Sunday, January 4, 2015

Coachella 2015: Our Predictions

Here, after much too long a wait, is our educated guess at the 2015 Coachella lineup, which we expect to drop within the next two weeks, and perhaps imminently. Stay tuned...

The Headliners (or high-billed Subheadliners):

AC/DC or Kanye West
Jack White (as the Dead Weather?)
...and maybe Coldplay, or one of the asterisked artists below

Scroll down to the bottom of this post for an in-depth discussion of our headliner picks, and several more names we think might make a surprise appearance on the poster.

The Undercard (* for artists that could get elevated to headliner status):
Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness
Angel Olsen
Angus & Julia Stone
Annie Mac
Autechre and/or Aphex Twin
Axwell /\ Ingrosso
Bad Religion
Belle and Sebastian
Benjamin Booker
Brand New
Carl Cox
Cedric Gervais
Charli XCX
Chet Faker
Clark (weekend 2)
Clean Bandit
Cold War Kids
Dada Life
Danny Tenaglia
Death Cab for Cutie*
Death From Above 1979 and/or MSTRKRFT
Deltron 3030
Die Antwoord
Dimitri Vegas + Like Mike
DJ Dodger Stadium
Djemba Djemba
Eagles of Death Metal
Erol Alkan
Ex Hex
Faith No More
Father John Misty
FKA Twigs
Flake Music
Flying Lotus
The Gaslamp Killer
Gaz Coombes
George Ezra
Glass Animals
The Handsome Family
Hot Natured and/or Jamie Jones 
J. Cole 
Jenny Lewis
Jessie J 
Joey Bada$$ 
Kaiser Chiefs  
King Tuff
The Kooks
The Libertines
London Grammar
Mac deMarco
Made in Heights
Marilyn Manson
Milky Chance
Neneh Cherry
Nightmares on Wax
Panda Bear
Parquet Courts and/or Perfect Pussy
Party Favor
Pete Tong
Porter Robinson
The Presets
The Prodigy
Rainer Maria
The Reverend Horton Heat
Royal Blood
Run the Jewels
Ryan Adams
Ryn Weaver
San Fermin
Sonny & The Sunsets
St. Vincent
Sylvan Esso
Todd Terje
Tove Lo
Twenty One Pilots
Two Gallants
Tyler, the Creator
Until the Ribbon Breaks
The War on Drugs
The Weeknd
Wildcat Wildcat
Wolfgang Gartner
Young the Giant 

...and some more possibilities we'll name with lesser confidence or significant doubt - 1-800-Dinosaur, 2 Live Crew, a-Ha, Amtrac, Angel Haze, A$AP Rocky, Asgeir, Azealia Banks, Babes in Toyland, Baroness, Bassjackers, Ben Harper and Innocent Criminals, The Blood Brothers, Bondax, Brandon Flowers, Brody Dalle, Broods, Cashmere Cat, Chelsea Wolfe, Coasts, Cobra Starship, Culture Club, Delicate Steve, The Dandy Warhols, DJ Snake, DJ Snoopadelic, Electric Six, Erasure, Failure, Falcons, Frank Ocean, Glassjaw, Green Velvet, Har Mar Superstar, Imagine Dragons, Jungle Brothers, Junior Prom, K. Flay, Kasabian, Kaskade, Kelela, The Kinks, L7, Laidback Luke, Las Krudas, Lincoln Jesser, Los Angeles Police Department, Low Litas, Luke James, Lydia, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Mark Ronson, Matthew Dear/Audion, Meaux Green, The Mercy Beat, Mighty Oaks, Miguel, Mirel Wagner, Museum of Love, My Crazy Girlfriend, My Morning Jacket, Mystery Skulls, New Pornographers, Nosaj Thing, Odesza, Oliver Heldens, The Orwells, Porcelain Black, R3hab, Rae Sremmurd, Raury, Robert Plant, Royksopp, Rusty Maples, Screaming Females, Sia, Simian Mobile Disco, Sky Ferreira, The Soft Moon, The Soulsavers, Streets of Laredo, Swans, SZA, T. Mills, Tears for Fears, Television, Thomas Jack, Tiƫsto, Tobacco, TOKiMONSTA, T-Pain, Two Fresh, Tune-Yards, Underworld, Vacationer, Vance Joy, Wiz Khalifa, W&W, Zella Day

About those headliners...
Before we get into the who, we'l start with the how many. in an age of audience fragmentation, with fewer and fewer major touring acts, Coachella has begun to depart from its traditional single headliner dominating each night of the festival. Both 2011 and 2013 featured a fourth headliner sharing top billing on one of the nights, with The Strokes and Kanye West doubling up four years ago, and blur and The Stone Roses trading top billing two years back. We think there is a good chance that the odd-year trend continues, and we would not be surprised if it happens on more than one night in 2015. On to the big names.

