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Coachella’s 2018 Lineup: One Day Later

A closer look at this year's highlights, lowlights, omissions, and potential guests

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Coachella 2018
Coachella 2018

    If you came to this year’s Coachella announcement hoping for a return of the long-awaited reunions and impossible-to-get surprise acts of the past, you’ll once again leave disappointed. Once festival organizers reconfirmed Beyoncé after her postponement last year, the festival’s traditional biggest question mark already had a definitive answer behind it.

    Perhaps not wanting to diminish their long-awaited headliner’s shine, organizers played it safe with the festival’s two other headliners; although Eminem and The Weeknd are both solid draws on their own, they don’t come near to matching the well-deserved fervor for pop music’s reigning master.

    So, yes. The top line of the festival is devoid of any true shocks. However, a closer look reveals that America’s preeminent outdoor music festival is still capable of evolution. This year, that means a long-overdue focus on women and a surprising shift away from the dude-heavy guitar rock that helped put the festival on the map.

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    coachella 2018 Coachella’s 2018 Lineup: One Day Later


    The Best Bookings

    Beyoncé

    beyonce nrgstadium e294ace28c90davidbrendanhall 050716 17 Coachella’s 2018 Lineup: One Day Later

    Photo by David Brendan Hall

    Queen Bey knows how to make an entrance. A year after her pregnancy postponed her 2017 headlining appearance, Beyoncé finally gets the chance to cap off her Lemonade victory lap on one of the world’s biggest stages. Plus, after Solange’s triumphant headlining set at last year’s Pitchfork Music Festival, there’s also a little sibling rivalry on the line.

    David Byrne

    david byrne atomic bomb 24 Coachella’s 2018 Lineup: One Day Later

    Photo by Philip Cosores

    The former Talking Heads frontman hasn’t worked the festival circuit with the regularity of some of his contemporaries, a fact which, when combined with his notoriously infectious live performances and a forthcoming record that marks his first new work in six years, makes this set one to watch. Literally.

    Jean-Michele Jarre

    jean michel jarre cr mumpi 2016 billboard 1548 Coachella’s 2018 Lineup: One Day Later

    Before his 2017 summer tour, French electronic impresario and master of spectacle Jean-Michel Jarre hadn’t played in America since 1986. The exclusivity may be gone, but that may not matter; you don’t become a Guinness World Record holder for world’s largest concert without knowing how to put on a show.

    St. Vincent

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    st vincent 8 Coachella’s 2018 Lineup: One Day Later

    Photo by Ben Kaye

    Though this is her fourth Coachella appearance since 2008, Annie Clark’s penchant for Bowie-style reinvention (and blistering showmanship) injects even midday festival sets with a headliner’s urgency. Add that to the fact that she’s currently supporting some of the best material of her career, and you can see why some people would be happy to sub her in as Friday’s headliner.

    X Japan

    screen shot 2016 10 04 at 4 01 18 pm Coachella’s 2018 Lineup: One Day Later

    Buried in the tiny text of Saturday, you’ll find a rare treat: X Japan, the long-running glam metal band that basically defined the genre in their home country. This is their first appearance in America since a triumphant Madison Square Garden show in 2014; come for the speedy licks and theatrical costumes, and stay for the befuddled joy on the faces of people in the crowd who mostly showed up to see Post Malone.


    The Lowest of the Low

    The Weeknd

    theweeknd bonnaroo2017 day4 davidbrendnhall 061117 07 Coachella’s 2018 Lineup: One Day Later

    Photo by David Brendan Hall

    As far as this year’s headliners go, it’s Beyoncé and everyone else. That includes The Weeknd, whose semi-regular festival schedule and listless most recent record (2016’s Starboy) render his the least essential marquee slot. This could all change if a surprise record drops between now and April (or he somehow gets Daft Punk to show up), but for now, this booking’s a miss.

    Eminem

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    Though he had some well-received UK festival appearances in 2017, Eminem enters 2018 with the LP-shaped albatross of the dreadful Revival dragging down any potential excitement for this set. Plus, in a year focused on finally booking and celebrating women in music, closing out the festival with the guy who wrote “Kill You” feels a little tone deaf.

    alt-J

    altj5 Coachella’s 2018 Lineup: One Day Later

    Photo by Andy Moran

    Man. Remember 2012? Barack Obama was still the President, the Mayan apocalypse was all the rage, and “Tessellate” made alt-J feel like the next truly massive British rock band. Now it’s 2018, and we’ve got Donald Trump, the ever-looming threat of actual nuclear war, and … still alt-J, just worse. I hate the future.

    Portugal. the Man

    photo by Philip Cosores

    Photo by Philip Cosores

    Look. I’m as happy as anyone that the alt-rock lifers from Sarah Palin’s backyard finally achieved breakout radio success with last year’s “Feel It Still”, but I’m also just as happy to admit that it feels like they’ve been lurking on the bill of every festival I’ve been to since 2008, and I just can’t get amped for that anymore.

