It’s April and for the Southern California music scene that means one thing: It’s time for Coachella.
Over two consecutive weekends, April 14-16 and 21-23, the Empire Polo Club in Indio will welcome hundreds of thousands of attendees (not to mention all the people watching the live streams) for the 22nd edition of the festival.
What is rather striking about this particular edition is that, at the time of writing, the event is not completely sold out; tickets to weekend two are still available. There is no way to discern exactly why there is still availability this year, but the lineup doesn’t seem to be the culprit. The 2023 Coachella lineup has massive mainstream appeal, as well as many up-and-coming acts.
The ever-elusive R&B star Frank Ocean will perform a headlining set as the speculation around a new album reaches critical mass. Bad Bunny, who was Spotify’s most streamed artist of 2022 and the record holder for the highest-grossing tour in history, will be headlining as well. From there, the festival features a slew of major pop acts like Charli XCX, Rosalía, and Metro Boomin’, as well as exciting surprises like the first-ever performance from the MySpace-era, alternative pop hero Jai Paul.
In addition to the names in big text, the Coachella lineup boasts something for everyone further down the roster. Artists performing in jazz, electronic, reggae, indie, rap, and many more genres promise to offer equally exciting sets. Check out 10 buzzing artists who may be in small print, but are sure to make a big impact this year.
Jupiter & Okwess
Kick off Coachella with sounds from Africa, brought to you by Jupiter & Okwess. Hailing from Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Jupiter Bokondji and his band Okwess will bring the sound he’s delineated as "Bofenia Rock" to the festival on Friday.
"Bofenia" refers to a dance Bokondji’s grandmother performed in healing ceremonies in the DRC. However, in recent years, he has demonstrated a commitment to integrating music of different cultures into his repertoire. In 2022 Jupiter & Okwess shared two EPs entitled Brazil is my land and Mexico is my land, respectively, wherein artists from those nations remixed music from the most recent Jupiter & Okwess album, 2021’s Na Kozonga.
With such a diverse catalog, there’s no telling where in the world this set will take the people of Coachella.
With his latest album, Praise A Lord Who Chews But Which Does Not Consume; (Or Simply, Hot Between Worlds), still hot off the presses, Yves Tumor is coming back to Coachella several lines higher than his last appearance in 2019.
On this new LP, the Warp Records mainstay continues his foray into the alternative. "Ebony Eye" is an exploration in grand soul with an orchestral break laid against vocal tones of longing. "Meteora Blues" goes into alt-rock with the kind of emotional highs and lows that match the reference to Linkin Park’s sophomore album.
Yves Tumor held an overlapping time slot with headliner Childish Gambino in 2019, reserving his set for the heads who gravitate away from the main stage. This year, he’ll likely have a more coveted and, hopefully, less conflicting, set time.
2022 was massive for the Atlanta-based rap duo EARTHGANG: They released their second album, GHETTO GODS, went out on a 30-plus date North American tour, and were set to tour Europe. Their Euro tour was postponed to 2023 — but for good reason.
The group was "bit by the creative bug," and they will have "new energy" when they’re back on the road. Coachella's desert crowd will get the first taste of this "new energy," and hopefully some new material, before EARTHGANG heads to Europe with JID this summer.
The Comet Is Coming
After being booked on Coachella’s doomed 2020 lineup, modern jazz trio The Comet Is Coming are locked in for their debut performance. Like previous jazz acts that had space at the mainstream mecca — among them, electro-swing purveyor Parov Stelar and the hip-hop heavy trio BADBADNOTGOOD — TCIC showcase a new age understanding of jazz.
The three members all play specific instruments, but their titles in the band are expanded to an existential scale: Betamax the intuitionist, Shabaka the spiritual riffologist, Danalogue the studio magician. These unconventional titles feed the sound of their 2022 LP, Hyper-Dimensional Expansion Beam. Songs like "ANGEL OF DARKNESS" feature the instrumental elements for which jazz is known, but are presented over experimental soundscapes like choral cacophonies.
