coachella valley arts and music festival 2020

Sad Philly Boy Music/Coachella Band Preview?

It’s been a while since I last blogged. It almost feels like I actually did go to Coachella since this is what usually happens. I write Coachella blogs until I leave for Coachella then stop until I return from being out in the desert for a few weeks. At this point I should have no excuse for not writing. I’m home. The problem was I couldn’t figure out what to write about. There’s a few upcoming albums I plan to review, but until then I haven’t really discovered anything new I like, until Saturday.

I’ve been talking to my friend Kelsey for most of quarantine. We’re quarantine buddies for sure and we’ve agreed that it feels a lot like being in high school since we’re both with our families. Kick in the nostalgia. We often talk about bands we grew up listening to like Brand New and Taking Back Sunday. We were both emo/punk/alternative kids. Lately though, quarantine has brought in some deep cut local bands and musicians that were a part of our teen scenes. I started talking about Title Fight and how my friends and I watched them play small venues in our area as they grew bigger in their scene. She sent me a picture of her and her prom date Alex and then told me how he’s now in a band that sells out large venues. That’s when I first heard of (Sandy) Alex G.

According to Kelsey, (Sandy) Alex G, aka her high school friend Alex Giannascoli, really started when he was in high school. He was in a pop punk band called The Skin Cells with several of their other friends. Kelsey even sent me one of their songs Saturday night. It was great. She said Alex was super dedicated to music and would record his own stuff in his room, put it on CD, and personally decorate the CD. She said it felt like he did this at least once a month. He was good too. She always thought he would be famous one day and she wasn’t lying. He’s now an indie recording artist.

He began self-releasing music on Bandcamp between 2010-2012. His music spread by word of mouth and music blogs and eventually lead to his signing with Orchid Tapes who he released his debut album DSU under in 2014. At that time he was just Alex G. In 2015 he signed with Domino Recording Company and began releasing records under that label. He released three albums with Domino in 2015, Rules, Trick, and Beach Music.

In 2017, Alex G announced that he would be changing his name from Alex G to (Sandy) Alex G shortly before the release of his album Rocket. The album ranked on many indie publications’ lists as being in the Top 50 of the year. In September, Alex released his latest album House of Sugar, which again received similar accolades

(Sandy) Alex G is a typical indie artist. His music also bridges into that post-punk/pop-punk/alternative scene that bands like Turnover and Tigers Jaw are a part of. He’s also from suburban Philly. Based on his style, he probably attracts a large following of “sad Philly boy” fans, which is a term I’ve heard referring to the new indie scene of young urban outfitter wearing 20-somethings that originated in Philly. Regardless of what your style is, if you’re an indie music fan, you’d dig what (Sandy) Alex G has been putting out.

Normally, at this point of the year Coachella would already have passed and we would be looking forward to next year. Unfortunately at this point, 2020 hasn’t happened and no one’s really sure if it will. That being said who knows what happens to the 2020 lineup? If it happens this year, will the same artists be playing? If it doesn’t, do they play next year? I’m sure Goldenvoice has already started booking a 2021 lineup that looks much different than this year, but I bet if Coachella 2020 doesn’t happen in the fall there may be some smaller acts booked for the following spring. The reason I’m even talking about this is because (Sandy) Alex G was supposed to be on the lineup this year! He was slated to play Sunday. Even though everything is very TBD right now, I’m hoping he still plays in October and if not, I’m hoping he’s on the 2021 lineup. I’d love to see him out on the polo fields and I now have plenty of time to listen to his music. So big shoutout to Kelsey for the introduction and big shoutout to Alex for putting out this great music since high school.

 

 

 

Coachella: 20 Years in the Desert

Since I left Coachella last year, I hoped to spend today checking in guests who stay at the campground where I work at the festival. I even expected it from mid-July until the beginning of March. Then, life changed unexpectedly. Even now with Coachella rescheduled for October, everything is uncertain. It’s crazy because life is always uncertain. Anything can happen at any moment to change the course of the expected. Sometimes it could incredible, great, or good. Sometimes it could be terrible, awful, or bad. Sometimes it could be crazy, wild, or unthinkable. Regardless of what it is, it could happen because nothing is ever a guarantee. With that being said, most times we can rely on things. We can make plans and look forward to them. Right now though, everything is predictably uncertain, when usually it’s just predictable. It’s hard to tell where we’ll be in a few weeks let alone a few months given the state of the world. So, I think the best we can do right now is take it one day at a time and remain hopeful, but also keep expectations low. With that advice it’s safe to say I’m still looking forward to this weekend, specifically tomorrow for reasons involving Coachella.

