so cal

Coachella Band Preview: Lizzo

I might be in Miami this week to work Ultra, but there’s no blog breaks during the Coachella countdown, especially when Weekend 1 is 2 weeks away! After I return from Miami, I have a full 5 days at home then I leave for what becomes my Coachella workcation. It’s about 3 1/2 weeks this year, but Coachella is worth it. I’ll also be working Stagecoach, hence the extra week away. We’ll see how that goes. Coachella is definitely what it’s all about. Enough about me though, I’m wasting valuable time that you could be listening to tunes. This week I’m previewing a Coachella artist full of female empowerment.

Melissa Jefferson, aka Lizzo, got involved with rap music in high school while growing up in Texas. As the years went on, she took it to the next level and joined two rap/R&B groups, Lizzo & the Larva Ink and The Chalice. She moved to Minnesota while in her 20’s which is when she started rapping as a career. She released her debut album on October 15, 2013. It received some local and national success earning her a spot opening for Har Mar Superstar. She was named the Twin Cities Best New Artist by Minneapolis-St. Paul alternative newspaper City Pages. She was also named to Time’s 2014 music artists to watch.

Her second album Big Grrrl Small World was released in December 2015. She eventually signed with Atlantic Records and released her first major label EP Coconut Oil in 2016. Through 2017 and 2018 Lizzo dropped a few more singles like “Water Me”, “Truth Hurts”, and “Fitness”. She also joined Haim and Florence and the Machine on tour in 2018 as an opener. Her third studio album and major label debut album Cuz I Love You will be released on April 19th, which is Friday of Weekend 2.

Lizzo has always been first and foremost a rap and R&B artist, but I feel like her latest album might sway towards a pop sound at times if her singles “Cuz I Love You” and “Juice”are any indication. I might be totally off, because the rap/R&B sound is there too. Her music also represents diversity with songs about positive body image, sexuality, and race.

I first found out about Lizzo last spring when I saw her open for Haim on their Sister Sister Sister Tour. She definitely made a statement as an opener. I wasn’t into her music when I saw her perform because rap music doesn’t usually appeal to me. Then I kept hearing about her from a lot of my friends, until finally I hopped on the Lizzo train this past winter after she was announced as a Coachella artist. “Good As Hell” became my “start the day” anthem for a while. In fact, it still is if I remember to ask Alexa to play it.

Lizzo plays Sunday at Coachella. Lizzo’s live performance claim to fame is her flute solos with the legendary Sasha Flute (you can look at the instagram page for more info on this flute naming). You can be sure there will be one or more flute solos at Coachella, especially during “Coconut Oil”. This year will be Lizzo’s first Coachella and she’s definitely gonna bring it. I can’t see her playing a main stage this year, but regardless of where she plays her fanbase has grown and it’s sure to be crowded. This is a set you’re not gonna want to miss. Here’s what you need to know to be ready for it:

  1. Good as Hell
  2. Juice
  3. Water Me
  4. Coconut Oil
  5. Cuz I Love You
  6. Fitness
  7. Truth Hurts
  8. Boys
  9. Phone
  10. Scuse Me
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Coachella Band Preview: Maggie Rogers

We’re almost at the 1 month countdown until Coachella 2019 Weekend One. As per the usual, the hype for me is real! Over the last month or so, I periodically secured my travel plans to the point that I’m almost ready to go. I hope everyone else has done the same. Mostly I just hope you all have been focusing on the music. Today I’m previewing an artist I didn’t initially plan to write about when figuring out my previews. About a month ago, I watched this artist cover a Whitney Houston song on Youtube and I was shook.

Maggie Rogers, from Easton, Maryland, got involved in music from a young age. She played the harp, piano, and guitar while growing up in Easton. While in high school, she attended a Berklee College of Music summer program and won the program’s songwriting contest. She recorded her first album as a senior in high school at the ripe age of 18. She self-recorded her it, The Echo, in a broom closet. She released it in digital format back in 2012. Rogers released a second self-recorded digital album Blood Ballet in 2014 as a student at NYU. Her big “claim to fame” happened in 2016 though when she recorded the song “Alaska” for a master class with producer and artist Pharrell Williams. A video of Williams listening to the song went viral in June of 2016.

Rogers released her first EP Now That The Light Is Fading in February 2017. She began her touring career shortly before that and played the Jimmy Fallon Show in anticipation of her EP release. She also played several festivals in the summer of 2017 including stops at Firefly, Glastonbury, Lollapalooza, and Outside Lands. She continued touring and playing festivals into 2018 playing at Boston Calling, Governor’s Ball, Reading and Leeds. She also joined Mumford & Sons as the opening act on their Delta Tour in late 2018.

