The first weekend of Coachella 2023 is officially 5 weeks away. I’ve been doing my part and listening to my personal Coachella playlist as much as possible lately, but I know it’s probably still not enough. I feel like there are so many bands playing this year that I’m trying to get into compared to years past. One of those bands is a group I’ve known of since high school! I never sought interest in them much growing up, but since they’re one of the big alternative rock acts playing this year (and I love alternative/indie rock), I figured it was time I gave them a chance. Needless to say, Gorillaz are growing on me!
Gorillaz are an English virtual alternative rock band created in 1998 by Blur frontman Damon Albarn and artist Jamie Hewlett. The fictional members consist of 2-D (vocals, keyboard, voiced by Albarn), Murdoc Niccals (bass), Noodle (guitar, keyboard, vocals), and Russel Hobbs (drums). Gorillaz first album (self-titled) was released in 2001. It has since gone triple platinum in the UK, 2x platinum in Europe and New Zealand, and platinum in many other countries including the U.S. The follow-up to their debut album Demon Days was released in 2005 and included one of their most successful singles to date, the Grammy winning track, “Feel Good Inc.” featuring hip-hop group De La Soul. Since then Albarn and his virtual group have released 5 full length albums, Plastic Beach (2010), The Fall (2010), Humanz (2017), The Now Now (2018), and Song Machine, Season One: Strange Timez (2020). Two weeks ago they released their seventh studio album Cracker Island. They recently wrapped up a world tour and now plan on bringing Cracker Island to the desert come mid-April.
Over the last 25 years, Gorillaz have collaborated with a multitude of artists and bands which is why despite the fact that they are primarily an alternative rock group, their music spans different genres. Their songs include art pop, electronic, and hip hop elements amongst others. Some of the acts they’ve worked with include Snoop Dogg, Lou Reed, Stevie Nicks, Vince Staples, Kali Uchis, Robert Smith, Elton John, Beck, Bad Bunny, Tame Impala, and St. Vincent.
Coachella 2023 will mark the band’s second performance at the festival. Their first was 13 years ago in 2010 when they headlined the festival on Sunday night. In a brief teaser of what was to come for 2023, Damon Albarn appeared with Billie Eilish during her Weekend 1 headlining set last year for a performance of “Feel Good Inc.” What’s interesting about Gorillaz is that they’re primarily a virtual band and performances are a mix of virtual and real life with Albarn at the helm. So we’ll never know what this year’s Coachella performance will bring. There will undoubtedly be guest appearances though. I hope we see the likes of Tame Impala and Stevie Nicks who are featured on Cracker Island. Their Tame Impala collab song “New Gold” was a favorite of mine this past fall. My biggest hope spans beyond Gorillaz however. I hope Blur guitarist Graham Coxon makes another appearance with the group prompting a “Song 2” cover. It happened once in 2018 so I’m holding on to the very slim chance that it happens again. I expect to see Gorillaz on the main stage Friday night before Bad Bunny’s headlining performance, which means there’s a very high likelihood I’ll be able to catch their set. Here’s a few of their many songs I’ve been listening to in preparation:
- Feel Good Inc.
- Clint Eastwood
- New Gold (ft. Tame Impala and Bootie Brown)
- On Melancholy Hill
- Rhinestone Eyes
- Cracker Island (ft. Thundercat)
- She’s My Collar (ft. Kali Uchis)
- Dirty Harry (ft. Bootie Brown)
- Oil (ft. Stevie Nicks)