Beyond the Headliners: Here Are 10 Awesome Bands Playing Coachella 2018
Pop and hip-hop dominated Billboard's year-end 2017 Hot 100, so it comes as little surprise that one of America's biggest music festivals was thinking along the same lines.
The 2018 Coachella lineup was released yesterday evening, kicking off lineup reveal season in much the same way the trend-conscious fest opens the real-life season each April. Coachella sets the tone in all its sun-drenched, VIP-friendly glory, so naturally, nitpicking its lineup is no small task for the music industry.
The Weeknd, Beyoncé, and Eminem will close out its three respective evenings, which means for the first time in its 19-year history, Coachella will not feature a single rock headliner. You could've gotten some background on this from Billboard's top five takeaways earlier today, or perhaps more colorfully, from your Metallica- and Foo Fighters-loving friend on Facebook. Or from Louis Tomlinson:
Just seen the Coachella line up .... Where the fuck are all the bands !? It’s a festival !?— Louis Tomlinson (@Louis_Tomlinson) January 3, 2018
Louis' band had to go and call it quits, but here are ten others proving there is plenty of interesting rock, punk, folk, funk, and soul out in Indio this April if you're willing to dig below the surface.
Priests (Saturday, April 14 & 21)
It’s awesome to see Priests on the Coachella lineup, not just because they made one of 2017’s best rock albums but because they’re the sort of DIY-minded, injustice-fighting punks you wouldn’t expect to see at one of America’s most corporate music festivals. They’ll probably play a small stage near the start of the festival, and probably not to their best crowd ever. But their fusion of hardcore, surf rock, jazz, and other spare sonic parts will still sound awesome, and they’ll probably get at least a few people thinking about why capitalism isn’t so great. And maybe they’ll play a few punk shows while they’re in town, as like-minded rockers Downtown Boys did last year. Go see Priests.
jumping out of a pyrotechnic cake while wearing headsets, liquid latex + eating glass just to prove u wrong @tombreihan— PRIESTS----♀️------ (@PRIESTS_TWEET) January 3, 2018
ps also performing the soundtrack to “oklahoma!” in its entirety pic.twitter.com/wV6ZgLyoKu
Greta Van Fleet (Friday, April 13 & 20)
If for you, “What happened to all the rock bands?” roughly translates to “What happened to all the rock bands that sound like Zeppelin?” then you’re in luck! Greta Van Fleet have been steadily building momentum over the past 12 months thanks to a pair of stealthy EPs and a sound that’s essentially peak Zeppelin packaged into four kids from Michigan. "Highway Tune" was a No. 1 at Mainstream Rock radio and "Black Smoke Rising" cracked our Best Rock Songs of 2017 critics' list.
PVRIS (Friday, April 13 & 20)
We’ve been riding for PVRIS a while here at Billboard, and the Coachella unveiling just gave us new reason to shout out the electro-rockers, after covering last year’s excellent sophomore album, All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell. And covering it some more. There’s DNA from your 2000s scenester faves My Chemical Romance and AFI in PVRIS’ thunderous, up-at-the-witching hour rock aesthetic, alongside streamlined, danceable grooves that’ll help them hang with an EDM-friendly audience like Coachella’s.
Frontwoman Lynn Gunn is also a big Florence Welch fan, which lends a certain harp-plucked mysticism to their sound. They played the Warped Tour just two years ago, so the Coachella inclusion speaks volumes to how their fanbase is expanding.
MAGIC GIANT (Sunday, April 15 & 22)
Do you like Mumford and Sons? You’re in luck -- L.A. trio MAGIC GIANT writes banjo-laced songs that sound like the byproduct of combusting “Little Lion Man” and Avicii's “Wake Me Up.” Like clowning on Mumford and Sons? You’re still in luck! MAGIC GIANT’s resident banger “Set on Fire” marries hyperactive banjo licks to EDM theatrics to such an absurd degree, it’s hard to tell if they’re messing with us or not.
Alvvays (Saturday, April 14 & 21)
Alvvays and the swath of indie poppers they evoke (from Teenage Fanclub to Camera Obscura to Pains of Being Pure at Heart) might sound more typical of a Coachella lineup from ten years back, but that’s no fault of the Toronto twee-punks and their excellent 2017 sophomore album Antisocialites. The album has swooning, doe-eyed choruses for days, which wound sound ideal alongside the Coachella Valley skyline around sundown.
The War on Drugs (Friday, April 13 & 20)
Speaking of sundown, here’s to hoping The War on Drugs’ second-line status on the Coachella poster leads to a right-around-twilight main stage set, producing the perfect backdrop for the Philly rockers’ kaleidoscopic soundscapes. You know those “if you play this song this many minutes before New Years, you’ll hear this really good part at midnight” tweets? That, but with the emotional climax at 4:30 of “Strangest Thing” at sunset at Coachella.
Cherry Glazerr (Saturday, April 14 & 21)
Last year’s Apocalipstick was a catchy, candy-coated riff-fest that went regrettably underrepresented in year-end roundups; this likely reflects its January release date more than anything else, as the group's sophomore effort (and debut for Secretly Canadian) really was a swaggering display of where punk and garage rock are at now. And guitarist-vocalist Clem Creevy, keyboardist Sasami Ashworth, and drummer Tabor Allen really do have a strong onstage chemistry together, as we mentioned in our Cherry Glazerr profile last year. They’re an L.A. band, so Coachella is a good chance for out-of-towners to catch a hometown show.
Tank and the Bangas (Friday, April 13 & 20)
Tank and the Bangas are an insanely fun funk-soul group from New Orleans who mix in an improvisational, spoken-word element into their set. They did a great job of jolting life into a early Sunday Bonnaroo crowd last year, and since they’ll likely be working a similar slot at Coachella, they’re a good bet to smack you out of your stupor from whatever fancy, DJ-branded afterparty you attended/stood out in front of the night before.
Big Thief (Saturday, April 14 & 21)
If you’re checking out the excellent alt-folkers on the upper reaches of Saturday’s lineup (Angel Olsen, First Aid Kit), show up earlier to catch the entrancing Brooklyn four-piece Big Thief, whose superb sophomore album Capacity was honored as a Stereogum Album of the Week last year. Frontwoman Adrianne Lenker is an absolutely dazzling songwriter, capable of guiding you through the most emotionally vulnerable moments of her life with her entrancing voice and the band’s arrangements -- vast, poignant, and seldom repetitious.
A Perfect Circle (Sunday, April 15 & 22)
A Perfect Circle ain’t no buzz band. Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan’s time-tested side project is prepping its first studio album since 2004’s Emotive and Coachella offers a unique setting to see them rock out new songs alongside alt radio hits like “Weak and Powerless,” “Judith,” and “The Outsider.” Tool has headlined Coachella twice before (including its inaugural run in 1999) so devotees will be getting a rare glimpse of the fest’s older, far more rock-friendlier days when Keenan takes the stage alongside his similarly versed bandmates, the likes of which also include founding Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha.