Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Coachella preview: 16th edition of Coachellafest coming to Indio April 10-12, and April 17-19

AC/DC - Singer Brian Johnson and guitarist Angus Young will rock Coachella 2015
on Fridays, April 10 and April 17. Photo: Kelly A. Swift
Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival
Where: The Empire Polo Club in Indio
When: April 10-12 and again April 17-19, 2015
Ticket availability: All tickets to the annual festival are sold-out

The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival – better known simply as “Coachella” – is coming to Indio, California over two fast-paced weekends, April 10-12 and again April 17-19.
One of the best and most enduring modern music festivals on the planet, the 16th edition of Coachellafest has once again gathered up an eclectic line-up of artists from the far-flung corners on the sonic universe to perform in front of large audiences gathered and scattered throughout the Empire Polo Club in Indio. While hard rocking Aussies AC/DC, genre-blasting singer-guitarist Jack White and Canadian rapper Drake will each headline their respective Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, the wealth of additional talent stretching across the bill has plenty to offer just about every music lover. Rock, power pop, electronica, folk, alt country and rap artists will perform on a number of outdoor and indoor stages positioned throughout the sprawling festival grounds. Original and insightful artwork installations positioned throughout the grounds make for an even more unique experience.
This round-up will highlight my “wish list” of performances I hope to catch at Coachella. Of course, there is always the chance that two or three of my favorite artists will be performing at the same time, but the myriad of excellent artists performing means just about any destination is a good one.
Fridays, April 10 and 17
I haven't seen AC/DC since the early 1990s, so it's time to find out if the groundbreaking hard rockers can still deliver. The band's latest album Rock or Bust is a terrific album (tracks such as "Play Ball," "Dogs of War" and the title track rank among the group's best) and AC/DC's ear-splitting rock is likely ready-made to bring some thunder to the expansive site.
While we're on the subject of classic rock, it would be criminal to miss Steely Dan in the desert. I last caught singer-keyboardist Donald Fagen and guitarist Walter Becker in July 2011 when the dynamic duo and company thrilled a capacity crowd at Los Angeles' Greek Theatre with a complete version of their timeless 1977 album Aja. I can't wait to see what the jazz-rock troupe will conjure up in Indio. 
An act I have not yet seen but plan to is Alabama Shakes, the roots-meets-garage soul rockers out of Athens, Alabama. The group's 2012 debut Boys & Girls has proved to be a bona fide creative and commercial success, and a sophomore effort (Sound & Color) is due on April 21.
Jim Heath of Reverend Horton Heat /
Photo: Kelly A. Swift
Speaking of roots rock, the legendary Reverend Horton Heat (the moniker for singer-guitarist Jim Heath) will be making his first-ever appearance at Coachella. RHH is considered a pioneer of the psychobilly-rockabilly movement and Heath is celebrating the 30th anniversary of his Dallas-spawned outfit. 
Other Friday acts on my wish list include New York's indie post-punk indie rockers Interpol, Australian brother-sister folk duo Angus & Julia Stone, and groundbreaking British rock quartet Ride. Other promising artists include electronica innovator Caribou and English singer-songwriter George Ezra. T'he Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger (featuring Sean Lennon and Charlotte Kemp Muhl) is also on my radar for Friday (I better arrive on time; the duo perform at noon on the Outdoor Theatre stage).

Saturdays, April 11 and 18
Andrew McMahon will feature material from his
latest release 'Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness' /
Photo: Kelly A. Swift
Of the dozens of artists set to perform on both Saturdays, there are several I simply can't miss. Highest on my list is Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness. McMahon  who has scored commercial and artistic points while leading both Something Corporate and Jack's Mannequin  released his most personal collection to date in late 2014. An outstanding singer, songwriter and pianist, McMahon's songs are bolstered by memorable lyrics, winning melodies and a timeless quality that draws easy comparisons with some of rock's all-time greats. He is scheduled to perform on the Outdoor Theatre stage at 4:05 p.m.

Recently, I stumbled across a great song ("Empty Nesters") from Toro y Moi, the musical moniker for singer-songwriter Chaz Bundick. That song and another ("Run Baby Run") from the artist's new album What For? (released on April 7) recalls the propulsive and distorted power-pop of Big Star and early Cheap Trick. I can't wait to check Toro y Moi out live. This will be tricky and require some juggling since he performs in the Mojave from 4:20-5:05 p.m.

While Bad Religion has been around longer than most Coachella-goers have been alive, why do I get a feeling the seminal punk rockers out of Los Angeles will kill it in the desert? The group's razor-edged approach and tight songs should make for a good fit for those who want to catch the band's full set or simply fly by to catch a song or two.

Other Saturday-bound acts I hope to catch include indie rock faves The War on Drugs, Scottish baroque pop-rock collective Belle and Sebastian, Irish blues & soul singer Hozier, Americana duo Jamestown Revival (Jonathan Clay and Zach Chance) and soul troupe St. Paul and the Broken Bones.
Sundays, April 12 and 19
By the third day of Coachella, concertgoers can admittedly be exhausted and think twice about getting to the festival grounds early. I wouldn't (and will not) make that mistake this year. 
Set to take the stage inside the Gobi tent at 3:25 p.m. is groundbreaking country music singer-songwriter Sturgill Simpson, whose terrific 2014 album Metamodern Sounds in Country Music is a celebration of both authentic country and genre-bending modernism. Highlights include "Turtles all the Way Down" with its perfect mix of country and gospel, "Long White Line" featuring a swirling psychedelic finish, and the tender "The Promise." Now the Kentucky native is set to conquer both Coachella and Stagecoach beginning with his early-afternoon sets at Coachella.

Ryan Adams is a proponent of blending country, rock and other styles together in the pursuit of his original music making. One of music's most prolific artists, he has released more than a dozen solo albums since 2000. 
Idaho-spawned indie rockers Built to Spill are among the most interesting and lasting outfits to emerge in the early 1990s. Blending crunchy rock and tuneful melodies, the quintet should impress mightily. The band is set to release its highly-anticipated Untethered Moon LP via Warner Bros. Records on Record Store Day (April 18), the group's first full-length studio disc since 2009's "There Is No Enemy."
Jenny Lewis / Photo: Kelly A. Swift
Singer-songwriter Jenny Lewis always seems to get it right. Whether it was her stint with Rilo Kiley, the Postal Service or as one-half of the duo Jenny & Johnny (Jonathan Rice), the Southern California native has impressed. Now Lewis is returning to Coachella to perform confessional material featured on her brilliant 2014 album The Voyager.
There is simply no reason to leave Coachella early. Sunday's impressive line-up also includes must-see artists such as England's Florence + the Machine, art rocker St. Vincent, and Los Angeles neo-soul ensemble Fitz and The Tantrums (the latter of whom will perform from 9:20 p.m. to late in the night on Sunday).

One thing Coachella-goers can count on, whether they catch those artists or any of the countless others on the bill, the festival is an adventure not to be missed.

Robert Kinsler

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