When the line-up for Coachella 2018 was announced in January, a lot of people wondered where all the rock bands were. Even Louis Tomlinson, perhaps one of the least rock n ‘roll musicians alive, was confused.
Unlike previous Coachella Bills, which often featured prominent bands like Radiohead and used to host big rock gatherings, like The Stone Roses, LCD Soundsystem, and Guns N ‘Roses, the Heads of posters this year — The Weeknd, Beyonce and Eminem — all hail from the R & B / hip-hop world. The same goes for many second-line bands, like Migos, SZA, Vince Staples, Cardi B and Post Malone. Even some of the biggest rock groups, like HAIM, Portugal. The Man and Saint-Vincent, are not exactly oscillate. But the good news is you can still catch rock bands at Coachella, which kicks off the first of its two weekends Friday in Indio, Calif. Just show up early.
If you’re ready to brave midday temperatures, which tend to extend into triple nights, Coachella has plenty of rock to offer beyond the handful of big names like The War on Drugs and alt-J. Here are 10 of the best. (Louis Tomlinson, we hope you are reading).
John Dwyer’s veteran psychological project Oh Sees (nee` Thee) never fails to deliver a fiery spectacle, so this is one set that should stand up to the desert heat. The group’s last album (their 19th) was the epic of 2017 Killer whale, which landed on our list of the 50 best albums of the year.
Eighteen-year-old Lindsey Jordan and her band Snail Mail are set to make their Coachella debut this year ahead of their highly anticipated Lush LP, released on June 8 via Matador. Check out the sparkling debut single from the album, “Pristine”.
Brooklyn B boys, whose quick and raw intelligence is reminiscent of classic punk like Wire and Devo, released his debut album Dad last summer via Captured Tracks. The record plays with ideas of time and space, both figuratively and literally – “Energy” is a playful and tight assessment of anxiety and self-confidence.
LA rockers Cherry Glazerr have two records under their belt: 2014 Princess Haxel and 2017 Apocalipstick. Clementine Creevy, who started the band as a teenager, writes melodic feminist hymns that are bold, biting, and fearless.
With her shimmering solo project Japanese Breakfast, Michelle Zauner (of Philly’s Little Big League) reflects on love, loss and her Asian-American heritage. While 2016 is beautiful and melancholy Psychopomp was fueled by grief, last year Sweet sounds from another planet looked up to the heavens.
The Drums have been the mainstay of New York City for nearly a decade, releasing their self-titled debut album Sunny in 2010. The band’s lineup has evolved in recent years with the departure of founding member Jacob Graham, but that of 2017 Abyssal Thoughts found frontman Jonny Pierce in an emotional headspace, with his pop guitar reaching new heights of introspection and beauty, as evidenced by their Paste Studio session in June.
Washington, DC post-punk band Priests released the Steamy Nothing seems natural early last year, just at the start of the Trump era. The screeches of singer Katie Alice Greer confront issues of money, gender, politics and class at a time when they feel most urgent.
Representing the softer side of indie rock, Canada’s Alvvays are ready to bring their light and airy vibe to the desert. In 2017, the group released Antisocialists, a deceptively anxious collection of warm, dreamy melodies and tingling guitars. It was one of our favorites of 2017.
The guitarist from New Orleans via Florida via Virginia released rocking his self-titled debut album in 2014, then mellowed out a bit with his brilliantly soulful 2017 album, Witness, which included this cute duet with Mavis Staples. He also has a particular loathing for Ryan Adams, who should probably avoid Indio this month. Hear Booker tear up at Daytrotter with “Violent Shiver”.
After a very mouth-watering EP in 2017 that produced immediately endearing songs like “French Press” and “Julie’s Place”, they became one of the Paste artists to watch. Finally, the Australian quartet is ready to release their own debut album, Hope Downs, June 15 via Sub Pop. Discover the first propellant single, “Talking Straight”.