Coachella 2014: What to see and do

Find music that matches your taste.
Foster the People and MGMT

Watching the hype cycles chew up bands in real time, see:

Foster the People and MGMT

MGMT's career nose dive after 2010's "Congratulations" was actually kind of admirable. The members of that indie synth-pop band with huge top-40 singles made a dopey prog record just to prove they're still weirdos. They're now playing Coachella as kind of a niche act for serious fans. Will a similar fate befall Foster the People, who had one of the decade's biggest breakout singles with "Pumped Up Kicks" but whose second album "Supermodel" has barely moved the needle commercially? The group's said it's their "Sandinista," which should make Clash fans groan and sprint for the bar. But it could also make Foster's young, singles-savvy audience head for more immediate dance tent pleasures.

Credit: Caitlin Mogridge / Getty Images, Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times
DJ Falcon and Pharrell Williams

Holding out for the dream of a Daft Punk appearance, see:

DJ Falcon and Pharrell Williams

If the robot duo makes actually any kind of formal appearance at Coachella, we'll eat our helmets. But if you just can't extinguish that tiny flame of hope for a Daft Punk surprise, go lurk around the sets of these two "Random Access Memories" collaborators and hope they play the tunes where you can close your eyes and lose yourself to vocoder. If you want to get all tinfoil-hat about it, Nile Rodgers is playing L.A. in May, so he can't be that far away from the fest.

Credit: Fake Artist Management, Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times

Reliving your smarmy, heartbroken early-‘00s teenage years, see:

Dismemberment Plan

Help me out, Coachella situation-recommendation-engine. What if, say, you know a guy who got dumped in Boston on winter break when he was 19, and he spent the next week walking around Newbury Street in a freezing haze with the D-Plan's spiky, hilariously melancholy "The Ice of Boston" as the only voice of comfort in his Discman as he picked up the pieces of his demolished teenage-boy heart out of the snow? Would it be OK to go up to the front of the stage and absolutely freak out when the Plan plays Coachella? Asking for a friend.

Credit: The Dismemberment Plan: Shervin Lainez / Partisan Records

Paying homage to the memory of Frankie Knuckles, see:

Damian Lazarus, Cajmere, Bicep, Art Department, Anna Lunoe

Frankie Knuckles dying a week before Coachella is dance-land's equivalent of Whitney Houston overdosing the night before the Grammys. A foundational star whose sound transformed a culture passed away right before one of its major celebratory events. Expect Knuckles tracks to pop up in scores of sets in the underground dance tent, and let them remind how America is a better place because he lived. It's easy today to forget that house music is, at its core, black and gay music, and Knuckles' Warehouse in Chicago was church for that sound and scene. Let's hope Coachella becomes a little altar in the desert for him.

Credit: Sebastian Matthes / The Windish Records

Black leather, bourbon and a bad idea in your head, see:


Coachella's booked some metal acts before (missing Ghost BC was one of our big recent regrets), but this set from the immortal Lemmy & Co. is going to single-handedly goose the beer-tent revenues by a decimal place. They're still louder than a meth-lab explosion and gnarlier than jean-chafing in the desert heat. It's exactly the kind of refreshingly nihilistic tonic that the ever-more-scrubbed up Coachella needs.

Credit: TBD

Cribbing notes from the original spirit animals of Coachella fashion, see:


L.A.'s favorite Valley Girls need no further touts for the greatness of their debut LP "Days Are Gone." But now that Coachella has become as much of a Pinterest runway as it is a music festival, Haim still outclasses the competition at every turn. Expect a sea of middle-parted hair drapes, artfully distressed jean jackets and immaculate boots when the sisters take the stage, and for their Fleetwood Mac-meets Destiny's Child jams to be drowned out by the plaintive moans of men who want them and women who want to be them (and plenty of the inverse as well).

Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times
Crossroads, Night + Market, Baco Mercat

Keeping up your A-list L.A. restaurant regimen, see:

Crossroads, Night + Market, Baco Mercat, Sugarfish

In the beginning, there was Spicy Pie. Then came a Kogi truck and CoolHaus. Now Coachella palates have become refined enough that actual agenda-setting L.A. restaurants — the kind who get slavish 3,000-word reviews in Saveur and L.A. Magazine — are shipping east. Chefs like Tal Ronnen, Josef Centeno and Kris Yenbamroong will set up outposts of their acclaimed L.A. ventures alongside the Coachella debut of Outstanding in the Field, an alfresco dinner party with tickets at $225 a head. Veteran Glastonbury mud-people would probably throw Carlsberg bottles at the idea of dining so well at a music festival, but that's why all the best English bands move to L.A.

Credit: Mel Melcon, Don Kelsen / Los Angeles Times

Keeping the suburban hard-core dream alive, see:


The best live rock act at Coachella might be a bunch of unrecovered 40-year-old goths. AFI, the NorCal punk quartet, has long been a fixture on KROQ for its guitar-swinging singles and Morrissey-indebted misery. After a decade as mainstream rock stars though, they're kind of coming back to their roots, right when their once-adolescent fan base is running the music business in town. Not even the most cynical hipster can deny they put on a hell of a live set, and their new single, "17 Crimes," puts this whole recent, super-self-conscious "emo revival wave" thing to shame.

Credit: Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times

Seeing celebrities in fanny packs, pleated Dockers and Yankee caps, see:

Blood Orange

Singer-producer Devonte Hynes became the unwitting face of "normcore" when a New York Magazine piece rapturously noted that his recent looks seemed to come straight out of the "Seinfeld" wardrobe department. That might have been the moment when contemporary fashion-blog culture finally stared into an infinity mirror and blew its own mind to pieces. But whatever. Hynes' silky and perfectly-written R&B as Blood Orange moves like Prince but whispers with all the sexy intensity of a hot breath in your ear.

Credit: Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Cutty Sark

Taking your parents for the day, see:

Laura Mvula, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue

Coachella loves baby boomer reunion bands on its main stages, but this year there are a few contemporary acts that your mom and dad can actually get behind. Laura Mvula's spacey, gorgeous neo-jazz feels like Sarah Vaughan playing on the moon, and Trombone Shorty and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band will bring a slice of the Crescent City to arid Indio. Extra points if your dad is suave enough to want to squire your mom off to Bryan Ferry's set.

Credit: Josh Shinner / Columbia Records