The Best Bands to See at Coachella 2016 (Who've Already Played Coachella)
Every year, music nerds meticulously go over the Coachella lineup to tell other music nerds what must-see new artists are on the bill (Anderson .Paak!) and which reunited veterans you have to catch just for bragging rights (GNFNR!!). But let's be honest: most people want to see a proven entity -- an artist who delivers, every time. Which is why we're presenting actual evidence -- this is a countdown of the best acts playing Coachella this year who've proven themselves at Coachellas in the past, with video showing why you're going to want to check them out when you hit the grounds (or turn on the webcast) this year. And how would I know who to catch again? Uh, I've been to every weekend -- including double weekends -- since 2002. Bingo:
11. Of Monsters and Men
The Icelandic folk-pop band's always a high-energy live treat, but the last time they played Coachella they had a little help: on weekend two a massive snail art piece meandered over to the Outdoor Theater while they were playing and stayed there, in the front row, for the entirety of the set. It was adorable, and means that they definitely know to expect -- and deliver -- something special in Indio this year.
10. Silversun Pickups
SSPU get major points for being local favorites (they used to do residencies at the tiny Silverlake Lounge) who have become international sensations thanks to alt-rock staples like "Lazy Eye" and "Panic Switch." They've played Coachella twice, both times on the Outdoor Theater: in 2007 they rocked the afternoon, and in 2009 they got a prized nighttime spot -- which means it's likely this year they'll graduate to the Main Stage.
9. The 1975
Last time the UK's pop-rockers hit the Coachella field (in 2014), they were just another up-and-coming buzz band. This year, they're a band with a No. 1 album and an upcoming stadium tour. Those are huge shoes to fill, and a likely Main Stage time slot will either prove the young group is an actual next-big-thing -- or flash-in-the-pan pretenders (that said, "Love Me" is one of the best songs of the year.)
8. Cold War Kids
Another LA band that's ended up a huge multinational act, CWK have played Coachella three times before -- and have made it count each time, including the above-linked guest spot from Florence Welch in 2010. They've got a new lineup since the last time they played, but they also have their biggest single ever -- the inescapable "First," which will no doubt be a Sunday highlight.
7. Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes
Think of this year as a vindication moment for frontman Alex Ebert and his band of Merry Hippies: they were pigeonholed as a sort of novelty act when they first broke out with "Home," but the song's gone on to be a bona-fide classic (seriously, it'll still be in commercials when we're all in our 60s) and meanwhile, the band's grown up. That doesn't mean their set will be any less life-loving, it just means it'll possibly be more mature: we've heard a few songs from their new album, PersonA, and it resonates positivity while toning down -- slightly -- on schtick.
6. Calvin Harris
Even non-EDM fans noticed something change when Calvin Harris took the Main Stage in the early evening last time he played the fest in 2014: the air (and the people) were sucked out of the rest of the festival and into an oontz-vortex while Harris spun records for the biggest crowd, by far, to see any artist that year (yes, it was much larger than the turnout for even OutKast.) It's no surprise, then, that he's the first-ever DJ headliner at Coachella, which means everyone including the just-curious will turnout for his Sunday night set, even if it's just to see whether his girlfriend Taylor Swift is going to pop-in for a song or two.
5. St Germain
You may notice that the video linked above isn't from Coachella... and that's because WE COULDN'T FIND ANY VIDEO FROM THE LAST TIME THEY PLAYED COACHELLA THATS HOW LONG AGO IT WAS! Yeah: the beloved French jazz-electro band hasn't hit the festival field in 15 years, but last time they did they did it with a 20-plus member orchestra. If you're into this sort of tripped-out, ambient groove -- and you should be -- you should also be very, very excited for this, especially if it's scheduled for sunset.
4. The Kills
Alison Mosshart is one of the most exciting frontpeople in rock music -- and whether it's with her primary band The Kills or her side project The Dead Weather, with Jack White, she's got an inescapable charisma that feels dangerous in the best way. And when she lets out a banshee wail as guitarist Jamie Hince unleashes a wall of sound... man, chills, and it's not just gonna be from the desert wind.
When the livetronica duo first hit the Coachella stage in 2014, they smartly brought out guests ranging from the then-up-and-coming singer Sam Smith to the still-up-and-coming AlunaGeorge. That made their set must-see even then -- and they've only gotten bigger in the interim, which means it's likely they'll continue their superstar collaborations this year. They're also one of the few EDM acts that understands you've got to do more than press play and have great video screens to keep the attention of such a large crowd -- both underrated and wholly appreciated.
Since getting famous, the "Chandelier" singer has been all performance-arty when she plays Saturday Night Live and the occasional live show, hiding her face with wigs and letting dancers do all the work, but don't be fooled: pre-fame, the songstress was an open, charismatic performer, as the above video -- from when she played Coachella in 2010 as a small-print performer -- proves. She's become one of the big draws for the big stage in the interim, and her new album, This is Acting, is composed almost entirely of songs originally written for other artists -- some of whom are likely to be on the Coachella field (yes, what we're saying is, a Rihanna sit-in would be awesome -- and not entirely out of the question).
1. LCD Soundsystem
Frankly, it's not even close: James Murphy was always a master at the build (he has to be -- most of his electro-rock band's songs just groove on a single chord), which made peak-era LCD Soundsystem gigs both heady and hallucinogenic, no matter whether or not you were substance-abetted. They've played Coachella twice before but this reunion gig is their first time headlining, and they're obviously one of the most anticipated acts on the whole bill. Within the first moments of "All My Friends," you'll have a massive smile on your face while you look at all of yours, and realize there's nowhere else you'd rather be.
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Jeff Miller wishes Daft Punk would play at his house (his house). Find him on the field, or at JeffMillerLA on Instagram or ThrillistLA on Twitter.