She recently released her debut studio album Heard It In a Past Life on January 18th, shortly after she was announced as part of the 2019 Coachella lineup. The album features her hit “Alaska” along with other singles “Light On”, “Fallingwater”, and “Give a Little”. I know it’s early but I’d expect Rogers to get a few Grammy nods in the coming year. She’s that good and her style is unique.

Speaking of that, Maggie Rogers style of music combines dance music, folk, R&B and pop. It’s more art pop than anything. She had a background in folk music, but got inspired by dance music during her college days. Her latest studio album definitely adds a more pop sound to her music though, yet it somehow still stays true to her musical roots. Her vocals aren’t overly powerful like you might hear from pop artists like Adele, Florence Welch, or Banks, but yet it’s still so beautiful. Her vocals are trance-like and dreamy similar to that of Lana Del Ray.

I first heard of Maggie Rogers when I saw that she was opening for Mumford & Sons. I worked one of their shows in December and they brought Maggie out to join them in their song “Awake My Soul”. From that performance I knew she had a killer sound but I didn’t really give her music a shot until hearing her cover Whitney Houston’s “I Want To Dance With Somebody”, which she truly made her own. I started listening to her the next day on Spotify and then purchased her studio debut on vinyl right before I left for my second trip to Mexico.

Maggie Rogers plays Saturday at Coachella on her first visit to the 20 year festival. For the second year in a row, Saturday’s lineup seems stacked. After selling out her headlining tour this spring, I’d expect her set to be late-day to evening on the Main or Outdoor Stage. Even as a Coachella debut artist, I expect her set to be packed. Regardless of the time or place, I’d get there early for a good spot. I need to listen to more Maggie Rogers just as much as you might at this point, so here’s what I’ve been listening to on repeat:

  1. Alaska
  2. On + Off
  3. Dog Years
  4. Light On
  5. Give A Little
  6. Fallingwater
  7. Overnight
  8. Burning
  9. The Knife
  10. Retrograde

(Honestly just listen to all of Heard It In a Past Life!)

Coachella 2019 Lineup Release

Happy 2019 bitches! With a new year comes a new festival season and the hype for me always starts with Coachella (as most of you know). 5 years ago I decided to attend Coachella. I also began this blog about music, sports, and entertainment making the decision to review the Coachella lineup and preview bands leading up to the festival a no brainer. Who knew I’d make it a yearly thing? I mean I guess you could’ve figured it might happen. So here we are… on the brink of Coachella 2019 and I’m proud to say this is the 5th time for Coachella Band Previews leading up to the 20th anniversary of the spring festival in the Indio Desert. I know I haven’t kept up with my blog as much this year because of work and travel but I’m taking steps and measures to assure you (and myself honestly) that I have weekly band previews leading up to Coachella.

Now on to the important stuff…the LINEUP! It just dropped last night around 11:30 ET and I have a lot of good feelings about this one. Back in September, the headliners were projected to be Childish Gambino, Justin Timberlake, and Kanye West. It bummed me out. It felt like another year with mainstream Coachella and no indie rock headliners. In the coming months it seemed that plans changed for Justin Timberlake and Kanye West. Reports in mid-December indicated that Justin Timberlake had dropped out of Coachella. Then yesterday as all of Coachella’s devoted fans waited for the lineup to drop, reports surfaced of Kanye dropping out of Coachella because both parties couldn’t come to agreements on stage size. It brought a new wave of excitement and anticipation for the lineup for me. After a few teasers around 7:00 p.m. and another around 10:30 p.m., the lineup dropped an hour later for the east coasters and 8:30 p.m. for those on California time. I was immediately hyped upon seeing the headliners and in general, which is crazy because it feels like none of my favorites play Coachella anymore. The lineups are so broad and encompass music across genres at this point, but I’ve reached a point of acceptance of that with Coachella. There’s no longer a hype to make every year 2014 even if I’m still a little bummed I didn’t see Vampire Weekend’s name on the ticket (it’s their year people!). It’s zero expectations from here on out. So without further delay and teasing, here it is the Coachella 2019 lineup:

