Welcome to Festival Outlook, a new supplemental column that will provide more in-depth analysis for the rumors found on Consequence of Sound’s Festival Outlook. With the 2014 lineup announcement just days away, Alex Young and Frank Mojica get us started with a discussion on all things Coachella.
Alex Young (AY): This is the first time in a long while that we know such a substantial portion of Coachella’s lineup prior to the January announcement. Arcade Fire and OutKast are a lock to each headline a day, and it’s looking increasingly likely that Muse are the third headliner, or possibly a co-headliner alongside Nine Inch Nails. Other heavily rumored acts include Neutral Milk Hotel, CHVRCHES, HAIM, Mogwai, Empire of the Sun, Pixies, Placebo, and Lorde. My question to you, Frank, is why do you think Coachella has had such a difficult time keeping this year’s lineup under wraps? Also, do any of the aforementioned acts surprise you? I think most people assumed Coachella would eventually book OutKast and Neutral Milk Hotel.
Frank Mojica (FM): The 2014 experience has definitely been a different one from last year. I remember 2013’s headliners were assumed to include Daft Punk and The Rolling Stones well into January. If Coachella is like Christmas for adults, then this year’s lineup takes me back to the year when my parents just dumped all the presents into the extra bedroom, rather than wrapping or hiding them right away, so I knew almost everything I was getting.
As for why this has been the case, I think things have gone well in the booking process, so most headliners and major acts have been secured for a while, rather than at the last minute. I recall reading that Red Hot Chili Peppers were literally signed to headline hours before the poster was released. None of the current rumors surprise me, except OutKast, which would have been a major jaw-dropper had the secret been kept under wraps. The surprising part about OutKast isn’t that they’re playing Coachella, but that they are finally together and touring again. Although Neutral Milk Hotel’s sudden reunion came as a surprise, I knew that it would eventually include a visit to the Polo grounds.
Yes, this is a fake.
Muse looks likely, but I have a feeling that Tool might surprise us. Imagine if Tool and Nine Inch Nails co-headlined a night. That would be one for the ages for all of us that were angry adolescents in the ’90s. Of course, all this is just speculation on my part, although I did have a dream that it happened.
So, the cat is out of the bag for Arcade Fire, OutKast, Neutral Milk Hotel, and seemingly every 2013 rookie with good publicity. However, there are always left field reunions and unexpected rarities every year.
AY: For all we already know, there are still many questions left to be answered. Will The Replacements continue their reunion activities into 2014 and finally hit the Polo Grounds? What about Sleater-Kinney? The band recently reunited onstage during a Pearl Jam concert, and with Wild Flag no more, it certainly seems like that reunion is on the table. Boards of Canada were on many folks’ list last year, and their absence from 2013’s lineup was especially surprising given their album release. The same can also be said about The Knife, of course. If I had to guess, I’d expect at least three of those acts to end up on the lineup.
One of my favorite parts about Coachella, and all festivals for that matter, is how high (or low) an act is placed on a lineup. If Sleater-Kinney does end up playing, I can’t envision them being any higher than the third line. On the flip side, I can’t imagine Foster the People being on anything but the second line. I raised this possibility earlier, but if Muse and Nine Inch Nails are booked for the same day, will they be listed as co-headliners, or will Muse get stand-alone billing? These days, Nine Inch Nails is nowhere near as big a band as Muse is, at least by mainstream Top 40 standards, but I could totally see a Stone Roses/Blur situation purely out of respect for Trent Reznor.
I also think Tool is a possibility, especially given their dates scheduled in South America in the weeks prior to Coachella. Though, I’m not sure their booking makes sense in a year where Arcade Fire and OutKast will also headline. Last week someone on the Coachella message board argued that OutKast would be a sub-headliner if it were not for their reunion, and I tend to agree. Them getting back together is huge news for rabid music fans and blog readers, but do André and Big Boi have the pull to draw 60,000? I think that remains to be seen. Arcade Fire are at the height of their popularity right now, but I think the left field direction of Reflektor and their recent bit of quirkiness (e.g., dresscodegate) make them a similar draw to Phoenix last year. And what did Goldenvoice end up doing to mitigate the risks of booking two UK-centric reunion acts and an arena-status indie band as headliners? Book Red Hot Chili Peppers, who are still the biggest rock band around, like it or not. That’s why I have a hard time seeing Goldenvoice opt for Tool over the much more popular and safe Muse.
