Coachella is less than 10 days away! As you start going into Coachella mode and planning your course of action, make sure to check out some lesser known bands this year to get the real Coachella experience. Sure, Jack White, Drake and AC/DC are all a sight to see live — but so are the smaller acts. You just don’t know it yet. After all, that is what Coachella was once all about.
Below we’ve selected nine lesser know bands you need to see this year at Coachella 2015! While we’re no stranger to these bands and have covered many of them numerous times, a lot of Coachella-goers have no idea how great these bands are live. So do yourself a favor and schedule them into your Coachooser.
— FRIDAY —
1. Sylvan Esso
North Carolina electropop duo Sylvan Esso just get the Coachella flowing. Nick Sanborn’s often minimalistic electronic approach pairs exquisitely well with Amelia Meath’s vocals — like on their single “Coffee.” Their sound is really more electronic meets folk pop, and I imagine their set will fall sometime in the late afternoon. Much of the lyrical content deals with love and the pitfalls of love — but they often take the Third Eye Blind approach of pairing the melancholy lyrics with a more upbeat sound, “I’ve got a phone that beeps, makes me know I’m not alone,” Meath sings on “H.S.K.T” in a song I expect to see the Coachella crowd dusting off their dance moves to.
2. Charles Bradley
It took 62 years for Charles Bradley to put his first album out — and he’s been lighting stages on fire for long before that as a James Brown impersonator. Though he’s definitely got the vocal stylings of Brown, Bradley’s original tunes shine on their own. Despite his age, he performs like someone in his twenties, giving it his all, sometimes tears flowing from his eyes as he soaks in the realization that he finally made it. Decades of heartache and sometimes years of homelessness, Bradley has experienced things few have. For him, life has truly been a case of “the sweet isn’t as sweet without the sour,” and I expect his set to be one of the highest energy and most uplifting of the weekend.
From southern California’s city of Carson, Ab-Soul is one of the lesser known members of Top Dawg Entertainment (which, among others, features man of the moment Kendrick Lamar) but he’s got as much flow as any rapper out there at the moment. He’s also worked with a bevvy of talented performers, meaning his set could feature a guest appearance or three. He’s featured Danny Brown & Jhene Aiko, Schoolboy Q, Sza, Rick Ross, Lupe Fiasco, as well as fellow Coachella performer Action Bronson.
— SATURDAY —
English rockers Coasts have made waves on their home turf and are now looking to conquer America with their first tour in the States beginning this year. In their most well-known single “Oceans,” they’ve perfected the catchy anthemic chorus that figures to send people back home from Coachella looking these guys up and jumping into their tunes. With just a few EPs to their name, they’ll probably be slotted for an early afternoon set. If that’s the case, be sure to get into the gates early to check them out.
5. St. Paul and the Broken Bones
After catching a few minutes of this southern soul group from Birmingham at Life is Beautiful last year, they became a must-see act when the Coachella lineup dropped a few months later. Vocalist Paul Janeway is shocking in his range and his enthusiasm and they will definitely be bringing the good vibes to Coachella in full force with their amazing horns section.
6. Ryn Weaver
We’ve been all over Ryn Weaver here at Grimy Goods, considering her one of our 13 Los Angeles Artists to Watch, as well as extensively covering her at SXSW a few weeks back. She has the potential to be one of the performers from this year’s Coachella we look back on a few years from now and are shocked she was every that far down on the poster. She has massive potential for pop stardom and her live performances have continued to improve as time has gone on. She’s got a relate-able charisma on stage and her song “OctaHate” lures you in with its catchy hook while the rest of her material proves she’s more than just a future radio stalwart.
— SUNDAY —
7. The Orwells
You just need one watch of this Illinois rock quintet’s performance on Letterman last year to want to check them out at Coachella. Singer Mario Cuomo loses his shit on stage in a way that had Letterman himself asking them to play it again. I was told by someone close to the band that at Life is Beautiful this year, they were kicked out of the festival after their performance because of damage they had done while on stage. Their sloppy performance style is endearing as hell — you don’t know if they’re drunk or if they’re just having such a good time they couldn’t care to get things 100% right. Expect some crowd-surfing and maybe some moshing close to the front of the stage for this one — if anyone has the energy left from the previous two days.
Danish singer MØ (that’s pronounced in a way that rhymes with “bleu”)’s debut album No Mythologies to Follow has been in constant rotation for me since I embarked on research for this year’s Coachella. At times, she has an almost Lana del Rey-like vocal approach (check out “Dust is Gone”). At other times, you’ll be moved to dance — like in the song ironically-titled “Don’t Wanna Dance with Nobody.” MØ herself gets down on stage — swinging her long braided ponytail almost like a weapon. She’s also got a snazzy cover of the Spice Girls classic “Say You Will Be There” that I would be surprised if she didn’t bust it out in the desert.
9. Night Terrors of 1927
Former Rilo Kiley guitarist and co-frontperson Blake Sennett as well as former The Honorary Title frontman Jarrod Gorbel have a pretty fine indie pop band. Their most-known song features Tegan & Sara on vocals along with Gorbel — don’t be shocked if they make a guest appearance on this track. Their album Everything’s Coming Up Roses is pretty solid from start to finish, and from friends who have seen them in concert, they more than live up to that in a live setting. Gorbel’s vocals have a sort of ’80s “Come on Eileen” vibe to them, which is very fitting to the instrumentation used by Sennett.
Words: Mark E. Ortega