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The Best of the Tiny Fonts in Coachella’s 2015 Lineup

We recommend 12 acts to help you fill out your weekend.

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With festival season on the horizon, the excitement of seeing some of your favorite artists share the stage (or, y’know, six stages) is setting in. This year’s Coachella has got some huge stars lined up, from Drake and Florence + the Machine to David Guetta and St. Vincent. Chances are you’ve already got your nights all planned out, having hashed out the details of whether to see Jack White, Tyler, the Creator, or FKA twigs.

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But when you wake up with your Saturday afternoon hangover, who are you going to catch first thing? Which stage will you wander to with your (vegan) chili dog in hand? You might have bought your ticket to see Belle & Sebastian and the other big names emblazoned across the top of that flyer, but there are some pretty fantastic acts buried at the bottom in the Tiny Fonts as well.

The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger

Friday, 12 p.m., Outdoor Theatre

Being the son of two hugely popular musicians and artists has to be a double-edged sword. On one hand, being John and Yoko’s son means that whether Sean Lennon’s The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger was good or bad, they were going to be able to command media attention. On the other hand, he’s got awfully large shoes to fill to be taken seriously in his own right.

Lucky for him, The GOASTT is a pretty fantastic band, specializing in psychedelic, weirdo indie rock full of rich guitars, ethereal vocals, and warbling organs. Noon on a Friday is probably a little too early to be hitting the acid tabs, but hey, when in Rome…

Eagulls

Friday, 12:55 p.m., Gobi

Hailing from Leeds, Eagulls spent most of last year touring in support of their fantastic self-titled debut along with fellow Brits Cheatahs. But while Cheatahs channel ’90s shoegaze, Eagulls have their feet firmly planted in early ’80s post-punk. Their harsh, reverb-drenched guitars and dark, moody vocals call to mind early Killing Joke or Joy Division, but with even more frenetic energy. Eagulls make the kind of melodic, brooding music that’s great for a dark, crowded club and/or heroin overdose, so catching them at one on a Friday afternoon should be interesting to say the least.

Brant Bjork & the Low Desert Punk Band

Friday, 1:00 p.m., Outdoor Theatre

Many of the bands that reside in the Tiny Fonts are true newcomers, just starting to blow up. But while the Low Desert Punk Band may be a new project of his, frontman Brant Bjork has been around the block a few times. A founding member of desert rock legends Kyuss and the drummer for the best era of Fu Manchu, Bjork made his name playing the kind of fuzzed-out, bluesy stoner jams that the Low Desert Punk Band deals in. And Bjork, as a lifelong resident of Southern California who used to play “generator parties” in the middle of nowhere, will be in his element in that blistering summer sun.

Vic Mensa

Friday, 1:20 p.m., Coachella Stage

With a track on Kanye West’s new album (and a Saturday Night Live performance with Yeezus to boot), Vic Mensa won’t be hanging with the Tiny Fonts for long. The gifted Chicago lyricist moves freely between rapping and singing, his flow fluidly dancing around the beat, jamming in more syllables in more interesting ways than you’d have thought possible. He cites not only hip-hop legends like Missy Elliott and J Dilla as influences, but also more rock-oriented bands like Gorillaz and Nirvana. That broad pop inspiration worked brilliantly on Mensa’s genre-hopping 2013 mixtape, INNANETAPE.

Sylvan Esso

Friday, 3:40 p.m., Mojave

With all the female vocalists on the airwaves right now, Coachella’s lineup is surprisingly thin on gender diversity. A standout of the few this year is indie pop duo Sylvan Esso, made up of Mountain Man’s Amelia Meath and Megafaun’s Nick Sanborn. Though Sylvan Esso is distinctly electronic in its pop sensibilities, Meath and Sanborn wear their folk backgrounds on their sleeves, filling each song with delicate melodies and subtle instrumentation. Fans of Regina Spektor and Fiona Apple will want to spend their Friday afternoon letting the duo’s sounds wash over them.

