We’re just weeks away from this year’s installment of Coachella, the high-profile event that’s not just a sunny musical weekend getaway, but one that represents the climate of contemporary music. While the likes of Beyoncé, SZA and St. Vincent are all very exciting, there’s a reason nearly 200 artists are booked. That’s because there’s plenty of good stuff in the small print to dive into. It’s worth it to get to Coachella early or to skip the bigger acts for the smaller ones below. Plus, the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Vampire Weekend, Tame Impala and Childish Gambino were all in small font at one point, so who knows which of these artists will become headliners down the line.
Emerson’s unique and sprawling style has been making waves in the underground techno world the past year, and for good reason. Whether it’s an immediate dance-floor jam such as “One More Fluorescent Rush” or Emerson’s rework of shoegaze band Slowdive’s “Sugar for the Pill,” this act will certainly be worth checking out Friday.
One of last year’s breakout bands, Big Thief will be making its victory lap on the touring circuit this year. Its record Capacity was one of the most critically acclaimed albums of 2017, composed of a combination of earnest lyrics and lovely instrumentation. Be sure to arrive early for this set.
Merging elements of post-punk and new wave, Cherry Glazerr is the cool and crazy L.A. band that you’ve been looking for. Whether the group is singing an ode to grilled cheese or a song about female empowerment, you can be sure singer Clementine Creevy and her band will rock your Birkenstocks off.
Dream-pop enthusiasts would be wise to seek out the work of Amelia Murray, whose record Morningside slipped under the radar last year despite displaying a balance between confessional lyrics and smooth grooves. Those interested in bands such as Alvvays or The Drums will almost certainly dig this act.
Another breakout artist from last year, Japanese Breakfast has become one of the most talked-about names in the indie-sphere after her 2016 album, Psychopomp, and 2017 album, Soft Sounds from Another Planet. The much raved-about indie-pop singer’s music will be ideal for lying down in the grass Sunday afternoon.
You may not have realized it, but John Maus has been keeping it weird since 2006. He has continuously pushed himself and gained a cult following in the process of making his post-punk/synth music. Whether it’s a subtle ballad like “Hey Moon” or something more groovy like “Keep Pushing On,” Maus is certainly one of the most unique bookings on the lineup.
The Yuma tent, Coachella’s signature deep house and techno stage, is one of the best parts of this year’s lineup — and Kölsch will certainly be a highlight in this aspect. His deep house stylings find a way to appeal to both the underground and those into larger-scale electronic music — a sign that he’s destined to become a lot bigger than he currently is.
San Francisco’s very own Oh Sees (formerly Thee Oh Sees) has been shredding for nearly two decades. It’s a band that’s destined to be underrated but has still managed to develop a devoted following and even have a song featured on an episode of “Breaking Bad.” Anyone who knows it knows that the psychedelic garage-rock stylings of Oh Sees are not to be missed.
The fierce and politically charged band, Priests, gained some steam last year with its album Nothing Feels Natural, a groovy yet raucous punk record that makes quite the impression. Those looking for a good time and who want to blow off some political steam (two things UC Berkeley students are passionate about) should be all about this.
Are you the kind of person who likes to imagine your life as an independent coming-of-age film? Odds are there’ll be at least one Snail Mail song in the soundtrack of said film. Her lo-fi rock sound is immediate and compelling. Snail Mail is a musical gem at the very bottom of this year’s poster who seems like she’ll have a larger audience sooner rather than later.
Generating a huge buzz in the blogosphere late last year for her two EPs, Yaeji seems destined to get much bigger in the future. Her musical stylings of house mixed with a bit of hip-hop are hard not to get down to. Expect a good turnout for this one, and hopefully a crowd that goes off when “Raingurl” comes on.
Whether you’re attending the festival or just looking for some new music recommendations, all of these artists are well worth your time!
Contact Doug Smith at [email protected].