It’s not officially music festival season in the US until the neon outfits go on and music lovers across the nation head to Indio, California for two weekends of much-hyped Coachella fun. The Southern California fest boasts big-name headliners across genres this year with Bad Bunny, Frank Ocean and Blackpink closing out each night. But, even though the desert festival is known for internet-breaking surprise guests and sets from the world’s most thrilling performers, we’re arguing that some of the best acts of the weekend can be found within the festival poster’s fine print.
This year is no exception to that rule, with up-and-coming artists from around the globe set to make new fans and cut their teeth on some of Coachella’s biggest stages. From burgeoning rap stars to rising jazz aficionados, here are 10 fresh acts NME thinks you should add to your must-see list this weekend.
Domi & JD Beck
Who: Virtuoso duo making spirited and playful jazz
What you can expect: Signed to Anderson .Paak‘s imprint on the legendary jazz label Blue Note, the imaginative pair make music that combines jazz know-how with Gen-Z humour. Last year, they told NME about their live set, with Domi saying they “play fast stuff with a lot of energy”, venturing away from what traditional jazz structures. They scooped up a couple of Grammy nominations for their debut album ‘Not Tight’, and when they’re not spending time at awards shows, they’re collaborating with the likes of Snoop Dogg, Mac DeMarco and Thundercat – so who knows who may join them on stage this weekend.
Festival anthem: ‘Bowling’
Who: Rebellious Southern songwriter making haunting pop
What you can expect: Hayden Silas Anhedönia – who performs under the prairie dress-wearing, cult leader-inspired persona of Ethel Cain – released her debut album proper ‘Preacher’s Daughter’ last year, with tracks brimming with Americana sonics, spiritual imagery and nods to her strict upbringing in the South. With soundscapes inspired by the Gregorian chants her mother used to play, and lyrics that weave together stories about everything from cannabilism to meditation, the subject matter may seem a bit too heavy for a desert romp. However, Cain’s gorgeous pop vocals bring levity to those themes, so her set is destined to be a religious experience.
Festival anthem: ‘American Teenager’
Who: Vocalist and guitarist making aggressive, futuristic punk
What you can expect: Many may be familiar with the New Jersey artist because they’ve seen her open for Steve Lacy or heard her viral track ‘Deep End’ soundtracking videos on TikTok, but her unique blend of R&B and punk makes her stand out without those precursors. Speaking to NME last year, Fousheé talked about the audiences she plays to on tour, and how she tries “to get them to do a little mini mosh every night.” She also said that, by the end of her set, “everyone’s jumping and screaming”, so if you’re up for a cathartic release in the desert, look no further than Fousheé.
Festival anthem: ‘Deep End’
Who: Midwest breakout band rewriting the indie playbook
What you can expect: Horesgirl may be made up of three teens from Chicago, but their timeless sound has been drawing in fans of all ages, not to mention co-signs from alternative pioneers like Sonic Youth. They’ve caught a lot of buzz for breathing new life into indie rock, thanks to a sound emulating the ‘90s bands and ‘80s shoegaze hits that inspired them to play in the first place. But with their gratifying guitar debut, 2022’s ‘Versions Of Modern Performance’ the band proved that they aren’t just interested in repeating the noise rock of the past, but making something specifically their own.
Festival anthem: ‘Anti-Glory’
Who: ‘90s grunge revivalists making nostalgic rock
What you can expect: New York City duo Allegra Weingarten and Etta Friedmann don’t mind comparisons to Smashing Pumpkins, Pavement or Nirvana. In fact, as they told NME last year, they embrace the similarities, pointing to the grunge feel of their recent album ‘Household Name’. Last year at The Great Escape in Brighton, NME noted their undeniable stage presence nodding to “the sound – and sight – of two supremely talented musicians finally letting loose, their understated confidence fully realised.” Fingers crossed they bring that same raw energy to the desert.
Festival anthem: ‘Rockstar’
Who: Rising jungle star bringing revamping the genre for the masses
What you can expect: Nia Archives’ past 12 months have been packed with accolades and globe-trotting DJ sets, including a stop at Glastonbury and an NME award for Best Producer. But those career achievements were just the start for the jungle star, whose recent EP, ‘Sunrise Bang Ur Head Against Tha Wall’ added a new layer of passionate pop writing to her high-octane tracks. Last year Archives told NME, “I’ve never really made music for anyone else but myself. I am just my biggest fan” – even though she’s her own target audience, we know her set will make you a fan too.
Festival anthem: ‘Baianá’
Who: Raucous hip-hop rockers churning out high-energy rap
What you can expect: Felix and Louie Pastel know how to bring the heat to a festival stage. Last year at New York City’s Governor’s Ball, they told NME that they almost had fans join them during their performance to do cartwheels and backflips. If that doesn’t pull you to their stage, Paris Texas recently dropped their track ‘PANIC!!!’, and Coachella will likely be the first time fans can hear the sneak peek of their forthcoming debut album live. You won’t be required to do backflips while watching their energetic set, but that doesn’t mean you won’t want to.
Festival anthem: ‘Force Of Habit’
Who: West Coast hardcore band with a fresh, defiant sound
What you can expect: Scowl may have only been around for three years, but the punk rockers have already opened for Limp Bizkit at Madison Square Garden – and it’s only up from here. Their sinister hardcore sound has been blazing a trail in California’s hardcore scene, which makes Coachella a hometown show for the Santa Cruz upstarts. “The Californian scene is explosive, and it’s like a colour bomb — there’s something for everyone,” Scowl vocalist Kat Moss told NME last year. Judging by their recent gigs across the globe and nods from the likes of Hayley Williams of Paramore and Post Malone, they’ll be picking up new fans at Coachella, and you’ll want to be one of them.
Festival anthem: ‘Bloodhound’
Who: Jamaican dancehall star racing up the charts
What you can expect: First, it’s important to note that Shenseea was the first Jamaican female Dancehall artist to appear on Billboard’s Hot 100 Chart in 17 years back in 2021. But if making history won’t draw you to her Coachella set, perhaps her massive collabs with the likes of Calvin Harris and Megan Thee Stallion will do the trick? Since she’s recently teased that she’s working on the follow-up to her 2022 album ‘Alpha’, there’s a chance you’ll get to hear what’s next for the star.
Festival anthem: ‘Curious’
Who: Philadelphia gang creating radical hardcore punk
What you can expect: This Philly trio have been very clear about their inability to fuck around, merging socially conscious lyrics with a brash hardcore sound. Their album ‘Diaspora Problems’ was a nod to righteous Black anger, backed with a flurry of hip-hop, metal and punk that’s just begging to be heard live. Soul Glo’s live shows highlight political issues and transmute frustration into frantic energy, while also offering something new.
Festival anthem: ‘Gold Chain Punk’