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What The Coachella Lineup Says About The Year Ahead In Music

By Al Horner

Posted on 09 Jan 14

 
 

NME

Start clueing up on Californian slang and scouring the internet for budget flights to Los Angeles – Coachella is back once again. The US festival announced its 2014 lineup this morning (January 9), with an impressive list of acts led by headliners Outkast, Muse and Arcade Fire. “Share it like a polaroid picture,” wrote festival organisers in a post on Twitter announcing the bill, with a nod to Friday’s hip-hop headliners, reuniting after a lengthy six-year hiatus. Queens of the Stone Age, Beck, Lana Del Rey and Lorde are among the other acts playing across its two weekends in April.

But, what’s interesting about Coachella is how, as one of the year’s earliest big-name festival, its lineup always seems to hint at the rest of the year’s music trends. For a start, it’s the go-to event for reforming bands to mount their return: Pavement, the Postal Service, Neutral Milk Hotel, At The Drive-In and more have all staged comebacks there in recent years. It’s also the first glimpse at which bands are planning busy festival seasons, such as the Stone Roses’ headline slot last year. Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg’s hologram resurrection of Tupac at the festival in 2012 sent tours of Freddie Mercury and Michael Jackson holograms into production, while you might also recall Daft Punk debuting ‘Get Lucky’ there last year.

So what does this year’s bill say about the year ahead in music? Here’s a few observations:

Outkast in from the cold

So the rumours were true, and this year’s Friday night slot will be filled by the reunited Andre 3000 and Big Boi. After a healthy showing for hip-hop acts last year, with appearances from Pusha T, Wu-Tang Clan, Jurassic 5, Earl Sweatshirt and more foreshadowing a blockbuster year for the genre, Outkast are one of very few rap acts on the 2014 bill. Not that rap fans will mind. After six years in the wilderness, amid rumours their personal relationship had broken down, there were fears the pair would never get back together. Their set should pull the weekend’s biggest crowd. Once Coachella is out of the way, is a EU tour or even a new album in the pipeline?

Are Muse releasing a new album sooner than expected?

While Outkast had been rumoured to headline for months, ever since Andre 3000 and Big Boi were spotted reunited in Atlanta, few people saw Muse’s Saturday night slot coming. The trio had previously told French radio that a new album was unlikely before 2015. But with Matt Bellamy’s affection for the theatrical, and a huge headline appearance in front of some 75,000 people to launch new songs, are Muse about to drop a surprise follow-up to 2012’s ‘The Second Law’? There’s few bigger platforms from which to launch a new record than Coachella, so it’s possible the group fast-tracked their next release.
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Daft Punk’s no show

As important as who’s on the bill is who’s not on the bill. Daft Punk were strongly rumoured to be returning to the live fold at Coachella – the perfect warm up for a triumphant Glastonbury headline showing. After all, the French disco revivalists are evidently fans of the Californian festival – they chose it as the place to reveal their all-conquering ‘Get Lucky’ single last year. They’re nowhere to be found here though, with a secret guest performance unlikely and Pharrell Williams, performing on Saturday, the only trace of ‘Random Access Memories’ on the bill. Are the pair, who haven’t played live since their return last year, waiting for ‘Random Access Memories’ guests Pharrell, Nile Rodgers and Julian Casablancas’ schedules to clear, to make their return in style as a super group? Maybe. What’s certain is that much-hoped-for Glastonbury appearance seems a little bit more unlikely after this morning’s announcement.

Motorhead allay Lemmy health concerns

“I’m paying for the good times,” gravel-throated Motorhead singer Lemmy told fans in a statement late last year, after it was revealed he’d been fit with a pacemaker after years of hard rocking began catching up with him. Forced to cancel a European tour after suffering a hematoma, 2013 saw the ‘Ace of Spades’ man’s health decline considerably, with rumours continuing to circulate that his life was in danger. Motorhead’s presence on this Coachella bill, with a Sunday appearance scheduled, should allay a lot of fears. Lemmy’s not defeated yet.

Next year's breakthrough acts

Of course, some questions can only be answered after the festival. Can LA natives Haim elevate themselves from fun festival act to serious future potential headliners with a sizzling performance in the Californian sun? Will Lorde's bedroom pop survive the transition to a festival mainstage, under the watchful eye of 75,000 people? Will Disclosure break America after delivering the standout dance set of the weekend? What about success for the likes of Bastille, Rudimental and The 1975 stateside? And which long-dead musician will get the hologram treatment this time? We'll be watching closely to find out.

 
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