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This year’s Coachella lineup features some of the hottest names in music. As always, it is both “siiick” and “sooo good.” Which means it’s easy to miss some of the best performances due to big crowds, drunk bros, and friends who seem like they are trying to ditch you.
While the festival’s hierarchical lineup structure touts the most popular performers, the real Coachella experience comes from reading the fine print: the lesser-known acts. I’ve taken the liberty of highlighting some of the best new up-and-comers you don’t want to miss. These bands may not have the biggest crowds, but in a few years you’ll be able to say, “I saw them when they were small at ‘chella,” which is really what this whole thing is about.
Hailing from Carlsbad, California, this trio of bearded libertarians know how to bring the waffle-house down. One of the leaders of Southern California’s brunch-rock movement, catch Over-Medium on the Mountain Dew Sandstorm stage performing songs off their new record, Holland Daze.
2. Salvador Dolly
In 2004, Gregor Hoffman and Marcus Ratcliff, roommates at Bob Jones University, started experimenting with premarital sex and a broken synthesizer. Their debut album, First Trimester, received critical acclaim for its “honest portrayal of heartbreak and Reagan-Era fiscal policies” and is said to be a major influence on Ne-Yo’s In My Own Words album.
3. Lenovo Charger
You can’t talk about these Staten Island garage rockers without mentioning their performance at Lollapalooza 2007, when lead singer Trent Easton sucker-punched band member Jamie Conner during Conner’s guitar solo. Expect this show to get rowdy. The group’s latest album, 718-639-9932, which is the number of Easton’s parole officer, is perhaps the most ambitious project of 2013.
As the Minneapolis rap scene continues to grow, 24-year-old Cory Dupont aka Doughstoyevsky is bringing his rhymes to the mainstream. His single “Death Is Inevitable” is on the Spring Breakers soundtrack due out in May, and his Twitter beef with Minneapolis Twins outfielder Josh Willingham has garnered the rapper some serious coverage in certain circles.
5. Modern European Poetics
Marcia Hillenbrand and Hillary Kimura opened a boutique architecture firm in Dallas in 2009. When their lease was up they scrapped the day gig and spent the next two years touring with Robyn, bringing their adjacent-to-pop brand of dance music to arenas and MoMAs across the country. The duo is currently helping produce the new Pharcyde album out in 2015.
6. The Bicameral Legislatures
If you haven’t heard The Bicameral Legislature’s yet, you need to get out of your mass-produced, Ikea-designed apartment more often. Ushering in a new brand of experimental folk-rap, these University of Michigan law students are touring the world atop the recent success of their debut album, Amicus Curiae. Their Coachella performance may be their last in the States for a while. Rumors say the group has been offered a weekly gig on the island of Ibiza at popular mega-club Amnesia.
As you probably know, CRW/FSH is the side project of producer Swizz Beats and John Mayer. The two reportedly met at a New York nightclub and hit it off, producing 35 tracks in the studio before night’s end. The duo will premiere their sound at Coachella, despite widespread criticism from pacifist groups who say their first single, “Homicide Evening,” glorifies murder and violence. You do not want to miss this show.
8. Curry Ketchup
Curry Ketchup is the biggest name in stuckpop right now. If you haven’t familiarized yourself with the new genre, Curry Ketchup is the perfect introduction. You’ll probably recognize lead singer Will Estes from CBS’ cop drama Blue Bloods, or drummer Ben Henry from the 21st season of Survivor, Survivor – Nicaragua.
9. Bruuce Springsteen
It’s hard not to hear influences of Zydeco on Bruuce Springsteen’s debut album. The New Orleans indie-jazz trio grew up performing for tips in the French Quarter. It wasn’t until later, when they discovered an MPC and lead singer Brian Thompson got a haircut, that the band saw any real success.
10. Male Gaze Theory
Reportedly Wiz Khalifa’s favorite new band, Male Gaze Theory comes to Coachella fresh off widespread success with their recent album Commodified Bodies. While Wiz and other critics hail them as “the new Mars Volta,” Male Gaze Theory doesn’t want your praise. Lead vocalist Maxwell Rodriguez has openly mocked fans on Twitter for “drinking the corporate Kool Aid,” and ended a Melbourne show early because fans in the front row didn’t know enough lyrics.
11. Dot Gov
Dot Gov is currently the most prolific rapper in the game. Since signing to Maybach Music Group last fall, Gov has dropped nine mixtapes, each one named after a different Supreme Court Justice. His latest effort, Scalia, is a transparent look into the life of a congressional intern fighting for recognition and a letter of recommendation.
12. Minimally Invasive
This group of 12-year-old punks put out the most self-aware album of 2012. Now, with permission from their parents, they are taking their brand of preteen horror-core to a city near you. Caleb Ygnacio’s unplanned pitch changes add a surprise element to their set, and you never know if drummer Jaxon Brown will finish his homework in time to bang his drums in the name of anarchy.
13. Fruit Punsh
This Swedish quartet has a knack for arena-pop power ballads, and isn’t afraid to have some fun. After touring and gaining mainstream acclaim across the pond, Fruit Punsh is ready to show you how Stockholm gets down. If this sounds a lot like ABBA, that’s because it is. Fruit Punsh is Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, and Anni-Frid Lyngstad from ABBA, and they will be playing all their greatest hits.
If Cat Stevens and Kendrick Lamar had a love child, and that love child married Willow Smith and they had a child, that child would sound something like :///. Fusing West Coast hip-hop with up-tempo prog-rock, it’s easy to see why Beck has asked the group to produce his next record.
15. VARIOUS ARTISTS
VARIOUS ARTISTS has been tearing up clubs across the country with his breakout single, “PLAY THIS SONG WHEN UR ON DRUGS.” Many expect the EDM artist to have a breakout 2013. At Coachella, he’ll be playing a 14-hour DJ set. Vegas has the over/under for bass drops at 500.
16. Friends of Hamas
Rumors about Friends of Hamas have been circling for weeks, and while their actual existence as a band/group/thing is still yet to be confirmed, the hype is growing. Sure, they may be made up, but can you take the chance and miss out on an opportunity to be interviewed by The Drudge Report?
Singer/songwriter Yvone Faust aka Misanthropical puts a new twist on some of your old favorites. Her album Just Okay features the artist reading contemporary children’s literature over all the beats from Dr. Dre’s The Chronic.
This brother-sister duo makes music that is perfect for ignoring your flight attendant when he/she tells you to turn off your electronic devices. With catchy hooks and lofty melodies, catch W4 before they get huge and your mom puts them on her workout playlist right before Liz Phair and right after Natalie Imbruglia.
19. Drake and Josh
Snubbed as a headliner, Aubrey “Drake” Graham will take the stage with acclaimed actor Josh Hartnett. The two will do a table read of the 2001 film Pearl Harbor, in which Hartnett plays Lt. Daniel Walker. It’s reported that Drake will be reading the part of Capt. Rafe McCawley, originally played by Ben Affleck.
20. Move to Trash
These British DJs have pretty much perfected the wastenoise genre with their breakout album 2 Shift Keyz. Merging traditional jazz elements with the hard rhythmic patterns of early-aught AOL Internet connectivity, Move to Trash has captured a generation of cyber bullies and spambots.