Aside from the Grammy nominations in the fall, the announcement of Coachella’s line-up is arguably one of the most hyped events in the music industry’s year. In much the same way that Vogue’s September issue is said to set the tone for high fashion’s entire Fall season, the much anticipated release of the three-day music festival’s line-up is similarly influential in determining what direction mainstream-leaning indie music will take in the coming year.
As Coachella becomes a beast greater than the sum of its performing parts, this is truer than ever.
So when the three biggest-name acts headlining Coachella this year are Jay-Z, Muse and Gorillaz, it’s not because the festival has completely sold out to KROQ, but because they are the new faces of what Coachella’s core music is.
Yes, there are the traditional indie-dream bands and come-up weirdness in the smaller print of the lineup (Mew, Yo LaTengo, Lucero, Beach House), but to purists accustomed to Rage Against the Machine reunions and former-Beatle comebacks, having Pavement open for the Gorillaz seems a little bit sacrilegious.
But giving electronic prog-metal and cartoonish hip-pop acts top-name treatment and featuring the hip-hop mogul who killed hip-hop in a solid spot on a stateside festival like Coachella (he already headlined England’s equally-as-epic Glastonbury), doesn’t complicate the area between mainstream pop and indie rock as much as fill it in.
Instead of tiptoeing around the already-blurred Pitchfork-defined boundaries of what is acceptable indie music, the Coachella curators have fully accepted the genre-bending culture-crossing amalgam that popular music has become and organized a three-day cross-section of popular music today.
Who says Jay-Z can’t headline a rock-oriented festival? And who is to say that Pavement would be more worthy? Looking at the big-text names on this year’s roster might make Coachella appear as though it has hit the corporate-sponsored mainstream jackpot (well, they did), but a look in the last year of mainstream music will prove that so-called indie rock has, too.
Check out the full lineup here: Coachella.com.