Jack White (with The Dead Weather?)
in the wake of two recent releases under his own name, Jack White has stepped out and up as a solo artist, graduating through subheadlining spots at Lollapalooza, Outside Lands, and Austin City Limits in 2012 to prime time at Bonnaroo in 2014. The only major festival left for him to conquer is Coachella, and we expect he'll do just that in 2015. His tour schedule certainly points in that direction, with a big-time gig headlining Madison Square Garden in New York City late this month and dates across the South and Southwest that stop abruptly at Las Vegas, just short of the territory governed by the festival's exclusivity clause (we don't count a planned February appearance at the $1500-a-plate MusiCares industry gala dinner). Our only question is whether Jack is a big enough act to headline alone, or whether the festival wants to hold out for a future White Stripes reunion. While we have a good deal of confidence that he'll be on the poster, we think he might appear again as a subheadliner with The Dead Weather, set to release a new record sometime in the middle of the year, or, more likely, on a shared top line with an act like... 

Drake (with Special Guests) 
Since Jay-Z conquered Coachella in 2010, at least one big-name artist from the hiphop world has appeared at or near the top of the bill in every subsequent year - Kanye West in 2011, Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg (with a raft of special guests) in 2012, the Wu-Tang Clan as subheadliner along with a reunited Jurassic 5 in 2013, and Outkast in 2014. We expect that trend to continue in 2015, and regard rising superstar Drake, set to release his new album in April, as perhaps the likeliest candidate for a variety of reasons including the fact that he's besties with the former CEO of Coachella parent AEG Live. Drake would also be an age-appropriate lure for the young audience sought by the festival - where Kanye is 37, Andre, Big Boi, and "Fitty" 39, Eminem 42, Snoop and Method Man 43, Jay 45, and Dre 49, "Drizzy" is a mere 28. That age, however, may be a double-edged sword, as more established rappers and rockers may have a certain droit du seigneur that drops Drake to a less prime spot like that occupied in 2014 by "Happy" hitmaker Pharrell, who subheadlined while the arguably less popular Outkast took top billing. Still, we think that Drake is a headlining act, and expect him, like Pharrell, to bring along a good number of special guests to flesh out his stage presence, including potential big names like Lil Wayne (maybe), 50 Cent+G-Unit, Eminem (a potential headliner himself), Snoop Dogg, Lauryn Hill, Kendrick Lamar, The Weeknd, Miguel, quite possibly Stevie Wonder, and, if he is not headlining himself...

Kanye West
When not designing incredibly popular limited edition sneakers, the 2011 (co-)headliner has been busy preparing his upcoming release, reportedly titled "Paris" and expected to drop any day now... i.e. just about the same time as the Coachella lineup. We have long expected the rapper to stand alone on a top line at Coachella (and without too man special guests, though we could see an Iggy Azalea or two) when that album drops, and our confidence grows with signs that 'ye will embark upon a major American tour in 2015. Yes, that would mean two rap headliners if we're also right about Drake, but we see no reason for that not to happen. We are given pause, however, by three cautionary considerations. First, the new album still lacks a release date, and we don't discount the possibility that Yeezy's perfectionism will produce delays substantial enough to push his appearance to 2016. Second, there's the possibility that he's planning a stage production unwieldy enough to produce similar delays or transcend the capabilities of the festival, which the self-declared "Yeezus" may regard as beneath him now. And third, while he has worked with AEG on past tours, it's unclear whether that relationship will continue in 2015. If Kanye is not in fact on the poster, we think these next guys probably will be...

