Coachella 2016 Lineup: Pay Attention To The Fine Print
What we really like about this year’s desert bookings.
Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival has remained a monolith in the festival market’s skyrocketing boom over the past decade and record ticket sell-out times and multi-million dollar corporate sponsorship deals emblazon the lucrative brand’s dominance and demand in the United States. Legendary acts like AC/DC, Paul McCartney, Prince, Amy Winehouse, Steely Dan, JAY Z and countless others have left behind some of pop culture’s most indelible moments on the desert’s main stage—from Kanye West’s last-minute powerhouse performance in 2011 to Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre’s history-making set alongside a hologram of hip-hop icon 2Pac to Daft Punk’s 2006 LED pyramid.
With years of unrivaled A-list bookings under its belt, the demand from audiences and the music industry has grown unfathomably high for Coachella, hosted annually in the palm-lined desert of Indio, California. Yet they still manage to drop jaws. When the artist lineup for their highly anticipated 2016 edition dropped just a couple days back after weeks of a headliner-by-headliner “leak”—now revealed as LCD Soundsystem, Guns N’ Roses and Calvin Harris—festival junkies and social media trolls echoed a collective anticlimactic response to this year’s official roster instantly (and expectedly) becoming a trending hashtag on Twitter and a scrolling advertisement that flooded Facebook newsfeeds. But beyond the predictable festival staples and band reunions highlighted in bold, the three-day, two-weekend affair boasts a rather impressive list of rising and established talent, particularly in regards to electronic music and female performers.
While it’s undeniable the influence electronic and dance music culture has had throughout the 2010’s, industry magnets like the Grammys and American Music Awards continue to ignore, or vaguely acknowledge, the genre (and all the sub-genres that come with it). After all, where would trap be had it not been for electronica’s fusion with rap that helped steer the culture out of urban isolation and introduced it to festival audiences? Or Rihanna’s anthemic genre bender “We Found Love” produced by Calvin Harris? Or David Guetta’s slew of chart-toppers with virtually every major radio artist? Or dare I even say the resurrection of Justin Bieber’s career?
Coachella assists in filling that void with their finely curated house and techno acts, a nod to the underground’s growing reign in dance in recent years starting with their DJ bookings in 2014. Techno titans Maceo Plex, John Digweed, Marco Carola, Nic Fanciulli, Dubfire, Sasha, Nicole Moudaber, Adam Beyer and Ida Engberg are among the talent spearheading this spring’s chapter of dark and twisted garage synths and pulsating rhythms. Meanwhile, an eclectic mix of experimental dance artists like disco-inspired outfit Rufus Du Sol, indie pop trio Years & Years, live duo Bob Moses, breakout alternative R&B crooner Gallant and Venezuelan minimal production partners AKA Fur Coat cater to revelers in search of uncovering new musical tastes.
Unlike previous years, record-breaking female bookings envelop another draw to the desert this April. Acrobatic vocalists such as Sia and Ellie Goulding lure Top 40 audiences as a barrage of dexterous leading ladies like the Black Madonna, Nina Kraviz, Halsey, Aluna Francis of AlunaGeorge, TOKiMONSTA, Alessia Cara, Nora En Pure, Nina Las Vegas and Lauren Mayberry of CHVRCHES inject a long-awaited dose of ethereal estrogen into the bill’s usual machismo monotony. While the majority of headliners remain predominantly male-centric, this surge in female bookings is a step in the right direction that is being set up to be expanded upon in 2017.
Coachella, known for its blend of fringe-loving hipsters, jam band hippies and paparazzi-fed celebrities, ultimately represents the solidarity of music fans around the world. Critics and social media trolls alike will stay adamant about picking apart the festival’s lineup or patron capacity or artist’s performance flaws, but, in regards to the 2016 lineup, attendees will be introduced to music they’ve never herd before, and that’s exactly the point.