Speculation runs wild in the months leading up Coachella. Portishead was rumored to be playing this year’s festival, even though several of its members are in a federal protection relocation program. The Smiths were offered approximately one billion pounds sterling to reunite, but the Moz said it’s not about the benjamins. Don’t think Coachella can’t pull big names, though. These groups may need no introduction, but that won’t stop us from dropping a few nuggets of commentary. ~Eric Solomon
Depeche Mode: Coachella likes to get all weepy and nostalgic; last year alone featured Bauhaus and New Order resurrected from the ’80s. It’s nice for them to catch a blast from the past that has fresh material, though: Depeche Mode is riding a bit of a critical upswing for its last album Playing the Angel. They had better play Personal Jesus though damnit.
Daft Punk (dance tent): The festival likes to tout the mystical alchemy of the dance tent. Having seen Chemical Brothers on the side stage and in the dance tent, the latter of which was at night with lasers shooting out the folds of the big top, it’s somewhat difficult to fathom the difference. Still, Daft Punk! Incognito in strange masks! Robotic disco techno from France! Hooks so hypnotic they will brainwash you into assassinating world leaders! In a tent!
Franz Ferdinand: You always remember the first time you heard Franz Ferdinand. I had too much spiked cider, had watched an amateur fire dancer nearly set fire to the backyard of someone’s apartment, and proceeded to bang the hell out of “Take Me Out” in Guitar Hero. Probably lost that match, actually. The Scottish band has a singer who could sound disaffected yodeling about his mother dying, but the members have beats and energy for days, which means the hour or so you get with them will surely melt your face.
Sigur Ros: In a dance tent! If only. Allowing the atmospherics of these ambient rockers escape into the naked air seems almost a shame, but it’s pretty safe to say those within earshot of this band’s discordant melodies will be captivated from these cats from Reykjavík.
Tool: These guys don’t play every Coachella, it just seems like it. Coachella’s first year featured a double shot of Maynard James Keenan, with both Tool and A Perfect Circle playing. They pull a 360 and return to headline ’06 with their foreboding metallic black arts.
Massive Attack: It’s hard to keep tabs on just how many original members of Massive Attack still form the collective, and the band’s recent efforts pale compared to their classic output. Still, so long as there’s someone to program the beats and vital contributors such as the reggae anchor Horace Andy to trot out their vocals, there’s still power in their imposing music, which like a bully on the playground, shoves all those other more ethereal trip-hop acts into the sand.
Madonna: Yes, in the dance tent. We’re split on this one, with some staffers thinking it will be the greatest musical happening ever and others who would be more interested in one-time Madonna collaborator Ali G doing a hip-hop set. You can’t deny Madonna her long-running props and infinite reinventions, and the spectacle of countless sweaty people dancing to her grooves may prove to be irresistible to check out, if but for a moment.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs: Timing can be everything. Last year Bloc Party went on a late-season run of popularity; while that band garners a top spot this year, last year Coachella had the guys in a tent that nearly compressed the crowd into a neat cube the way a compactor would crush a car. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs are riding the crest of their polished sophomore album, Show Your Bones, and their vociferous female vocalist, Karen O, will clash with the Coachella crowd without any space restrictions.
Bloc Party: See above.
Paul Oakenfold: With Daft Punk anchoring the dance tent the first day and Madonna locking it down on the second, we can only assume Oakenfold will bring his superstar deejay antics to an open stage, where there will be much dancing and house beats galore. If you can’t dance to his set, just throw your booty on the shelf, because it serves you no purpose in life.
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