Thursday, January 27, 2011

Coachella 2011 - The Preamble

Originally published by PopMatters on January 17, 2011

In preparation for my first assignment covering the Coachella Music and Arts Festival for PopMatters, I’ve done a bit of marginal research to occupy my time before learning definitively who it is I’ll be seeing when mid-April brings me and tens of thousands of my best pals to the Empire Polo Fields in Indio, California.

What I mean when I say I’ve done some research is that I’ve actually just gone to the most obsessive internet sources: Blogs, message boards, etc…

Coachella ordinarily drops its lineup some time during the second half of January, but that doesn’t stop bloggers from stirring the pot, fans from going nuts and genuine insiders, presumably, shaking their heads.
Coachella fans - at least the ones who spend a reasonable portion of their day hollering about the festival online - are a passionate sort. They take both music and the Coachella Festival incredibly seriously. And as such, they’ve been going positively apeshit over the past few weeks as anticipation builds toward the announcement of the official artist lineup.

On Thursday, that anticipation reached a fever pitch, with the official Coachella website and message board both going offline intermittently during the afternoon, perhaps exploding from the sheer volume of page reloads from the exasperated masses. For a while, the primary site simply said: “It works!”

The feeding frenzy continued elsewhere, including the blog of an unknown alleged insider who calls herself Monklish. Since late 2008, Monklish has helped fuel the fire by positing about artists who might appear at Coachella well in advance of the official lineup announcement. Where she gets her information, she won’t say. Whether she’s actually a “she” is even the subject of considerable debate. But she’s got a captive audience comprised of people who both love and loathe her in equal measures, and that’s at least good for a few bucks from Google ads.
Which brings us to now. Monklish posted an update on Wednesday called “Home Stretch” with the following artists…

Animal Collective
Arcade Fire
Atlas Sound
Beastie Boys
Best Coast
Black Dub
Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears
Blonde Redhead
Bomba Estéreo
Bright Eyes
Broken Social Scene
Cage the Elephant
Cold War Kids
Crystal Castles
Cut Copy
Daft Punk
DJ Shadow
Duran Duran
Empire of the Sun
Erick Morillo and Friends
Fat Freddy’s Drop
Fleet Foxes
Foster The People
Four Tet
Free Energy
Godspeed You Black Emperor
Gogol Bordello
Green Velvet
Groove Armada
Hello Seahorse
Henry Clay People
High Contrast
How to Dress Well
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Jack Beats
Kings of Leon
Magnetic Man
Mariachi El Bronx
Marina and the Diamonds
Mary Anne Hobbs
Neil Young
Neon Indian
Nosaj Thing
PJ Harvey
Queens of the Stone Age
Rural Alberta Advantage
Sven Väth
Tame Impala
The Black Keys
The Chemical Brothers
The Delta Spirit
The Drums
The Morning Benders
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
The Strokes
The Twelves
Titus Andronicus
Tom Tom Club
Twin Shadow
Zola Jesus

Another website,, dropped a poster on January 11, though a Goldenvoice representative said they haven’t even made a lineup poster yet, so who knows?

In the comments on the Monklish blog as well as on the official Coachella forum, two acts are receiving the lion’s share of the most passionate responses. Those artists: Daft Punk and Kings of Leon.

French electronic duo Daft Punk last played Coachella in 2006, a set that has been described as “epic” on the official forum at least a billion times since. Though naysayers have frequently pointed out that as their Tron: Legacy album was merely a soundtrack, a Coachella appearance wouldn’t make much sense.

Kings of Leon, on the other hand, are apparently this year’s sign that Coachella is no longer cool. It’s an annual rite of passage that in recent years has been filled by everyone from the Killers to Jack Johnson, and if you don’t belive me all you need to do is look in the comments section under Monklish’s latest blog entry.

The following anonymous comments appeared on Thursday afternoon with 11 minutes between them…

“Kings of Leon will be great for those of us who want to leave early and not feel like we missed something.”

“The kings of leon are the worst headliner ever.

That’s obviously open to debate, though it’s clear the worst thing that could have happened to the Followill clan was to become insanely rich and successful. Few bands can survive such a blow to their cool as to have a hit record.

It’s worth noting that fake posters and other internet rumors have included everyone from the Rolling Stones to David Bowie to a Talking Heads reunion, and none of them will be true unless they are. And with the exception of a few artists here and there who let the news leak on their own, none of this will be known until Coachella makes the official announcement…or until Monklish says so…or until the local media leaks it…or until…