Coachella has long been the place for debuts. Daft Punk debuted their now-famous pyramid show in 2006; Richie Hawtin did the first-ever CLOSE show in 2017; Swedish House Mafia made their return to the festival stage after a five-year hiatus at Coachella 2022. In 2023, Alison Wonderland will make her festival debut as Whyte Fang.
Though Alison Wonderland (real name Alexandra Sholler) has performed as Whyte Fang twice before, her Coachella set will be the first with full-fledged festival production. The Coachella show will coincide with the release of the project’s debut album, Genesis, out on the Friday of weekend one.
Sholler’s music as Alison Wonderland is intricate in nature given her experience as a singer, producer, and multi-instrumentalist. Whyte Fang channels her widespread talent and takes it into a darker presentation. Such a shift can be heard on the album’s singles like the title track, which combines haunting pop vocals with a ghostly deep techno drop.
After rocking the house with their hybrid live-electronic band Soulwax in 2018, David and Stephen Dewaele return to Coachella as their brothers-only project, 2manydjs.
As 2manydjs, despite the on-the-nose name, the Dewaeles will not perform a traditional DJ set. They have a live show that integrates a carefully crafted journey largely consisting of their lauded remixes of celebrated artists. In 2022 alone they remixed tracks from artists including Oliver Sim, Wet Leg, and Peggy Gou into funky electro hitters primed for aCoachella set.
And those who want to see the brothers go into pure DJing can visit Despacio at Coachella all weekend long. Despacio is the custom sound system they designed with James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem.
Hayden Silas Anhedönia has been telling the story of her alter-ego since 2019. Ethel Cain is a version of herself that represents emotions towards her restrictive Southern upbringing, and Ethel's story was first outlined on the singer/songwriter's 2022 debut album, Preacher’s Daughter.
The enthralling record employed diverse soundscapes to its relatable and utterly dark subject matter. Songs like "American Teenager" paired adolescent dread with indie-rock guitar chords, while "August Underground" is a full-fledged ambient composition. Though it has no words, the grueling sounds of the latter are meant to represent the emotions surrounding Ethel’s murder at the hands of her lover.
How Anhedönia will bring such a harrowing tale to life at Coachella will surely be a sight to behold.
Lindsey Jordan, who writes and performs under the name Snail Mail, was another artist set to make her return to Coachella in 2020 before…well, you know.
That performance was to be ahead of her 2021 sophomore album Valentine. Since touring has reopened, Jordan has taken her new batch of songs all over the world, performing 102 shows in 2022 alone.
In 2023 she is bringing songs like the indie power ballad "Valentine" and the heavy beats of "Ben Franklin" to Indio.
This year Coachella is standing up for diversity. All three headliners are minorities with the first-ever headlining slot from both a Latin artist (Bad Bunny) and an AAPI artist (BLACKPINK). This year’s lineup also includes Elyanna, who will be the first artist in the history of Coachella to perform her set in Arabic.
The Palestinian-Chilean artist released her second EP, Elyanna 2, in March of 2022. Across the seven tracks, she visits various different sounds in the popular music sphere; opener "Ghareeb Alay" is a lowdown reggae tune, while the piano ballad "Al Kawn Janni Maak" sees her voice soar to the sky.
Coachella lineups have the power to predicate listening trends. Perhaps this booking will lead to wider acceptance of Arabic artists on mainstream stages in years to come.
DJ Pee Wee
On Anderson .Paak’s Instagram account, his bio now reads: "Moving my talents towards Dj & film!" Attendees during the first weekend of Coachella will have a chance to enjoy .Paak’s DJ talents at the Heineken House, where he will spin an all-vinyl set as DJ Pee Wee.
Across his solo albums and his GRAMMY-winning work with Bruno Mars as Silk Sonic, .Paak has demonstrated his mastery of funk, soul, hip hop, and various other genres, all of which he will likely combine in his DJ set. (Given .Paak will be on site, it’s also likely he will make a guest appearance with his collaborators and label signees, DOMi & JD Beck, during their set on Friday.
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