April 11, 2012

The 10 11 Must-See Acts at

Festival season is soon to be in full bloom as the unofficial hipster holiday known as Coachella will go down in the Indio desert this weekend -- and next. You read right. This year, the acclaimed gathering of a who's who in the indie and alternative scene (alongside an always-dependable supporting cast of Hollywood types watching on the outskirts in the VIP section) will be sticking around the Empire Polo Field for more than one weekend, as the festival's increased popularity and quick sell outs have prompted promoters Goldenvoice to make a pretty smart business decision and expand the three-day extravaganza over two consecutive weekends with identical lineups taking place on each. It shouldn't be too difficult for them to recreate the magic twice however, as this year's sold-out edition is one of the best in recent memory (especially when you stack it against last year's abysmal trend-heavy offerings.) One thing Coachella 2012 has going for it outside from powerhouse headliners and rising stars is a heaping assortment of big-name reunions and rare gets. AS has picked its handful of must-sees from all categories (there's so many, the short list couldn't be confined to just 10 names this time around,) complete with stage names and set times so you're there when they are...

Who: Abe Vigoda
When: Friday, 12pm in the Gobi Tent

A late add to the lineup that appeared just a few weeks ago, Abe Vigoda get a long overdue slot at Coachella that should have happened years ago. The Smell scene staples, like past appearing contemporaries No Age and HEALTH, represent the noise pop scene that has come to define Southern California over the last half decade. Abe Vigoda's last LP was 2010's listmaking effort Crush, so fans curious for a sneak peak from these Chino natives may get one when they help kick the festival off on Friday in the Gobi tent.

Who: Death Grips
When: Friday, 5:45pm in the Gobi Tent
Sure, this year's rap and hip-hop bookings include headlining heavyweight Dr. Dre, next gens A$AP Rocky, Kendrick Lamar and The Weeknd, but Death Grips are probably your safest bet in getting a live set that won't fall flat of expectations. The recent BUZZSound featuring frontman Stefan Burnett, drumming machine Zach Hill and electrician Andy Morin literally make an art out of killer live shows. Taking into account their innovative genre-bending style that transcends elements of rap, hardcore and noise, the smallest of Coachella's tents, the Gobi, might just implode from all the potential energy.

Who: Mazzy Star
When: Friday, 8:50pm on the Outdoor Theatre

Among the many, many highly anticipated reunion acts headed to the desert will be '90s slo-core luminaries Mazzy Star. Aside from a few choice warm-up gigs earlier this week, the dusty-voiced Hope Sandoval and guitarist David Roback haven't stepped onto a stage this big in 12 years. Late last year, the Santa Monica band previewed new material with the excellent single and B-Side "Common Burn" b / w "Lay Myself Down,". Indio will likely receive more helpings of Mazzy Star's solemn bliss off their as-yet-to-be-announced new LP fittingly once the night falls on the Outdoor Theatre.

Who: Refused
When: Friday, 11:20pm on the Outdoor Theatre

When the Coachella lineup initially dropped, so did jaws at the site of Refused's name. During the band's depleted final tour in support of their 1998 hardcore classic The Shape of Punk to Come, the quintet was embattled within internal turmoil and later vowed never to reunite to preserve their legacy. Their story has obviously changed since, citing wanting to give friends, fans and the LP itself the justice it deserves. Judging by a recent secret gig in their native Sweden, it looks like we'll all get that this time around.

Who: The Horrors
When: Friday, Midnight in the Gobi Tent

The last time The Horrors paid a visit to Indio, it was 2009 and some genius thought it'd be a great idea to schedule them at pretty much the exact same time that recently reunited shoegaze legends My Bloody Valentine would hit the stage. In 2012, your window to see the darkly shape-shifting Brit rockers and makers of AS' 15th Best Album of the Year in Skying is a bit more open, as the only conflicts they'll be facing will be against a bunch of dance / DJ artists on all other stages.

Who: Buzzcocks
When: Saturday, 5:15pm in the Gobi Tent

Recent releases by Ceremony and The Men have successfully drawn influence from '70s-era garage-punk rock, and these bands have venerable originals Buzzcocks to thank for that. Alongside the Sex Pistols and Joy Division, Buzzcocks helped sculpt punk rock's early sound in the UK before it crossed over to the States. Coachella often boasts these type of lower profile nostalgia acts who can easily get lost within the lineup shuffle when listed next to today's hype acts, but anyone who counts themselves a fan of the aforementioned young punks should take the time out of their schedule to witness Buzzcocks, if only out of respect.

Who: Jeff Mangum
When: Saturday, 7:20pm on the Outdoor Theatre

Since coming out of seclusion late last year, Neutral Milk Hotel frontman Jeff Mangum has hit up all corners of the United States with intimate shows placed in small theatre venues, making his appearance at this year's Coachella festival that much of an even rarer performance. Mangum's solo outings thus far have been heavy on Neutral Milk fan favorites, leading to rounds of sing-a-longs from the crowd, which should make for a beautiful spectacle to behold under the sunset sky of Indio.

Who: Radiohead
When: Saturday, 11:05pm on the Coachella Stage

AS's appreciation for Radiohead admittedly isn't as intense as others, but there's no denying these alt-rock icons and 2012's featured attraction are a live force to be reckoned with. While last year's rather tame King of Limbs arrived to mixed reactions, they've been using using their North American tour to test drive new material. And of course, there's the always eye-pleasing stage set-up punctuated by Thom Yorke's fancy new ponytail. Whoever is playing opposite of these UK boys: Good luck.

Who: Real Estate
When: Sunday, 4:10pm in the Gobi Tent

2012 will be the first of hopefully many future outings in Indio for beachcombing indie rock act Real Estate. The New Jersey quartet are still surfing high atop a wave of success from last year's critically adored (and 18th best) sophomore LP Days. Normally, AS would say that having to stand through a set inside the stuffy Gobi Tent mid-afternoon can be taxing, but Real Estate's brand of breezy, needling lo-fi pop should easily cool your surroundings.

Who: Wild Flag
When: Sunday, 5:30pm on the Outdoor Theatre

Carrie Brownstein is no stranger to the Coachella stage, as her last band Sleater-Kinney made a few trips out to the desert back when they were still together. She's returning in 2012 however with a new group of bandmates, as the S-K / Helium / Minders member-featuring supergroup Wild Flag makes its Indio debut. Amidst this year's boys club of rock acts, the quartet will surely offer up one of the weekend's few refreshing all-female alternatives to guitar-driven adrenaline.

Who: At the Drive-In
When: Sunday, 9:10pm on the Coachella Stage

While Refused have their friends and fans' interests in mind, At the Drive-In's reasons for reuniting aren't entirely devoid of financial gain. That however shouldn't change the fact that seeing the estranged El Paso quintet back together in over a decade is something hardcore enthusiasts have been salivating over since the day they called it quits. As this week's warm-up gigs have made apparent, watching ATDI's on-stage chemistry will be interesting within itself, as it's post-breakup splinter projects The Mars Volta and Sparta sound nothing like each other or ATDI itself. Also in question: Can Cedric's "no moshing" rule contain a sea of highly-energized hipsters?


  1. Hey,

    Thought you might be interested in this: we're doing a live Twitter chat with Death Grips today at 2:00 PM, PST. Ask them your question and BitTorrent will ask the band for their answer live (from Coachella), in real time. More info can be found here:


  2. I definitely see big things happening for Death Grips soon..check out their new video for "The Fever"


  3. If I'd been at Coachella, Death Grips would've definitely been #1 on my must see list. Can't wait for their new album to drop on 4/24.