Arts and Entertainment

The Horseshoe: Must-See Coachella Acts of 2015

This past Wednesday at 12:00 pm. PST, tens of thousands of students, workers and teachers immediately stopped what they were doing. Five words caused this sudden mass shift of attention: Coachella tickets now on sale! As soon as the clock hit 12:00 pm, these students, workers and teachers frantically began the purchase process. After completing…
<a href="" target="_self">Jimmy Shaw</a>

Jimmy Shaw

March 20, 2015

la-et-ms-stagecoach-2014-day-2-photos-007This past Wednesday at 12:00 pm. PST, tens of thousands of students, workers and teachers immediately stopped what they were doing. Five words caused this sudden mass shift of attention: Coachella tickets now on sale!

As soon as the clock hit 12:00 pm, these students, workers and teachers frantically began the purchase process. After completing the first step, everyone is met with an agonizingly slow “Standby” page. From there, it was up to chance. All 75,000 tickets sold out within a record-setting 39 minutes. Those who were unable to purchase tickets immediately began the search for the next upcoming music festival. Those who were able to purchase tickets became three months away from the experience of a lifetime.

One could ramble endlessly on the Coachella culture and the atmosphere within the music tents, but what we find most profound about Coachella is the amount of people who will attend for one purpose: listening to the music. Coachella appeals to almost every genre of music, offering audiences the opportunity to stay within their own personal genre or to branch out and experience others. There have been several historic Coachella lineups since the first festival in 1999. Of course, each one is met with hysterical cries of joy, wails of disappointment and condescending snickers. Coachella can’t please everyone, but they do a bang-up job of pleasing hundreds of thousands. This year’s lineup features the old, the new, and the up-and-coming. From AC/DC to Los Rakas, festival-goers can attend diverse sets throughout their three days at Indio Polo Grounds.

With over 100 different artists performing, here are our personal top ten must-see acts, in no particular order. DISCLAIMER: If you are one of the poor pitiful souls that are not going to be attending the festival (or one of the fiscally intelligent ones), these are still great acts to both give a listen to or see live. Enjoy!

Connor Layden’s Top Picks

  1. Chet Faker: The Australian born artist has burst onto the electronica scene with his most recent album, ‘Built On Glass’. Along with the remixed “No Diggity” (No one’s ever remixed that song before…), Faker has several jamming songs produced by and with Flume. “Talk is Cheap” combines blaring horns, laidback strumming and a snapping rhythm. Chet Faker is the ideal balance between Dillon Francis and Tame Impala.
  2. Raekwon and Ghostface Killah: The two iconic Wu-Tang Clan members return to Coachella with a new album, ‘A Better Tomorrow’ under their belt. These two figures of one of the most influential hip-hop groups of all time are not to be missed. Raekwon, “The Chef”, surely has a few more recipes up his sleeve for Coachella.
  3. Mac Demarco: Enigmatic, careless and armed with a strange charm, Mac Demarco has seized the attention of alternative music. Sporting an off-kilter pop sound, Demarco’s ‘Salad Days’ impressed as an album where you don’t really need to skip a song. One of his greatest hits, “Ode to Viceroy”, is the song I cannot wait to see him perform. The high-pitched, yet soothing guitar chords serve as a backdrop to Demarco’s lulling croons, as he devotes the song to his favorite pack of cigarettes: Viceroys. Don’t sleep on Mac Demarco!
  4. Vic Mensa: The budding rapper out of Chicago released his second EP, ‘Street Lights’, in 2014. Mentored by Chance the Rapper, Mensa is one of the more promising artists to watch for in 2015. Mensa has toured with J. Cole and Wale, and definitely knows his way around a crowd. Although he has never performed on the stage that is Coachella, his slick and mature style on the mic puts him years beyond his actual age. Not many people are familiar with Vic Mensa, but if you’re looking for a more casual, but captivating show, go see the Chi-Town rapper.
  5. Run the Jewels: Although they’re not quite the likes of Mobb Deep’s Prodigy and Havoc, Outkast’s Andre 3000 and Big Boi or Eric B. and Rakim, Run the Jewels has silently become one of the more classic sounds in a rapidly changing culture. With a rock and roll sound produced by El P, Killer Mike raps with a heavy, combative flow.
  6. AC/DC: Yes, AC/DC. I’ll admit to knowing about four songs by the Australian-based hard rock band. When I hear “Hell’s Bells”, I think of the unforgettable entrance of former San Diego Padres closer Trevor Hoffman, a icon of greatness. “Back in Black” is an absolute classic, head-banger of a track; I simply cannot wait to witness and be a part of the inevitable mass mosh pits. Put shortly: you don’t have to know every song to enjoy the show!
  7. Tyler, the Creator:The young artist who kicked the door of rap down and brought his OFWGKTA entourage with him will perform at Coachella this year. And by perform… no one truly knows what that means with Tyler. Harsh and abrasive, he has no filter and will speak his mind. He’s done so in his first two albums, ‘Goblin’ and ‘Wolf’. The latter was a major improvement and mark of growing maturity; he developed his voice and flow, and delved deeper into himself instead of aiming for pure shock value. His aggressive style will surely incite a rowdy crowd; I would expect an active crowd and an energetic performance from Tyler.
  8. Built to Spill: One of the more unrecognized acts, Built to Spill has actually been making music since 1992 (Yes, that is twenty-three years ago – time flies). Though they’ve been quiet the past few years, the indie rock band is the picturesque fit for Coachella. Passionate, yearning tracks like “Reasons” and “Car” are instant head-nodders. If you’re looking for an act to fill some space, definitely check out this little band from Idaho.
  9. Milky Chance: Despite international success in Europe, the German duo hasn’t quite reached such an acclaimed status in the United States. That is, until they released “Stolen Dance.” Currently one of the most popular songs on the radio and iTunes, the longing, bittersweet track will be the highlight of their show in April. ‘Sadnecessary’, released in October of last year, added a more chilled, synthesized and European sound to pop. This act will definitely be a relaxed and cheerful performance, and not one to skip.
  10. Drake: One of the most recognized names in hip-hop right now, the rapper from Toronto has always faced criticism for his perceived “softness” in a genre that generally features a troubled background and tough persona. Nevertheless, he’s proceeded to sell over three million albums between ‘Take Care’ and ‘Nothing Was the Same”. With help from Noah ‘40’ Shebib, Drake produced an atmospherically smooth album in ‘NTWS’. Drake’s reflections and complications of his lavish life, the collapse of his personal relationships and the unwavering desire for more fill each of the fifteen tracks. Drake has proven his impressive showmanship, giving his all on stage (He once performed with a torn ACL while performing in the America’s Most Wanted Tour). Guest appearances are almost certain, as Drake collaborates frequently. One of his best songs, “Pound Cake”, features Jay-Z. Could Coachella witness back to back surprise appearances from Jay? Headlining Sunday night, you won’t want to miss a passionate performance from Drake – and maybe others.

