Home Music Music Lists

Coachella 2015: 25 Must-See Acts

The headliners and emerging artists that will define your weekend – and maybe your year

St. Vincent and Tame Impala

St. Vincent and Tame Impala

Jason Squires/Getty; Paul R. Giunta/Getty

For the 16th year, the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is planning to throw a desert party that serves as the unofficial kickoff of Summer Concert Season. Here are 25 acts — huge names, upcoming talents, exciting reunions — that could set the tone for the weekend(s) and beyond.

Squarepusher

NOTTINGHAM, UNITED KINGDOM - MARCH 29: (EXCLUSIVE ACCESS) Squarepusher performs a one off show on stage at Rescue Rooms on March 29, 2013 in Nottingham, England. (Photo by Ollie Millington/Redferns via Getty Images)

Ollie Millington/Getty

Squarepusher

Having performed as Squarepusher since 1995, Tom Jenkinson enters the EDM era as a progenitor of dubstep's proggier strains, an early adopter of Flying Lotus-style jazz fusion experiments and no stranger to a ridiculous light show. He'll be promoting his upcoming 14th album, Damogen FuriesTrack "Stor Eiglass" sounds like trance music dragged through a forest of jittery breaks. 

St. Vincent

KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 21: Musician St. Vincent performs at Sprint Center on December 21, 2014 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jason Squires/WireImage)

Jason Squires/WireImage

St. Vincent

Genre-bending and virtuosic, Annie Clark's twisted, future-shock rock has garnered attention from the likes of David Byrne and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra (she'll be performing with the latter in May). Coachella is part of a festival-heavy 2015 for Clark, whose schedule this summer is heavy on multi-day affairs like Roskilde and Governor's Ball. But her formidable chops and left-field approach to songwriting, both of which made St. Vincent one of last year's most compelling releases, can leave even a polo field-sized crowd spellbound.  

Sturgill Simpson

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 05: Musician Sturgill Simpson performs on stage during the Tibet House Benefit Concert 2015 at Carnegie Hall on March 5, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Tibet House)

Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty

Sturgill Simpson

Kentucky-born Sturgill Simpson's psychedelia-streaked Metamodern Sounds In Country Music was nominated for Best Americana Album at the 2015 Grammys and named the second best country album of 2015 by Rolling Stone — but he's way past genre distinctions. An outlaw in the tradition of Waylon Jennings, Simpson also isn't above covering (and devouring) New Wave hit "The Promise" by When In Rome. The recent Atlantic Records signee is only the fourth act to be booked by both the Coachella and Stagecoach festivals — joining elite company of Willie Nelson, Dwight Yoakam and the Avett Brothers — and brings the antithesis of EDM-tinged arena country to live shows that send steel guitar into the stratosphere.

Steely Dan

LAS VEGAS - AUGUST 28: Walter Becker and Donald Fagen of Steely Dan performs at The Pearl at The Palms Casino Resort on August 28, 2009 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Denise Truscello/WireImage)

Denise Truscello/Getty

Steely Dan

They may have not released any new music since 2003, but Steely Dan remain an extremely impressive live act and classics like "Hey Nineteen" and "My Old School" sound as good now as they did 30 years ago. Contemporary Dan fans include all sorts of hitmakers and producers like Mark Ronson, Pharrell Williams and Kanye West, who sampled them for "Champion." As Donald Fagen told Complex, "We said 'No,' at first, and then he wrote us a handwritten letter that was kind of touching, about how the song was about his father, and he said, 'I love your stuff, and I really want to use it because it's a very personal thing for me.'" The show should also be a nice preview of Steely Dan's upcoming summer co-headlining tour with Elvis Costello and the Imposters.

Stromae

Roger Kisby/Getty

Stromae

This Belgian singer — a smash in his home continent — has mastered quite a range of styles. While his early material played with everything from Cuban beats to French chanson, his 2010 breakout pop hit, "Alors on Danse," mixed a healthy helping of all of that with hip-hop and Euro-house. Even though that song has topped 54 million YouTube plays, he's aiming at the United States. And his chances look good: After a big SXSW, he's sitting on an upcoming song on the next Hunger Games soundtrack.

Tame Impala

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 12: Kevin Parker of Tame Impala performs on stage at The Shrine Auditorium on November 12, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Paul R. Giunta/Getty Images)

Paul R. Giunta/Getty

Tame Impala

Three years after Tame Impala's second album Lonerism broke them out as a critical favorites, the Aussie psych-rock group has slowly begun ramping up to the release of new LP, Currents. The record's first official single — "'Cause I'm a Man" — finds the group exploring cinematic, blue-eyed Seventies soul, while its other available tune, "Let It Happen," indulges a lite-rock approach to Nuggets-style kaleidoscope prog. Both top out at over seven minutes and were performed solely by main man Kevin Parker.

The Weeknd

HAMILTON, ON - MARCH 15: The Weeknd performs at the 2015 JUNO Awards at FirstOntario Centre on March 15, 2015 in Hamilton, Canada. (Photo by Sonia Recchia/Getty Images)

Sonia Recchia

The Weeknd

After profile-boosting collabos with Ariana Grande, Drake and Sia, the Weeknd now finds himself in a position where Jack White is serving as his opening act: He announced on Twitter on March 26th, "Just found out that I'm now CLOSING the night at COACHELLA. This is such an honor." The woozy, lovelorn Toronto R&B star ascends from anonymous Drake-approved mixtape marvel to full-fledged festival headliner with a pair of Saturday night performances. Fresh off his biggest solo hit yet with "Earned It," the Weeknd's Coachella gigs, which have some major special guest potential, will serve as a test run before Abel Tesfaye and company play Lollapalooza later in the summer.

Jack White

Kevin Mazur/Getty

Jack White

Last year's Lazaretto showed how Jack White has matured beyond his candy-colored blues-rock roots — its wide scope and elder-statesman attitude shored up his reputation as a musical innovator with chops and wit to spare. And now that he's partnering in a digital store to complement his vinyl-crazed Third Man Records — last month, he became one of the investors in the HQ streaming service Tidal — the White Stripes founder and keeper of real rock's flame can be seen as one of rock's bonafide businessmen. His Saturday's headlining gigs are two of the three scheduled shows he has in 2015 (he's flying to Honolulu in between). Plus, he collaborated with Robert Plant at Lollapalooza Argentina — even if his Coachella set doesn't bring a similar surprise, it'll still likely be one of the most explosive rock shows of the weekend.

Show Comments