While immediate opinions have been decidedly mixed regarding this year’s Coachella line-up (which is to be expected, given the tsunami of rumors that had both the Rolling Stones and Daft Punk as virtual locks this year with neither making the cut), upon closer examination, the 2013 edition of the popular desert festival is chock full of amazing music, both old and new.
As thirty-somethings rave about the return of ‘90s Brit-pop favorites like Blur and the Stone Roses, for the current generation of music lovers, the bill is rife with new and emerging acts poised for long, illustrious careers.
Paul Tollett, the head of event promoter Goldenvoice and the mastermind behind Coachella, has always made of point of bringing music’s most cutting-edge and on-the-verge acts out to the desert show. In 2010, he famously presented South African psycho rave-rap duo Die Antwoord for their first American concert with a surprise performance that rocked the Sahara Tent. Only two years ago, Skrillex was just another random name buried near the bottom of the 2011 event poster.
Before writing off this year’s line-up, music fans will want to take the time to investigate the fine print for the many worthy acts all over the festival roster. There’s a pretty good chance that music’s next big breakout band could very well be slated to play the Gobi Tent in the middle of Sunday afternoon.
Dog Blood – This act is actually something of a genuine EDM super-group, featuring Skrillex and Germany’s Boys Noize collaborating as one. They already released one EP, Next Order/Middle Finger, with the A-side track hitting Number 1 on the prestigious Beatport techno charts.
Reignwolf – This wildly talented Canadian guitarist/one-man band has the skills to be crowned the world’s next Jack White. Combining blistering blues leads and his passionate, yearning vocals (he crushed the 2012 Sasquatch fest playing multiple rapturously received sets), the man born Jordan Cook has already recorded with members of Soundgarden and Pearl Jam and is high on the list of acts to break out big from this year’s Coachella outing.
The Shouting Matches – Surprise! For those who know Justin Vernon of Bon Iver as a boring acoustic crooner who got clowned by Justin Timberlake on Saturday Night Live, prepare to get rocked – hard. In the Shouting Matches, Vernon channels his inner bluesman in this raucous, drunken band that features Brian Moen on drums and Phil Cook of Magafun.
Birdy Nam Nam & C2C – French DJs are taking it to the next level. Both of these multi-mixer bands feature DJs playing together like a band, with each member performing a different “instrument” on their respective turntables. Birdy Nam Nam has signed to Skrillex’s OWSLA label, and both bands will blow minds with their DJ dexterity (watch C2C rock the party here).
James McCartney – There’s rock royalty, and then there’s James McCartney, the only son of former Beatle Paul McCartney and his late wife, Linda. Having already worked on albums with his famous father, McCartney’s first two releases have been compiled on The Complete EP Collection. He cites Kurt Cobain, the Smiths and Radiohead among his main influences, telling American Songwriter that his long-term goals are “making a lot of music, and striving for more depth artistically. And always improving and evolving as a songwriter.”
Modestep – Coming from London, this act brings dubstep to life with a full band and lead singer, incorporating the best of both worlds into one high-energy blast of dynamic dance-floor electro-rock. These guys have the potential to take the dubstep sound to the next level in America (not to mention attract lots more mainstream fans). Check their awesome video for “Sunlight,” which features senior citizens partying harder than most ravers.
Little Green Cars – This melodic, folk-tinged group out of Dublin, Ireland, aren’t too far from the campfire sounds of similar acts like Of Monsters and Men, the Lumineers and Mumford and Sons (who share the same American record label, Glassnote). Boasting shimmering vocal harmonies and well-crafted songs, Little Green Cars’ lush, gorgeous sound is primed for breakout popularity in the States and beyond.
Beardyman – This British beat-boxer combines the mouth gymnastics of the legendary Rahzel with a sparkling wit and interactive, often comedic live shows. He can get one hell of a dance party started, too. Performing with a battery of electronic gear, Beardyman has already generated a legion of fans (a live set posted to Youtube in 2009 has generated more than 4.5 million views), expect his high-energy Coachella set to earn him even more followers.
Mona – Blasting straight out of the American Midwest, this hard-rocking band conjure big, anthemic lighters-in-the-air tunes (like “Shooting The Moon”) ready to explode out of cars stereos and pack concert arenas. From their slicked-back, 1950’s style to the group’s catchy, sing-a-long choruses, Mona makes music designed to be as big, sexy and loud as possible.
Jake Bugg – After blazing to the top of the UK charts with his eponymous debut album, this 18-year-old British singer-songwriter has set his sights on American success. Nominated for British Breakthrough Act at this year’s BRIT Awards in England, Bugg’s reedy vocals and sparse, emotional tunes that incorporate classic country have already found him compared to none less than Bob Dylan, and will surely have some young hearts swooning in the desert heat.
Given Coachella’s expansive line-up this year, this list just scratches the surface of the sonic wonders to be discovered at this year’s desert fest. From hilarious white rapper Action Bronson to the “trap-rave” of Baauer to the feel-good dance vibes of Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra, there is a plethora of great music to be found all over Coachella 2013. All you have to do is look for it.
-Scott T. Sterling, CBS Local