There is an endless list of things that make music festivals so great. One of the top reasons has to be the ability to discover bands and artists you’re unfamiliar with.
Coachella 2014 has a number of acts billed in the bottom few lines of each day that you should keep an ear out for. There’s a good chance a number of them will breakout and be higher up the bill by the time Coachella 2015 rolls around. Here’s a list of a six lesser known Coachella acts you need to see.
Words: Mark E. Ortega
1. Bear Hands
This Brooklyn based indie rock band has opened for acts such as Passion Pit, We Were Promised Jetpacks, and Gza. Though they’re playing on a stacked Saturday, many Coachella goers that arrive early enough to catch their set may head back to camp with their set still ringing memorable in their ears. Their 2014 album, Distraction, is getting favorable reviews and vocalist/songwriter Dylan Rau’s crazy lyrics dosed in pop are a good reason why. The band went to Wesleyan College where MGMT also shared roots, but Bear Hands brings a more traditional sound. Many live reviews have taken a similar stance: their set goes by too quickly, as all really enjoyable things seem to do.
2. Blood Orange
Blood Orange at Coachella 2014, weekend one
New York-based Londoner, Devonte Hynes has earned acclaim writing hit songs for both Solange and Sky Ferreira, but it is his musical output as Blood Orange is where he really shines. Though Hynes employs himself as a singer/songwriter/guitarist/bassist/keyboardist/drummer etc., his featuring of special guests on the Cupid Deluxe album are a definite strength. Hynes made headlines in December when he lost everything in a house fire. He’s played few shows since, but has been considered can’t miss. The Village Voice called a February gig “better than anything but sex”, which is as high a mark as you can get. Though early shows as Blood Orange were a man-and-his-guitar-and-laptop show, recent gigs have featured a full band. With it being Coachella, it wouldn’t be a surprise if collaborators from Cupid Deluxe came along for the ride. Blood Orange plays on the stacked Saturday.
3. The Bots
The Bots at Coachella 2014, weekend one
Teenage brothers Mikaiah, 18, and Anaiah Lei, 15, comprise perhaps the most intriguing act on the bill for Coachella 2014. The Glendale duo toured with Blur for a spell and have most often been described as a cross between the White Stripes and the Black Keys. Not a gimmick, these kids can really rock and their lyrics are a bit beyond their years. Those that are fresh and ready for Friday’s lineup can catch them in action.
Austra at Coachella 2014, weekend one
Coachella 2014 is unbelievably deep in female vocalists and few are as impressive as Austra’s Katie Stelmanis. This Toronto group’s Friday set could set the dance tone for the entire festival as her music leaves you no choice but to move your feet. Their 2013 full-length, Olympia, features an overwhelming amount of catchy dance pop hooks that combine nicely with the assortment of instruments they incorporate into their house sound. Stelmanis’ unmistakable opera sound brings a different dimension than what normally accompanies house music, making it all the more enjoyable. Live reviews had Austra noted as stealing the show from headlining acts they toured with.
5. Jhene Aiko
Jhene Aiko at UCLA Jazz and Reggae Festival, 2013
It’s pretty likely this R&B seductress won’t be largely unknown for long —d she’s been opening for Drake on his recent US tour and featured on his track “From Time”. Aiko’s voice is aide by the fact it doesn’t feature a lot of unnecessary noise behind it. Backed by simple percussion and light keyboards most of the time, Aiko’s voice is able to shine bright. The Los Angeles-based singer has been a recording artist since she was 12 years old but is just now reaching her peak. Her intimate lyrics that often discuss her many struggles strike a chord and her Sunday set could be a perfect way to shake off Saturday’s hangover.
6. Wye Oak
Wye Oak at Coachella 2014, weekend one
Vocalist Jenn Wasner’s haunting lyrics and guitar on Wye Oak single “Civilian” should be enough to get you to check out the Baltimore duo’s Friday set on its own. Wasner has a Christine McVie quality to her vocals, further elevated by multi-instrumentalist, Andy Stack’s work. Their sound could best be described as a combination of indie folk rock and shoegaze. Though just a two-member ensemble, they are able to create a full sound that should captivate Coachella goers quite easily.
Which lesser known Coachella acts do you recommend? Let us know in a comment below.
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Great list! Austra is awesome live and Blood Orange would be a definite-see for me. Not so good at being able to determine how well known someone is but if I were going to Coachella, I would definitely go check out Laura Mvula and Banks. Sooo many great female vocalists out there right now.