Advertisement

Coachella’s 2017 Lineup: One Day Later

A close look at this year's highlights, surprises, potential guests, and omissions

Advertisement
Advertisement

Right now, it’s 50 degrees in Los Angeles — and in most parts of America, it’s much, much colder — so music festivals aren’t exactly a priority. Of course, that didn’t stop Coachella from announcing its 2017 lineup yesterday, kicking the festival season into high gear. For those keeping track, this year’s installment will be Goldenvoice’s 18th soiree to date and will take over Indio, California, on the weekends of April 14-16th and 21-23rd.

By then, it’ll be warmer. We promise.

In the meantime, let’s take a look at the lineup, starting with the top of the bill. Although we’ve known that Beyoncé, Kendrick Lamar, and Radiohead would be headlining since November, their bookings remain quite impressive. Queen Bey is coming off her most critically acclaimed album; Kendrick Lamar completes the Goldenvoice trifecta after topping last year’s bills for Panorama and FYF (maybe they got a group rate?); and Radiohead is Radiohead.

Beyond that, there’s a lot to be said about this year’s lineup. Gone are the blockbuster reunions that have brought back the likes of OutKast, Postal Service, Guns N’ Roses, and LCD Soundsystem. Instead, there’s the surprising, albeit niche, comeback of The Belleville Three, and while some might argue all the big reunions have already happened, the most obvious answer is that Coachella knows it doesn’t need to get bands back together to sell tickets.

coachella 2017 Coachella’s 2017 Lineup: One Day Later

No, Coachella’s brand has shifted. For years, the festival has ridden and often predicted industry-wide trends with stacked lineups of varying genres. This year, however, is something different entirely and arguably delivers its most mainstream lineup to date. Yet, it’s one that is honest with what appeals to its largely young and affluent fanbase. It’s championing the sounds of the radio, the ubiquitous songs that have captured an entire culture.

Sure, there’s still an elevated level of taste at hand that appeals to the critics out there — after all, you don’t book Bon Iver, Hans Zimmer, Mitski, and The Avalanches strictly to sell out the festival — but it’s quite apparent that Coachella in 2017 is more or less a festival with nothing to lose. Besides, Coachella isn’t about the lineup so much as it’s about what happens during the festival, and that’s a trend to be followed in itself.

With a strong focus on creating moments, mostly with special exclusive guests, the names we see today will eventually take a backseat to the story that’s yet to be told. Will Kanye show up? Drake? Justin Bieber? Last year saw fucking Bernie Sanders introduce Run the Jewels via a taped video. Come April, there will be a host of talking points that will largely dictate the identity of the festival, and for that, no other festival comes close.

Naturally, that didn’t stop us from picking the poster apart in the pages ahead…

–Philip Cosores
Deputy Editor

__________________________________________________________

Highlights

Sooo Much Hip-Hop

Gucci Mane // Photo by Philip Cosores

Photo by Philip Cosores

If you were to glean one truth from looking at this year’s Coachella lineup, it would be that rap is king. Sure, we’ve seen hip-hop at the top of the lineup before, dating back to 2003 with the Beastie Boys and including Jay Z, Kanye West, and Drake in the past, but never before has so much hip-hop figured so prominently on the lineup. There’s Kendrick Lamar at the top of Sunday; the likes of Future, Schoolboy Q, Travis Scott, and Gucci Mane on the second line; and Mac Miller, Tory Lanez, and Lil Uzi Vert just below those. Last year, by comparison, only featured two rappers on the first two lines (ASAP Rocky and Ice Cube), while Drake was the only rapper in that position in 2014. –Philip Cosores

