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Coachella 2023: An (Updated) Guide to the Artists You Should Stream (Minus One Frank Ocean)

By Alberto Cox Délano | Miscellaneous | April 14, 2023 |

By Alberto Cox Délano | Miscellaneous | April 14, 2023 |


(This is an update from last week. Same article, but I added some impressions and recommendations based on Weekend 1)

The irony of being a Typical Single Millennial is that sometimes you feel less attuned to Pop Music these days than, say, people a generation older with children that are Gen-Z or younger (DUSTIN: HA HA!). One day you are feeling yourself and full of vitality, the next day, Soundcloud rappers are no longer a thing and the Rap Scene is full of white guys. It happens regardless of your cultural background. For me, it was only yesterday that Bad Bunny was playing gigs at infamous clubs in Santiago that were closer in spirit to a Dothraki wedding than to Madison Square Garden. Now he is the headline artist on Coachella Music Festival’s Friday night, followed K-Pop band BLACKPINK (and I though I was so in it because I dug RAIN) and Frank Ocean on Saturday and Sunday respectively. Repeat next week, same days, same time.

Coachella, in particular, has gained itself a reputation of being a music festival made with the explicit intention of making YOU feel inadequate, as its audience seems to be made exclusively of wealthy, famous, and beautiful LA people … or LA starf*ckers that are pretending to be wealthy and famous. A scene that is perpetually in their twenties (that’s why Leo loves it so much) and at their most glamorous. Coachella is also pretty uncomfortable if you happen to be a Native American for other reasons. This was inevitable, being the prime music festival for the Los Angeles area. However, people miss out on the fact that, when it comes to the actual music, Coachella is second to … well, Glastonbury: The lineup is carefully balanced between artists at the top of their game, acts that are about to break out and acts that will go places. They’re not all winners, but at the very least they’re relevant. When it comes to the actual performances, well, you’ve seen Beyoncé’s. The best acts make sure to put on a damn memorable show, because even though a good portion of the audience is focused on getting a glimpse of the people at the VIP area (and maybe a selfie … and maybe a quickie), there are actual tastemakers paying attention: Agents, producers, execs. The kind of people that can bring a beloved cult act to the next level. But also, there’s the livestream.

Because Coachella actually fulfills a valuable social role: It might be one of few of the top tier music festivals that broadcasts the entire show for free, every act and every stage, via YouTube (terms and exceptions might apply if Beyoncé). With the same lineup playing over two consecutive weekends, you have a second chance to catch up with the performances you missed the first time. Better still, you can do this from the comfort of your home, without having to wade through hordes of fuckbois and white girls in culturally inappropriate clothes and makeup, all feeling the Benzos kicking in. And gents, that’s as Socialist as we’re going to get from the Music Industry.

So, if you wanna feel like you’re still with it*, here are the artists I’d recommend watching over the next two weekends. All the times listed here are in Pacific Standard Time. Add +2 hours for Chicago time, +3 hours for the East Coast Time, +7 hours for Greenwich Island Time and -7 hours for Australia’s East Coast.

Friday 14-21
If you are a Millennial Classicist or even… (WHISPERS)more senior, this is the day for you: Blink 182 plays at 18:45 on the Sahara stage (now they’re replacing Frank Ocean on Sundau), Gorillaz plays in the main stage at 20:30, while Blondie has a set at 19:20 (and they were spectacular, every child deserves to have a Debbie Harry for a grandmother) and The Chemical Brothers one at 21:45. But we are here to modernize our taste, so.

Doechii (Main Stage, 15:20-16:00)
You have to be really something else to get to play your set at the main stage when you’re yet to release an album. Cast doubts aside, Doechii is that fire, as a performer and as an MC.

Soul Glo (Sonora Stage, 14:55-15:25)
A punk hardcore band whose last LP, Diaspora Problems, was among the most acclaimed of 2022. A good reminder that Black-fronted, unapologetically political, and non-easy-listening rock is still alive and not taking itself too seriously. Banger to look forward::

MUNA (Mojave Stage, 16:50-17:35)
I wonder how will the future look back on the protest songs of the former guy era. MUNA was a bit ahead of the curve, with “I Know a Place” hitting the streams right as that thing was elected … which was promptly overused by crappy teen dramas. They have had a great run of three critically beloved albums, eschewing the proudly earnest, proudly cheesy lyrics of their first album for a more tongue-in-cheek style. Their set is followed by Wet Leg, but I don’t get them. Banger to look forward:Loudspeaker” It’s actually “Silk Chiffon”, with special guests boygenius.

(And I can confirm, after watching them on Weekend 1, that Queer Girls make Pop today something Brian Wilson would be proud of)

Becky G (Coachella Stage, 17:35-18:20)
This is one of the worst things I’ll ever admit to because it might get my Latino Card revoked: I still have a hard time telling Becky G and Karol G apart. I know, that’s a Candice Owens level of disrespect to your own Culture. Becky is an American and Mexican, Karol is Colombian, and they’re both making us proud as Latines by pushing the Latin Urban genre forward. I plan to rectify this by catching up with her concert, and if you didn’t understand a single word of what I’ve just said, THEN CERTAINLY YOU SHOULD WATCH IT TOO. Banger to look forward: “BAILÉ CON MI EX” and “Mayores” (look forward to a surprise Bad Bunny appearance on the latter).

(And after watching her on Weekend 1… Arriba la Patria Grande!)