One of the biggest-selling rock acts in history is set to embark upon a major tour in 2015, with European dates already announced from early May to late July, but nothing announced in the U.S. That has led to some serious speculation that the band will kick off its world tour with an April appearance at Coachella. We think it could happen too, but color us a little skeptical. While U.S. dates are surely forthcoming, we expect them to follow Europe in August and precede an Australian homecoming in the Fall. More significantly, this band is relatively old news - their most recent hit is older than many festivalgoers, the lead guitarist is approaching 60, the singer is closer to 70, and they've already lost two members to dementia and drug charges with a side of threatening to kill someone, hardly the look the festival, which hasn't booked a true hard rock headliner since at least 2007, is going for. Furthermore, we don't think either party needs the other - Coachella sells out on its brand, which AC/DC has potential to damage, while the band reaps festival-level paydays from ordinary gigs. Still, the oldsters could ironically be this year's buzz band at a festival that reportedly went after aging acts in Black Sabbath in 2012 and the Rolling Stones in 2013, and we don't rule out the possibility that Coachella will do so again at the beginning of what might well be the last go-round for a very big-name band. We already know it's the last time, however, for our next possibility...

The 2005 headliner recently announced that its upcoming 2015 release and world tour would be its last. The band skipped the festival on its last major release in Fall 2011, instead selling out three nights at the Hollywood Bowl, but with four records to its name since its last appearance, we think a final turn at the festival is probable before Chris Martin & Co. makes their final bows. With no release date announced, we're not certain it will happen in 2015 rather than 2016, but we note that the band made its last appearance in advance of a record release, and tend to believe that Coachella will be the band's kickoff again. It would make sense for a festival bill thus far a little light on melodic pop and the sort of Anglo- and Europhilia that is sometimes its stock in trade - since 2004, at least one headlining act has hailed from beyond American shores, though both Drake and AC/DC might fill that quotient in 2015. If in fact neither party needs the other, we think Coachella might get its pop fill from a smaller act like one of the asterisked artists above.

In the Wings (wait 'til next year)?
Bjork - set to release a new album (by the middle of?) this year, the two-time headliner, also the subject of an exhibit this spring at New York's Museum of Modern Art, could well threepeat, perhaps taking Jack White's fourth-place slot. But with diminished popularity and no release date set, we tend to think she won't be back before 2016, if ever.
Daft Punk - since the festival's inception, a number of Coachella headliners have incorporated what used to be termed "electronica" into their sound, but no electronic dance music act has ever headlined Coachella. We expect that sound barrier to get broken in the next few years, and think that Daft Punk may be the only act with the right stuff to break it - Underworld doesn't strike us as quite big enough a name - but as of yet, they show no signs of activity in 2015, apparently focusing on family life, and we think a big-name DJ act like David Guetta (Deadmau5? more on him below) or one of the asterisked artists above would be likelier. Then again, you never know what to expect from the secretive helmeted duo, who may have been busy designing a new stage show this whole time. 
Florence and the Machine - while these up and comers will both release a new album and graduate to small-headliner status (i.e. fourth at Coachella?) this year, we think that neither of these things will happen until after April. 
Kings of Leon - less au courant today than fellow 2011 headliner Kanye, we're not sure the Kings will ever return to the festival. Still, if they're set to put out product before he does, they might just take his spot on the lineup. 
Mumford and Sons - we think these guys are going to headline on their next record, which may come some time in 2015. Or it may not. Wait 'til next year, we say.

Surprise (never say never)?!
Beyonce - her last record came completely out of the blue, and so could the next one, bringing with it a headlining appearance. If Bey ever does headline Coachella (and she did guest with hubby Jay in 2010 and dance with sis Solange last year), we think it may have to wait until after her next record, reportedly a family collaboration.
"Nirvana" - If there's truly a wild card on the bill, we think it could be a reprise of this past April's one-night-only Nirvana "reunion" with a rotating cast of female guest vocalists.
"N.W.A." - if they could bring back 2Pac in 2012, they can bring back Eazy-E in 2015. Unlikely, but with a new movie about the seminal gangsta rap group on its way, not an impossibility.
The Rolling Stones - reportedly in talks for the 2013 festival, and exploring North American options this Spring, we expect them to appear instead, if anywhere, at the bigger-spending Rock in Rio in Las Vegas in May, about which we may have more to say very soon. 
Smashing Pumpkins - not the original lineup, but that isn't coming back, they have a somewhat well-received new record, and they've never played the festival. Then again, they're mostly yesterday's news, and new drummer Tommy Lee is purportedly "banned" from Coachella along with friend/co-conspirator Deadmau5. 
Talking Heads - many expect the famously broken-up band never to reunite, but a few signs of thaw in recent years say it's not a complete impossibility one of these days. Still, if it ever happens, we doubt it would happen in California first. 

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