Oneohtrix Point Never, Two Shell, The Beths & more highlight Coachella’s lower lines
When it comes to musical festival lineups, it’s impossible to please everyone. That especially goes for Coachella.
Last weekend, Goldenvoice’s flagship event revealed its 2024 lineup, and reaction was polarizing, to put it mildly. And whether it’s fair or not, as per usual, people will whine and moan about the Coachella lineup no matter how good or bad it is. Typically, the vitriol is directed at the poster’s top lines; this year’s headlining trio of Lana Del Rey (Friday), Tyler, The Creator (Saturday), and Doja Cat (Sunday) has absorbed the brunt of the backlash. You can argue all you want about their headlining credentials (they’re admittedly not stadium-level icons) but in my book, they’re smart, forward-thinking bookings. All three are artists in their creative and commercial primes, and all put on amazing live shows in their own right. Perhaps this poster will look better in a few years if any or all of them inch closer to “legend” status. Coachella does tend to have an ability to predict the future with some of these “borderline” bookings. Coldplay in 2005, The Killers in 2009, Arcade Fire in 2011, and all three of Childish Gambino, Tame Impala, and Ariana Grande in 2019 all come to mind. You never know.
And no doubt (pun intended) there’s a ton of great upper line acts to love here as well. Peso Pluma has blown up into a cultural sensation, and for the fans of Latin music that Coachella continues to cater towards, his set will be straight fire. Similarly, Mexican rapper Santa Fe Klan is already an arena-level act on a stratospheric trajectory, and who will also pull in a huge crowd. Meanwhile, the return of French house legends Justice will be downright godly, while compatriot Gesaffelstein will follow up on his spellbinding sets in 2019 and 2015. You can add BICEP and Orbital to the list of savvy electronic bookings as well.
For rock fans, Deftones is the perfect band to unite the youngsters and the old heads. And Lil Yachty could be a lot of fun if he does his psychedelic thing. And then there’s Sublime, emphatically replacing Rome with original singer Bradley Nowell’s son Jakob. Also, returning from a truly bizarre sabbatical from music is Grimes, who better be playing a live set or I’m out. You’ve also got techno queens Peggy Gou and Charlotte de Witte, both of whom have deservedly blown up in the last couple years. Personally, I can’t wait for the reunion of dubstep legends Skream and Benga, who I hope will instantly teleport me back to the debauchery of my college house party days. On the R&B side of things, Jhene Aiko and Tinashe are two of the best in the game, while South African amapiano-pop singer Tyla is poised for a star-making set. On the more international front, AP Dhillon is a terrific rapper and producer repping the Indian Punjabi music scene, while boy band ATEEZ and girl group LE SSERAFIM rep the K-Pop scene with true quality and flair. Oh yeah. AND…NO DOUBT.
At the same time, there are some uninspired bookings on this lineup. J Balvin peaked several years ago, and I don’t think anyone’s really clamoring to see him in a sub-headlining slot these days. There’s also a ton of boring Spotify-core playlist fodder on here that does very little for me: Sabrina Carpenter, Reneé Rapp, Bebe Rexha, Coi Leray, Nav, etc. They’ve also gone and booked a few big room electronic acts that have absolutely zero appeal to me. Steve Angello? DJ Snake? In 2024? Pass. Also, three doses of John Summit/Dom Dolla (they’re each playing a solo set and a set together under the name Everything Always) is three doses too many for me. And with all due respect to Jon Batiste, who is obviously a very talented dude, but who amongst the Coachella target crowd is actually a fan of his? Seems more fit for New Orleans Jazz & Heritage or Newport Folk Fest. Also, and this might be a spicy take for some, but Khruangbin are mad overrated. When I saw them at Primavera Los Angeles, they sounded like cocktail hour background music, with seemingly everyone facing away from the stage and talking loudly to each other over the actual performance. One of the weirdest vibes I’ve ever encountered at a music festival. Like one of my friends said, it felt like a networking event.
Nonetheless, a festival’s headliners – or even its sub-headliners – aren’t even all that crucial to your enjoyment of the weekend. Really, it’s the undercard that always matters most. And for us, that means once again highlighting and analyzing a new crop of acts from Coachella’s lower, barely-distinguishable, tiny-font bottom lines. As is Impose’s bread and better, I’ve spotlighted 20 smaller, under-the-radar and/or up-and-coming bands and artists that we are almost certain will kill it both Coachella weekends. As someone who has attended for 15 years, we forget that festivals like Coachella are a beacon of new music discovery. This year is no different. Obviously, the lineup is not quite for everyone. But I can also guarantee that there’s at least something here for everyone. In the spirit of discovery, feel free to check out our picks below.
Black Country, New Road
Who Are They? A critically-acclaimed and truly unpredictable experimental rock band from London. Their first two albums straddled the lines between post-punk and post-rock, but after the departure of baritone-lead singer Isaac Wood, the band quickly pivoted in their sound, adding more baroque and neoclassical touches. Last year they released Live At Bush Hall, a sprawling progressive chamber pop live album that rotated lead vocal duties among several members. They’ll most likely deliver a powerful and mind-expanding set Friday night in the Sonora Tent.
