Music: Coachella Announces Lineup

The lineup for the 2010 Coachella Valley Music and Arts festival boasts the same diverse range it has become famous for, from Jay-Z to, well, any of those bands neither you nor I but assumedly someone we know listens to. Yet this year feels different for the range of genres represented in the festival’s big acts.

Going straight through the lineup, we find such giants as Echo and the Bunnymen, the ‘80s post-punk legend; Jay-Z, who needs no introduction; The Specials, a venerable ska band that take up at least two to three tracks on any ska compilation you’ve never noticed on your iPod until now; Les Claypool, perhaps the strangest bass player of all time; Old Crow Medicine Show, the old-time string band that sounds exactly like their name; and, of course, the band I would be most excited to see if I had $300 to spare, Sly and the Family Stone.

The last time Sly and the Family Stone played together was at their own 2006 Grammy tribute, at which Sly Stone performed for only two minutes while wearing a blonde Mohawk and a silver jumpsuit, before leaving mid-song. It’s impossible to say how the band, which broke up in 1975 due in large part to Sly’s erratic behavior, will perform at the concert. But it’s a rare chance for our generation to see one of the greatest funk bands of all time play–and hopefully for more than two minutes.

Regardless, these six bands provide an excellent insight into just how eclectic the festival will be this year. But of course, these figureheads of generations are just the icing on the cake for the Coachella lineup. The most anticipated band for most people of the indie rock persuasion is another reunited group, Pavement. After a breakup that spawned more moaning than Thom Yorke (also present on the Coachella lineup) has delivered on his entire discography, Pavement cultists the world over are now rejoicing at the opportunity to see their favorite band one last time.

To gauge just how excited fans are, we turn to Sam Hanft PO ’10, who claims to be “more in love with Pavement than my mother.”

Complementing Pavement in the indie rock world are tons of superstars such as Grizzly Bear, Passion Pit, Vampire Weekend, Beach House, Camera Obscura, Dirty Projectors, Girls, MGMT, Spoon, Thom Yorke, and the not-quite-superstars but still heavy rotation artists like Deer Tick, Frightened Rabbit, Tokyo Police Club, White Rabbits, Deerhunter, Matt and Kim, Phoenix, Yeasayer, and Yo La Tengo.

In the electronic realm of things, Coachella boasts, as usual, a full lineup of DJs and producers from the club sounds of 2 many DJs to hip-hop producers like Flying Lotus, indie rock electronica a la LCD Soundsystem, or the unearthly shriek of Fever Ray. Coachella usually keeps at least one of their tents playing electronic music throughout the entire concert, and this year promises to be no exception judging by the number of DJs.

Unfortunately, if any genre suffers from the festival’s dedication to variety, it would undoubtedly be hip-hop. My imaginary delegation of Coachella hip-hop heads responsible for bringing artists to the festival seem to have put all their money on two major attractions: Jay-Z and De La Soul. Most people seem thrilled about these two artists, and Aerienne Russell PO ’12 goes as far as to say that “listening to Jay-Z taught me more than Pomona ever has.”

But hip-hop as a whole loses out by not having the same strong backing of younger or lesser known artists. Only two other hip-hop acts have relative renown.

One is the alternative hip-hop/punk/who-really-knows crew of Gorillaz, which sometimes strikes with songs like “November Has Come,” featuring MF Doom (who arguably might account for some of the song’s greatness), but which, as hip-hop aficionado Samuel Cunningham PO ’11 states, “are just not true hip hop.” The other is P.O.S, about which I have nothing nice to say.

But fear not, hip-hop enthusiasts. The summer months bring hip-hop festivals aplenty, with actually no variation in genre (except for a random performance of Rage Against the Machine here and there), so you will be satiated.

Finally, mention must be made of the loudest band on the list, Muse. Muse is coming. Some people are excited; some are terrified, horrified, or vaguely bothered. What more needs to be said? It’s Muse, and wherever you are at Coachella, you will know when Muse is playing, because it will be louder than your music.

However, one final note needs to be added to this Coachella summary: the end of one-day tickets. No longer will festival goers be allowed to buy just a Saturday pass. Instead, the only tickets are the three-day, $285 tickets. And if you plan to camp, add another $57 to that total.

I’m sure I’m not the only college student with much, much less than $300 in his bank account. The decision to cut the one-day passes feels to me like the end of my possible attendance at Coachella–certainly this year and, if the policy continues, next year as well.

If you are going, I’m sincerely glad for you. I’m sure it’ll be a great year, with some of the most surprising acts on the lineup to date, as well as a variety of amazing musicians. And if anyone sees Sly and the Family Stone, please call me. It’s (610) 764-8564.

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