighbor/lover. “David” takes a basic blues pattern and turns it into a bouncy, insistent piece on the many reasons why the titular ex-boyfriend is getting the boot.
The Tuareg guitarist understands the desert. Like regional kindred spirits Tinariwen, he and his band harness the clean, natural power of the electric guitar and team it with expert rhythm players executing tunings and time signatures that may take a few listens for Western ears to grasp. It’s worth the work: His 2013 album, “Nomad,” was produced by Black Keys singer-guitarist Dan Auerbach.
Though known more for his Green Velvet moniker, the artist born Curtis Jones is responsible for one of the great second-wave Chicago house jams in “Coffee Pot (It’s Time for the Percolator),” the weird, squiggly beat frenzy released under his Cajmere pseudonym in the early 1990s. Riffing on the rhythm of a coffee brewer, the jam tripped out a generation of ravers.
Six words best describe the Atlanta hip-hop duo: “Shake it like a Polaroid picture.” The group, reunited for the first gig of an extended summer festival tour, tore through the late 1990s and beyond until members Big Boi and André 3000 went on hiatus in 2007 to pursue solo careers. Seven years later, the band is as essential as ever. The duo’s wildly experimental work with production team Organized Noize sounds fresh (and clean), and those hooks are just as infectious. Expect a hit-filled package celebrating OutKast’s thrilling tracks, including “The Way You Move,” “Ms. Jackson,” “B.O.B. (Bombs Over Baghdad),” “So Fresh, So Clean” and its Polaroid-shaking “Hey Ya!”
One of the most promising bands to come out of Los Angeles in years, the three sisters of Haim burst into America’s consciousness in 2013 on the wings of their infectious guitar pop. Delivered via their debut album, “Days Are Gone,” Alana, Danielle and Este Haim, along with drummer Dash Hutton, make expertly played sun-drenched rock, part of a Los Angeles-infused musical continuum that has inspired artists including Tom Petty, Fleetwood Mac, Joni Mitchell and Jackson Browne.
Neutral Milk Hotel
It’s not an overstatement to say that the ‘90s indie rock generation is psyched for the return of Neutral Milk Hotel. The band, born in Athens, Ga., and led by singer and guitarist Jeff Mangum, released two essential albums, “On Avery Island” and “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea"; since their release, they have become like secret handshakes. Mangum played Coachella a few years back, but he returns with a fully reunited Neutral Milk Hotel.
Lana Del Rey
The reinvention of the reinvention of Lana Del Rey continues, as her slow, graceful rise over the last three years reaches another peak with this Indio gig. To recap: The artist born Elizabeth Grant arrived as Lana when a mysterious YouTube video for her detached seduction, “Video Games,” became a viral hit. Less successful was her national television debut on “Saturday Night Live,” where nerves and, worse, an unconvincing act, got the best of her. Since then, the artist has been relatively quiet, but she is appearing as a tease for her forthcoming new album, “Ultraviolence.” The record, produced by Auerbach, doesn’t yet have a release date.
The Glitch Mob
With a devotion to muscular synthetic beats and an almost Black Sabbath-like love of mesmerizing bass lines, the Los Angeles beat trio has been crafting dubstep-inspired tracks for the last eight years. The group’s new record is its most subtle to date, even if its crescendos are just as heavy-fisted. Featuring tracks with names like “Mind of a Beast” and “Skull Club,” this isn’t the most nuanced music, but it sure drives the fans batty.
Those headed to Indio just to see OutKast should know that Little Dragon has a connection. Vocalist Yukimi Nagano was featured on Big Boi’s excellent “Thom Pettie” and “Descending,” two highlights from his most recent solo album. Little Dragon rose out of the vibrant Swedish pop scene, and the group’s inventive dance pop is much more expansive and funky than some of the more rigid pop compadres. Little Dragon’s last record, “Ritual Union,” was one of the best of 2011, and heat is rising for the group’s forthcoming follow-up, “Nabuma Rubberband.”
Ferry, best known as the suave seducer for Roxy Music, is responsible for some of the most enduring British rock music of the 1970s and ‘80s. Songs such as “More Than This,” “Angel Eyes” and “Avalon” bridged the oft-battling genres of rock, R&B and disco with elegance and grace. Standing boldly front and center, Ferry crooned with the effortlessness of someone who inherently understood the essence of rhythmic assimilation. Ferry still has that twinkle in his eye, which should shimmer a bit more during his expected dusk performance. What will Ferry play? We’ll put in our request: “Same Old Scene,” and make it the extended version.