By Guest Writer P.C. Anderson
Admit it: you’re a hipster about something. It might be a French-Canadian film fetish, a penchant for mid-’90s video games or perhaps you long for the days of the early seasons of Project Runway before Lifetime actually made it about fashion, but you devoutly care about particular cultural movements for peculiar and very specific reasons. Even as it has risen to mainstream popularity, Coachella is one of my hipster pleasures.
Yes, the Coachella madness is upon us once again in southern California (or Chicago, in my case). For those of you out of the loop, Coachella is considered one of the top music festivals in the country, ranking up with Lollapalooza and Bonaroo. Coachella occurs in Indio, just a town over from gay-retirement mecca Palm Springs, on ginormous polo fields that can hold thousands of people and five stages with the loudest sound systems ever (I have no science to back that up.) This event is known for its wide sonic palette, ranging from hardcore techno (Tiesto, Skrillex, Benny Benassi), hip-hop (Odd Future, Kanye, Jay-Z), reunions of bands from a distant time (Rage Against the Machine, Duran Duran, DEVO), as well as you-can’t-believe-they-got-WHO acts like Daft Punk, Madonna, and Paul McCartney. This year attendees will be treated with Radiohead making a return to the fields along with headliners The Black Keys (coming back after an outstanding set last year) and the throwaway duo Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg.
But within the crazy list of progressive eye-squinting that is required to read the line-up, it becomes overwhelming to weed out the talented from the kitschy. Here are some acts you should be listening to whether or not you’ll be waking up at 7am from the blistering desert heat in April.
MADEON is an up-and-coming DJ from France who has done remixes for Alphabeat, Deadmau5, and the Killers as well as some of his own tunes. Yelle even threw in Madeon’s remix of “Que veux-tu” during their own Coachella set last year. But here’s ultimately why he’s impressive: he’s 17 years old. Yep. He has enough discipline to develop his own style by keeping his pubescent hands on the turntable and not in his pants, and that alone should warrant your respect. Also check out: “Shuriken”
JACQUES LU CONT aka Paper Faces aka Man With Guitar aka Rhythmes Digitales aka Thin White Duke are all monikers belonging to gay-friendly and Grammy-winning British producer Stuart Price. He worked with Madonna on several albums, culminating with the trendsetting instant classic Confessions on a Dance Floor. He also produced Kylie Minogue’s most recent record Aphrodite and co-produced the Scissor Sisters magnum opus Night Work. He has great taste to say the least. So why is he listed on the second line from the bottom for the Saturday sets? No. Fucking. Idea. Also check out: “Gwen Stefani – What You Waiting For (Jacques Lu Cont mix)”
BREAKBOT is a still pretty underground DJ currently working under French label Ed Banger Records, whom you may know as “those guys who brought you Justice” (who also happens to be performing at Coachella this year). They only have a couple singles out, but they’re both dangerously infectious. This single in particular makes me believe that this is the way Grease should have ended: with a Jamiroquai-inspired nu-disco / funk fusion track sung by an MJ-voice double, not that gibberish bullshit. What a perfect way to start the summer, gang! Also check out: “Baby I’m Yours.”
AZEALIA BANKS, a rapper-lyricist from Harlem, caught my attention after working with the polarizing new Scissor Sisters jam “Shady Love” under the guise Krystal Pepsy (Crystal Pepsi was already taken by Stuart Lu Digitales Paper Guitar Duke, seriously). But her solo work is definitely worth your time. She is simply the cutest potty mouth. See Exhibit A: 212. It has never been more fun to hear “cunt” so often since your college’s mediocre production of “The Vagina Monologues.” If Azealia Banks’s vagina could only wear one article of clothing, it would be rusty brass knuckles with C-U-N-T spelled across in glitter. Also check out: “Liquorice”
HOUSSE DE RACKET will round out the list because I’ll admit I have a love affair with French musicians. Bonus point: the two guys here are too cute to handle. Some of their tunes are sung in French, which may turn off some American ears, but it does not bug me one bit. Their more recent efforts thrive on the line of indie pop rock and electronica (erring more on electronica for Alésia), represented here in “Chateau,” but Forty Love is an oldschool romp that sounds like Two Door Cinema Club and OK Go had a secret affair in the French Riviera. Also check out: “1-2-3-4″
While the Coachella line-up this year isn’t my ideal (where is Hercules and Love Affair? Simon Curtis? WHERE THE HELL IS SAM SPARRO!?), these musicians will keep me from complaining about how most of the big draws for 2012 are just repeat acts from the last three years and focused on what I love most about this music festival: I hearing new talent that I had no idea existed, and letting my sonic vocabulary expand. What could be more fun than discovering your new favorite band in a desert with thousands of other hipsters?
Am I overlooking a brilliant band or DJ or rapper that demands recognition? Share your finds in the comments. We promise not to make them mainstream.
Paul is a southern California native who recently moved to Chicago to learn the secrets of comedy at Second City and iO. @thepanderson