When the 2018 Coachella lineup was announced back in January, a lot of people were left wondering where all the rock bands were. Even Louis Tomlinson, maybe one of the least rock n’ roll musicians alive, was confused.
Unlike previous Coachella bills, which often spotlighted top-shelf bands like Radiohead and made a habit of hosting major rock reunions, like The Stone Roses, LCD Soundsystem and Guns N’ Roses, the headliners this year—The Weeknd, Beyonce and Eminem—all hail from the R&B/hip-hop world. So do many of the second-line acts, like Migos, SZA, Vince Staples, Cardi B and Post Malone. Even some of the bigger rock acts, like HAIM, Portugal. The Man and St. Vincent, aren’t exactly rock. But the good news is, you can still see rock bands at Coachella, which kicks of the first of its two weekends on Friday in Indio, Calif. You just have to show up early.
If you’re down to brave the midday temperatures, which tend to stretch into the triple dights, Coachella has plenty of rock to offer beyond the smattering of bigger names like The War on Drugs and alt-J. Here are 10 of the best. (Louis Tomlinson, we hope you’re reading).
John Dwyer’s veteran psych project Oh Sees (nee` Thee) never fails to deliver a fiery show, so this is one set which should withstand the desert heat. The band’s latest album (their 19th) was 2017’s epic Orc, 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 in advance of their hotly anticipated Lush LP, out June 8 via Matador. Check out the album’s sparkling first single, “Pristine.”
Brooklyn’s B Boys, whose quick, raw cleverness recalls classic punk like Wire and Devo, released their debut album Dada last summer via Captured Tracks. The record toys with ideas of time and space, both figuratively and literally—”Energy” is a tightly wound, playful assessment of anxiety and self-assurance.
L.A. rockers Cherry Glazerr have two records under their belt: 2014’s Haxel Princess and 2017’s Apocalipstick. Clementine Creevy, who started the band as a teen, writes melodic feminist anthems that are bold, biting and unafraid.
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’s gorgeous and melancholy Psychopomp was fueled by grief, last year’s Soft Sounds from Another Planet looked to the heavens.
The Drums have been New York City mainstays for almost a decade, releasing their sunny self-titled debut in 2010. The band’s lineup has evolved in recent years with the departure of founding member Jacob Graham, but 2017’s Abysmal Thoughts found leader Jonny Pierce in an emotional headspace, with his guitar pop reaching new heights of introspection and beauty—as evidenced by their Paste Studio session in June.
Washington, D.C. post-punk band Priests released the searing Nothing Feels Natural early last year, right at the commencement of the Trump era. Singer Katie Alice Greer’s piercing screams 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 set to bring their light, breezy vibe to the desert. In 2017 the band released Antisocialites, a deceptively anxious collection of warm, dreamy melodies and jangly guitars. It was one of our favorites of 2017.
The New Orleans via Florida via Virginia guitarist came out swinging on his wild 2014 self-titled debut, then mellowed a little with his brilliantly soulful 2017 album, Witness, which included this lovely duet with Mavis Staples. He’s also got a particular distaste for Ryan Adams, who should probably steer clear of Indio this month. Listen to Booker rip it up at Daytrotter with “Violent Shiver.”
Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever
After a very enticing EP in 2017 that produced immediately lovable songs like “French Press” and “Julie’s Place,” they became one of Paste’s artists to watch. At last, the Aussie quartet are ready to release their proper full-length debut, Hope Downs, on June 15 via Sub Pop. Check out the propulsive lead single, “Talking Straight.”