It happens every festival season: You get the set times for this year’s Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, and as you excitedly start to map out your weekend schedule, a wave of horror washes over you as you realize that this is not the first year ever where, miraculously, none of the dozens of artists you were looking forward to seeing are booked to go on at the same time.
There will be hard decisions to be made this weekend (Apr. 13-15) in Indio, no doubt. Luckily, you have Billboard to help guide you through. Below, we look at ten of the toughest set time conflicts facing Coachella attendees for the next three days, and do our best to come to terms with the borderline calls that must be made in such trying situations.
Friday Afternoon: Greta Van Fleet vs. Kali Uchis
Diametrically opposed musically, Greta Van Fleet and Kali Uchis take the stage at the same time, and it’s basically a coin flip. Uchis just released her dynamic, diverse debut Isolation, and a litany of guest stars are highly likely during her set. Greta Van Fleet has a stake in the game too, thanks to their Led Zeppelin-inspired sound — perfect for a live festival setting.
The Verdict: As much as it pains to say, Uchis has higher stakes. Her set will likely be more low key than GVF’s, and given that the shows take place early in the day, Uchis is the choice if you want to save your energy for later. — STEVEN J. HOROWITZ
Friday Night: Vince Staples vs. The War on Drugs
The War on Drugs have become one of the most reliable festival bands of the decade, their droning arena rock proving consistently majestic in open spaces against setting suns. Vince Staples in his hometown is not to be underestimated, however: The So-Cal spitter is as incendiary as any rapper out now, and based on Billboard‘s Should-Be-Bigger bracket results from last year, he should probably be headlining these fests by now.
The Verdict: You know what you’re getting with a War on Drugs set, certainly, but Vince Staples has one of the highest ceilings of any performer this weekend. He’s worth the dice-roll. — ANDREW UNTERBERGER
Friday Night: The Weeknd vs. Jamiroquai
Easy call, right? The Weeknd has the catalog of hits this decade to go toe-to-toe with any potential festival rival, and most of his fans probably couldn’t name a Jamiroquai song released in the last 15 years, if ever. But don’t underestimate the alt-funk outfit’s fest potential — they have more jams than you might realize, and Coachella should be the perfect backdrop to get (re)acquainted with them.
The Verdict: Let’s be honest: No matter what you thought of The Weeknd’s My Dear Melancholy surprise release, your reaction to those tortured ballads wasn’t “I can’t wait to hear these on a Friday night out in the desert!” There aren’t many interesting reunions or retro acts at Coachella this year — give yourself a break from being cool and go see Jamiroquai. — A.U.
Saturday Afternoon: Yaeji vs. Angel Olsen
The hype for Brooklyn house singer-producer Yaeji boiled over so quickly at the end of 2017 that she seemed like a fully formed sensation within days of us even becoming aware of her. Angel Olsen we’ve had some years with already, but we still love spending time with her whenever possible — her incisive songwriting and righteous riffing helped make her My Woman album one of our favorites of 2016.
The Verdict: Olsen was at Coachella three years ago, but this is one of Yaeji’s first big festival looks of any kind. Hard to resist seeing how all the buzz around her translates live. — A.U.
Saturday Night: Jorja Smith vs. HAIM
HAIM is no stranger to the festival circuit, and for good reason, with their synchronized dance moves and cutting pop-rock always proving a live delight. This is a first go-around for Jorja Smith, though, who makes her Coachella debut this year in time with her critical rise, thanks to guest nods on records from Drake and the previously mentioned Kali Uchis.
The Verdict: It’s a tough call, considering that Smith will headline with support from Tom Misch in Los Angeles for a standalone show in between Coachella weekends. But for those who can’t make it to that one-off, Smith is the right choice. — S.J.H.
Saturday Night: Tyler, the Creator Vs. Benjamin Booker
Honestly, give these two music dynamos a stage, sit back and enjoy. Tyler, the Creator doled out his magnum opus last year in Flower Boy and just wrapped a titillating performance on Wednesday night at The Shrine in Los Angeles. Benjamin Booker’s soul-grabbing album Witness embodied his rawness and unapologetic candor. When he gets in his zone, the blues and rock enthusiast entrances fans with his masterful touch on the guitar.
The Verdict: Edge goes to Tyler simply because he’s already working with the hot hand, especially after his sizzling set earlier this week. It’s hard to stop a man when he’s in tour mode. Also, who knows who Tyler might bring out to share the stage with him? — CARL LAMARRE?
Sunday Afternoon: Noname vs. Lion Babe
Tough call. Both artists are special in their own way — Noname with her cooled-off, sung style, and Lion Babe with a boisterous, in-your-face update on R&B and neo-soul.
The Verdict: Depends on what you’re in the mood for. Lion Babe is going to be a strong one-two punch, and if you want to set up your Sunday with something to get you right into the spirit, they’re your best bet. But Noname promises a much more intimate experience, one that could be the perfect entry point to the day’s events. — S.J.H.
Sunday Afternoon: Russ vs. Aminé
Aminé and Russ are both hip-hop underdogs who plowed their way through the trenches to achieve near-rap royalty status in 2017.
The Verdict: Despite his brashness, Russ’ charisma never ceases to disappoint, and captivates a crowd every time he touches the stage. At the end of the day, this overnight success knows his fans to the core and gives them “What They Want” every single time out. — C.L.
Sunday Afternoon: Dej Loaf vs. Hayley Kiyoko
Though she hasn’t had a crossover hit as a lead artist as big as her 2014 breakthrough single “Try Me” in the four years since, Detroit rapper Dej Loaf has cranked out a series of jams that deserved to be just as big — most recently with the percolating Jacquees collab “At the Club.” Meanwhile, Hayley Kiyoko hasn’t hit the Hot 100 since her days as a Lemonade Mouth cast member, but the swelling fanbase for her irresistible pop bangers got her first solo album Expectations to an impressive No. 12 debut on the Billboard 200 albums chart this week.
The Verdict: Can’t really go wrong here, but Kiyoko’s bubbling-up excitement maybe gives her the slight edge — hard to beat a release-month festival victory lap. — A.U.
Sunday Night: ODESZA Vs. Miguel
It’s all about mood at this point. Are you trying to get your feet moving to the alt-dance vibes of EDM duo ODESZA, or are you hoping to be blissfully cradled by the warm and soothing sounds of R&B star Miguel?
The Verdict: The Seattle electronic duo is still carrying a ton of momentum from their acclaimed 2017 album, A Moment Apart. Veterans to the festival scene, Coachella will prove to be another cakewalk for the talented pair of Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight. Crowd control means everything, which ODESZA have proven to be masters of in the past. — C.L.