This round-up will highlight my “wish list” of performances that I hope to catch at Coachella. However, there is always the good chance that two or even three of my “must see” artists will be performing at the same time confirming the age-old advice that life is often about making choices. With 175 or so acts performing, it is simply impossible to see every artist at the festival. And it would be criminal to not carve out some time to enjoy the always-impressive art installations that inhabit the polo club grounds during the event.
Fridays, April 14 and 21
Fans of the artistic approach of Radiohead, As Tall As Lions and Other Lives will want to get to Coachella early Friday to catch Klangstof. This writer was more than impressed by the power of the Norwegian band’s 2016 release “Close Eyes to Exit.” The experimental instrumental track “Doolhof,” intense “Hostage” and sweeping “Island” are all selections I hope to see the group perform at the festival.
Those looking to groove and move to the music will find plenty of company when Glass Animals takes the stage. The group’s 2016 album “How To Be Human,” is filled with a great batch of dance-minded tracks mixing up electronica, synthpop, trip hop and indietronica. My favorite on the album is “Life Itself,” a stunning foray capturing the intoxicating spirit of the Oxford, England-based quartet.
The highly-anticipated return of Radiohead to Coachella is especially sweet because a majority of the band’s Southern California fans couldn’t get into their two Shrine Auditorium performances in Los Angeles in August 2016. The British rock quartet’s upcoming appearances at Coachella (their first at the festival since 2012) mark a chance to see the band play material off their ninth studio album, 2016’s “A Moon Shaped Pool.” That album was one of the best of 2016 and immerses listeners in a world blending acoustic, symphonic and electronic soundscapes adorned with intoxicating rhythms, sound effects and singer Thom Yorke‘s ethereal vocals.
Local Natives are arriving at Coachella less than a month after the release of their excellent new single “I Saw You Close Your Eyes.” The song is awash in dreamy synths and a lush sound. One of Los Angeles’ most hailed young artists, Local Natives released their much-praised third full-length album “Sunlit Youth” in September 2016.
Northern Ireland’s Two Door Cinema Club impressed me mightily when I caught them at Coachella in April 2013. And now they are back, set to perform in support of their latest album, the dance-minded “Gameshow.” The lead-off track “Are We Ready?” and classic band cuts such as “What You Know” and “Sun” will transform the Empire Polo Club into a dance floor.
Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, better known as Lady Gaga, arrives at Coachella at the top of her game, having been featured at the Super Bowl halftime show on Feb. 5, 2017; that performance attracted more than 150 million viewers across television and other platforms, exceeding the number of viewers who watched the football game! Now Lady Gaga is set to bring her personae and parade of hits to the main Coachella stage.
Baltimore-based trio Future Islands is set to release their latest album “The Far Field” on April 7. As of this writer’s deadline, two songs from that LP had been released, including the introspective “Ran” and electronica juggernaut “Cave.” Anticipation to see Future Islands perform those and other songs from that disc should make the Coachella sets especially great.
Composer Hans Zimmer has scored a number of iconic scores since the 1980s, including “The Lion King,” “Gladiator,” “The Dark Knight Trilogy” and the “Pirates of the Caribbean.” Because his scores are well recognized for fusing electronic music with traditional symphonic traditions, it makes sense that Zimmer would bring his music to a setting such as Coachella. To be sure, Zimmer will be on stage performing some of his most beloved compositions surrounded by dozens of top-tier musicians for a dramatic presentation.
New Order‘s appearance on the main stage at Coachella back in 2005 remains one of my all-time favorite festival performances, with the Bernard Sumner-led quintet featuring amazing original material off its then-new release “Waiting for the Sirens’ Call.” Now the groundbreaking band out of Manchester, England is returning to Indio on the heels of the release of its latest masterwork, the aptly-titled “Music Complete” that was issued in late 2015. The group’s shimmering electronic-adorned synthpop sound is ideally suited to a festival setting.