In January, Coachella announced a documentary premiering on Youtube on March 30th that would commemorate 20 years of the festival. Over the last month sometime though, they announced that the premiere would happen April 10th at Noon PST, the exact time gates were supposed to open for Weekend 1 (big sigh). Over the last week the festival has been promoting the documentary, calling the circumstances surrounding the premiere “Couchella.” They even released a preview for it that features many acts who took to the Coachella stages over the last 20 years like Beyoncé, Madonna, Paul McCartney, Post Malone, and the famous Tupac hologram. The preview also included commentary from Billie Eilish, Moby, Ice Cube, and Perry Farrell. In addition to that, they’ve been teasing a few acts in the documentary throughout the week.

The other day I checked the Coachella website and it has since been updated with a whole page about the documentary. It gives a timeline of each year and mentions an artist for each one. They’ve also added 4 playlists featuring those artists and more. I’m expecting the artists mentioned on the page to be featured in the documentary. If it’s anything like the 2006 documentary, I’ll probably love it. My heart will also probably ache for Coachella. I’ll wish I was there instead of here. I’ll wish everything was predictable instead of predictably uncertain. Honestly over the next 2-3 weeks, I’ll wish I was in Indio. I already do. That’s where I was supposed to be. Nothing is going to change that feeling for me, so I might as well embrace it and just let myself feel it. I waited long enough and I deserve to feel it.

So I decided, for the next two weekends, which were supposed to be Coachella 2020, I’m going to try to live my best Coachella life and Couchella. I’m going to watch the documentary every day. Maybe I’ll mix in the 2006 documentary as well. I’m also going to try to find a video of last year’s Sunday Service from Coacheaster. I plan to attempt to make my favorite dish from catering too, Orzo pasta with cream sauce. I’ll probably look at old pictures and videos I took from 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2019 too. It won’t be Coachella but I’m making Coachella a part of my life over the next two weeks regardless of the fact that it’s not actually happening. I have nothing better to do anyway so why not?!

I encourage you to do the same. There’s no reason you can’t live the greatest party in the desert in your own head and dream about the next Coachella whenever it happens to come. It will come too! If I can wait 4 years from knowing about Coachella to actually attending, we’ll be able to get through this wait. See you on Youtube when the gates open! Happy Couchella!

 

Coachella 2020 Postponed

I know. I know. This is coming about 2 days late. It’s old news at this point, but I still needed to post something because as you may have guessed my Band Previews are also postponed. We were about a month away when Goldenvoice released the official announcement postponing the festival to October so now we’re about 7 months away. As a result, I’m gonna get back into posting about Coachella in spurts around August/September. There’s still a few more bands/artists I’d like to preview and also with this change who knows how things are going to go. Will there be artists who can’t play both weekends? Will there be new acts added? Will the festival itself add anything or make changes to the original plan? There’s a lot of unknowns out there, but here’s some positives to take away from the move.

First, Coachella is in October for the second time ever. The first time was in 1999. It was the first Coachella! Oddly enough, Rage Against the Machine played that one too! October is way different than April. It’s Fall vs. Spring. I guarantee you’ll see different kinds of Coachella fashion. There might even be different kinds of food and drink offered that are in theme with the season. The weather is likely to be hotter for weekend one than it usually is. The average temperature in the Coachella Valley in October is about 3 degrees hotter than it is in April, but overall not much different. Another interesting factor is that the sun will set sooner by about 1 hour! This means different kinds of sets for different artists. Obviously certain kinds of production look better at different times of the day based on daylight or darkness. This also plays a factor into the sunset sets. Do the set times change? Who knows, but it’ll be fun to see what happens.

With Coachella in October, that also means that it’s close to Halloween. Instead of Coacheaster, Coachellaween/Spookchella is now a thing! There might be costumes. There might be pumpkins. Maybe a Haunted Heineken House?! There will for sure be Danny Elfman playing music from the Nightmare Before Christmas and what could be a bigger mood than hearing the performance of “This is Halloween” in October at Coachella?! Exactly. It’s gonna be incredibly unique and a special version of Coachella that we may not see again!