__________________________________________________________

Lorde

Lorde 2 Lollapalooza 2014 by Joshua Mellin

Photo by Joshua Mellin

Finally, the pop star that changed traditional trajectories returns. Lorde was a mere 16 years old when she released crossover hit “Royals” and dove headfirst into a fleshed-out career, changing the expectations for teenage pop stars in the process. She writes darker songs, takes minimalist production turns, and never feels the need to cater to physical standards, rocking some seriously dark, brooding curls and gothic lipstick instead of the blonde bombshell look most feel pressured to capture in that role. Her last headlining show took place at the end of 2014, so it’s safe to assume she’s gearing up to drop brand-new material on that stage — perhaps with a guest or two by her side? Let me live that fantasy. –Nina Corcoran

__________________________________________________________

Beyoncé

Beyonce // Photo by David Brendan Hall

Photo by David Brendan Hall

Booking Beyoncé was a huge coup for Coachella. Outside of Jay Z’s Made in America Festival, Queen Bey hasn’t headlined a major music festival in North America, and that’s kind of a big deal. Sure, Lemonade will already be a year old by the time she dominates the Polo Fields, but she’s a must-see icon whose recent run of dates — as evidenced by her inclusion in our top acts of 2016 — were nothing short of a divine spectacle. Here’s a snippet of our glowing review from her hometown gig in Houston: “Bey’s boundless beam as she kicked water toward VIP fans, all outfitted with complimentary Formation World Tour ponchos, suggested that – on the other side of adversity – strength, love, and happiness are there for the taking.” So, yeah, she’s going to be the most talked about artist of the two weekends, and yes, she’s going to have the biggest crowd. –Michael Roffman

__________________________________________________________

All the Critical Darlings

Bishop Briggs // Photo by Philip Cosores

Photo by Philip Cosores

Radio may be king when it comes to placement on the Coachella lineup, but it isn’t without its fair share of critic-adored acts. King Sunny Adé, the 70-year-old Nigerian musician who helped pioneer “world” music, will bring a much-needed dose of instrumental spirit to the mix. Then come a handful of CoSigns like Bishop Briggs, Whitney, and Preoccupations. Hidden in there are natural born crooners like Raury and Sampha, a bit of low-key indie pop with Tennis and Ezra Furman, and some psych rock to let loose with Pond and King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard. Plus there’s indie kings and queens like Mitski, Floating Points, Warpaint, Hinds, Thundercat, and Tacocat set to perform as well. The longer you look, the better it gets. –Nina Corcoran

__________________________________________________________

Surprises

Hans Zimmer

Hans Zimmer

Look, we knew Hans Zimmer was planning to tour this year, but nobody in their right mind would have ever pegged him for Coachella. Maybe we should have? After all, John Carpenter just spent the last year playing big fests such as Primavera Sound and Day for Night, and while Zimmer is certainly not the cult icon that the Master of Horror is, he has scored much bigger films, from Ridley Scott’s Gladiator to Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Trilogy to Terrence Malick’s The Thin Red Line. Oh, the list goes on and on, and one hopes it does out in Indio. Besides, with Hollywood right around the corner, it’s not like the festival will be short on rabid cinephiles. Christ, some of the talent from his films will probably even be there. –Michael Roffman

__________________________________________________________

Some of Those Poster Spots…

screen shot 2017 01 03 at 4 18 24 pm Coachella’s 2017 Lineup: One Day Later

As years pass, so does the logic behind Coachella’s line placement — and this year is the most surprising of them all. It’s not strange that they booked Travis Scott, DJ Shadow, and Father John Misty to play on the same day. It’s strange that Father John Misty — an act that plays festivals, including Coachella, at a rate that makes you wonder if he ever left the festival grounds since last time — is a second-tier act whereas a trending act like Stranger Things composers Survive requires some squinting. On Saturday, Gucci Mane snags a second line spot while The Avalanches, a rare reunion act music know-it-alls are stoked for, are in the same row as regulars like Local Natives and Four Tet. Or how about Lil Uzi Vert and Grouplove being above The Belleville Three? Apparently, when your target audience changes, so does the suggested value of the artists you’re booking. –Nina Corcoran

