Coachella Gonna Be Dank
Coachella 2012 tickets were released and sold out in what felt like the blink of an eye this year (selling out faster than the previous record of 126 hours, held by last year’s festival); twice as many people will be in attendance this year, as the festival will be held on two consecutive weekends in April.
Of course, heavy-hitting headliners like the Bon Iver, Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre draw in much of the appeal to this year’s lineup, but there is a huge roster of quality bands that will be there for your entertainment this year. Here is your guide to some of the more “under the radar” acts of Coachella 2012; listen up now, because you can count on a lot of these bands benefiting from the “Coachella bump” and blowing up in popularity …
Pulp: Okay, so Pulp is not exactly under the radar for those of us who know anything about Britpop of the 1990s. Fronted by the mercurial and whip-thin Jarvis Cocker, Pulp is reuniting after having been on semi-hiatus since breaking up in 2002. Having gained the height of their success in the early to mid-’90s, most of the younger festival attendees might be left scratching their heads at the sight of a pale, small-mouthed Englishman swinging his hips in a way that, strangely enough, set plenty of boys and girls hearts on fire in the ’90s. You’ve probably heard hits like “Common People” or “Disco 2000,” but you should do some research and prepare yourself to listen and be transported to an alternate British version of your ’90s childhood.
GIRLS: Christopher Owens and Chet “JR” White, the men behind GIRLS, are responsible for what is likely the best album of 2011, “Father, Son, Holy Ghost.” Having performed at Coachella in 2010, GIRLS has since transcended from the label of lovely indie darlings to legitimately talented musicians. Lead singer Owens is enough to draw you into GIRLS’ retro-pop world. A fan of wearing crop tops and skirts, Owens was raised by his mother, a former member of the Children of God cult. The San Francisco native loves wearing lipstick and barrettes in his long blond hair, but he’s more than the sum of his parts. GIRLS draws inspiration from classic pop-rock masters like The Beatles and The Beach Boys, but cuts through the saccharine buzz with punk rebellion. It’s a bit like going to a sock hop while on LSD.
GROUPLOVE: After being featured in an iPod Touch commercial (which means you probably had their song “Tongue Tied” stuck in your head for a while), this fun-loving five-piece is the perfect band to play at Coachella; it’s a festival for bands that are at the peak of their buzz, and after having their songs featured in two different video game soundtracks and opening for bands like Florence + the Machine and Two Door Cinema Club, they are at the cusp of mainstream fame. The members of GROUPLOVE are not only incredibly fun to watch on stage; they also seem like a genuine family. They are what I like to imagine all my favorite bands are like — as actual friends, not just musicians sharing a stage. After lead singer Christian Zucconi and singer Hannah Hooper met in Greece, they formed a deep friendship with the remaining three band members during their vacation, and the result was an EP of spirited, exuberant indie rock. Embracing a “free love for everyone” attitude, they bounce around on-stage like children on a sugar-high with flowers in their hair, and will no doubt be one of the most fun acts at Coachella.
Le Butcherettes: They’ve opened for the Dead Weather, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Queens of the Stone Age, Omar Rodriguez Lopez, the Deftones — do I need to go on to really cement the fact that this Mexican punk band is pretty good? They have Karen O and Josh Homme’s seal of approval, which should be enough for any music fan. Fronted by the menacing Teri Gender Bender, this garage punk band channels the Stooges and Patti Smith and creates songs heavy with rage and subtly feminist undertones. Gender Bender is often seen on stage wearing secondhand dresses with aprons that look more appropriate for June Cleaver than a punk singer. Well, she is often smeared in fake blood and flour, so the whole “fucked-up ’50s housewife” image gets across pretty clearly. Snarling and aggressive, Teri Gender Bender is not sweet and compliant. She is not ladylike, and will sooner spit in your eye than apologize for not saying “please” and “thank you.”
Gardens & Villa: Santa Barbara natives Gardens & Villa’s latest self-titled album is full of moody, synth-laden tracks lightened by the tinkling of a chime, the lilting notes of a flute or the hum of a vibraphone. Lead singer Chris Lynch’s falsetto drifts above the music without becoming irritating. There is something very natural and earthy about Gardens & Villa’s music. Maybe it’s the songs with titles like “Orange Blossom,” “Star Fire Power,” “Thorn Castles” and “Neon Dove” that create an aura of some sort of supernatural connection to the earth around and the heavens above. Their hazy pop songs feel appropriate for late-night bonfires or walks through a forest after the rain. I hope they perform after the sun goes down, to add to the trippy aura surrounding their music.
Here are some other bands that are farther down on the line-up poster that you should make a priority for whichever weekend of Coachella you’re lucky enough to attend: Wild Flag, Gotye, The Growlers, Frank Ocean, Yuck, Sebastian, Givers and EMA. At the very least, check them out.