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Coachella’s 2014 Lineup: One Day Later

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coachella 2014 poster

Coachella’s 2014 lineup is now one day old and that means it’s time for some post-reveal analysis. In the pages that follow, we run through the biggest highlights and surprises appearing on this year’s bill, in addition to the most glaring omissions and the least interesting bookings. Do you agree with our selections? Voice your thoughts in the comments below.

But first… a few quick observations on the lineup as a whole. Festival organizers Goldenvoice did manage to improve on 2013’s lineup, which looks more and more like a trainwreck one year later. But scrolling through various message boards and my Twitter feed late last night, a loud contingent of Coachella diehards, the ones who’ve been attending the festival for almost a decade now, seemed visibly frustrated. Long known for quality lineups brimming with critically acclaimed acts from top to bottom, the festival now finds itself the butt of jokes due to the questionable booking of subheadliners that aren’t actually subheadliners. You’re not alone in asking why Broken Bells is the fourth act on Friday. Or, why Calvin Harris, Disclosure, and Lana Del Rey make up three of the festival’s top five acts on Sunday. Yes, acts such as Disclosure and HAIM had rapid ascents over the last 12 months, but if this was three or five years ago, it’s hard to imagine either billed so high.

Coachella’s increasing fascination with EDM and mainstream pop has also left less room for riskier alternative bookings and cult reunions. In 2007, Coachella booked Jarvis Cocker and Sonic Youth in the spots currently occupied by Zedd and Girl Talk, and Damon Albarn’s The Good The Bad and The Queen was listed where Foster the People is. The 2008 lineup features Madness in Broken Bell’s current spot, Kraftwerk where Skrillex is currently billed, and Vampire Weekend in place of Duke Dumont. In 2009? Leonard Cohen, and not Broken Bells, was the fourth act on Friday. Even the bottom line acts were better than then: In 2007, it was Amy Winehouse, Justice, and Grizzly Bear. In 2009? Cage the Elephant, Ariel Pink’s Haunted Grafiti, Tinariwen, and The Gaslight Anthem. Nothing against Syd Arthur and The Bots, but yeah.

Obviously, a lot of it comes down to economics: how much money the festival spent on an act such as OutKast and how much more money the festival can make by nabbing acts such as Skrillex, Zedd, Lana Del Rey, and Foster the People. Based on their ability to sell out two weekend’s worth of tickets, we know their current blueprint is working just fine. What is unclear, however, is whether Coachella can — even wants — to get back to the critically-acclaimed lineups that earned the festival its reputation it has today, or whether it will continue to shift more and more mainstream a la Lollapalooza or Austin City Limits. –Alex Young

Highlights

Arcade Fire

arcadefire2013

As of now, it’s the only North American festival date booked, and it’s early in their sprawling Reflektor tour. Fans should expect a much bigger show than what they offered last fall, though possibly the same antics (e.g. paper machete heads, sparkly outfits, and Stipe stripes). Given the occasion, who knows who might stop by? Perhaps The Thin White Duke saw last night’s lineup, too. –Michael Roffman

OutKast

outkast Coachellas 2014 Lineup: One Day Later

It’s no surprise that OutKast’s first show in almost a decade is the big story here. Rumors of Big Boi and André 3000’s reunion have plagued every festival season since shortly they embarked on their hiatus. And while it’s long been confirmed, and appears to be taking over every other festival, their name on the lineup still requires a blink or two to confirm it isn’t all a dream. Given that their debut album, Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik turns 20 in April, ATLiens should get ready for a “Player’s Ball” in the desert. The wait’s been extremely tough, but once they brush through the hits like “Ms. Jackson”, “B.O.B”, and “Hey Ya!” — it’ll all feel worth it. –Josh Terry

Pharrell Williams

pharrell Coachellas 2014 Lineup: One Day Later

A lot of things can happen during Pharrell’s set. Since he’s had his name plastered aside everyone from Daft Punk to Robin Thicke, Clipse to Major Lazer, the rogue’s gallery of pals he could bring on-stage is basically endless. Maybe The Neptunes will lend a hand, perhaps Nile Rodgers will hop on-board, maybe even Stevie Wonder? Then again, with a solo album on the way, he could just do it all alone. Doubtful, though. –Michael Roffman

The Knife

The Knife

The Knife have yet to tour North America in support of their fantastic 2013 album, Shaking The Habitual. In fact, the Swedish duo haven’t played a U.S. show since 2006 so this booking is one of the festival’s most notable. If their Coachella set is anything like their European tour, it’s about to get a little weird–Josh Terry

Neutral Milk Hotel

neutral milk hotel Coachellas 2014 Lineup: One Day Later

Fact: Neutral Milk Hotel were your favorite reunion of 2014. And let’s be honest, they didn’t get to do much with the little time they had. Now that it’s 2014, the calendar’s their oyster, or however the hell that saying goes. They’ll be all over the place, which could possibly lead to varying setlists, and maybe, just maybe, the inclusion of “Pree-Sisters Swallowing a Donkey’s Eye”. While it wasn’t long ago Mangum hit up the Polo Grounds himself, it’ll be nice to see him get loud with a full band. –Michael Roffman

Surprises

The Replacements

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Why we’re celebrating: Our favorite reunion of last year will keep on keepin’ on. Given that their PR is cloaked in mystery, they don’t do any interviews, and any confirmation comes down to the wire, The Replacements were always a 40/60 chance of making it on the lineup. Sure, they’d be available, but would they even do it? We’re elated 2014 will continue the adventures of Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson. How about a tour, too? –Michael Roffman

