Coachella 2018 kicks off April 13th – and again from April 20th – in Indio, California. This year’s lineup boasts a record number of women performing, including sets by Beyoncé, Cardi B and SZA; plus show-stoppers like Eminem, the Weeknd and Migos. But besides the obvious heavy-hitters, here are some up-and-coming artists worth watching this weekend.
There’s no crying at Coachella – although Saddle Creek players Big Thief might change that this year. Few singer-songwriters convey the smoldering passion that is leader Adrienne Lenker’s, and Big Thief’s 2017 album Capacity lit a fire in every indie-rocker’s heart. Rolling Stone gave it four out of five stars, hailing the record as “a raw, folk-rock gem.”
The 14-member-strong Los Angeles-based hip-hop “boyband” – a term they use loudly and proudly – are likely to be in the mood to celebrate. This year saw Brockhampton complete their Saturation trilogy – three albums of bristling, eclectic hip-hop produced and recorded entirely by themselves (they also design their own merchandise and produce their own visuals). Their remarkably prolific output and self-contained approach attracted the attention of major labels, and they signed with RCA late last month.
Puerto Rican electro-funk duo Buscabulla bring the tropics to the desert this year. The San Juan troublemakers dazzled us last year with their sparkling opus, EP II, but as of late the band has focused their efforts on disaster relief, after Hurricane Maria tore through their native island. Coachella marks an exciting comeback.
Getting picked-up by Beyoncé’s management company after covering “Pretty Hurts” on YouTube is a story that Chloe and Halle Bailey will likely have to tell for years to come. But it’s not just a nice pop fairytale. On their recently released debut The Kids Are Alright, the Atlanta siblings carve out their own unique and multi-faceted take on neo-R&B. Their stars are also rising in a different direction via their recurring roles on the show Grown-ish.
A self-made internet superstar from Hawthorne, California, 19-year-old singer-songwriter Omar Banos began uploading his tender Spanglish lullabies to Bandcamp in 2015, but experienced a meteoric rise in popularity following the release of his gauzy 2017 single “Lo Que Siento.” By Halloween that year, Banos played to over 30,000 people at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery and subsequently became the center of a major-label bidding war. Evoking a little bit of Santo & Johnny and a little bit of Frank Ocean, Banos’ performance on Sunday should go down like sparkling lemonade.
The high-pitched howl of Greta Van Fleet’s Josh Kiszka has drawn so many comparisons to Robert Plant that, during a recent radio interview, the Led Zeppelin frontman modestly rated him to be “pretty good,” before adding “there’s a job out there for him.” Judging by Greta Van Fleet’s swelling fanbase, he’s already doing it. Off the back of two EPs released in 2017, the Michigan classic rockers have even earned a personal invite from Elton John to play his famed Oscar party.
Oregon-based Michelle Zauner, a.k.a. Japanese Breakfast, made one of the low-key stunners of 2017 with Soft Sounds From Another Planet, an album of spacey indie-pop songs, widescreen textures and immersive sci-fi themes. Currently on tour with Snail Mail, Zauner is reportedly playing a new tune that The Retriever says is “heavier in sound than any Japanese Breakfast song to date.”
Lauded as a “pop weirdo” and “exciting young talent,” Rolling Stone recently rated Kali Uchis’ stunning 2018 debut, Isolation, with four stars. Inspired by her own expansive vintage record collection, the Grammy-nominated singer and frequent Tyler, the Creator collaborator brings oldies romanticism to a teched-out modern world through her Tropicália-infused funk and R&B.
27-year-old actress and singer Hayley Kiyoko has been outspoken about her sexuality from the get-go, starting with her 2015 cult hit, “Girls Like Girls.” Her latest singles – “Curious” and “What I Want” (featuring Kehlani) – have placed her at the forefront of an apologetically queer pop movement, and she turned 2018 into “#20GayTeen” with the release of her long-awaited debut LP, Expectations. Kiyoko is currently headlining a U.S. tour, making two pit stops in Coachella before she supports Panic! at the Disco on their upcoming arena run.
The temptation to peg Priests as the politically righteous, protest band of choice during the Trump era is big. Their 2017 debut Nothing Feels Natural was packed with songs of taut post-punk, fortified with lyrics covering the feel of modern alienation. The D.C. four-piece also know how to put on a thrilling rock show.
On her plucky 2017 debut, 1992 Deluxe, New York City native Princess Nokia not only established her seat at the hip-hop table, she flipped it upside down with fight songs like “Tomboy” and “G.O.A.T.” The riot grrrl-turned-rapper is notorious for her raucous shows, urging girls to the front and commanding the pit like a punker. Coachella attendees may get the first taste of her upcoming emo-inspired mixtape, A Girl Cried Red.
Fronted by the gutsy Lydia Night, the Regrettes are bringing back Sixties girl-group harmonies with glossy flair and a little bit of fight. Their 2017 LP Feel Your Feelings Fool! is an electrifying debut, full of clear-eyed pop songs about matters of the heart and gender equality. Off the band’s new EP, Attention Seeker, “Come Through” could make for an exhilarating pogo on Friday evening.
“Strangers,” a starry-eyed 2017 electro-pop single by 21-year-old Sigrid, was a massive hit in her native Norway and across the British Isles, where she also won the BBC’s prestigious Sound of 2018 poll (previously bestowed to the likes of Adele and Sam Smith). The word of Sigrid’s euphoric choruses has dripped out a little more slowly in the United States, but those in the know will be turning out to see her in Indio.
Fans of Soccer Mommy, Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker might get a kick out of Snail Mail’s hazy and melancholic indie-rock, but main member Lindsay Jordan has plenty to distinguish herself. A classically trained guitarist since the age of five, she’s honed her chops with the aid of Helium’s Mary Timony (who briefly tutored Jordan) and has promised shredding aplenty on her upcoming Matador Records debut, Lush.
The New Orleans collective have been operational for most of the decade, but their profile has risen rapidly after they won NPR’s 2017 Tiny Desk Contest with their thrilling performance of “Quick.” It’s a clip that encapsulated Tank and the Bangas’ ability to seamlessly meld spoken word, soul, funk and storytelling – one that also helped them sign to the Universal subsidiary Verve Forecast. The group have been a well-kept secret for years, but the word is out.