Coachella – Friday Rundown Pt. 1

Yay! Yippie! Yahoo…It’s Coachella season.  I know, I know – we all have our complaints…Blah blah blah, two weekends, not enough of this, not enough of that, Black Keys, two years in a row?,  – man, I’m guilty of complaining too! Well, enough of that.  What it comes down to at the end of the day is Paul Tollett and his Goldenvoice team acquires a pretty unique collection of musicians every year, many of whom you’ve never heard of.   Annually you have some people raving about some rare DJ coming out of the cuts for a one off show or some people can’t see to shut up about old cult punk band reuniting and playing their first show on The Polo Grounds.  I know, it can be overwhelming – so many bands, so much information, how do you choose?  Over the years I have found the best way to attack the monster that is Coachella, is to know at least a little bit about each artist on that bill.  Just enough so you can make a educated decision of what tent you want to wonder into as you start off your day.  You don’t want to be stuck watchin’ some teenie indie pop band outta Orange County while some legendary German electronic composer is showcasing his latest work (or maybe you do…I don’t know). But like anything, the more you know the more you can enjoy the experience.

Now, for whatever reason, Coachella doesn’t give you those handy dandy bio’s that feature a song and video for each artist.  So I’m gonna do by best to do it for you.  I’m going to try and put as many quality live videos in their – I mean, we are experiencing this live right?!  Here you go,  Friday from the Top to the Bottom

The Black Keys

From: Akron, Ohio / Currently – Nashville, Tennessee
Genre: Rock / Blues
Noteworthy Album: El Comino (2011)
About: Even though they played Coachella just last year, The Black Keys are back…this time to headline Friday night. The Keys  grown to become “saviors of Rock & Roll”.  The started their career playing tiny bars in Akron Ohio and now they are selling out Madison Garden in New York City. Their album Brothers was their first true commercial success in 2010 and their most recent effort El Camino has brought the band to headlining status.  Congrats guys!  Here’s to one of the hardest working bands in Rock & Roll.

Swedish House Mafia

From: Stockholm, Sweden
Genre: House / Electronic
Noteworthy Album: Until One (2010)
About:  Consists of 3 DJ’s – Axwell, Steve Angello, Sebastian Ingrosso.  Had huge success from their international number one club hits, “One (Your Name) & “Miami 2 Ibiza”.  The video below seems to give a pretty good indication of what these guys are all about.


From: Sheffield, England
Genre: Alternative / Rock
Noteworthy Album: Different Classes (2001)
About: Pulp is: Jarvis Crocker (vocals, guitar), Russel Senior (violin, guitar) Candida Doyle (keyboards), Mark Webber (guitar), Steve Mackey (bass) and Nick Banks (drums) and was formed when Crocker was only 15 years old.  Pulp saw the majority of their success in the 1990’s winning them numerous awards, such as the Mercury Prize in 1996 for Different Classes. They went on hiatus in in 2002 but they have returned to the stage as of last summer where they performed through out England – they were even Glastonbury’s surprise guest last year.  Man, that must have been cool for all those Brits.  Coachella will be their first American appearance sense their hiatus. This is a MUST SEE band. 


From: Umea, Sweden
Genre: Post Punk / Hardcore
Noteworthy Album: The Shape Of  Punk To Come
About: The Coachella line up announced that Refused, a loved under ground Harcore Punk band from Sweeden, would be reuniting under the desert sun.  Their music incorporates revolutionary anti capitalistic themes and their live shows are known for having some of the wildest pits.  Get ready Coachella, Refused returns. This is a MUST SEE band. 

Arctic Monkeys

From: Sheffield, England
Genre: Indie / Rock
Noteworthy Album: Suck It & See It
About: Being one of the first bands ever to be primarly promoted on the internet before they even debuted, The Arctic Monkey became the fastest selling new artist in Englands history.  Today, they sit on top of the charts as one of the countries leading Rock and Roll acts – their 4th album Suck It & See went straight to number #1 making it the only British album to ever debut 4 straight albums at the top of the charts.  While they haven’t gained the same following here in America yet, their new tour with The Black Keys may bring them to Arena status stateside as well.

Mazzy Star

From: Santa Monia, California
Genre: Folk / Alternative / Indie
Noteworthy Album: So Tonight That I Might See (1993)
About: Mazzy Star was originally called Opal – it was created by Kendra Smith & David Roback and it played a very intrigal part in the Paisley Underground Movement of the 1980’s. While on tour with Jesus & The Mary Chain after their first album came out, Smith left the band in a cloudy and unknown circumstance. Roback was forced to enlist his good friend Hope Sandoval fill in as her replacement. Despite Smith leaving the band, Koback was able to keep his record deal and continue recording if he toured under the name Opal. What was supposed to be Opal’s sophomore album turned into Mazzy Stars debut album.   Finally after 2 years of touring under Opal, they renegotiated their contract and began recording under Mazzy Star.  Here they found great success, their most famous song being “Fade Into You”.  After having problems with their record label, Mazzy Star went on hiatus for nearly 10 years…until now.  Welcome back.  With this whole internet thing now, you guys don’t even need a record label.  This is a MUST SEE band. 