__________________________________________________________

A Few Veteran Acts

Guided by Voices // Photo by Heather Kaplan

Photo by Heather Kaplan

Considering this year’s lineup opted to capitalize on surer bets like EDM and hip-hop, it’s almost jarring to see a few veterans on the bill, especially given the traditionally lukewarm reception they’ve received at the festival in recent years. (Anyone recall The Replacements’ set back in 2014? Yeah, not fun.) Granted, New Order should play just fine for those coming to see Justice, Future Islands, and Lorde, but Guided by Voices and Toots and the Maytals? That’s some inspired booking right there, but the kind that will sadly fall on absent ears. Who knows, though. Prove me wrong, Coachellagoers. –Michael Roffman

__________________________________________________________

The Belleville Three

the belleville three Coachella’s 2017 Lineup: One Day Later

Arguably the most exciting part of scanning a Coachella poster is spotting the reunion acts. Usually they take form as a headliner, but this time organizers snuck in a deep-cut treat: The Belleville Three. Electronic music has the trio to thank for the birth of Detroit techno, a shift in sound back in the ’80s that wove funk, futurism, and cassette mixes into the fold, leading us to where electronic music finds itself today. Think of them as techno’s founding fathers. Kevin Saunderson, Juan Atkins, and Derrick May haven’t performed together as a unit since 2010, making this seven-year return one that shouldn’t be missed, even if, come April, you’re watching the festival from a computer screen halfway around the world. –Nina Corcoran

__________________________________________________________

Potential Guests

Jay Z

Jay Z

One thing is clear: Beyoncé doesn’t need to bring out guests to make a successful headlining appearance. Her presence alone packs plenty of star power. That said, the probability of her bringing out someone would seem pretty high considering the range of possibilities. First is her husband, Jay Z, a frequent collaborator whom she just spent a summer touring with in 2014. Then there is the possibility of a Destiny’s Child reunion, which happened when she played the Super Bowl in 2013. Maybe she brings out Coldplay as a thank you for them doing the same at last year’s Super Bowl. Other potential guests include Andre 3000, Jack White, and The Weeknd, just to name a few. The possibilities are gigantic. —Philip Cosores

__________________________________________________________

Literally Everyone at DJ Khaled

screen shot 2017 01 03 at 3 04 56 pm Coachella’s 2017 Lineup: One Day Later

Your guess is as good as ours. –Philip Cosores

__________________________________________________________

Johnny Marr

Johnny-Marr-Jonathan-Fritz

Photo by Jonathan Fritz

Inception collaborator Johnny Marr joined his pal Mr. Zimmer last year for a few of his European tour dates, so it would actually be more surprising if the former Smiths guitarist never popped up in the desert. We’re betting he’ll be there, and he’ll play his heart out on “Time”, which should be everyone’s favorite moment of both weekends. If this writer winds up attending, he’ll certainly be reduced to a pile of Kleenex. Guys, will you just…

desperado Coachella’s 2017 Lineup: One Day Later

 –Michael Roffman

__________________________________________________________

Kanye West, Drake, and Dre

Drake Kanye West

Jay Z might not be the only past Coachella hip-hop headliner to return to the Polo Fields this year. Drake seems like a decent bet considering his recent tour with Future and the pair’s past collaborations. Kanye West loves Coachella (he showed up last year just to stand on stage during Jack U’s set) and would make sense for a visit to either Travis Scott or Schoolboy Q’s performance. Dr. Dre also has shown considerable love for Coachella in the past, including popping up during both Ice Cube and Anderson .Paak’s sets last year, and could be set for a return appearance during Kendrick Lamar’s headlining set. After all, Dre brought out Kendrick during his 2012 headlining set back when the young Compton rapper was a relative unknown. —Philip Cosores
__________________________________________________________

