At some point in the last several years, Coachella became the holy among holies of music festivals. The once-small get-together in Indio, Calif., has bloomed into the gold-standard for the festival circuit, out-shining the once undisputed Bonnaroo and living up to its expectation as the California Music Festival.
Though there’s still no Daft Punk on the bill this year, the Coachella 2014 lineup speaks volumes about how the festival will differ from past years. Namely: DJs, not rock reunions, rule; mostly unknown international acts will get more than their fair share of stage time; and deserved up-and-comers and established names alike get crammed into the basement.
But above all, none of this matters, because OutKast is headlining.
Join us as we look at the many font sizes of the Coachella 2014 lineup below.
The Headliners, AKA Outkast (and Arcade Fire [with Muse])
“We never relaxing / OutKast is everlasting.”
As we’ve borne witness to over the last seven years, it turns out that lyric from “The Way You Move” is only half-true.
Indeed, Outkast has been on hiatus since 2007’s soundtrack/musical film “Idlewild.” Though there’s been rumors for months that the ATLiens would be reuniting at Coachella, after last year’s Daft Punk debacle, it’s been hard to scrutinize the skeptics.
But earlier this week, in one glorious announcement, the raised brows were set flat: Outkast will headline the first nights of both Coachella weekends. Even in this year’s who’s-who lineup of last year and the year that will be, Outkast is the name that pops on the poster, the first word you see that, for many, is worth the price of admission alone.
Though Big Boi has been performing Outkast numbers solo since Andre 3000 went under the radar, it’s always felt like half-baked karaoke without his other half—and sorely lacking in theatrics. Thanks to massive hits like “Hey Ya” and “Bombs Over Baghdad,” Outkast have mass appeal that fellow headliners Muse and Arcade Fire—though very popular in their genres—can’t compete with. What’s more, other than the headliner, A$AP Ferg and Flatbush Zombies, rap is all but non-existent at Coachella this year, as if they blew their hip-hop budget all in one go. A bold move, but worth it.
That said, Arcade Fire have added almost another album’s worth of numbers that demand to be heard live with their new album, “Reflektor.” The dance-centric album and “not super serious” dress code should make their shows a step above even their stellar “Suburbs” tour. Muse is a somewhat anti-climactic third headliner, the sort of band fans will dependably turn out for time and time again (though it may be interesting if they go up against fellow Saturday-nighters Queens of the Stone Age), and all others will sidestep as routinely.
The Second Tier
Headliners aside, there’s an eclectic group of acts in Coachella’s second tier as well. They’re all over the place in terms of genre, but the main groupings among the mish-mash are favorites from 2013 (HAIM, Lorde, Disclosure), surprising reunions (The Replacements, AFI, Neutral Milk Hotel) and boosters for acts with new releases to come in 2014 (Broken Bells, Chromeo, Beck).
Compared to last year, this year’s second-tier groups are a younger bunch, with more emphasis on electronica and less on vintage rock. With The Knife, Skrillex, Girl Talk, Fatboy Slim, Duck Sauce and many others on the decks, expect a plethora of club kids at the dance-centric Sahara tent, and probably beyond: you could field a soccer team (plus substitutes) with the number of high-profile DJs set for the event.
Perhaps more than any other festival, you shouldn’t ignore the third-tier groups at this year’s Coachella. Bickering is inevitable when it comes to billing order, but there are some marquee names—new and old—buried in the fine print this year. Darkside, Superchunk, Blood Orange and Anti-Flag will be at the festival, though you’d need a magnifying glass to make them out on the poster’s low resolution. Meanwhile, international acts seldom known in the States like Martin Garrix, Alesso and Liam Gallager’s Beady Eye take prominent positions on the bill. Definitely a matter of taste, but again, unless you’re really into DJs, it’s confounding.
Whether or not it’s primed to become the next Camp Bisco, Coachella looks primed to sell-out again this year by snapping up a wide-variety of acts. Once upon a time, it’d have been crazy to think groups this diverse could all fit in one bill, but thanks be to the internet, here we are.
What do you think of the Coachella lineup this year? Let us know in the comments section.
Dylan Owens is Reverb’s all-purpose news blogger and album reviewer. You can read more from him in Relix magazine and the comment sections of WORLDSTARHIPHOP.