From: Spikenisse, Netherlands
Genre: Electro House / Progressive House
Noteworthy Mix: BBC Essential Mix – 7.10.10
About:  Afrojack is a man who is rarely seen outside his DJ Booth or outside the studio.  Sense day 1, he’s been determined to become one of the biggest DJ’s in the world. His relentless hard work has gained him support from David Guetta, Josh Wink, Dave Clarke, Laidback Luke, Fedde Le Grand, Marco V and national DJ’s like Chuckie , DJ Benny Rodrigues, Erick E, Roog and Sidney Samson.  People swear by his live sets.

Explosions In The Sky

From: Austin, Texas
Genre: Psychedelic / Post – Rock
Noteworthy Album: Take Care, Take Care, Take Care (2011)
About: 2/3 of the band is from Midland Texas and 1/3 is from Rockford Illinois, but today they reside in Austin Texas.  The band is known for very elaborate guitar work that makes it sound as if the instruments are reciting a narrative.  Hopefully these guys get a late night tent spot so everyone who’s tired of seeing The Black Keys style of Rock can go see another one of Americas finest Rock bands.


From: Antibes, France
Genre: Indie / Rock / Shoegaze
Noteworthy Album: Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming (2011)
About: M83 is more or less the genius of Anthony Gonzales who has been consistently redefining the band over the last 10 or so years.  Even though the bands sound has evolved through every album, the cohesive intentions of each project remains similar.  The band draws on a lot of 1980’s music yet remains fresh and modern. The bands huge sound has gained them supporting gigs for The Killers and Kings Of Leon.  Their latest album Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming was released to rave critical success.  Hopefully the band gets a coveted sunset set allowing “Midnight City” to be the feel-good-moment of Coachella 2012.  This is a MUST SEE band.

Amon Tobin

From: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil / Brighton, England
Genre: Electronic / Virtuoso Sound Design
Noteworthy Album: Bricolage (1997), Supermodified (2000)
About: Amon Adonai Santos de Araújo Tobin was born in Brazil but was moved by his parents to England in his early life.  There, he played in his room with samplers and other electronic equipment as if they were GI Joe’s…later her turned his inventions into demo tapes that his distributed to interested record labels.  Years later he was signed a growing Ninja Tune Records, a place where he recorded some of his more influential works.  Today, he is regarded more as a sound designer than a DJ or Producer and his latest work ISAM is a pure indication of notion.  It doesn’t say he’s traveling in support of ISAM to Coachella (which was a massive visual experience), so I bet Coachella goers will get something more like this…

Cat Power

From: Atlanta, Georgia
Genre:  Soul / Folk / Singer Songwriter
Noteworthy Album: The Greatest (2006)
About: Chan Marshall (Cat Power), hasn’t had an easy or very normal life.  When she was a young adult she had a multitude of problems: she had to deal with her boyfriend at the time dying, her good friend dying from AIDS and her close friends consistently doing heroin – all of which prompted her to move to New York City.  When she got to New York, her boyfriend at the time got her a job at a restaurant only to find out later he was having an affair with her own boss.  She later became romantically involved with Bill Callahan, where they lived on a farm out of the public eye in Portland.  Once that relationship died off, she had a fling with a runaway model who was 7 years younger than her.  During that time she was drinking and using drugs abusively causing him to break up with her.  Cat Power has struggled in her relationships, her drug abuse and her mental health issues, but nothing will take away the power that resides inside of her music.  She has grown to become one of the most loved female song writers of all time, gaining her a cult following world wide…myself included.  She’s apparently got her live routine back in order, which is good, because when she’s good live, she’s really really good.


From: London, England
Genre:  Ska / Pop-Punk
Noteworthy Album: One Step Beyond (1979)
About: Madness, a 7 piece ska punk band from London, were one of the biggest acts in England in the early to mid 80’s.  During the peak of their career they spent a total of 214 weeks on the charts making it the longest time for a group spent on the singles UK chart in the 80’s.  The band split in 1986 due to “creative differences”.  The band was reunited in 2004, playing under the moniker The Dangermen.  With a couple of years of studio and tour experience together, the band is back playing under the name Madness. The were last seen last summer at the Meltdown festival which was curated by Ray Davies of The Kinks.  At that show they premiered 3 new songs from an album set to be released later this year.

