With Coachella Lineup Announced, A Survey of the Summer Festival Arms Race

01/25/2013 11:42 AM |


After much teasing, the lineup for this year’s Coachella Music Festival and Vegan Chili Cook-Off has been announced. It is OK. I mean, as expansive as its gotten, you pretty much have to be a fan of no music whatsoever to not be able to find anything you’d be psyched to see in there. (After a quick personal peruse: Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Wu-Tang, OMD, Sparks.) But the top-line is so-so, surprising, and lame, respectively. Stone Roses are really that commercially popular in 2013? Phoenix can anchor a night now? There’s a lingering constituency for the fucking Chili Peppers? In the search for fabled festival act envy, our eyes can’t help but wander.

But who’s bringing the most heat?

New York City’s own Governors Ball has the most aggressive lineup of its short lifespan, and has the added benefit of being only an extended mass transit trip away. Kanye’s a solid headliner, Kendrick Lamar the hungry upstart. Azealia Banks and Erykah Badu. Dino Jr. and Deerhunter. Animal Collective and Crystal Castles. A mystery headliner to balance out any Kings of Leon sadness. (They are most likely talking to everyone on Coachella’s top line for those.) And some of the mid-level acts that will be in Indio, like Divine Fits, maybe given just slightly more time? It’s not bad at all.

But the undisputed daydream champion for 2013 so far is Barcelona, Spain’s Primavera Sound:


Besides a locale that would be dreamy, even for that weird Sugar Ray cruise bill, you’ve got act after coveted act. A smattering of both Governors’ and Coachella’s more exciting names, plus My Bloody Valentine, Jesus and Mary Chain, Swans, and Fiona Apple. The Breeders playing Last Splash! Hipper small bands like Merchandise, Foxygen, and Death Grips. Breaths of cool mediterranean air like Neko Case and Camera Obscura. And The Knife. The Knife, who are getting Von Trier-ian in their refusal to set foot the U.S. The Knife, whose bonkers new single I spent a good 40 minutes listening to yesterday, before it disappeared from the Internet like I dreamed it. So, Primavera wins by several lengths.

Meanwhile, Tennessee’s Bonnaroo Festival is still in a phase of providing a series of silly hippy video clues that I just can’t imagine anyone poring over in any great detail. Here’s the 8th and latest:

I dunno, The Cranberries? Just tell us.

5 Comment

  • You can see most of the Primavera bands in NYC whenever you want because you have the luxury of living in NYC. Like you can go see swans in like a week at music hall. So maybe we could all just not go to any festivals. Festivals are for lazy people who don’t know anything about music and probably don’t even really like going to shows anyway. that being said, I would love to see both The Knife and the Stone Roses. Your argument against stone roses as a headliner also doesn’t make sense.

  • But you can’t see them in Barcelona in one life-altering weekend? That seems pretty swell to me.

    Also, Stone Roses make sense as a Glastonbury headliner, sure, but I could care less about them, and I don’t think I’m alone? Do you work for Q magazine?

  • I don’t know what Q magazine is but I am just a grumpy showbooker person. Yeah it’s all irrelevant anyway because this sort of thing, festivals like this, are for rich young people and music industry people that get to go for free. also re: stone roses i just meant that the knife is also not like universally known and the hip buzz bands are even less so, coachella has big bands, buzz bands and legends so I just don’t understand the argument really. Like in terms of whether it will sell out (it will so we don’t need to question it) or whether the line up is amazing (it’s amazing enough because it’s a massive festival). I just didn’t get it.

  • Also OBVIOUSLY you should check out the Stone Roses. They are a really really important and awesome band. A lot of bands you like probably ripped them off but that’s how it goes.

  • Q is a glossy British music mag, their Rolling Stone, I guess. They and the rest of the British press has been claiming Stone Roses first record was like, Top 5 All-Time as long as I can remember, and so I dutifully bought it as a teenager, and found it sort of limp. It’s not that I don’t know who they are. I just think their defining moment is super average. (But different strokes, man. I could be wrong.)

    The point was that I don’t think they are as important in the hearts and minds of American music fans as maybe is assumed? And while I’m sure the fest will sell well/sell out, the place at the top of this bill was kind of puzzling to me?

    And given the lineups, and being in Spain versus being in the rave desert, that Primavera is far and away the more intriguing option?