Do you want to know the best part about all of this though? Coachella wasn’t cancelled! Not only that but, Coachella 2020 in October means that Coachella 2021 will be in just under 6 months!!!! Yes, 2 Coachellas within 6 months. This is 100% the best news of all! Sure we’re waiting 1.5 years from one Coachella to another but having 2 within 6 months will be well worth the wait.

Will I be sad next month when I’m not experiencing Coachella in Indio? Absolutely. Am I worried and anxious over my career in general given the current situation and especially in the wake of all the latest news? You bet I am. But as the saying goes, “Things will get better with time.” (That honestly sounds more positive than I’m feeling right now.) Hopefully sooner rather than later and who knows maybe I’ll still take that trip to Cali next month anyway. Until then though, I’m going to get back to posting normal blogs. I surely have enough time on my hands to do so. So I’ll be back with more soon. In the meantime, keep listening to those Coachella bands/artists because we just gained way more prep time. We’re gonna know all the songs by October and the fall Coachella vibes will be in full swing! I can’t wait til then.

Coachella Band Preview: Hayden James

It’s been two months since the Coachella 2020 lineup was released, which means we have 5 weeks and 2 days to go before the masses start flooding the Coachella Valley in preparation of southern California’s most famous music festival. I can’t believe it’s only a little over a month away. Time really flies when you spend the winter in Mexico. Now it’s full steam ahead towards my 5th Coachella. It’s pretty surreal how I started these yearly band previews in preparation of my first Coachella and now here we are 5 years later and I’m on the brink of being at my 5th one. It was truly the festival that started it all for me and this crazy music industry adventure that I’m a part of. Alright…enough of me being super grateful for all the opportunities I’ve had, it’s time to focus on the music. This week I’m previewing an artist I wrote about back in 2018, Hayden James.

When I first wrote about electronic artist Hayden James, I had been listening to his song “NUMB” ft. GRAACE for months. It was my most listened to song of 2018. Since then, James released his debut album Between Us on June 14, 2019. I also did an album review of it in August. Since the debut release, James has only played a few music festivals and a few tour dates, which is a bit out of the ordinary surrounding an album release. Most of his sets were in his home country of Australia with a few dates in the U.S., Europe, and New Zealand. This year includes several more tour stops in Australia, Mexico, and the U.S. including his Coachella appearance.

Coachella 2020 will mark James’ second Coachella appearance. His first came in 2015 as a Do Lab artist. This time he’s officially on the bill though and likely to play the Sahara Tent, if not, Gobi or Mojave. His soulful and sensual house style will surely bring plenty of fans out to his set no matter where it’s played. I would definitely expect a larger draw at Sahara since a lot of younger festival goers like to spend all their time at the stage, but who knows because many people enjoy a good electronic set. After seeing him in 2018 at Electric Forest, I know he’s capable of bringing lots of dancing and a lot of bass to his sets. He’s also very capable of setting the Coachella vibe with his tracks. Here are the one’s you should know:

  1. NUMB
  2. Something About You
  3. Just Friends
  4. Better Together
  5. Just A Lover
  6. Favours
  7. Nowhere to Go
  8. Hold Me Back
  9. Remember You
  10. Permission to Love

Coachella Band Preview: Big Wild

We are officially a month and a half away from Coachella 2020! The anticipation is building for me as it so often does. I’ve been doing my best to listen to the Coachella playlist I made and since the lineup dropped on January 2nd I’ve made an early discovery when I realized there was an artist on the lineup I had been listening to for months. Sure months is a stretch because it was like 3 months and there was only one song, but since then I realized his other stuff is great too! That artist is Big Wild and here’s what you need to know about him going into the festival.

Jackson Stell, better known to the music world as Big Wild, has been producing music as an electronic artist since 2012. He came from a music-oriented family and really got his break with the single “Aftergold” featuring Tove Styrke in 2016. The year prior he toured with Odesza and collaborated with the duo on a remix of their song “Say My Name.” He released his debut EP Invincible EP in 2017 and just released his debut album Superdream last year.