Photo by Daniela Montelongo
FM: The Replacements make sense since Goldenvoice has apparently gone after them in the past. If I could do such a thing, I would bet considerable money on Sleater-Kinney reuniting. It seems inevitable at this point for the reasons you mentioned, plus they played the festival in 2006. I feel that it’s now or never time for Boards of Canada. If the new album isn’t enough to get them to return to the live stage, then I doubt anything ever will.
Co-headliners are a tricky prospect. Last year, it made sense for Blur and The Stone Roses to share top billing because of their relative lack of mainstream recognition in America. I agree that if Nine Inch Nails do play, they would get the top line, shared or not, out of respect. If shared, then they make sense as a co-headliner along with Tool due to their styles and similar standing. Conversely, in 2011, Kanye West was the biggest, most mainstream act on the lineup but co-headlined along with The Strokes, so a Muse/NIN top line is also perfectly feasible. In regards to Muse versus Tool, there was considerable criticism over last year’s headliners, and Muse would be the more popular, accessible choice, even if they have toured relentlessly over the past couple years.
Do André 3000 and Big Boi have that headliner pull? Absolutely. They’re one of hip-hop’s most beloved and acclaimed acts, and absence makes the heart go fonder. Also, the crowds for hip-hop at Coachella are massive nowadays. Remember the reaction to Dre and Snoop? The years I shaved off my life from getting heat exhaustion also remember the 2 Chainz clusterfuck of last year.
There have been rumors that Ride may reunite this year, but nothing substantive. We are running low on shoegaze reunions, and Ride and Slowdive are two of the only candidates remaining in that department. Except for the baffling snub of Lush. If you recall, Lush approached the festival about reuniting but was turned away. This goes not just for Coachella but festivals in general, but something I will never understand is why some acts seemingly never get booked. Speaking of which, when will it no longer be “too soon” to start pleading for an Asobi Seksu reunion?
Failure and Cibo Matto have reunited and are playing Los Angeles soon, but at a Goldenvoice-owned venue, so I’m not ready to rule out either of those. What about Veruca Salt and Hole?
AY: What about Hole playing right before Foo Fighters? Just kidding. If Hole does get back together, I don’t think it’ll be in time for Coachella. I could see them playing Lollapalooza, though. As for Veruca Salt… sure, but does anyone really care? I think they announced their reunion a few months back, but it didn’t make much of a blip on the Internet. Here’s a better question for you. Who will draw a bigger crowd: Veruca Salt or Fishbone?
Let’s take a second to focus on some of the current acts who will presumably be on the bill. I expect to see HAIM and CHVRCHES, plus Queens of the Stone Age, Warpaint, Darkside, Okkervil River, Foster the People, and Chromeo all seem like safe bets. I also assume Lorde will be playing all of this summer’s festivals, starting with Coachella. I’ll be interested to see how she’ll do in such a setting. Will she come out firing, or will she experience the same early jitters that ravaged Earl Sweatshirt and Frank Ocean’s inaugural Coachella in years past. I’d bet the latter, which is why I’ll probably wait to see her at Lollapalooza.
Lastly, what about the hip-hop? Who will open for OutKast? I don’t see Kendrick Lamar coming back so soon. I know Drake has been a popular discussion topic on the Coachella board over the last couple of days, but is there enough room left on the top two lines? Aside from Kanye, Jay Z, and Eminem, there’s really no bigger artist in hip-hop right now. I could see him headlining in a year or two (maybe after that collaborative album with Kanye, lol), but he still seems too small to be a headliner but too big to be a sub-headliner. Deltron 3030 could play, I guess, but again, does anyone care? I don’t buy the Gnarls Barkley rumor so much. OutKast could bring along Future and Killer Mike, but those are middle-tier acts. It’s starting to look like rap fans will have to look elsewhere.
