April 13, 2011

The 10 Must-See Acts at This Year's


This weekend marks the unofficial kickoff to festival season here in the United States as tens of thousands of hipsters, ravers, the privileged youth of the San Fernando Valley and a who's who of trendy Hollywood descend upon the Empire Polo Fields in the Indio desert for the 12th edition of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. Being frank and honest, AwkwardSound thinks this year's lineup is one of the weakest top to bottom billings it's ever seen in the festival's reputable history. Inviting Kings of Leon is bad enough, but giving them one of the night's top spots even after they've whored themselves out to every other major festival in the past two years hinders on Coachella's legacy of booking original headliners. 2011's subheadliners lack the same level of relevancy of recent years as well, with past-their-peak bands such as Interpol, Bright Eyes and Duran Duran getting their names on the poster's second line alongside bands everyone has to be a little sick of by now (The National and those godawful Mumford & Sons.) And if you're going to book Animal Collective on a year where they have nothing to support, why not give Panda Bear a set since his newest solo effort, Tomboy, just came out this week? Surely this could have easily been done by sparing festivalgoers a repeat appearance by AwkwardSound's most overhyped band of 2010, Sleigh Bells. Further down the lineup, things get a bit more depressing, too (One-time heavy-hitters the New Pornographers, Scissor Sisters and Gogol Bordello have been promotionally diminished, while it's a shock that She Wants Revenge still exists and nevermind they were booked altogether.) Okay, so you get it. Coachella 2011 has more flaws than ever this year, but there's still some acts worth checking out if you're making the trek out to Indio. Below are AwkwardSound's 10 must-see artists, complete with stage or tent locations and set times, so you've really no reason to miss them...


Who: Titus Andronicus
When: Friday, 3:30pm on the Outdoor Theatre

When New Jersey's wild and boisterous indie-punkers, Titus Andronicus, descend upon the Polo Fields on Friday, expect the four-piece to start an all out war of energy and calamity when they break into tracks off of 2010's acclaimed Civil War-inspired album The Monitor. No, seriously -- Fans are organizing a mock Union vs. Confederate battle recreation that will take place during Titus' set, which has the potential of being one of the festival's most memorable moments.
Titus Andronicus - "A More Perfect Union"

Who: OFWGKTA
When: Friday, 4:30pm in the Sahara Tent

Since AwkwardSound named them the first BUZZSound ever on the site, OFWGKTA have experienced a hype-driven meteoric rise to the top, and that's exactly the type of music you can expect at Coachella each year from young and up-and-coming artists. Tyler, the Creator and his crew take over the Mojave tent on Friday on what should be one of the weekend's most talked about sets. Will the Odd Future deliver or sizzle under the sun? Get to their set early, as the Sahara tent is sure to be spilling outside even before the hip-hop collective takes the stage.
Odd Future - "Sandwitches"

Who: Robyn
When: Friday, 10:40pm in the Mojave Tent

Did you ever think that someday, this late '90s three-hit pop wonder would be playing the hippest dance party in the desert? AwkwardSound's 2010 Artist of the Year, Robyn, caps off a big year and the success of her three-part Body Talk series with a spotlight set towards the end of Friday night. If you can't bare wading through the sea of dirty drug needles and getting groped by drugged-out ravers throughout the weekend in the Sahara Tent to get your dance fix, at least let Robyn's surefire style of electronic pop cap off your first day in the Mojave.
Robyn - "Indestructible"

Who: Animal Collective
When: Saturday, 9:45pm on the Coachella Stage

The Brooklyn experimental art-pop group still don't have the large-scale live presence to make their Saturday night subheadlining spot on the main stage completely necessary, but there's no question their popularity these days makes it a requirement. However, Animal Collective are also one of many bands working with the Creator's Project this year at Coachella, which will see the main stage's set-up uniquely evolve for the weekend's biggest acts alongside exclusive multimedia made just for their set. AnCo has a handful of new material they're ready to showcase, as well.
Animal Collective - "Brother Sport"

Who: Arcade Fire
When: Saturday, 11:20pm on the Coachella Stage

Aside from an unexpected Grammy Award for Album of the Year, Arcade Fire's huge success over the past decade can be gauged by their appearances at Coachella, as the live show powerhouse have been invited to play each year they've released an album. 2011 will be the biggest year of them all, though, as they've graduated from the coveted "sunset spot" on The Outdoor Theatre in 2005 to 2007's subheadliners and now, the main event. It also marks the first time in Coachella history that an indie rock band has headlined the festival -- A testament to how far the genre has come in recent years.
Arcade Fire - "The Suburbs"

Who: OFF!
When: Sunday, 3:05pm in the Gobi Tent

One of the year's most notable rookies are also a group of music veterans. Hardcore supergroup, OFF!, led by original Black Flag member, Keith Morris, will add to Sunday's chaos of sound when they bring their brand of '80s-infused hardcore to the Gobi Tent in a set that will surely put some of the young punks in their place.
OFF! - "Upsidedown

Who: HEALTH
When: Sunday, 4:45pm in the Mojave Tent

HEALTH will be this year's token representatives of the ever-evolving Los Angeles Smell scene at this year's Coachella. While the electronic noise rockers don't currently have any new material to support, this could be a great opportunity for them to try out some new material and introduce their music to festivalgoers stumbling by the Mojave tent early in the afternoon hours of Sunday.
Health - "Die Slow"

Who: Death from Above 1979
When: Sunday, 6:10pm on the Coachella Stage

This year's big reunion doesn't come in the form of a legendary band who amassed a catalog of hits two decades ago, but rather a spazzy dance-punk duo with a cult following who called it quits in 2006 after just one really good album. It's still unclear whether Jesse F. Keeler and Sebastian Granger hate each others guts and are taking the cash grab or have let bygones be bygones, but Death from Above 1979 will likely be one of the weekend's wildest moments. A word of advice: Perhaps invest in some riot gear.
Death From Above 1979 - "Going Steady"

Who: Lightning Bolt
When: Sunday, 7:50pm in the Gobi Tent

One of Coachella's rarest gets this year is Lightning Bolt. While they aren't as widely known to the common festivalgoer, they more than make up for it with an incredibly unpredictable live show. The veteran noise-rock duo out of Providence, Rhode Island usually tours selectively while making one-off appearances here and there, so catch these two while you can as it may be your only chance ever.
Lightning Bolt - "Colossus"

Who: PJ Harvey
When: Sunday, 9:45pm on the Outdoor Theatre

Polly Jean doesn't travel over to this side of the ocean very often, so it's probably best you take advantage of the few and far between times that she does. PJ Harvey's newest album, Let England Shake, is a safe bet to make AwkwardSound's year-end list and the veteran alt-rocker never disappoints live, so seeing her set with no conflict on the Coachella Stage is pretty much a no-brainer.
PJ Harvey - "The Words That Maketh Murder"

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