Motörhead

Classic Rock Roll Of Honour Awards 2011 In London - Musician Portraits

Easily my favorite booking of 2014, because it’s the most leftfield addition of 2014. We’re accustomed to seeing Lemmy and co. playing punk and hardcore festivals like Riot Fest. Not one of the Big Four. Motörhead probably won’t end up drawing as well as the other bands in their timeslot, but with many longtime Coachella fans reminiscing back to the days when the lineups were a bit more daring, this proves organizers still have it in ’em. If only there were four or five more of these type of bookings. –Alex Young

Bryan Ferry

bryan ferry Coachellas 2014 Lineup: One Day Later

Did you know Bryan Ferry released a jazz album in 2012? Went under my radar. Well, he did, and he also toured it last year as The Bryan Ferry Orchestra. Considering that he’s not billed that way on the poster, one might hope he’s heading to Indio to dust off his sophisticated pop, whether it’s from his solo catalogue or with Roxy Music. One suggestion: An afternoon performance of “Avalon” as the sun’s setting might elicit wet pants. –Michael Roffman

The Afghan Whigs

Afghan Whigs

Surprising in the sense that I had no idea this reunion tour was still going on. Prior to yesterday, we hadn’t heard anything from The Afghan Whigs in over a year. –Alex Young

Pet Shop Boys

Pet Shop Boys - 2012

Realistically, does anyone actually attending Coachella want to see Pet Shop Boys? They have their fanbase for sure and are fresh off a North American tour last fall. But I imagine most of the people who catch the band performing “West End Girls” will do so while walking to another stage — or to get tacos. –Alex Young

Omissions

Nine Inch Nails

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In 2013, Trent Reznor chose Coachella as the place to debut How to Destroy Angels. Now back with Nine Inch Nails, a return visit seemed in the cards. After all, NIN hasn’t played the festival since 2005, and we know the band is going to be road ready since they’re due to headline Lollapalooza’s South American festivals in early April. Presumably the budget was extra tight after paying OutKast to reunite, but imagine how much better Saturday would have looked with Nine Inch Nails on the second line. –Alex Young

Sleater-Kinney

sleater kinney Coachellas 2014 Lineup: One Day Later

“I think we have more to say,” Carrie Brownstein recently said of Sleater-Kinney. Well, apparently not at Coachella. With the recent buzz surrounding their mini-reunion during a Pearl Jam concert in Novemeber, it only felt natural to peg them as one of the surprise reunions to go down on the Polo Grounds. Perhaps it’s too early, though. Might we suggest keeping an eye out for them at Sasquatch!? We might. –Michael Roffman

Killer Mike / Run the Jewels

Run The Jewels

Now, this one makes no sense. These days, few hip-hop acts are as buzzed about as Killer Mike and El-P’s Run the Jewels. They’re riding high off the release of their self-titled debut, have a second album in the works, and their live show has already become something of legend. Oh, yeah, and there’s the whole OutKast connection: Killer Mike is a member of Dungeon Family alongside André 3000 and Big Boi. Ultimately, Coachella chose to book no OutKast associates, but they should have. Plus, what was the point of having Killer Mike play the Coachella cruise if you’re not going to invite him to the big shebang? -Alex Young

St. Vincent

st. vincent

St. Vincent was immediately ruled out of Coachella once she announced a Los Angeles show at a non-Goldenvoice venue for March. But why? Few acts are as highly acclaimed these days as Annie Clark, and her upcoming LP is one of the more anticipated of the year. She’s also played the festival twice before. Obviously, there are a lot ulterior factors, such as competing promoters and specific tour routing, but her omission from the 2014 lineup is still a head scracher. -Alex Young

Julian Casablancas

strokes 2013 feature e1359141293429 Coachellas 2014 Lineup: One Day Later

This one’s really baffling; after all, he’ll be in Latin America for Lollapalooza and Estero Picnic a couple weeks beforehand. No idea why they passed on The Strokes frontman. Maybe not enough SkyMiles? Here’s to Lollapalooza Chicago. –Michael Roffman

Boards of Canada

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Are they just planning to never perform live again? Last year’s comeback album, Tomorrow’s Harvest, gets older by the day. It’s approaching a year now. –Michael Roffman

And of course… Daft Punk

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You know you’re thinking that, too. Always.

Least Interesting

Beady Eye

beadyeye Coachellas 2014 Lineup: One Day Later

Last year Liam Gallagher’s Beady Eye released BE, the band’s sophomore album, with little fanfare or commercial success. With the low sales numbers and the public’s general indifference towards another Gallagher project that’s not Oasis, the high billing is kind of strange. Due to last year’s headlining set by The Stone Roses drawing a relatively little crowd compared to the other headliners, it’s hard to think that Beady Eye will be an exciting draw.  Josh Terry

Skrillex

skrillex meme

MGMT

mgmtbandpic1 Coachellas 2014 Lineup: One Day Later

They performed at a handful of festivals last summer, remember? They also released that third studio album of theirs? Does anyone recall any of this? Am I talking to myself? –Michael Roffman

The Bells (Broken Bells and Sleigh Bells)

thebells Coachellas 2014 Lineup: One Day Later

Broken Bells have a new album out next month. Sleigh Bells released their latest back in October. A little bit of the future and the past, but hardly a reason to factor them into one’s schedule. What we’ve heard from Broken Bells’ forthcoming effort, After the Disco, has hardly kept us on the dancefloor, and Bitter Rivals was Sleigh Bells’ weakest LP to date. Admittedly, both acts work better on stage, but it’ll take a lull in the schedule to get us there. –Michael Roffman

Anti-Flag

Anti-Flag

Was Warped Tour all booked? Maybe it’s a warm up? –Michael Roffman

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