The internet broke twice yesterday, first around noon when At the Drive-In tweeted out their unexpected reunion news, and then roughly seven hours later when COACHELLA unveiled its incredible 2012 lineup. We've digested the attractive headliners (Radiohead, Black Keys, Dre), the surprise reunions (Refused, fIREHOSE, ATDI), and that one famed Britpop heavyweight booking that almost makes up for another year without The Smiths (Pulp! Come on down, your blank check is right over here in Tent B!). Now it's time to assess the lower lines on the lineup poster and see who is poised for breakthrough performances far larger than their introductory font size.
Squint hard with the Phoenix as we tab five emerging acts that will make rolling up early to the Empire Polo Grounds worth the effort...
Boston doesn’t have any real representation out in the Cali desert this year, but Providence has two players of different ends of the aural spectrum ready to rep. The Dear Hunter’s prog-rock tendencies should turn a few heads early in the day Friday, but araabMUZIK should cause’em to combust two days later. Any complaints that 2012 Coachella is littered with bro-house (David Guetta, AVICII, Swedish House Mafia) and dated electro crunchies (Justice, LA Riots) should find enough creative juice in araabMUZIK’s live onslaught. Abraham Orellana tosses everything – dubstep, hip-hop cut-up samples, drum loops -- into the beat blender and leaves everyone in attendance in awe. Seriously, watch these fucking hands.
4. We Are Augustines
There are few things like scanning a Coachella lineup poster for the first time. It’s a manic 30 seconds of instant name recognition, joyous outbursts (Fuck yeah Pulp!), and head-scratching WTFs (Atari Teenage Riot is still a thing?!? Where's ec8or?). A veritable eye-chart for hipsters, those bottom-letter lines you squint to read at the optometrist usually have no greater meaning than the oddities, unknowns, and curiosities that fill out Coachella’s lineup and brunch slots. So imagine my excitement when I scanned three words at the edge of Friday’s slate: We. Are. Augustines. The indiest of Brooklyn indie bands, the Augustines’ Billy McCarthy and Eric Sanderson are finally earning their long-overdue praise after toiling to the brink of oblivion as rusted-soul rock band Pela in the mid-2000s (Anytown Graffiti is the best record you’ve never heard). Emboldened by a realness of sound and McCarthy’s engaging storytelling howl (all of it from the depths of his personal struggles), We Are Augustines were properly recognized in NPR’s year-end wrap-for debut record Rise Ye Sunken Ships, and now take their powerful live show to thousands in the desert. If there was one band I’d throw the DO NOT MISS tag on, it’s these dudes. I mean, you already know Radiohead. (From September: The improbable rise of We Are Augustines)
3. The Weeknd
If Abel Tesfaye’s three 2011 mixtapes -- House of Balloons, Thursday, and Echoes of Silence -- didn’t earn the 21-year-old Toronto electronic/r&b producer his fair share of cats-eye acclaim, his mind-boggling cover of Michael Jackson’s “Dirty Diana” should seal the deal. Tesfaye pulls down the shades on the 1988 mega-hit, dropping anvils for beats over an artfully-damaged sonic prowl, layering his own impassioned vocal take that more than merely echoes the late King of Pop. His re-boot is straight-up creepy. A late-afternoon Sunday slot –- warming up the sun-baked masses for Dr. Dre & Snoop -– should send the final day of Coachella into a blogging, tweeting, posting, texting, yelling, calling frenzy. (From April: The Weeknd House Of Balloons OTR, 3.5 stars out of 4)
By the time Coachella hits, Gotye’s March 29 Boston gig at the Paradise could already vie for Show of the Year honors, even if it gets moved to the House of Blues due to ticket demand. The Belgian Aussie with a Sting vocal complex (and more than 36 million YouTube hits) offered up one of 2011’s more intriguing numbers, the slowly-seeping “Somebody That I Used To Know,” a slinky number that caught on with tastemakers around the same time it found its way on the Facebook walls of everyone from your aunt to your ex before unexpectedly landing on FM radio. When people are this adamant about “production values,” you know something’s up. No word if Kimbra’s will be on stage with Mr. Wally De Backer on his Sunday mid-day performances, but that would just be a bonus (not to mention a good career move on her part). Expect much larger “font” for Gotye on the 2013 Coachella poster. (Side note for locals only: Look at the live music schedule competing with Gotye on March 29: Swervedriver at Brighton Music Hall, Polica at Great Scott, and Youth Lagoon at the Middle East. Yowza. Thanks, SXSW comeback swing!)
1. Azealia Banks
The twitter beef with Kreayshawn -- and now Nicki Minaj?! -- is only the tip of the media frenzy iceberg. Banks threw down -- emphasis on down – her monster attack jam “212” a few months ago, sitting threats effortlessly over an even more effortless Lazy Jay house beat. More than a few buzzmeters exploded on impact. But Banks is more than just another MIA clone armed with endless invitations to C U Next Tuesday, she’s a budding force who can sound as charming covering Interpol as she does vitriolic in "212." We haven’t even really digested latest single “Liquorice” because we’re still hung up on the beastly magnetism of the Two One Two, where her star power pretty much beats you senseless. At Coachella, Banks has a mid-afternoon Saturday slot, and all eyes will be on this future Queen Bitch. It’s the Azealia Banks coming out party, and she’s gonna ruin you, cunt. (From November: PTSOTL Crossover: Azaelia Banks breaks the 'net, covers Interpol, and lands On The List with "212")