For Fans Of: Black Midi, Squid, SPELLLING, Slint
Who Are They? New Zealand group The Beths have had the DIY and indie communities swooning for several years now, but they continue to level up with their surging, heartfelt brand of indie rock and pop punk. Their debut album Future Me Hates Me is a rollercoaster of catchy hooks and singalong choruses, while their latest Expert In A Dying Field takes the power chords and confessional lyrics to searing peaks. Their set will be one of the Sonora Tent’s best of the entire weekend.
For Fans Of: Hop Along, Ratboys, Alvvays, Charly Bliss
Who Are They? An anonymous band whose members wear unsettling clown masks and mix jazz with avant-garde grindcore and indietronica. Truly a sight to behold. And if I’m reading this correctly, the members are speculated to be jazz musicians and KNOWER bandmates Sam Gendel and Louis Cole? If so, that is actually wild. Anyways, you can go ahead and listen to their albums, but you’d be just as thrilled watching their music videos. This one will be a can’t-miss Sonora scorcher based on the spectacle alone.
For Fans Of: Machine Girl, Lightning Bolt, Hella, 100 gecs
Who Is He? Australian-born, London-based DJ-producer specializing in hi-fi hooks and minimal, stripped-back atmospherics. Seamlessly blends house and techno – but can also weave in elements of drum and bass when the occasion calls for it – and his DJ sets masterfully build from start-to-finish. Likely a mid-afternoon Yuma set with a huge line out the door, so get there early to experience every second of the glory.
For Fans Of: Chaos in the CBD, Skin on Skin, FJAAK, Palms Trax
Who Is She: A leftfield pop singer and instrumentalist from New York who originally got her start in the DIY scene, making more experimental and noise-influenced material. She’s steadily added more pop elements to her sound, with last year’s album Powder representing a lovely step forward into more festival-pleasing crossover fare. She could appear at any number of stages this year, but given her DIY roots and moody vibes, an evening Sonora performance feels likely.
For Fans Of: Arca, Sega Bodega, SOPHIE, Oklou
Who Are They? A rising band from Dallas, TX conjuring a hazy blend of alternative rock and alternative metal. It’s definitely a formula deeply indebted to Deftones, although the band does have a certain DIY swagger to them that makes them stand out on their own. Last year’s album Moments of Clarity definitely scratched a similar ’90s grunge-gaze itch. They’ll most likely slot in nicely in the Sonora Tent early in the afternoon.
For Fans Of: Deftones, Fleshwater, Teenage Wrist, Superheaven
Who Are They? “A five-piece band from Atlanta, formed from connections made in skateboarding, construction, and teenage delinquency,” states their Bandcamp page. As such, Upchuck absolutely bask in making aggressive, defiant blues-laced garage-punk – helped out by collaborators like Ty Segall. Fuzz, theatrics, and hardcore-tinged moods consumed last year’s LP Bite The Hand That Feeds. They’ll most likely be your Sonora Tent opening act on Friday, so show out early.
For Fans Of: GEL, Soul Glo, SNÕÕPER, Sprints
Oneohtrix Point Never
Who Is He? At least one Coachella act per year gets screwed like this, but it is actually a crying shame to see Oneohtrix Point Never billed so low on this lineup. A bonafide legend and one of the best producers of his generation, 0PN is an experimental jack of all trades – running the sonic gamut throughout several incredible albums: avant-garde, industrial, ambient, psychedelic, vaporwave, and so many other subgenres have received his chameleonic treatment. His ability to blend the past and present in hypnotic ways is unmatched. Expect a majestic, galvanizing new age-IDM nighttime set, likely in the Gobi or Mojave.
For Fans Of: Actress, Burial, Andy Stott, Autechre
Who Are They? One of our favorite up-and-coming bands, period. Manchester’s bar italia are truly one of the coolest new acts in the game, crafting smoky, zoned-out, mid-tempo bar room indie rock and jangle pop that sounds both heady and effortless in execution. Picture yourself sitting in a coffee shop patio somewhere in Europe – wearing sunglasses and smoking cigarettes in a cloudy late morning haze. That’s the vibe. Last year, the trio released Tracey Denim and The Twits, two of the best albums of 2023. Expect a perfectly chill set to kick off your Saturday.
For Fans Of: Dry Cleaning, Geese, Wednesday, Hotline TNT
Who Are They? If hard techno isn’t the fast-growing electronic subgenre these days, then it soon will be thanks to the trendy, hyperactive stylings of Slovakian duo Brutalismus 3000. Like a gabber version of Crystal Castles, one member yelps in a high-pitched wail over the other member’s pounding synths and drum machines. It’s dark, industrial-tinged techno ready-made for late-night warehouse throttling. Check out last year’s amazing album ULTRAKUNST and get your ass (presumably) to the Yuma early.
