Bands We’d Like to See Play Coachella

Bands We’d Like to See Play Coachella

The summer festival season kicked off in earnest this weekend with Coachella, the annual gathering in the desert that pairs reunited legends with emerging talents. And as the headlines from weekend one start rolling in, we decided we’d take the opportunity to dream up our ultimate Coachella lineup, made up of the artists we’d most like to see gracing the stage out in Indio.

The 77’s

The 77’s never got the attention their soaring songs deserved during their heyday in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. Those who discovered the Sacramanto band, though, became instant converts: frontman Mike Roe oozed charisma and condensed 50 years of rock history into his rich, nuanced songs, packing each one with a chorus that digs in deep and refuses to let go. Coachella is all about reunions, right? In a dream world, a “classic lineup” 77’s would be headlining the main stage. —J. Edward Keyes


A member of the Awful Records collective, headed by the Atlanta rapper Father, Alexandria sets her slow-winding vocals against surging, aqueous production that makes every song feel strangely dreamlike. The songs on her Promise EP take their time getting to where they’re going, but that’s half the appeal: Alexandria’s rich, relaxed voice serves as a guide through the gauzy synths and pinprick rhythms, making Promise the perfect late-night come-down music. —JEK

Algebra Blessett

Algebra Blessett is a master of restraint. It’s clear throughout her latest album, Recovery, that she possesses powerhouse pipes; but rather than opting for vocal theatrics again and again, Blessett consistently holds back, making the few moments she scales the octaves feel that much more exhilarating. It’s the perfect approach for her music, which recalls the glory days of ‘90s R&B, meticulously built on scratchy soul and gospel production. Recovery is an album of self-healing, and its transition to the festival stage would only bolster its power, making the live show half church service, half joyous group therapy session. —JEK


Alabama rapper Bentley takes the best elements of classic West Coast hip-hop—the laid-back grooves, the dusky funk basslines, the morphine-drip rhythms—and tops them with lyrics that are two parts defiance, one part violence, and one part wry humor (“I graduated Magna Kush Laude,” he brags at one point.) He has a deep-set, elastic voice, and he winds it slowly over Parallel Thought’s eerie production like a boxer wrapping his palms before the big fight. —JEK


Glam swagger in cowboy boots: a major stylistic switch-up from some of New York’s underground harsh hardcore/noise luminaries. Cheena have undeniable style and hooks, and their vision of raw rock is delightfully unsanitized. —Jes S. Skolnik

Cigarettes After Sex

Somehow referencing every ambient alternative rock band (let’s say Galaxie 500 and Spiritualized) and yet still feeling entirely fresh, Cigarettes After Sex pair Greg Gonzalez’s vocal coos with sparse guitars. You’ll be hearing their cover of “Keep on Loving You” through the speakers at your local bar in no time. —Ally Jane Grossan


This Indianapolis production duo make experimental rap and R&B that sounds a bit like transmissions from alien radio, with lyrical themes that get to the secular necessities at the heart of sacred concerns, and production that skitters and coils around a poetic spine. —JSS

Graves at Sea

If there’s a metal band that can appeal to the masses and revive a sunburned Coachella crowd, it’s going to be Graves at Sea. With the perfect amount of sludgy guitar, The Curse That Is, now out on Relapse, is a metal gateway record. —AJG

Kadhja Bonet

This LA native makes jazz-inflected psychedelic neo-soul; her voice is warm and liquid, especially in the deeper registers, and the instrumentation she plays against has a timeless quality. —JSS

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith

This composer paints her swirling synth melodies with the help of the Buchla Music Easel; her most recent effort interprets the pop song as terrarium, each track a verdant environment unto itself. —JSS

Kevin Morby

The former Woods/Babies member has been quietly establishing himself for the past couple of years as a melancholic, introspective solo artist, making iconoclastic, psychedelic folk-rock not so far removed from Lou Reed or Neil Young. —JSS

Khun Narin Electric Phin Band

As far as I can tell, Khun Narin Electric Phin Band have never played outside their native Thailand, which is all the more reason to bring them stateside. Their songs—which they write and perform in the jungles of Thailand through a homemade sound system—are searching and psychedelic, powered by the twisting melody lines of an electric three-stringed lute known as the phin. Each song gradually works up to a dervish of sound, notes looping and darting from one end of the staff to the other. They’re the ideal choice for a festival dance party. —JEK

Lemon Demon

It’s hard to tell if Neil Cicierega is serious. He delivers somewhat jokey lyrics with his stunning and dynamic voice, bouncing over catchy beats that recall Of Montreal. —AJG

Little Simz

Little Simz is one of the most energizing and engaging rappers working today. Her live performances are tornadoes of sound: she chops up syllables and dishes them out fiercely, bobbing and weaving between the woozy beats to create music that is practically physical in its impact. She ended up in the crowd during a recent performance at SXSW, surrounded by an audience that boisterously hollered every lyric right back at her. Her music is built for the summer: searingly hot and relentlessly bright. —JEK

