The 2012 Coachella lineup was announced Monday, and with it came a flurry of frenzied tweets about who made the lineup, who didn’t, and what it all means. And that was just from me.
Now that there’s been a little more time to reflect on the bill, here’s a second look at this year’s Coachella.
The headliners: The Black Keys have become inescapable at fests in the last few years, so their headlining slot isn’t a surprise, though it is a bit unadventurous. They’re the new Kings of Leon. Radiohead was heavily rumored to be a part of the bill, so their inclusion isn’t a surprise either, though it would be nice if they’d announce they were playing “The Bends” straight through during their set. (It’ll never happen.) The leftfield shocker was Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg, though with “The Chronic” celebrating its 20th anniversary this year (and with “Detox” supposedly on the horizon), it makes sense, especially in Southern California. My guess is Eminem, Ice Cube and other Dre-affiliated luminaries have their calenders cleared for April 15 and 22.
The upper crust: Pulp’s first American show of this millennium is a triumph for the fest, and fulfills the requisite Britpop requirement on the bill. (Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds helps in that vein, too.) Bon Iver, the Shins and Beirut cover the indie rock bases, and Refused, At the Drive-In, Mazzy Star, fIREHOSE and the Hives take care of the “welcome back/ where you been?” sect. Godspeed You! Black Emperor, M83 and Explosions in the Sky are excellent for everyone looking to blow their ears out; maybe members of all three bands will get together for some sort of eardrum-shattering jam sesh. The Weeknd and Frank Ocean have the hipster R&B thing locked down. And then it’s all DJs: Swedish House Mafia, David Guetta, Afrojack, Avicii, Calvin Harris and more will ensure a non-stop dance party all weekend long in the Sahara Tent.
The midcard: There are some nice surprises amongst those with smaller fonts, including Real Estate, mixtape rappers A$AP Rocky and Kendrick Lamar, Atari Teenage Riot and more. But mostly these are the bands that in three years when you look back at the poster you kick yourself and say, “Oh man, I missed them at Coachella?”
Omissions: No Doubt, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Coldplay had all been talked about as headliners, and it’s quite surprising that at least two of them aren’t on the bill. David Bowie is always rumored to play the fest, but maybe organizers think at this point booking him would be a cliche? I would have loved to see Blur or some other Damon Albarn-related outfit in the lineup, but that’s purely selfish. With a new album due in February, Sleigh Bells seemed like a natural fit, but they’ve played the last two years and couldn’t pull off a hat trick. Best Coast has been playing shows recently while working on its new album, and with the California ties, a Coachella appearance seemed like a given. But perhaps the biggest shocker is the omission of Lana Del Rey, the buzzworthy indie rock chanteuse who is already one of the internet’s most heavily debated artists, despite the fact that she hasn’t even released an album yet. (Her major label debut is due later this month.) She plays “SNL” this coming weekend, so how is it that she’s not playing Coachella? Oh, and is it too much to ask for Lady Gaga to kick off her next tour at Coachella? Apparently it is.
Overall: It’s a solid if not remarkable lineup, but if last year’s Coachella taught me anything, it’s that the fest is the star and the bands are just window dressing. See you in the desert.