His indie pop style of electronic music incorporates instrumentation into his live sets. He is known for using synth, keyboards, drum pads, and live vocals in his performances. He also sings on a few of his tracks which is often rare for an electronic artist.

I got into Big Wild when I heard his song “6’s to 9’s” in a video posted by someone I follow on instagram. I added the song to my workout playlist once I listened. It then became a staple in my music listening regimen towards the end of the year.

Big Wild plays Sunday at his first Coachella. I would expect him to play in Sahara earlier in the day or at Gobi or Mojave. His music really falls into the Coachella vibe so I expect that his set will be a lot of fun. If you’re into the indie electronic stuff, you’re gonna want to check him out. I recently got into more of his stuff and have been listening to him quite frequently so here’s what I think you’ll need to now:

  1. 6’s to 9’s
  2. When I Get There
  3. Aftergold
  4. City of Sound
  5. Maker
  6. Show Me
  7. Invincible
  8. Empty Room
  9. Venice Venture
  10. Joypunks

 

Coachella Band Preview: Rex Orange County

This is my last week in Mexico and I have to say it’s been a great run. It’s always an exciting time to start the year, but I think all of us here are aware of the unofficial name of the Mexico runs…the Coachella pregame. Now that we’re halfway through February, Coachella is officially on the horizon. I’ve realized one thing while preparing for Coachella down in Mexico. It’s that there’s no better artist to prep for Coachella with down here than Rex Orange County.

At just 21 years old, Alexander O’Connor, aka Rex Orange County, is an indie pop artist from Grayshott, England. He got his moniker from a nickname he received growing up, “the OC”, based on his last name “O’Connor”. While growing up he was in the school choir and also learned to play drums. Because of his drumming talents, he attended the BRIT school, whose alumni include Adele, Amy Winehouse, and King Krule. Beyond the drums and singing, he’s also a self-taught pianist and guitarist.

In 2016, Rex Orange County self-released his first album bcos u will never b free on SoundCloud. The album release brought him some attention from Tyler the Creator. Rex eventually worked on a few of Tyler’s tracks (“Boredom” and “Foreword”) on Flower Boy. He released his second album Apricot Princess in 2017. That year he also released one of his most popular songs to date “Loving Is Easy” in collaboration with Benny Sings. His most recent album Pony was just released in October and Rex Orange County is currently touring in support of the album.

Rex Orange County’s music comprises a lot of different genres, combining hip-hop, R&B, pop, and indie music. His tracks range from feeling very vibey and Cali-influenced to hip-hop tracks and soulful R&B sounding vocals. He definitely defines post-genre indie music.

This year will be Rex Orange County’s first Coachella. He plays Friday. He’s high on the bill of artists and very well known amongst youth so I’d expect to see him on the Main or Outdoor Stages. Expect a huge draw for this young Brit’s first Coachella. Also expect some pure Coachella vibes from some of his songs. Here are a few you should know:

  1. Loving Is Easy
  2. Best Friend
  3. Sunflower
  4. UNO
  5. 10/10
  6. Corduroy Dreams
  7. Television/So Far So Good
  8. Pluto Projector
  9. Happiness
  10. Untitled

Coachella Band Preview: Jai Wolf

Greetings again from Mexico! I’m back for the second leg of the events I’m a part of here. However just because I’m here doesn’t mean the Coachella preparations have ceased. April is quickly approaching and it’s time to check out another artist playing the festival this year. This week it’s electronic artist Jai Wolf.

Jai Wolf, or Sajeeb Saha, is an electronic artist from Long Island, New York. He first started making tracks in 2011, but adopted the name Jai Wolf in 2014 to create a new sound from what he had been creating. The result earned him opportunities to remix artists such as Odesza and Alesso. He also created a remix of Skrillex’s “Ease My Mind”. Jai Wolf released his debut single “Indian Summer” in 2015. He released a follow-up single “Drive” in May of 2016, shortly before his debut EP Kindred Spirits was released in November. He finally released his debut album The Cure to Loneliness last year after years of touring and dropping singles.

Jai Wolf’s style of electronic music has a very dreamy sound. It combines electronica, pop, dance and indie music. His sound draws a lot of comparison to Odesza. It makes sense that the artists have toured together. I first found out about Jai Wolf in the summer of 2017 when a girl I had a crush on introduced me to him. I’ve been a casual listener ever since. I also have seen him perform once. It was part of his Made in America set in 2018.

