2018 will be a year of discovery at Coachella. The festival’s taken a hip-hop and R&B slant this year, and that along with a less-ostentatious headliner set than years past has left a few longtime festival denizens who wanted more rock or soul a bit underwhelmed by what’s usually the most noteworthy festival lineup of the year.
But that’s not what this festival is about: Coachella is about the experience crafted across its many stages and deep lineup, and among its undercard we find a lot of strong talent, especially new artists. Let’s break down the whole thing, day by day:
Soulwax, yes! I feel these guys deserved higher billing, but who cares — they’ll get the set time they deserve. From the other headliners, Vince Staples (whose Big Fish Theory album featured in our Best of 2017) gets us excited, as does St. Vincent — here’s to hoping she brings out her stellar new live setup at Coachella. I first saw The War on Drugs on Friday at Coachella 2015, where they played at sunset on the main stage, and it felt like the perfect slot for them; Moses Sumney will also earn big-crowd recognition.
On the EDM front, I expect either Alison Wonderland, Justin Martin, or Whethan will take the cake for set of the night, while Kygo’s large-print prominence gives us an indication of who might headline the Sahara. The day brings an especially high caliber underground dance music lineup: Avalon Emerson, Black Coffee, a live set by Maceo Plex, and a monster collaboration called Detroit Love featuring Carl Craig, Kyle Hall and Moodymann. For the Coachella OGs, the afternoon will be packed with finds like local California rockers The Regrettes and The Neighbourhood, so it’ll be a good idea to get there early.
Beyoncé makes her long-awaited Coachella debut in the festival’s most coveted spot: closing out the main stage on day two. She was a guaranteed headliner for the festival after canceling her 2017 headlining spot due to her pregnancy, and will certainly deliver on the hype — Beyoncé is a consummate performing genius well-deserving of the ridiculously-high perch she’s positioned upon. Other headliners that grab our eyes include Chic featuring Nile Rodgers, blackbear, alt-J, Post Malone, and HAIM. Rising hip-hop collective BROCKHAMPTON rides a wave of kinetic energy into Coachella as well.
Saturday earns a lot of dance music clout from Busy P and Jackmaster, the bosses of Ed Banger and Numbers label, respectively, and Louis the Child and Chromeo are likely headlining on the EDM front (it’s still shocking how quickly LTC has climbed up these festival banners). Ekali will likely dominate the Sahara, and we’re really excited for Tom Misch and Snakehips as well. Longtime Coachella attendees looking for indie music to freshen up their experience should take the time to discover Cherry Glazerr, Hundred Waters, and Yaeji. Oh, and how could we forget The Black Madonna?
Now that we know Eminem’s closing out Coachella 2018, all of his career moves over the past year make so much sense in retrospect — off the strength of a powerful performance, he’ll be able to tour the world a few times over. Kamasi Washington will lay it down, and all the hip-hop fans this lineup attracts will be floored by Migos, Cardi B, Miguel, French Montana, and 6LACK in a day-long hit frenzy to close their Coachella experience.
Meanwhile, Sunday brings the Yuma back to a same march of strong underground dance acts like Friday, with Motor City Drum Ensemble, Talaboman, Omar-S, and Kölsch gracing the festival with rare US appearances. At the dance music main stage, ODESZA’s headlining set comes with a lot of hype following their recent album, and their set will be well-complemented by Petit Biscuit’s slot. NEST alums San Holo and Illenium will surely dominate, while our Who To Watch pick Barclay Crenshaw will give bass-heads what they’re looking for. Rock fans will find their solace in Portugal the Man, the Drums, and King Krule’s sets, and indie fans should take the time to discover Ibeyi.
Ultimately, a large amount of these Coachella acts are repeats from earlier years — I see a lot of correlation to 2015 in particular. We’re not surprised to be hearing mixed reactions from across the circuit about this lineup, but we still found a lot of music to get you excited inside of it, and if you look at this as a top-tier festival, but not as the taste-making, trend-setting festival that everyone expects Coachella to be, it’s a pretty solid lineup.
After all, Goldenvoice already owns southern California’s top-tier festival with Coachella, so naturally we’d expect them to be putting their big talent-buying bucks into New York City’s Panorama Festival, where they’re trying to build a foothold against Governor’s Ball. Look to that lineup this year for even more hints of where the year shall go in music.