Snicker all you want, make as many “Axl Rose is showing up so late that he’ll think Weekend 2 is Weekend 1” jokes as you like. It doesn’t matter. GN’R were putting on an amazing live show in their most recent incarnation (yes, with the Chinese Democracy songs, too), and with Slash and Duff McKagan back in the fold, their Coachella set will be the stuff of legend. That doesn’t mean it will be pitch-perfect—a gloriously messy set is still in the cards. But this is the must-see live event of the spring.
Full disclosure: When I caught wind that James Murphy was getting the band back together for Coachella, I assumed they’d be coming back as a non-headliner. The return of LCD Soundsystem after a five-year break is a great get for Coachella… but really, how many actual people are going to be watching this performance by a critically adored group without a single crossover hit? The purists will scoff, but those same purists didn’t experience the empty field that the Stone Roses played to as 2013 headliners.
Calvin Harris played the Coachella main stage two years ago. Disclosure has played twice in the last three years. Zedd, M83, Major Lazer, Flume… all Coachella vets. Jack Ü has never played, but Skrillex and Diplo have before. There’s nothing shocking on the dance tip in 2016, but maybe that’s indicative of the EDM scene more than anything else.
One of the main reactions to the Coachella lineup on Twitter was: why is Halsey’s name so high up? Sure, her ascent has been rapid, but some quick facts about Halsey: her Badlands album debuted at No. 2, she’s gotten legitimate radio play, she has a rabid fan base, and she sold out Madison Freakin’ Square Freakin’ Garden. So, yes, her name is bigger on the Saturday lineup than Grimes and Courtney Barnett. It happens!
Sia has performed over the past few years on various award shows and TV programs, but any Sia-head knows that watching the singer perform live is darn near impossible for regular ticket buyers… until now. The Australian singer-songwriter will most likely obscure her face onstage on Sunday, but who cares? Coachella is getting an actual Sia performance.
Seeing names like M83, The Kills and Rhye on the lineup leads us to believe that those groups are dropping some new tunes soon. And as Stereogum pointed out, Run The Jewels is performing at Coachella for the second year in a row. Does this mean Run The Jewels 3 is around the corner?
Sometimes you just need to forgo the dance tent and calm down by the main stage as the sun is setting, you know? Sufjan Stevens will follow former Coachella chillaxers Bon Iver, The Shins and the xx and offer a blindingly lovely Friday evening performance. And then, people will turn up to Jack Ü.
The CMA star and album of the year nominee is a pleasant-surprise type of inclusion, as Coachella almost never skews toward the country set. Stapleton is a huge star now, but he may be an unknown to the Coachella crowd; either way, he’s a must-see.
Buried under the big names are the brilliant jazz musician and the K-pop/hip hop duo (read more about Epik High here). Do yourself a favor: get to the festival early on Sunday and see both. With artists like Wolf Alice, Deafheaven, Melody’s Echo Chamber and Tei Shi, Sunday might be pound-for-pound the most complete full day.
And that’s not a problem, because the Coachella lineup is not an exact science. For instance, why is Alessia Cara—who has a smash hit with “Here”—two lines lower than Adam Beyer & Ida Engberg on Sunday? What’s up with 2manydjs being way higher than Mavis Staples or Years & Years on Friday? Never forget, 2 Chainz played one of the tents in 2013, not the main stage; sometimes, Coachella underestimates fandoms, and that’s okay.