This won’t be Jai Wolf’s first time at Coachella. He played the festival in 2017. That was clearly before I knew of him since I definitely haven’t previewed him before. In 2017, he played the Gobi Tent in the early evening. I’d expect a similar time this year, but in a bigger location. Maybe he plays Mojave or Sahara instead. This time around I plan on catching him. He plays on Saturday. Here are some Jai Wolf jams to help you prep for Indio:

  1. Indian Summer
  2. Starlight
  3. Moon Rider
  4. Lose My Mind
  5. Like It’s Over
  6. Lost
  7. Feels (Remix)
  8. Drive
  9. Telepathy
  10. Better Apart

Coachella Band Preview: Flume

One month down since the lineup drop and two months to go until another year of Coachella is upon us. I’m on a little break from Mexico but return next week for Leg 2 of the events I’m working south of the border. This week I’m back focusing on Coachella and another act I’m super excited to see, electronic artist/producer Flume.

I wrote about Flume back in 2016 shortly before I saw part of his live set while volunteering at the Sweetlife Music Festival. I had the best time at the event and got really into Flume right after, so much so that I bought tickets to attend his sold out show at the Electric Factory in Philly in August 2016. I haven’t seen him perform live since then, unless you count last summer’s Lollapalooza livestream.

Since 2016 Flume has been kind of quiet. He won a Grammy for Best Dance/Electronic album for his 2016 record Skin. After taking some time off from touring in support of the album, Flume came back last March with a mixtape full of new music in that future bass/deep house style we know and love. It earned him a Grammy nomination as well. He has since been playing festivals and touring.

Flume will be sure to bring it out in the desert in April. He’s really upped the artistry of his live performances over the past year so I’m expecting an interesting set at Coachella. Flume last played Coachella in 2016. He headlined the Outdoor Theatre on Saturday night. This time around expect Flume to play the Main Stage before Travis Scott or to again close out the Outdoor Theatre Saturday night. His popularity is that of headliner quality and he will sure pull a huge draw of fans. Here’s the Flume tracks you need to hear to get ready for this epic electronic set:

  1. Never Be Like You
  2. Say It
  3. Rushing Back
  4. Holdin’ On
  5. Sleepless
  6. Friends
  7. You & Me (Disclosure remix)
  8. Friends
  9. Insane
  10. Drop the Game

 

Coachella Band Preview: Emo Nite

So January is almost over. Just like that, there’s 1 month down and 2 to go until Coachella. I hope you’ve been listening to your favorite artists or maybe some new ones you want to check out. There’s a handful of artists I’m pretty stoked to see this year, but I’m also pretty excited about checking out an act that I might not have to do much preparation for. That act is Emo Nite.

Emo Nite started in LA in late 2014. It began when friends Babs Szabo, T.J. Petracca, and Morgan Freed wanted to host an emo themed bar party with their friends. The friends initially met and bonded over their love of emo music and growing up in the emo/pop-punk scene. They made a facebook group for their event and 500 people showed up. They tried again and the same thing happened. A lot of people love emo music so Emo Nite became a thing.

Over the past 5 years it has began touring around the country and playing other festivals like Life Is Beautiful and Firefly to name a few. The group has recruited guest DJs from emo and pop punk bands to come to Emo Nite like Blink-182’s Travis Barker, All Time Low, Good Charlotte, The All-American Rejects, Circa Survive’s Anthony Green, and Andrew McMahon of Something Corporate, Jack’s Mannequin, and Andrew McMahon and the Wilderness. They’ve even had non-emo artists like Halsey and Post Malone come out.

I’ve been to emo nights before (I’ve actually gone to 3 over the last year!), but never the official Emo Nite. I’m stoked to go at Coachella though. After the hype and rumors surrounding My Chemical Romance playing Coachella this year and then ultimately the band not being on the lineup, I think Emo Nite will help fulfill that void for everyone who expected to sing “Welcome to the Black Parade” with Gerard Way. Also this is Emo Nite at Coachella, a festival synonymous with epic guest appearances. I think we’ll be in for some great surprises at their set. Maybe a member or two of My Chemical Romance shows up? Or who knows who could be there? It’s definitely not worth it to sleep on Emo Nite though, especially if you were ever a fan of emo music.

I can’t even come up with a great guess on when or where Emo Nite will be. I would guess either Gobi or Mojave. I would also hope in the evening, but I think set time/stage possibilities really depend on what’s going to happen at Emo Nite and that we won’t know until the schedule comes out in the days before Weekend 1. Emo Nite is a tough one to prep for because let’s be honest, you’re only going to Emo Nite if you like/liked emo music and if you do or did, you’ve probably spent most of your teenage years prepping. Instead of giving you a bunch of songs to listen to, I’m gonna leave you with some bands you’ll probably hear at Emo Nite. Prep if you want, re-visit some of your favorite songs, or show up and have all the old lyrics come rushing back to you. Do whatever you want except don’t sleep on Emo Nite!

  1. Dashboard Confessional
  2. Brand New
  3. Taking Back Sunday
  4. Fall Out Boy
  5. Panic! At the Disco
  6. My Chemical Romance
  7. All Time Low
  8. Something Corporate
  9. Green Day
  10. Blink-182
  11. Good Charlotte
  12. Simple Plan
  13. The Starting Line
  14. Forever the Sickest Kids
  15. Bayside
  16. Jimmy Eat World
  17. Saves the Day
  18. Say Anything
  19. The Get Up Kids
  20. Death Cab For Cutie

 

Coachella Band Preview: Rage Against the Machine

Week 2 in Mexico and I’m back with another Coachella Band Preview. It’s kind of funny actually. This is my 6th year of doing band previews for Coachella. When I first started, most acts I previewed were bands. Now it feels like this week’s preview is one of the only bands I’m previewing this year. A lot of the other acts I’m interested in are DJs and singers. It makes me sad, yet hopeful there will be a Coachella when I’m back to previewing bands. For now let’s take a look at legendary political rock band and inaugural Coachella performers, Rage Against the Machine.

Rage Against the Machine formed in 1991 in Los Angeles, California. The band is comprised of lead vocalist Zack de la Rocha, guitarist Tom Morello, bassist and backing vocalist Tim Commerford, and drummer Brad Wilk. Their self-titled debut album was released in 1992. The album went on to critical and commercial success. It includes their most well-known song to date “Killing in the Name” and earned them a spot at Lollapalooza in 1993. They released two more albums Evil Empire (1996) and The Battle of Los Angeles (1999). After the release of their cover album Renegades in 2000, the band broke-up over creative difference with de la Rocha.

In the years following their break-up, the remaining members united with Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell to form the band Audioslave. Audioslave released several albums in the 00’s before breaking up in 2007. That year brought back Rage Against the Machine though. The band reunited to play Coachella. They stayed together for a few years after playing shows and festivals worldwide. Now 20 years after their last album, they’re reuniting at Coachella again. There’s also a rumor that they’re planning a tour in 2020, so maybe Coachella won’t be the only place where you can see RATM this year.

Their music is well-known for it’s unique hip-hop style of rock/metal music. Like their name describes, it’s also very well-known for being politically progressive. De la Rocha’s vocals are where the hip-hop influence comes in to their music as well as in Morello’s guitar technique. However the sound itself is very rock and metal heavy.

Rage Against the Machine headlines the main stage on Friday night. You can expect moshing. You can expect a wild time. You can also expect Coachella at its roots. Rage Against the Machine is one of the only legacy/rock acts to play the festival this year, which makes it a special set for old school Coachella fans. I’m pretty stoked myself. One of my high school friends introduced me to Rage Against the Machine shortly after I graduated. Although I’m not familiar with all of their songs, I know the big ones and I’m excited to see Rage Against the Machine play. Hopefully I’ll be able to get to the festival to see it. With the political climate in America these days, Rage Against the Machine is just what we all need to take out any frustrations we have. Before you head to the pit Friday night, here’s a few songs you might want to check out first:

  1. Killing in the Name
  2. Bulls on Parade
  3. Guerrilla Radio
  4. Testify
  5. Wake Up
  6. Know Your Enemy
  7. Sleep Now in the Fire
  8. Take the Power Back
  9. Bullet in the Head
  10. How I Could Just Kill a Man (Cypress Hill cover)