10 Ways to Stay Hip: Coachella Edition

A weekly cultural reference to keep your mind fresh and your limbs loose.

Tomorrow morning, me and about 60,000 of my pals will start heading down to Indio for the Coachella Music & Arts Festival. The event – envisioned as an American version of British festivals like Glastonbury, without the mud — has drawn hipsters, fashionistas, yuppies, rockers, ravers, goths and geeks to the broiling desert since 1999. I’ve been to all but one. Maybe it’s the amazing lineup, maybe it’s the well-planned and grassy venue, or maybe it’s the fact that I never had a wild Spring Break experience because I was always studying too hard, but I love everything about Coachella, and every year I start counting down the days to the next one the moment I get back. Check back here for coverage and pictures all weekend. Here’s an arbitrary list of what to look forward to if you’re going (or watching the webcast):

mojo-photo-sonicyouth.jpg10. Sonic Youth (Outdoor Stage, Friday)
This venerable New York combo put out one of the best albums of 2006, and this might be our only chance to hear them play songs from it, since much of their upcoming tour will be dedicated to Daydream Nation. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

mojo-photo-jarvis.JPG9. Jarvis Cocker (Outdoor Stage, Friday)
Pulp were near-revolutionaries, and while their frontman hasn’t stayed on top of the charts, he’s as feisty as ever (bad language on that link!), releasing an acclaimed solo record this year.

mojo-photo-manu.JPG8. Manu Chao (Main Stage, Sunday)
What’s great about Coachella is that not only do you catch up with your favorite artists, but also discover new ones. I don’t know much about this Latin singer, but about seven different people in the last week have told me how excited they are about him, so I’ll check him out, and I hope he doesn’t turn out to be the World Music Dave Matthews which is kind of what he looks like he might be from this picture.

mojo-photo-faithless.JPG7. Faithless (Sahara Stage, Friday)
It’s been almost ten years since I’ve seen Faithless, and it was at a small San Francisco club; in the meantime, they’ve established themselves as an epic, must-see festival act all over Europe. With Coachella known for life-changing dance tent shows (see Daft Punk, Underworld, Chemical Brothers), this could be a highlight.

mojo-photo-peterbjornjohn.JPG6. Peter Bjorn & John (Mojave Tent, Saturday)
Sticking a heavily-buzzed band in the tiniest tent (see Gnarls Barkley last year) is also a Coachella tradition; if I can actually get in to see them, I’ll be interested to see how their lilting, ’60s-style indie pop translates to the stage.

mojo-photo-lcd.JPG5. Justice / LCD Soundsystem / The Rapture (Sahara Tent, Saturday)
Now here’s some scheduling magic: three great dance/rock bands in a row, with little competition from other stages, finish out the night on Saturday. I’ll just be staying in this tent until the bitter end thank you.

mojo-photo-bjork.JPG4. Bjork (Main Stage, Friday)
No polar bears at this show, for sure. While I noted being slightly underwhelmed by her SNL performance, this will be the first taste of most of the new material from Volta, and I’m still very intrigued.

mojo-photo-ratatat.JPG3. Ratatat (Mojave Tent, Sunday)
This New York City duo make quirky yet energetic electronic music; their second full-length studio album, Classics, came out last year to much acclaim. Supposedly they are amazing live, and supposedly they recorded part of the album at a house owned by Bjork. Small world.

mojo-photo-arcade.jpg2. Arcade Fire (Main Stage, Saturday)
Hey, Riff readers, did you know I liked this band? Har har. Anyway, it’ll actually be hard to top their stunning performance here in 2004, and moving to the main stage carries risks that they’ll be overwhelmed by its immensity. But, my God, it’s Arcade Fire!

mojo-photo-interpol.JPG1. Interpol (Main Stage, Friday)
I know, crazy, but I just heard a couple preview tracks from their upcoming album (The Heinrich Maneuver, out May 7th), and they were awesome; plus they always put on a riveting, emotional live show; their epic, wide-open songs should be perfect for a warm night under the desert sky.


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