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Coachella 2010 lineup verdict: Flawed, but pretty, damn cool.

January 19, 2010 - 10:19 am

It’s that time again. Where we all head to a polo field in the middle of the desert to sweat our asses off and hope we can get close enough to the stage so that Jay-Z doesn’t just resemble a bedazzled ant. The acts have been announced and the headliners have been confirmed for the 11th annual Coachella Music & Arts Festival in Indio, California. And while up-and-comers like The xx, Yeasayer, Dirty Projectors and B.O.B.–as well as the big-name reunited acts–all but make the fest a must-go, the headliners seem a bit questionable.  But overall, the lineup is the best in years and a welcome return after experiments in classic-rock headliners (Roger Waters and Paul McCartney) and same-old, same-old acts like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bjork and Tool.  

The headliners:

Muse. I know Muse are beloved by a lot of people not named Seth Combs, but a headliner? Really? Their bombastic mix of earnest lyrics and arena-ready rock is pretty big among the mainstream rock set, but even my fanboy little brother confided that their new album, The Resistance, sucked major ass. However, the band is huuuuugge in Europe and in their native England so maybe festival organizers are hoping to attract the exchange student set. I have to say that even when I saw them years ago, they do put on one hell of a performance. At least Glenn Beck will be there.  

Gorillaz. I thought for sure we’d get to see a Blur reunion at this year’s Coachella, but chances are organizers wanted to stick them on right before another headliner so, instead, we have Damon’s animated side-project. It’s an iffy choice as a closer for the final night of the fest especially since the “band” hasn’t really had a hit in four years. Not to mention the fact that, in past shows, the performing group played behind a screen that simply projected cartoons of the animated characters and that they plan on simply debuting their new album at the Coachella performance. I’m not sure what else they have in store, but it better be amazing. 

Jay-Z. Coachella has had hip-hop headliners in the past, but no one as big as Jay-Z and indie-fans may shun the multi-million dollar man. But Hova has proved his mettle as a headliner at fests like All Points West and rumors of guest stars are rampant on the internet. It’s not unfair to speculate that he might be joined by big names like Kanye West, Alicia Keys and perhaps even NaS, but even if that’s not the case, fans can always run off and check out LCD Soundsystem. 

The reuniting bands:

Yeah, fans of The Smiths, Spaceman 3 and Blur were left out in the cold, but organizers did a stellar job at booking some top-notch bands that audiences haven’t seen in years. The biggest surprise has to be Public Image Ltd., John Lydon’s (or Rotten, if you’re filthy) post-Sex Pistols new-wave band. It’s hard to imagine the eternally ill-tempered Lydon tolerating any shenanigans from the crowd, and their set should make deadlines even if it’s for all the wrong reasons. Pavement and Sunny Day Real Estate were all but assured in pre-announcement speculation, but Sly & The Family Stone is another interesting coup. Considering Sly Stone’s bizarre behavior in the past, it’s another performance that may not go over as smoothly as organizers hope, but it’s still one to catch. Finally, Faith No More will finally play stateside after some killer performances at festivals in Europe and Israel. Mike Patton has alluded that he’s not really into the spirit of the reunion, but that hasn’t stopped him from giving his all live. This should be one of the best sets of the entire three days.

I would expect more bands to be announced as well as some last-minute additions to step up ticket sales in the next few months. As it stands now, I honestly don’t believe the headlining acts have the drawing power to sell out the festival, but the overall lineup is solid enough to swing those on the fence about making the trek. Including myself.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. January 19, 2010 - 10:24 am 10:24 am

    On Muse–they’re pretty arena-rock, so headlining seems kinda appropriate. Also, what’s up Thom Yorke? Four question marks?

  2. Choons permalink
    January 19, 2010 - 10:31 am 10:31 am

    eh yeah not as strong as the past few years. Pisses me off that Faith No More gets giant text while DEVO is in small print. WTF?

  3. January 19, 2010 - 10:35 am 10:35 am

    Dave, I think the four question marks after Thom Yorke mean he’s playing with Flea et al. That’s how their show at the Orpheum was billed.

  4. Kate permalink
    January 19, 2010 - 10:37 am 10:37 am

    From the LA Times: “Oh, and what about those question marks on Sunday’s text in the concert poster below? No, that isn’t saving a spot for a Smiths reunion or U2 debut on the Coachella stage, it’s the way that Yorke presents himself as a solo star, the marquee at his Orpheum concert had the same punctuational flourish.”

  5. adamgimbel permalink
    January 19, 2010 - 12:41 pm 12:41 pm

    The Specials. Get your priorities straight, old man.

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