Marta Ren and the Groovelvets

Feel-good, get-up-right, Atlantic Sound-style funky soul from this Portuguese combo. Frontwoman Marta Ren’s voice is full of grit and longing, and the Groovelvets’ horn and rhythm sections work in accord to soundtrack the perfect throwback dance party. —JSS

Mdou Moctar

As the star of the Saharan blues reinterpretation of Purple Rain, Mdou Moctar exuded both sly charm and magnetic charisma. This should come as no surprise to anyone who’s heard his music: long, lyrical takes on the trancelike desert blues formula, Moctar puts an emphasis on guitar lines that weave and sway like they’re buzzed, keeping percussion steady and minimal. This makes even more room for his sweet, sonorous voice, which delivers every lyric like it’s part of an ongoing love story. —JEK

Michael Christmas

This young Boston rapper is infectious on stage. He smiles while he swaggers through cheeky verses and encourages the crowd to have as much fun as he is having. —AJG

Moe Shop

This is a prime example of future funk, aka Contemporary Japanese Disco, aka what came after Vaporwave. This is the music you might find playing in the background of an Akihabara arcade, but somehow you can’t help but dance to it. —AJG

Mungolian Jetset

This Norwegian dance duo make sleek, tropicalia-tinged, space-age disco: a present-day imagining of a silvery ‘70s vision of the future. This is the sound coming from the speakers when it’s 4 AM and you’re not ready to go back to your hotel just yet. —JSS

Natural Velvet

Baltimore goths get to the black heartbeat of the subgenre with taut rhythms, squalling guitar textures, and bassist Corynne Ostermann’s powerful voice at the forefront. Their live show is loud and theatrical and totally mesmerizing. —JSS

Old Table

William Table, frontman for Old Table, is one of New York’s best songwriters, capable of packing every lyrical punchline with smart, satirical political meaning. His songs are almost effortlessly tuneful, loose and rollicking. But the main reason I’d like to see the band at Coachella is because of Table’s stage presence. He’s the Andy Kaufman of indie rock, mercilessly provoking the crowd, testing their patience and often openly confronting audience members from the stage. What makes it work is that you’re never quite sure if he’s joking or deadly serious, and the tension borne of that uncertainty makes every Old Table show a terrifically charged affair. Imagine what he’d do in front of an audience as big as Coachella’s. —JEK


In 2012, producer Will “Quantic” Holland gathered both legendary figures and emerging talents in Colombian music for a project that tripped giddily through the country’s rich musical history. Last year, the group began raising funds for a second project, so their appearance at a summer festival would be particularly timely. Their songs rattle and bounce, nodding toward cumbia and porro but infusing all of those classic sounds with a vibrant, contemporary energy. The result is joyous, jubilant music that demands motion. —JEK


Shambling young New Jersey rockers are full of pop-punk energy and enough easy, sincere, rootsy charm to make strangers into friends during plangent festival singalongs. —JSS


It wouldn’t come as a surprise if PWR BTTM have their own TV show by this time next year. This is infectious and hilarious queer rock that pleases crowds both small and large. —AJG


Lush, elegantly constructed and emotional indie pop from the former Voxtrot singer-songwriter. All big-winged melodies, smart moves and star charisma, his music could easily have an entire field of sun-goofy partiers mesmerized at dusk. —JSS

The Revolutionary Army of the Infant Jesus

This one is a straight-up wish-fulfillment pick. The Revolutionary Army of the Infant Jesus emerged last year—after a two-decade dormancy—with the most stunning, gorgeous record of their career, the aptly-named beauty will save the world. Very little is known about its members, and they’ve never toured, which only enhances the mystery inherent in their songs. This is an after-hours stage selection, to be sure, but there are few bands better suited to soundtracking the quiet late-night hours than RAIJ. —JEK

Risa Rubin

You can’t help but compare Risa Rubin to Joanna Newsom because she plays the harp—the folk harp, to be exact. But the strange voice that comes out of her feels like it’s of another time — maybe even another world. —AJG

Summer Cannibals

Summer Cannibals feel like direct musical descendants of Kill Rock Stars Royalty (Sleater-Kinney comes to mind). The head-banging yet infectious songs on Full of It, out this May, are sure to propel this threesome swiftly to the top. —AJG


The combination of producer Dan Hayhurst’s ecstatic, glitchy beats and the stunning visuals of animator Reuben Sutherland, make this London electronic duo a shoo-in for summer festival bills. —AJG

Tuff Love

Glasgow’s Tuff Love use layered harmonies over catchy garage pop for a sound that wouldn’t be out of place on the  soundtrack to 10 Things I Hate About You. —AJG

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