Brandon Flowers

The Killers Iggy

Photo by Ben Kaye

Two facts: 01. The Killers frontman Brandon Flowers is pretty tight with New Order, and 02. Coachella takes place somewhat close to his hometown of Las Vegas, Nevada. That should be all the evidence you need here, but hey, here’s some more: Last year, he joined the UK legends during their show in Sin City to sing “Crystal”, “Love Vigilantes”, and Music Complete closer “Superheated”. That’s quite a cameo to look forward to, and if you’re lucky, you’ll get a couple more in La Roux’s Elly Jackson and maybe Iggy Pop — two other collaborators from Music Complete. Then again, don’t press your luck. –Michael Roffman

__________________________________________________________

Omissions

Frank Ocean

frank ocean Coachella’s 2017 Lineup: One Day Later

When Frank Ocean’s festival appearances became known in late-November, Coachella was conspicuously absent from the list. Maybe he just wanted to launch his tour closer to summer, but still it’s hard to imagine that a set at Hangout, Sasquatch, or Panorama is a better look than Coachella, even if Panorama is Coachella’s sister festival. Maybe having the singer appear at Panorama and then again at FYF (if he ends up making up for his 2015 cancelled headlining appearance) would prove too much of the same for Goldenvoice’s fests, but it’s still hard to imagine Coachella ceding a booking to anyone, especially one as prestigious as Frank Ocean. –Philip Cosores
__________________________________________________________

Punk and Metal

Japandroids // Photo by Ben Kaye

Photo by Ben Kaye

Try to find your favorite punk or hardcore outfit on the lineup. Ha, made you look. —Michael Roffman

__________________________________________________________

Solange

01 solange cosores Coachella’s 2017 Lineup: One Day Later

Photo by Philip Cosores

For the past several years, Solange appearances at Goldenvoice fests (Coachella and FYF) have been common, even though she wasn’t supporting much beyond her 2012 EP, True. Now with the best reviewed album of her career and a spotlight that has largely stepped out of the shadow of her big sister, a Coachella appearance would have really capitalized on the moment. That said, maybe it wouldn’t have made sense to have Solange’s biggest festival performance of her life occur at the same fest that Bey was performing her biggest festival set of her own life. Still, it feels like this is the moment for a big Solange set at Coachella, and sadly we’ll have to just imagine what could have been. –Philip Cosores

__________________________________________________________

Chance the Rapper

chance 1 Coachella’s 2017 Lineup: One Day Later

Photo by Heather Kaplan

Given Chance the Rapper’s last performance at Coachella was the first weekend of 2014 (he fell sick shortly after and cancelled the second weekend’s set), he seemed due for a return. So, sure, a triumphant return to play two healthy performances makes sense, but Chance is a shoe-in for bigger reasons like, gee, maybe the fact that 2016 was his biggest year to date? Chance the Rapper released the massive, near-perfect mixtape Coloring Book, he started a festival as a love letter to the city of Chicago, he led thousands to the polls to vote in the election, he performed on the final 2016 Saturday Night Live episode, and slipped a few other giant feats into his back pocket in between. With all of those reasons to book him, it’s hard to figure out why Coachella decided to not book him. –Nina Corcoran

__________________________________________________________

A Tribe Called Quest

a tribe called quest world tour confirm Coachella’s 2017 Lineup: One Day Later

A Tribe Called Quest teased that they would be touring behind their acclaimed comeback album, so a Coachella appearance seemed like the most logical place to launch that. With no real appearances announced yet, it doesn’t look like the rap legends will be capitalizing on their return to the public eye, unless Bonnaroo or SXSW manages to nab them. It’s yet another of 2016’s biggest stories that won’t be present in Indio. –Philip Cosores
__________________________________________________________

Childish Gambino

kaplan cos acl friday1 childish gambino 11 Coachella’s 2017 Lineup: One Day Later

Photo by Heather Kaplan

To be fair, this one’s not so much of an oversight considering Childish Gambino dropped his recent album, “Awaken, My Love!”, in early December, and Goldenvoice probably had the nuts and bolts secured by then. It’s a shame, too, because he hasn’t appeared at the festival since 2012, and his die-hard following has since quadrupled. Oh well. Better luck next year! —Michael Roffman

