Over the last twenty or so years, Coachella Festival has grown in both size and importance to become one of the must attend gatherings of the year. Born as the festival was from an act of outsider non-conformity (Pearl Jam trying to break Ticketmaster’s vice-like grip over live gigs) it seems only natural that we look not at those big names which drive the events annual success but at some of the smaller, breaking acts which ensure its longer term future. I’m sure Radiohead, Lady Gaga and Bon Iver will have enough column inches written about them, but what about those acts waiting in the wings?
Shannon and The Clams
Shannon and The Clams are nothing less than the perfect festival experience. They look just like they sound, a mix of indie chic and 60’s sartorial elegance to match their garage psych doo-wop and punk Buddy Holly references. This is fun, audience participation music which mixes past and present to create timeless party music.
Their live shows are hailed as the best on the current circuit and built around a sound that is both truly unique and very influential on the independent scene which they call home. Forged in the house party and small clubs of their native California, this Oakland based band is a great flag bearer for the home states music scene.
So, if you like the idea of a early sixties prom band getting dosed with acid or Etta James leading The 13th Floor Elevators through The Shangri La’s back catalogue then this is the band for you.
Preservation Hall Jazz Band
And proving that Coachella isn’t just about big name indie rock stars, pop icons and celebrity DJ’s, Preservation Hall Jazz Band are, as the name suggests, a straight up classic New Orleans jazz band. Founded in the 60’s in the city’s French Quarter and with a rotating roster of musicians, they are a musical institution with the baton being handed down to new generations keen to preserve the unique New Orleans sound.
Recent years has seen them rubbing shoulders with the likes of Tom Waits, Dr. John and Pete Seeger and even play at the 55th Annual Grammy Awards.
In 2014 they closed the festival performing Wake Up with Arcade Fire but aside from the name-dropping and high profile gigs, if you want to hear the sound of La Nouvelle-Orléans in all it’s authentic glory, Preservation Hall Jazz Band are your one stop shop.
Show Me The Body
Already being hailed as the most New York sounding band since The Strokes appeared on the scene 15 years ago, Show Me The Body are also a great example of the post-genre world. A blend of funk, art- punk, blues, rap, hardcore and Emily Dickinson, this is an intense experience of soul, spirit and aggression.
This Queens outfit embraces the chaos and veracity of their home city, even as the powers that be try to eradicate it; never has a sound felt so alive, never has a band been more relevant. This is the sound of The Big Apple with one almighty bite taken out of it.
Car Seat Headrest
A mix of indie-rock vigor, pop sensibilities and proggy structures, Car Seat Headrest are a stand out band. The band has grown out of a Will Toledo solo project and evolved from lo-fi beginnings into full, widescreen indie, one not afraid to write long, mercurial and dynamically shifting songs and pepper them with wonderful pop highlights.
Three parts Pavement’s slacker grunge, two parts Beach Boy’s psychedelia, one part skittish post-punk and just a dash of urbane insolence; they are moody, introspective, melodic and structurally ambitious, this could indeed be the new face of rock.
Swet Shop Boys
In the hands of some this would be merely a celebrity vanity project but actor Riz Ahmed and rapper Heems bring something altogether more substantial to the table. London/New York underground rap exploring cultural and political themes all done with humour and subtlety, not to mention academic prowess. It isn’t often that The Iliad crops up in rap music!
Not only music full of very important messages, it is music that reflects the complexities and cross-cultural journeys people of our times.