One Writer’s Thoughts On Coachella’s 2015 Lineup
This week, Coachella announced its massive lineup for this year's edition of the two-weekend festival. From standard greats (we'll take Jack White and Ryan Adams any day of the year) to some head scratchers (you'll see our picks below), the lineup has created a lot of discussion across the Internet.
So, I thought to myself, "Why should they have all the fun?" Let's take a look at Coachella's lineup poster and see what this year's fest has to offer:
The Angus Young-sized elephant in the room
It would have taken an extra second or so for your eyes to make it down to AC/DC’s somewhat shocking inclusion as the premier legacy act of this year’s Coachella had it not been right there at the top with their unmistakable lightning bolt. I was fortunate enough to attend a preview party for their latest LP, 'Rock or Bust,' at Webster Hall in New York City and saw them twice with my old man on their last tour -- but that was five years ago and it was in the swamps of New Jersey.
With rhythm guitarist and founding member Malcolm Young out of the fold, it’s a Target/Walmart/Big Box conglomeration form of AC/DC you’re getting in 2015. Assuredly, Brian Johnson’s growl and leather vest and Angus Young’s schoolboy outfit and duck walking will make for an ultimately amiable time, but aside from getting absolutely s--t-faced, AC/DC don't even win the award for most interesting legacy act of their given day (that award goes to Steely Dan).
If this is a shrewd move, I’m not entirely sure I know what the word means anymore when applied to the music festival landscape. In terms of exclusivity, why wouldn't a Bonnaroo or Lollapalooza share them as headliner, too?
The festival headliner bubble burst has been a major concern ever since the U.S. caught up to its predecessors across the pond, who have been doing it for going on 50 years. More and more festivals are popping up and becoming their own powerhouse entities (see Firefly, Governors Ball, et al). This leaves you with a dwindling pool of unique legacy acts and a system that looks to elevate bands to headliner status seemingly overnight. You can say booking AC/DC was “unique” as in “It hasn’t been done before”, but as we saw last year with Outkast, that tag starts to wear thin after the 20th-plus time. Coachella really just wins for being first as Indio's weather allows for an April festival with no competition compared to the crowded summer schedule.
Bottom line: AC/DC will rip with what’s left of them, there will be fire and bells and preening, and a lot of young gold-chested men and headdress-adorning women will be rolling elsewhere -- literally and figuratively -- likely to Alesso or Nero.
How does one of America’s most relevant music festivals remain relevant? A lot of people will tell you it’s by taking risks. Compared to the traditionally stacked undercards, of which 2015 is no different, this year’s Coachella lineup may be taking the biggest leap of faith of them all. Assuredly both weekends will sell out quickly based on the name brand alone, but what’s the main stage field going to look like? Your dad isn’t going to buy a three day pass to Coachella, but your rich dad will snag a VIP pass, and that seems to be what this is all about.
Having been a literal child of the times, it’s kind of funny to see now who we've decided to laud in our second decades, and shun to the depths of the Hot Topic bargain bin. Not that Brand New and Circa Survive haven’t evolved over time and transcended the early aughts emo boon, but to me it seems like the sort of bookings Coachella and its fans would have turned their noses up years ago. Not unlike how people bitch (all the time) about how Bonnaroo sucks now because there aren’t as many jam bands.
Usually this sort of buffet eclecticism was left to the latter festival whereas Coachella seemingly had its “indie” aesthetic down. Is this the new aesthetic?
Raekwon and Ghostface, post new Wu-Tang
With all the drama centered around the Wu-Tang Clan and their reunion tour and new album, 'A Better Tomorrow,' the appearance of Raekwon and Ghostface Killah together on this year’s lineup offers an interesting initial window into how the collective plans to roll out in post-release promotion.
Much hubbub was made about the creative rift between Raekwon and RZA, with the former seemingly ready to move on from the group in the wake of the loss of Ol’ Dirty Bastard, and the latter championing more. So what will a Raekwon and Ghostface Killah set look like at Coachella? I am excited to find out.
What’s up with Ratatat? New Album?
It’s been a hot minute since we last heard from mind warping rock duo Ratatat. Following a series of amazing festival performances in 2011, the band has been relatively dormant.
Four years out since their last release, the appearance of Ratatat on the second line of the poster has to mean something is on its way in 2015 ... right?
Here’s looking forward to a some debuts of new material from them -- and Tame Impala, who just confirmed their third LP and who sit directly below their Aussie brethren, AC/DC, on the poster.
As previously mentioned, headliners alone a festival does not make. Some highlights down in the fine print include:
Philip Selway of Radiohead who hasn’t played any U.S. dates since dropping his solo LP, 'Weatherhouse.'
Garage-punks the Orwells who seem finally ready to rise up following the almighty power of the Apple track sync. Look for a raucous pit to open up for 'Who Needs You' off of last year’s 'Disgraceland.'
And just to go into rapid fire succession: Perfume Genius, Angel Olsen, Built to Spill, Panda Bear, Parquet Courts, Swans, Cloud Nothings, Drive Like Jehu and Eagulls are all looking like pretty solid options. Oh, and Ride!
If I was a gambling man -- which I am but would never endorse on this platform because it is illegal and immoral and wouldn’t help fund a lot of state funding issues a la the lottery -- I would have lost a significant chunk of change back in November thinking the following would assuredly be on this year’s Coachella bill:
TV on the Radio
Julian Casablancas + The Voidz
Cymbals Eat Guitars
First Aid Kit
That last one stings considering their willingness to gig until they drop -- is there a better live band out there? Anybody that’s seen them is either a DP disciple or is decidedly "un-rad."
That's my two cents, for what it's worth (likely only a penny). I love festival season, and I love talking about festival season. Here’s to a great 2015!
What say you? What are your thoughts on this year's Coachella lineup? Let us know in the comments section below!