Royal Blood

Saturday, 3 p.m., Outdoor Theatre

Quick, name a bunch of two-piece bands: The Black Keys, Death from Above 1979, Lightning Bolt, Captain & Tennille. Now toss out the last one and throw the rest in a blender and you’ve got yourself a Royal Blood Cocktail. The English two-piece take all the best parts of garage and blues rock and distill it down into its purest form, making most of their bluesy brethren look lazy by comparison. Catchy to a fault but with the angular athleticism to keep it heavy and off-kilter, Royal Blood is worth a listen on Saturday afternoon.

Gramatik

Saturday, 3:35 p.m., Sahara

Real name Denis Jasarevic, the Slovenian-born DJ and musician Gramatik has been producing hip-hop beats since he was 13. With 2014’s The Age of Reason and this year’s Coffee Shop Selection, Gramatik has expanded his palette to the wider world of electronic music, touching on electro-soul and funk, house and dubstep — even flirting briefly with country and blues rock. The albums’ lush production and layered melodies are cut from the same cloth as dance-rock stalwarts Ratatat, who happen to be closing the same stage much later on Saturday night.

Radkey

Saturday, 11:35 a.m., Mojave

Before you continue reading, go and click on that video and then close your eyes for a few seconds. That is not Glenn Danzig in his prime. No, it is Isaiah Radke, one of the three home-schooled, teenaged brothers from Missouri that make up the band Radkey. Wrap your head around that. Isaiah, Solomon, and Dee formed the band in 2010 and have spent the past five years spreading the gospel of classic garage punk across the globe, performing at SXSW, Riot Fest and even on Later… with Jools Holland. If you’re having trouble waking up on Saturday morning, these guys have exactly what you need to get back on your feet.

Antemasque

Saturday, 12:05 a.m., Mojave

With Cedric Bixler-Zavala and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez of At the Drive-In and The Mars Volta at the helm, you’d think you’d be able to guess what Antemasque sounds like: namely, noodly progressive rock run through the post-hardcore ringer. But it seems that Bixler-Zavala and Rodriguez-Lopez are getting back to their roots with their new project, with the closest-sounding thing they’ve done being AtDI’s debut, Acrobatic Tenement. Antemasque is far more punk than prog, sounding a little bit like Death at times. Sure, it’s not another At the Drive-In reunion, but maybe they’ll play “One Armed Scissor” if everyone asks really nicely in unison.

Saint Motel

Sunday, 1:20 p.m., Coachella Stage

The last time I saw a video as deliciously and ridiculously disco as Saint Motel‘s “My Type”, it was my introduction to Har Mar Superstar’s “Body Request” in the office of my college radio station. LA pop band Saint Motel take themselves a little more seriously than Sean Tillmann’s hypersexualized alter ego, but only just. Their dreamy, ’70s-inspired pop has touches of everything from Queen to Tom Jones, and it’s actually a perfect soundtrack to a Sunday afternoon in the sun so long as you’ve got a Martini in hand. You can get Martinis at Coachella, right?

Built to Spill

Sunday, 4:15 p.m., Outdoor Theatre

Every year, there has to be at least one band that ends up listed lower in the lineup than their legions of fans believe they should be. But this year, even I have to say seeing Built to Spill in the Tiny Fonts was something of a shocker. Doug Martsch and his cohorts have been making music together since 1992 and are a veritable institution in the world of jangly, loud indie rock. They pretty much invented what Modest Mouse and Death Cab for Cutie have made fortunes doing, and if it wasn’t enough that they have influenced legions of indie bands with their sound, Martsch and bandmate Jim Roth even occasionally build pedals for the likes of guitar god J Mascis.

Kaytranada

Sunday, 10:45 p.m., Gobi

One of the rare Tiny Fonts that plays after the sun goes down, Haitian-Canadian electronic musician, producer, and DJ Kaytranada closes out the Gobi stage with one of the festival’s last performances. His glitchy dance jams and remixes (of which there are a metric ton — the guy is prolific) are reminiscent of primetime performer Flying Lotus. He may be a Tiny Font and just 22, but Kaytranada is a seasoned performer, having toured more than 50 cities across three different continents. Coachella’s last hurrah is in good hands.

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