Angèle (Mojave Stage, 20:50-21:40)
The lovely young lady featured in the banner picture, Angèle Van Laeken happens to be one of the most popular French-language singers right now. Her looks, popularity in the French-speaking world and her command of Pop as a genre would make comparisons to Taylor Swift very easy. After all, is there such a thing as a Pop singer over the last decade that has not been influenced by Swift? With one major exception, one that is not unique to Angèle but common to all French Pop Music: Their lyrics blow the best Anglo songwriters out of the water, and it isn’t even a competition. That’s just on the mainstream. Case in point, Angèle’s biggest hits are about outing sex pests, anxiety, assorted Bildungsroman stuff and not wanting to see her country (Belgium) split along language lines. Angèle is a great sample of what French Pop has to offer, and it only gets better from then. Banger to look forward: “Oui Ou Non”.

(And having seen her on Weekend 1… French Pop is like if Argentina and Brazil didn’t export their football players.)

Saturday 15-22.
This is the BLACKPINK day, and let’s be honest, some of us of a certain age might never understand K-Pop bands because we were raised in the times of Mother-Freaking RAIN and his historical beef with Stephen Colbert (the character)! WHY ISN’T HE GETTING THE RECOGNITION? Whatever. Saturday is Gen Z-friendly, which is great because Zoomers have been raising the bar with their tastemaking. The ones you shouldn’t miss:

Charli XCX (Coachella Stage, 17:25-18:20)
The Chief Scientist of Pop is getting the main stage, as she should. Expect a lot of guest appearances (most likely Christine and the Queens) and a lot of people saying Mother. Banger to look forward: “New Shapes”.

Sofi Tukker (Outdoor Theatre, 18:35-19:30)
Ignore the fact that one of their songs was used for an Apple commercial (something which has made and doomed other acts, at the same time), this duo does fresh, sexy, and unapologetically catchy Dance music for people that feels inclusive of those of us who don’t feel hot enough to go to a club. Banger to look forward:: “Original Sin”.

Rosalía (Coachella Stage, 19:00-20:10)
Fine. Look, there are certain things about how Rosalía has been positioned in the market that … I don’t f*** with. She’s there winning all this Latin categories when she’s a European woman. But I know her as an artist is something else. Check in at least one of her weekends, but I’ll prioritize:

boygenius (Outdoor Theatre, 20:10-21:00)
So Phoebe Bridgers, Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus, all Indie stars you might know and love, have been developing this supergroup for a while now, and recently released their first LP the record. Zoomers don’t understand how lucky they are, that they now might have their very own CSNY. Banger to look forward:: “Bite the Hand”.

$uicideboy$ (Sahara Stage, 21:30-22:20)
If you are looking for music that doesn’t make you feel good. And people claimed XXXTentación was challenging.

Being a Saturday night, there will be a lot of terrific chances for Electronica, Trip Hop House, Lounge, and late at night in every stage. Most definitely check NIA Archives closing the Sonora Stage at 22:00.

Sunday 16-23

This is the day for the music nerds. Plain and simple. Before anything, if you are American or British or an European that isn’t really that familiar with anything about Latin Music other than the obvious, do yourself a favor and tune in at the main stage at 14:30 PST. The stage will be opened by Argentinian band Los Fabulosos Cadillacs Well, the organizers did something wrong on Weekend 1, but not only did they move Los Fabulosos Cadillacs from the Main Stage the Outdoor Theatre, the whole show wasn’t streamed. Still, let’s hope they work out the kinks this time. They are scheduled for 14:10 at the Outdoor Theatre. They’re one of the most popular and greatest Spanish-language acts of all time, mind you, but not the kind that gets exported. Your ears will be awakened to, well, the kind of magic Latin (and Argentinian) Rock gets down to with all the influences we get to draw from. Banger to look forward:: It should be “Matador”, but a better one still is “Vasos Vacíos”.

The choices are simplified here because the unmissable ones will be concentrated on two stages, the main one and Mojave, so I’d recommend dedicating one Sunday to each. On the main one, after Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, you’ll have, one after another:

Kali Uchis (18:00-18:50)
Our Latina pride and joy, making vibes music that is at the same time challenging, introspective as it is groovy, danceable. Banger to look forward: I mean, it has to be “Telepatía”.

(And from what I managed to catch, she’s going into the Pajiba 10 as well)

Björk (19:25-20:40)
I mean.

… and to wrap it all up

Frank Ocean (10:05)
On the same stage. Banger to look forward: Probably we’re all mostly looking forward to him trying out unreleased material.

OK, so… we are not going to get into the… lackluster way Frank Ocean’s set turned out. We are not going to get into the reasons why he dropped out for Weekend 2. We are just going to wish him the best, and we are going to realize that not all Great Artists are also supposed to be performers. Blink 182 will be a nostalgia blast.

But the Sonora stage tho:

Noname (16:10-16:50)

Weyes Blood (17:15-18:00)
Kayleigh approved. Her singing “Children of the Empire” at a place like freaking Coachella is going to be an historic one. (Impressions from Weekend 1: So, she didn’t sing “Children of the Empire”, but she took said Astrology was bullshit… In California. At Coachella. As a Californian herself. Now that’s what I call a keeper)

Christine and the Queens (18:25-19:15)
I mean, by now they should’ve just had all three of them performing a continuous, collaborative set that runs on for three hours. (Impressions from Weekend 1: If there’s one excuse to miss out on Kali Uchis, it’s him)

WILLOW (19:35-20:30)
As in Willow Smith, as in daughter of Will and Jada, as in the girl from “I whip my hair.” She escaped the curse of the novelty child popstar, started doing her own stuff, now as a young adult, and it’s been fire.

*(Alberto Cox is aware that “being with it” is an expression that in itself sounds near-Boomer, only made timeless by being a on a classic Simpsons episode)