For Fans Of: I Hate Models, Karenn, Nico Moreno, VTSS
Erika de Casier
Who Is She? A gifted singer, songwriter, and producer born in Portugal and based in Denmark, who conjures lush left-of-center R&B and experimental electronic pop. Her off-kilter breakbeats are starting to help define a generation, and she lent her songwriting talents to K-Pop girl group NewJeans last year. She’s got a new album on the way called Still, dropping on Feb. 21, which will be the perfect warm-up for her highly-anticipated Coachella set on Saturday.
For Fans Of: Tirzah, Shygirl, Kelela, Jessy Lanza
Who Are They? The hardcore scene continues to cross over into the mainstream, and Militarie Gun are one of the latest to ride the wave with their pop-punk influence and whistle-clean production forming a midpoint between the culture’s DIY present and its Sum 41-Warped Tour past. Life Under The Gun was one of the most celebrated punk records of last year, and they’re bound to put on a rowdy mosh-pit and stage-diving spectacle in the Sonora Tent, much like Scowl and Knocked Loose last year.
For Fans Of: Turnstile, Scowl, Fiddlehead, MSPAINT
Who Are They? One of the more radical bookings of 2024, England’s Mandy, Indiana renders an industrial take on post-punk, noise rock, and electronica. Puncturing drum machines, squelching synths, and tribal club beats mash up against the hysteria of singer Valentine Caulfield’s unsettling French-sung lyrics. Their debut album, last year’s I’ve Seen a Way, perfectly encapsulated what this band is all about. No doubt will be one of the stranger sets to grace the Polo Fields this year – likely the Sonora opener.
For Fans Of: Model/Actriz, Water From Your Eyes, Xiu Xiu, Gilla Band
Who Are They? Masked and anonymous English electronic duo making weirdo, off-kilter glitch pop, breakbeat, and UK bass. One of the more enigmatic acts in the IDM sphere, having only released a few EPs and performed only a handful of shows. Last year at Primavera, they closed down the festival in theatrical style, with live musical elements, elaborate visual screens, costumes, and druggy vibes. I’d hope Coachella gives them a late night Gobi or Sonora slot.
For Fans Of: Overmono, BICEP, HAAi, Joy Orbison
Who Are They? A duo comprised of Ecuadorian-Swiss brothers who craft dreamy, ambient Americana and Latin folk. Their music will oftentimes remind you of a Spaghetti Western flick, with pastoral desert sounds echoing into a languid, sun-baked abyss. Their music sounds tailor-made for an early afternoon outdoor set, allowing fans the perfect atmosphere to lay down, spark one up, and get lost in the skies above.
For Fans Of: Opez, Allah-Las, Tommy Guerrero, Ennio Morricone
Who Are They? An electronic pop duo from England (singer Georgia Ellery is also a member of Friday act Black Country, New Road) with a knack for jagged, off-kilter experimentalism and spellbinding theatrics. Unpredictable, enchanting alt-pop that always keeps you on your toes, waiting in suspense to see where things go next. Oscillating between sparse minimalism and stratospheric peaks, their set will probably go hardest in either the Sonora or Gobi Tents.
For Fans Of: L’Rain, yeule, Porridge Radio, Sudan Archives
Who Is He? A bluesy psychedelic rock musician and pound-for-pound the best guitarist on the lineup. Hailing from Niger, Mdou Moctar’s music derives from Taureg and other generations of west African guitar music. He and his band craft wondrous, expansive rock songs brimming with cultural heritage, and their live set is visually hypnotic and instrumentally explosive. For those out there bemoaning the lack of quality rock on the lineup, this guy is right up your alley.
For Fans Of: Bombino, Tinariwen, Kikagaku Moyo, Imarhan
Who Is He? Having lit up the internet’s DIY electronic underground with his lo-fi “outsider house” stylings, UK DJ-producer DJ Seinfeld continues to climb higher and higher with his more bigger-room recent work, clever remixes, and last year’s infectious collaboration with Confidence Man. A true DIY success story, you know he’s going to bring the funky grooves and euphoric moods wherever he plays; likely in the Yuma, although he could very well open the Sahara with true pizzaz.
For Fans Of: DJ Sabrina The Teenage DJ, Ross From Friends, DJ Boring, Logic1000
feeble little horse
Who Are They? One of our favorite rising acts in indie rock, Pittsburgh’s feeble little horse make music that defies specific categorization, serving as a blender full of several forward-thinking styles. Folk, psychedelic, noise pop, shoegaze, etc. – it channels the raw, rugged spirit of indie sleaze with dauntless execution and plenty of emotion. Last year’s Girl With Fish was one of our favorite albums of the year. Get in early for what will undoubtedly be a way-too-early Sonora set.
For Fans Of: Wednesday, Hotline TNT, Jane Remover, Parannoul
Who Are They? The band led by concert promoter and Desert Daze founder Phil Pirrone really do rip in their own right. Psychedelic desert rock and stoner metal are the prevailing styles here. As someone who briefly worked a past Desert Daze under Phil, it’s nice to see his band get this moment. He’s been one of the most important figures in the SoCal concert scene for the last decade, and jjuujjuu offer tightly-executed live sets and are a reliable staple of the psychedelic scene.
For Fans Of: Thee Oh Sees, Earthless, Lumerians, Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats