Music Beat Preview: Coachella 2016

April 18, 2016, 4:11 p.m.

Festival season is upon us, and what better way to kick things off than with Coachella? A team of Daily writers will be taking on weekend two of the ubiquitous festival, checking out world-class acts under the desert sun and hopefully spotting a celebrity or two while we’re at it. If you’re making the journey with us, here’s what you need to know about each day’s lineup.


Few festivals but Coachella have the prestige and aesthetic bandwidth it takes to attract  both rising and established acts from across genres. Friday’s diverse, star-studded array of artists falls right in line with the festival’s high-profile reputation and eclectic bent, boasting big names, lesser-known critical darlings and older acts reuniting on the legendary desert stage.

For fans of highly marketable electro-pop, singer Ellie Goulding and DJ duo Jack Ü (a collaboration between producers Diplo and Skrillex) will supply no shortage of radio-ready hits. The well-loved synth-pop group M83 is also set to perform, along with rising indietronica act BØRNS, who has become known for his joyful, falsetto-driven compositions. Hip-hop/R&B acts Rae Sremmurd and G-Eazy, both of whom have experienced viral success, should bridge the gap between commercial EDM artists and more contemplative, complex rappers like A$AP Rocky and Joey Bada$$.

If you’re seeking a more downtempo, folksy festival experience, the charming Icelandic indie-pop outfit Of Monsters and Men are also set to play Friday. Lord Huron, a lesser-known folk group with a similarly dreamy, atmospheric vibe, might also draw fans of OMAM. Purity Ring, an electro-house act with a witchy signature sound, serves as an excellent happy medium between Friday’s indie-folk and EDM offerings. And if you’re looking for something completely different, check out legendary gospel singer and civil rights activist Mavis Staples, whose raw, electrifying vocals and pure musical capability are not to be missed.

Finally, the critically acclaimed dance-punk outfit LCD Soundsystem will headline Friday’s performances. The group disbanded after a successful run during the early 2000s, but reunited in late 2015 to the delight of legions of fans. Any festivalgoer not familiar with their spare, emotional, and synth-driven hits should take this opportunity to introduce themselves — their work has arguably been an inspiration and a template to many of today’s most popular EDM acts, many of whom will also be onstage in Indio this weekend. And if you miss them at Coachella, don’t worry — Friday’s performance is only the first stop on their reunion tour, which will include appearances at summer festivals like Outside Lands, Glastonbury, and Lollapalooza.

— Clare Flanagan



Saturday will feature the reunion of Guns N’ Roses’ classic lineup, with Axl Rose and Slash taking the stage together once more, despite deep animosity between the pair dating back to their first break circa 1994. The iconic late ‘80s, early ‘90s rock outfit has a long and confusing history of intra-band feuds, breakups and half-hearted reunions, but for the (relatively) older souls among Coachella-goers, hopes are high that all of that will be put in the past so we can enjoy the return of classics like “Sweet Child O’ Mine” and “Paradise City.”

Speaking of reunions, many in attendance are hopeful for some sort of N.W.A. get-together during Ice Cube’s main stage set. Given the smash success of the recent N.W.A. biopic, “Straight Outta Compton,” a surprise appearance from Dr. Dre or MC Ren (or maybe even Snoop Dogg?) would be a great way to capitalize on the yearning for ‘90s L.A. that seems to be in the air.

If you’re not in it for the reunions, though, the rest of the set list should have you covered. For a more modern take on west coast hip-hop, head over to the Sahara Stage to see last year’s breakout emcee Vince Staples play off the success of his debut album “Summertime ‘06.” He’ll be on stage right after electro-pop duo AlunaGeorge, whom you may know from their killer opening act at Frost last year. Experimental star Grimes will be bringing her unique brand of unpredictable synth-infused pop to the Mojave Stage late in the evening, and recent breakouts like Halsey and Courtney Barnett will be playing to big crowds at the Outdoor Theatre. Saturday will also be full of up-and-coming bands looking to make it big in 2016. Spend some time wandering between sets so you can be the first to tell your friends all about that next big thing.

— Benjamin Sorensen



EDM titans Calvin Harris, Major Lazer and Flume will anchor Coachella’s final day. Though Flume (the Australian-born Harley Streten) performed at last year’s Frost Music & Arts Festival here at Stanford, he’s released two singles since then from his sophomore album, “Skin” (out May 27). Given that he describes his new work as not meant for festivals (rather, “headphone music”), will fans show up for more? Pop songwriter and singer Sia will also perform on Sunday, returning to the Coachella stage after a 2010 set in the earlier days of her career.

Outside of these big names, however, there’s no shortage of industry up-and-comers, including the DJ-duo The Chainsmokers, known for “Selfie” and an expanding catalogue of electro house. Notable talents also include rising Top-40 sweetheart Alessia Cara, fresh off the success of her hit single, “Here,” and Bauuer, the inspired trap producer behind “Harlem Shake.” And the 1975 will excite fans of retro synth-rock in the style of Passion Pit.

For older favorites, check out indie pop starlets Matt & Kim. Friends of folk will love Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, and Wolf Alice’s live show has won the alt-rock group acclaim from critics and fans alike. Jazz aficionados shouldn’t miss Kamasi Washington, a prestigious tenor who’s worked with Kendrick and Nas.

— Joshua Seawell


Did we forget a great act? (Almost certainly.) Let us know in the comments below!

Contact Ben Sorensen, Clare Flanagan, and Joshua Seawell at bcsoren ‘at’, ckflan ‘at’, and jseawell ‘at’ 

Clare Flanagan is a desk editor and writer for the Music beat. A former band geek, she specializes in popular music and new releases. Clare is a sophomore from Edina, Minn. considering majors in Psychology or English. To contact her, please email [email protected].

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