Jimmy Shaw’s Top Picks

  1. Sylvan Esso: Composed of a capella singer Amelia Meath and music producer Nick Sanborn, Sylvan Esso intertwines flawlessly spacey electronic beats with classically trained vocals to create a musical experience unparalleled by many other modern bands. However beat-oriented the dynamic duo might seem, their live performances present no shortcomings, as the live vocals supercede the recorded music and the beats vibrate any venue.
  2. AC/DC: The group is already legendary, so there is not much to say, but AC/DC represents true rock n’ roll. The heart-pounding music that the group has played for decades has not digressed at all live, and their concerts are an experience no human should miss out on. Crowd-surfing and mosh-pitting will be in abundance.
  3. Alt-J: The trio of singer/guitarist Joe Newman, keyboardist Gus Unger-Hamilton, and drummer Thom Green combine to make some of the most original new music out there. From rock songs like “Left Hand Free” to electropop-ish songs like “Bloodflood Pt.II”, Alt-J cannot be defined by a genre. Instead, they create their own, bringing a uniqueness to the musical world with brilliantly produced tracks. Unbelievably, the complexity of the music seemingly poses no challenges to the life performance, as the group emulates tracks perfectly in a concert setting.
  4. Run the Jewels: The breakthrough rap duo of 2014, Killer Mike and El-P of Run the Jewels have collaborated to create two legendary albums within the same year. With heavy yet perfectly composed beats and an aggressive rapping style, Run the Jewels makes for an exciting and action-packed live performance. If you’re looking to see any rap acts during Coachella, make sure you catch Run the Jewels.
  5. Steely Dan: Festival goers under 30 are all asking “Who is Steely Dan?!” Festival goers aged 30-40 are saying “I think I’ve heard of that dude!” And the festival goers over 40 are giving a silent fist pump while humming “Do It Again” on repeat. So for the festival goers under 40 – experiment a bit. Take the chance. Steely Dan at Coachella? It’s a classic in the making.
  6. Flosstradamus: Flosstradamus is one of handful of acts to ever play at Coachella back to back years, and this honor is well-deserved. A 50 minute set of jumping, sweating, mosh-pitting, crowd-surfing, and other inexplicable adventures makes Flosstradamus who they are, and even if you’re not a big electro/EDM/trap music fan, the concert experience Flosstradamus delivers is like no other. When the duo even has a song called “Mosh Pit”, you know it’s going to get intense.
  7. Chet Faker: Australian musician Chet Faker gained a following after releasing a cover of “No Diggity”, and continued to rise to fame when fellow-Aussie Flume asked him to feature on many of his songs. In 2014, Faker released his first full album entitled “Built on Glass.” Hypnotic and melodic, Faker’s smooth soft voice combined with zone-out electronic keyboard compositions work to create one of the best albums of the year, and prove his mastery of his trade.
  8. Tyler, the Creator: I can’t say I’m the biggest Odd Future fan, nor can I say that I’ve ever thought of project leader and solo spin-off Tyler, the Creator as brilliant, gifted, or genius. Regardless, he certainly is entertaining. With antics considered childlike by many people, the unfiltered and brash young adult lives to captivate his audience , whether it be with his skating, pranks, or music. Sogo, if not for the music, for the entity of Tyler, the Creator.
  9. Mac Demarco: Although he has a similar personality to Tyler, the Creator, Mac Demarco’s sounds are on the complete other side of the musical spectrum. Instead of harsh and edgy rap music, Demarco creates dreamy guitar sounds overdubbed with the distinctive voice of the Canada native. His 2014 self-produced album “Salad Days” is one of the best albums of the year, and the odd personality of Mac DeMarco makes the live performance of this album that much more special.
  10. FKA Twigs: Described as “ethereal electronic R&B” by Rovi, FKA twigs brings to the table a sound like no other. The half-Jamaican London native is more than just the music – she focuses on the art of the performance as a whole. From elaborate dresses to self-invented jerky dance moves, the true character of FKA Twigs remains mysterious throughout her live concerts. After releasing a nearly-perfect album in her “LP1”, FKA Twigs is a must-see for Coachella 2015.

There you have it! With over 100 acts to see, it’s up to you all now. Coachella-goers, rejoice. Those at home during that April weekend, Coachella may broadcast performances from their Youtube channel. Not quite the same, but they’re thinking of you too.

– Jimmy Shaw and Connor Layden

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