    A Perfect Circle

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    Finish the Tool record, Maynard, and then you can hang with your friends.


    The Omissions

    My Bloody Valentine

    my bloody valentine Coachella’s 2018 Lineup: One Day Later

    It’s been 10 years since rumors of an imminent appearance at Coachella 2008 kicked off one of the most surprising (and successful) reunions in indie rock history. With a new album on the way, it would’ve been a solid callback to finally see Kevin Shields and company take the stage in Indio.

    Vampire Weekend

    vampire weekend new album update koenig instagram Coachella’s 2018 Lineup: One Day Later

    The long-gestating follow-up to 2013’s Modern Vampires in the City may finally emerge this year, so what better way to reintroduce your band (and resurrect a little guitar rock) than a headlining set at Coachella? We’ll probably find out the answer to that soon, just not in time for the festival.

    Foo Fighters

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    foofighters davidbrendanhall 05 Coachella’s 2018 Lineup: One Day Later

    Photo by David Brendan Hall

    Somehow, the Foo Fighters have never headlined Coachella, which seems like more of a statistical anomaly than an actual oversight. This year would’ve been a decent year for that to change; 2017’s Concrete and Gold occasionally sparked with brilliance, and Dave Grohl’s toothy grin beats Eminem’s sulk any day of the week (especially Sunday).

    Justin Timberlake

    justin timberlake Coachella’s 2018 Lineup: One Day Later

    We’ve marked Coachella’s gradual-but-decisive embrace of true pop for years now, and would’ve been pretty thrilled if they’d snagged the genre’s President to go with Queen Bey. For now, the Super Bowl halftime show (and a new record tantalizingly compared to the latest Bon Iver album) will have to suffice.

    Frank Ocean

    frank ocean wins libel suit filed by father Coachella’s 2018 Lineup: One Day Later

    Just read what we wrote last year twice. It’s all still true.


    The Guest List

    Jay-Z

    jay zdsc 3466 58 Coachella’s 2018 Lineup: One Day Later

    Photo by Amy Price

    He headlined the festival himself in 2010 and released one of 2017’s best records in 4:44, but this time around Jay-Z’s most important Coachella collaboration might come as a designated hitter on Beyonce’s “Drunk in Love” or “Upgrade U” (though we’d also accept a surprise run-in for “Renegade” with Eminem the following night).

    Earl Sweatshirt

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    dayfornight2017 earlsweatshirt davidbrendanhall 03 Coachella’s 2018 Lineup: One Day Later

    Photo by David Brendan Hall

    First, a couple of caveats: Earl Sweatshirt has been laying pretty low since touring with 2015’s I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside, and his on-again/off-again feuds with former Odd Future stablemate Tyler, the Creator are well-known. But with Earl’s new album on the way and Tyler in his biggest Coachella slot yet, a quick run-in for “Orange Juice” or something feels like a distinct possibility.

    Brian Eno

    screen shot 2016 11 15 at 1 18 09 pm Coachella’s 2018 Lineup: One Day Later

    It’s been 10 years since Brian Eno and David Byrne rekindled their collaboration for 2008’s quietly brilliant Everything That Happens Will Happen Today, so it’d be cool to see them take the stage together for “Strange Overtones”. I would also settle for the more likely scenario of Byrne and St. Vincent reviving their brass band and taking down a track from 2012’s Love This Giant.

    Nicki Minaj

    14094199729 47d52fcd6a k Coachella’s 2018 Lineup: One Day Later

    Migos and Cardi B are already going to be on the grounds anyway, so we’re going to be pretty bummed if somebody doesn’t bring Nicki Minaj out for her middle finger of a verse from “MotorSport”. Besides, in a year when the festival is finally giving bad-ass women their due, it wouldn’t be right to leave Nicki out of the fun.

    Daft Punk

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    screen shot 2016 12 28 at 12 11 11 pm Coachella’s 2018 Lineup: One Day Later

    Come on. I know it won’t happen, and you know it won’t happen … but what if it happened?


    Final Word

    Led by Beyoncé, the women of Coachella form the festival’s highest highs this year. With featured sets ranging from established talents like St. Vincent and HAIM to meteoric sensations like Cardi B and SZA to small-font stars such as Japanese Breakfast, Cherry Glazerr, and Alvvays, the schedule is finally starting to reflect the broad cross-section of talent that’s been waiting for its due. However, the lack of any true surprises (and the continued presence of overbooked festival fillers that’s starting to ding even the biggest fests) keeps this year’s Coachella from perfection on paper, at least. Talk to us again in April, and we’ll see if we’re wrong.

    Grade: B-

     

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