__________________________________________________________

The Shins

the shins cosores 05 Coachella’s 2017 Lineup: One Day Later

Photo by Philip Cosores

I mean, it’s not like that many people will really be bummed out that The Shins aren’t at Coachella. The fest has largely moved away from that brand of earnest indie rock, and they’d largely be out of place if they performed. We only expected them at Coachella because they said they’d be playing Coachella. In August, James Mercer told a Portland radio station: “This whole new culture of festivals has taken over basically. So that Coachella was a factor in my label wanting to postpone the release of the [new] record. Because Coachella is such a powerful influencer, it’s such a high-profile festival that we want to get as good a placement as we can in it.” I guess something went sour there. Hopefully the album comes out even without the powerful influence of Coachella. –Philip Cosores

__________________________________________________________

Least Interesting

Radiohead

radiohead lolla friday kaplan 13 Coachella’s 2017 Lineup: One Day Later

Photo by Heather Kaplan

Whoa, whoa, whoa, hold the phone. Don’t throw rotten fruit. Calm the fuck down, people. We’re not saying we’re disappointed to see Radiohead on the lineup. We’re not. We love them. They always shake things up, they always go H.A.M. on the deep cuts, and they’re always a joy to see live, even if they are supporting a rather somnambulant album that doesn’t exactly translate well to a festival setting. Having said that, they’re not really a prized catch for Coachella, who totally missed the boat by not booking them last year … literally weeks before A Moon Shaped Pool would have dropped. As such, their appearance at the top of the poster more or less has us thinking, Oh, been there, done that, and namely because we have.  —Michael Roffman

__________________________________________________________

Bands That Never Go Away

Ben-Kaye-Newport-Folk-Fest-Father-John-Misty-1

Photo by Ben Kaye

Absence makes the heart grow fonder. This is true of bands, too, and it makes bookings of Bon Iver, Lorde, and The xx all seem strong, because previous years have seen the acts retreating from the public eye. So, what’s the opposite of that? It’s artists like Father John Misty, Future Islands, and Mac DeMarco, who will all be likely supporting new or upcoming albums with their Coachella slots, but have no mystique to them because they’ve been touring relentlessly since their last projects. All three of those bookings should be more exciting than they are, with the acts and festivals left to wonder if over-saturation is a good thing. —Philip Cosores

__________________________________________________________

Radio Rock

Capital Cities // Photo by Clarissa Villondo

Photo by Philip Cosores

While the pickings are slim for music with a hard edge at this year’s Coachella, it’s not like they forgot to book the alt rock. It’s just that this year’s crop of alt bookings veers heavily towards the commercial, radio-approved fare. Sure, this includes some decent offerings like The xx, Phantogram, The Head and the Heart, Bishop Briggs, Glass Animals, and even Lorde, but it also means a pretty sorry crop of upper- and mid-tier acts like Bastille, Empire of the Sun, Capital Cities (Capital Shities as we call them around here), Two Door Cinema Club, and Grouplove. This means that the Polo Fields won’t be shy of hits. It’s just a far cry from what the music festival traditionally represented. —Philip Cosores

__________________________________________________________

Dance, Dance, Dance

Coachella 2016 // Photo by Philip Cosores

Photo by Philip Cosores

If you want to get drunk and dance in a field until your boutique flower crown falls off or your lacrosse pinnie gets soaked with sweat, Coachella is the festival for you. It’s the year of the DJ, and they all sound so … similar. Dillon Francis? Martin Garrix? Even DJ Khaled? There’s some spice in the mix thanks to Kaytranada and Röyksopp, but it starts to sound too bass heavy back to back. Don’t get us wrong. We love a good dance, especially when surrounded by likeminded people looking to bust a move, but this year we can’t help but think feet will go flat dancing too much. Cross your fingers some of the lower names like Ben UFO and Daphni can save the day — or, more idealistically, can save the night because they sure as hell don’t deserve daytime slots for the quality dance cuts they crank out. –Nina Corcoran

Advertisement