Oh, and what about Jack White: The Dead Weather, The Raconteurs, or solo? What’s your bet?
FM: I’m unsure if the lack of buzz surrounding the Veruca Salt reunion is due to a lack of media coverage or just fan indifference. Perhaps everyone is waiting until a formal tour or album announcement before expressing their enthusiasm. “Seether” and “Volcano Girls” were quite popular back in the day, but the band seems to have been forgotten. Personally, I had one of their albums on cassette back in the day, and although I cannot remember the last time I listened to the band, I would definitely watch them. Nostalgia is a powerful thing. What it all boils down to is whether or not Paul Tollett is a fan. Regarding Veruca Salt versus Fishbone, I think both would be moderately attended, and mostly by the few 30 and overs that still go to Coachella. Certainly more than the miniscule turnouts for Sparks and Throbbing Gristle, at least.
I think all your bets are safe ones. As a reporter, I’m anxious to return to cover OutKast’s comeback and the divisive current live show of The Knife. As a fan, I’m dying to experience Warpaint at Coachella. I saw them perform several new songs on the cruise and recently attended a listening party for the new album, and they have really nailed the hypnotically enthralling aspect of their sound. It will go over perfectly in the desert, especially since half the crowd will be on psychedelics.
For Lorde, I expect inaugural jitters as well. Like Frank Ocean and Earl Sweatshirt, she hasn’t had a full year of touring festivals like HAIM and CHVRCHES, for example. It probably won’t help that the majority of the crowd would leave after “Royals” if it doesn’t close her set. Mogwai also appears due for a Coachella return. Back in 2006, they drew a crowd despite (or perhaps because of) playing at the same time as Madonna. More often than not, somebody that played the previous year has returned, and I believe it’s a guarantee that Disclosure will be that act this time. They had such a massive year in 2013, and whether they play the Sahara or Mojave, the tent will be packed. Dum Dum Girls’ current tour schedule paints them as making their Coachella debut this year. Drummer Sandra Vu also has her electronic shoegaze band SISU, and guitarist Jules Medeiros plays in that as well, so maybe the Coachella gods will grant them as well.
Photo by Heather Kaplan
I believe the opener for OutKast won’t be another hip-hop act. Perhaps there will be one on another stage during that time, but I expect someone like Beck or Queens of the Stone Age to play the penultimate main stage slot that night. If Drake performs, he would have to headline due to his popularity, but I feel an appearance at Lollapalooza is more likely than Coachella. In regards to Deltron 3030, it seems that everyone who knows the name cares at least somewhat, although recognition isn’t as high as it would be for more recent, mainstream acts. Killer Mike will surely finally appear, whether it’s solo or as part of Run the Jewels. It’s a pity that A Tribe Called Quest has just called it quits. Curious how they’ve never played, or even Q-Tip solo. Now that the album is finally out, I think Angel Haze is a sure bet.
Every few years, I come across a song that just screams, “This must be heard in the desert at Coachella!” and 2013 granted two. The first is the oh-so-fittingly titled “My God Is the Sun” by Queens of the Stone Age, and the second is a new song that Emmy the Great played at the Fonda Theatre back in November. I don’t recall the title, but it’s from the upcoming record, and the lyrics explicitly referenced the infamous windmills that dot the landscape on the way to Indio. Judging from Instagram photos and Facebook updates, a video has been filmed for this song, as well. Of all the stages of anticipation building towards Coachella, lineup speculation is the longest and hardest, while seeing those turbines is one of the final steps of the process, as well as one of the most cathartic. Well, here’s hoping on both accounts.
Speaking of desert love, The Dead Weather just posted a photo from one, so I’m putting my eggs in that basket. Maybe Jack White will headline solo next year? Yes, the 2014 lineup has yet to be revealed, and the speculation for 2015 has already officially begun.
AY: Definitely. We’ll find out for sure in a few days… or hours.
Stay tuned to Festival Outlook for the latest Coachella confirmations and rumors.