Jimmy Cliff & Tim Armstrong

From: St. James, Jamaica & Albany, California
Genre: Reggae / Ska Punk
Noteworthy Album: Sacred Fire (2012) – soon to be released
I heard somewhere that, “Jimmy Cliff is the second greatest reggae artist of all time, along with 20 other reggae artists”…I always liked that. But I think it’s safe to say now that Jimmy can easily stand alone right behind Bob Marley, at #2.   Jimmy Cliff is the only current living musician to hold the Order of Merit, the highest honor that can be granted by the Jamaican government for achievement in the arts and sciences.  In 2012 he will release an album with Tim Armstrong (Rancid, Operation Ivy, The Transplants) that will surely be one worth a spin.  Check out their first single “Guns Of Brixton”, originally by The Clash, below.


From: San Francisco, California / Children Of God Cult
Genre: Indie / Psychedelic / Rock
Noteworthy Album: Father, Son, Holy Ghost (2011)
About: Chris Owens, the Girls front man, was raised in a Children Of God cult in Amerillo Texas, a place where he was deprived music, art and television.  Owens left the cult and moved to San Francisco where he met Chet “JR” White and formed the band GIRLS.  The band had immediate success, gaining a lot of praise from prominent blogs such as Pitchfork and Brooklyn Vegan and also major publications such as Rolling Stone and Spin.  Their newest effort, Father, Son, Holy Ghost, not only features experimental sounds such as Oakland Gospel Choir but it also showcases Owens brutally honest songwriting, solidifying GIRLS as one of the most exciting indie bands of our time.

The Rapture

From: New York, New York
Genre: Dance Punk / Disco Electronic
Noteworthy Album: In The Grace Of Your Love (2011)
About: The Rapture were on the forefront of the post punk revival scene emerging in New York City in the early 2000’s.  Known for their infectious live shows that are sure to have you dancing, The Rapture will thrill you with their hit songs “How Deep Is Your Love”, “Gotta Get Myself Into It” & their classic “House Of Jealous Lovers”.  This is a MUST SEE live act!


From: France
Genre: Disco House / Electronic
Noteworthy Release: Singles EP
About: Madeon is an accomplished 17 year old French producer who is wise beyond his age.  Listen to this kid talk about his musical style.

The main goal of my style was to implement the detailed glitchy aspect of electro in a more melodic pop context. I like the idea of having a continuous melody that is played subsequently by various, sometimes unrelated, instruments. It adds an element of timbre variation to the composition. For example, there are two layers of composition to a vocal track, it evolves both in pitch and in timbre, with different vowels.

It’s the style im exploring right now, but i’m also heavily influenced by straight-up pop producers, the biggest being Stuart Price. I have a heavy fascination for simple, yet striking, pop productions. – Madeon

Welcome to the pop world Madeon…I’m sure we’ll be hearing a lot more from you very soon – especially if Coachella daringly billed you that high. I predict a groundbreaking and a career defining show from this kid.

M. Ward

From: Portland, Oregon
Genre: Pop / Folk / Singer Songwriter
Noteworthy Album:  Post War (2006)
About: M. Ward is one of the hardest working men in Rock.  If he’s not writing and recording under his own name, you can find him collaborating with Zooey Deschanel or fellow folk troubadours Conor Oberst and Jim James.  Even though Ward doesn’t like performing live, his performances are still worth seeing.  But maybe you should leave your camera in your pocket during this show…Ward has gone through measures to reduce members in the audience from using any type of camera. Amen! Check out this beautiful montage of one of my favorite live recordings of all time – Jim James and M.Ward at St. Davids Church during SXSW back in 2008.

The Horrors

From: Southend On Sea, England
Genre: Shoegaze / Post Punk / Garage
Noteworthy Album: Skying (2011)
About: The Horrors have been a band sense 2005, a year they all met in London England over having similar interests in rare 1960’s garage rock vinyls.  The band has recorded 3 albums together but none saw as much success as their last album Skying, an album that reached #5 on the UK charts in 2011.

Frank Ocean

From: New Orleans, Louisiana
Genre: Rhythm & Blues / Hip-Hop / Soul
Noteworthy Album: Nostalgia Ultra (2011)
About: The only thing that Frank Ocean has in common with OFWGKTA is that he is a lover of women…although I suspect Frank Ocean is a little more chivalrous than is other cohorts.  Ocean started his career as a ghost writer for John Legend, Beyonce & Bridget Kelly – today he’s out from behind the shadow and working on the forefront with the likes of Kanye, Jay-Z & Nas.  With only a handful of shows under his belt, Coachella will be a defining moment for one of the most anticipated artists of 2012.