Coachella? Meh.

So it's come to this, Coachella? The first name on the poster for the "hippest" music festival in the country is ... Jack Johnson? What in the name of Daft Punk is going on? The ninth edition of the massive gathering of hipsters in the California desert doesn't at all look like a concert worth traveling from the East Coast for, and that's before considering the fact that we'll have a handful of similarly massive festivals of our own this summer.

The nine Coachella headliners - the three bands with the biggest print on the poster (below) each day - just don't inspire any excitement. Coachella headliners are usually reunion/nostalgia acts and this year is no different. But is anyone really all that psyched for the Verve, Portishead or Love and Rockets? I have those Verve and Portishead albums, and they still sound pretty excellent (no comment on Love and Rockets), but are they really headline material? As for Roger Waters performing "Dark Side of the Moon" ... it will probably be the last performance of the entire festival, and attendees will probably want to, um, save a little of their stash for the end, because I suspect they'll need it to make that enjoyable.

With around 100 acts over the three days there are, of course, plenty of bands worth seeing. Sharon Jones, Spank Rock, the Breeders (there's a reunion I'm psyched for!), Jens Lekman, Black Lips, Professor Murder, M.I.A., Stephen Malkmus, Spiritualized, Black Mountain, Animal Collective - those are all quality acts. But is seeing them - which involves figuring out what stage they are playing on, when they are playing, etc. - in 100 degree heat with 100,000 of your closest friends the ideal way to see them? Especially when you can probably just wait and see them at the 9:30 Club or Black Cat, or your local equivalent?

In years past people booked their Coachella plans before the lineup was even announced. If folks did that this year, they might have some regrets. Or maybe I'm in the minority in thinking the lineup is lackluster. Thoughts?




By David Malitz |  January 22, 2008; 12:31 PM ET Festivals
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I must say I'm very excited about Portishead. I've been waiting for many years now to hear something new from them and it looks like after a number of fake outs, it is finally going to happen.

Posted by: Rob | January 22, 2008 1:16 PM

Wow, that is a bit underwhelming for a major rock festival, but maybe Mr. Johnson is really popular in LA. From what I've heard the Roger Waters performace is actually really good. I'd kinda prefer to hear him do "The Wall" though.

Posted by: EricS | January 22, 2008 1:17 PM

There are a lot of great bands showing up at the coach, but nothing short of a beatles reunion is going to get me out west to attend in the next couple of years. Between Bonaroo, Langerado and All Good; there are plenty of festivals this side of the missip to get down to. It is a great lineup though, i hope bonaroo has a lot of crossover form this festival, especially:

JBT, Hot Chip, Rilo Kiley, Death Cab, MMJ, Les Savy Fav, Black Mountain, Cold War Kids and Kraftwerk.

That'd be awesome!

Posted by: DudeAbides | January 22, 2008 3:28 PM

I'm sure that plenty of those bands will be at the festivals you mention, DudeAbides. It's basically like a circuit now -- same bands, different huge field -- so it's hard for any of these festivals to have much of an individual personality.

Posted by: David | January 22, 2008 3:53 PM

Dunno about THAT Love and Rockets album, but I admit I have a pretty serious fondness for Earth Sun Moon. And Spiritualized, oh my! That's not enough to make me want to sit in a field and pretend to like Roger Waters, though. I'll probably just stick to dancing to No New Tale to Tell at home, where David can't judge me...

Posted by: shf | January 22, 2008 6:03 PM

I agree. I was totally underwhelmed by the line-up. Now if more bands would actually hit up DC in addition to the Ottobar and Rams Head Live, things would be shaking. What has happened to our music scene here? Ugh. The DC music scene blows, Bush in the white house blows, the death of Heath blows, and Dan Snyder totally blows. I hope the new Mars Volta is better than Amputechture. Maybe Greg Dulli and Mark Lanegan can save the day. Please help us oh mighty Gutter Twins!

Posted by: Tyler Durden | January 23, 2008 1:20 PM

"maybe Mr. [Jack] Johnson is really popular in LA". EricS, are you East Coast people that ignorant? Sure, Jack(off) Johnson has a wide following of soccer moms, middle schoolers, and bros, but he's not really popular anywhere, he just sells a lot of albums. And as we all know, look at what sells a lot of albums these days: hoi polloi doesn't have very good taste. clearly, the coachella promoters have made a misstep either out of greed or a foolish attempt to pander to a new audience

Posted by: DWFBlitz | January 24, 2008 9:43 PM

Just learned something kinda-sorta interesting on the Internets: Jack Johnson has played Coachella before, in 2002.
He performed on Saturday and was listed on the third line of the poster. Big difference between being an upper-middle act on the bill and a headliner, but still. Maybe Coachella wasn't as hip as you thought it was. Or maybe we're overstating the case against Jack Johnson. Or maybe 2002 was just a weird year.

Bjork was the day's headliner, with Siouxsie and the Banshees, the Chemical Brothers and Sasha and Digweed sharing second-line billing. Groove Armada, Cake and Pete Yorn were with Johnson on the third line.

The Sunday lineup that year had Oasis as the headliner, with Prodigy, Foo Fighters and the Strokes next. Belle and Sebastian, Tiesto and Paul Oakenfold were on the third line.

Plus: G. Love and Special Sauce were there.

Doesn't necessarily sound like a festival I wished I'd attended.

Posted by: J. Freedom | January 24, 2008 9:59 PM

You youngsters will be amazed by what Roger Waters is all about! Forty two years of amazing music must surely be more alluring than seeing an act that 99% of the world has never heard of.

Posted by: George | January 25, 2008 4:45 AM

who;'s Roger Waters dude?

Posted by: su | January 28, 2008 2:26 PM

The headliners have never been what Coachella is about, they only sell tickets to yahoos that help make such a large festival financially feasible. I think in the past four years I have only watched two or three whole sets at the main stage.

Cinematic Orchestra, Animal Collective, Autolux are just some of the reasons I will once again attend Coachella. That and I actually love the desert, (check out Joshua Tree National Monument).

Posted by: ABC | February 19, 2008 5:53 PM

As you are from the east coast I agree that perhaps this year's Coachella is not worth your travel considering the slough of wonderful festival headed your way. At first, I was suspicious of Jack Johnson, but I am a Coachella enthusiast and attend the festival for much more than the few headlining acts. You did mention all the east coast festivals coming up this year and I would like to point out that Coachella potentially had last draft pick as far as Goldenvoice starting All Point's West this year. Surely, the concert promoter would like people to travel out east to visit the first of their east coast festival. Naturally they would littler the birth of the east coast festival with significantly more attractive bands. On the note of Jack Johnson, you as well as many other people have denounced Goldenvoice for their choice. However, there is more to Jack Johnson than meets the eye. He is, in fact, quite an environmental activist. One many even call him "green". Jack Johnson has built a solar powered recording studio where he regularly records his music. This is certainly a step in the right direction and perhaps enough of a step to land a spot at Coachella. What is so bad about his music anyway? It will be a nice way to relax in the desert after a long and hot day of running between stages. Regardless of Jack Johnson, Coachella exists for many more reasons than the headlining bands and surely you will take that into account when choosing whether or not to attend. Although, many of the same acts are playing one or more of the festivals that will be closer to your home and perhaps Coachella really is not worth the drive. As far as I am concerned, I will be there and hopefully enjoying every minute.

Posted by: ADK | February 20, 2008 2:13 PM

coachella will be tight dont even trip

Posted by: tristan | March 27, 2008 7:00 PM

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