The Headliners: Childish Gambino, Tame Impala, Ariana Grande

After the drop outs from Justin Timberlake and Kanye West, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I heard Rihanna rumors and some Ariana Grande rumors as well. I honestly expected Rihanna, but Ariana Grande felt like an ironic fit to the lineup for me. After listening to “thank u, next” for the first time last week, it became a guilty pleasure. It was the new year’s motto and now she’s headlining Coachella. Isn’t it ironic? Don’t ya think? Ha! I mean it’s not. “thank u, next” has been a big deal for a few weeks now, but it just seems like the icing on the cake after so much Ariana Grande talk in my life over the last week It’s actually not her first Coachella appearance either. Last year during Kygo’s set on Weekend 2, she joined the Norwegian DJ to perform her new single “No Tears Left to Cry”. She then joined in on Kygo’s “Sexual Healing” remix. Childish Gambino was the least surprising of the three. Donald Glover’s stage alter ego was part of the original three Coachella headliners since September. I’m indifferent to him honestly and expected his name to be there. Tame Impala, however, was the most exciting for me. After last year’s drop of an indie rock headliner and a lack of indie rock performers in general, seeing Tame Impala’s name on the bill got me stoked. I saw them headline Panorama aka Coachella East in 2017. They killed their performance. Seeing them play at night added another element to their set with insane strobes and visuals that I’m sure will be a highlight of their Coachella headlining set as well. These might not be the greatest headliners ever, but something about them feels right. And it just feels good too.

The Other Highly Billed Performers: Janelle Monáe, the 1975, DJ Snake, Diplo, RÜFÜS DU SOL, BLACKPINK, Solange, Kid Cudi, Weezer, Aphex Twin, J Balvin, Billie Eilish, Bassnectar, Khalid, Zedd, Gesaffelstein, Bad Bunny, Dillon Francis, CHVRCHES, YG, Anderson .Paak & the Free Nationals, Kacey Musgraves, Juice WRLD, Ella Mai, Los Tucanes  De Tijuana, Four Tet, Christine & the Queens, Wiz Khalifa, Mac DeMarco, Bazzi, Maggie Rogers, Sheck Wes, Cirez D, Playboi Carti, H.E.R., Blood Orange, Pusha T, Unkown Mortal Orchestra, Kaytranada 

From the other top acts at Coachella this year, I’m most excited about RÜFÜS DU SOL. I’ve gotten into RÜFÜS over the past 2 years. They played Electric Forest last summer and I caught part of their Weekend 2 set. I wanted to see as much as possible but I was tired. I stayed for about 20-30 minutes though and it was incredible. They were killing it, but I was alone, had to get up early the next day, and had no one with me to peer pressure me into staying, so I left. I was both happy and sad about it, but Coachella is another chance for me to see them. Plus I know it’ll be a great vibe at their set in the Coachella atmosphere.

Another one of my faves from this list is the 1975. After the band announced their tour dates a month or two ago, it was expected that they would be at Coachella. I got really into the 1975 almost three years ago and saw them twice over the summer of 2016. They’re super fun live. I actually previewed them back in 2016 when they last played the festival and wrote a blog about them a few months before that. So needless to say I can’t wait to see Matt Healy and the crew performing again!

Weezer is also a staple on this list and I’ve never been able to catch them live. They’ve been in my life since high school and although I’ve never been a major fan, I’ve been a fan of several Weezer jams throughout the years. I’m hoping to be able to see them at Coachella this year.

I’m pretty stoked about CHRVCHES too. I watched their 2016 performance via livestream and also previewed them in anticipation of their 2016 performance. Lauren Mayberry had such a killer stage presence. I’m sure she still does too. Since watching the livestream that year though, I’ve never had the chance to see the band in person so hopefully it’ll work out at Coachella 2019.

A few others from this list worth mentioning are Janelle Monáe, Billie Eilish, Zedd, Diplo, Dillon Francis, Mac DeMarco, and Kid Cudi. Janelle Monáe released a new album last year (Dirty Computer) and is up for a Grammy for it. I’ve noticed a lot of hype around her from my friends/coworkers and not gonna lie, I even got into a few of her songs myself. Billie Eilish has exploded over the last year. I first heard of her in 2017 when my friend played a remix of one of her songs on our work trip in Sacramento. The remix version is a jam but her music overall is mood music. As far as rappers go, Kid Cudi was one of the first ones in a while that I actually enjoyed. This was back in 2011 but I used to vibe “Up, Up, and Away”. Mac DeMarco is always a good time. Listening to his music vs. seeing him live is completely different too. His live sets are one of a kind and you honestly just have to see him play to understand. I was lucky enough to see his set at Lollapalooza in 2017 and it was wild. Zedd, Diplo, and Dillon Francis are sure to bring the electronic flare at this year’s festival. I can’t say I’m a huge fan of any of them but “The Middle” is definitely a guilty pleasure of mine so I’d probably enjoy a Zedd set the most.

Also I hope everyone is prepared for the young wooks this year since Bassnectar is playing. That set is gonna bring all the head bangers out.

The Rest: FISHER, Jaden Smith, Nina Kraviz, Rosalia, Gorgon City, Mon Laferte, Khruangbin, Kayzo, dvsn, King Princess, Chris Lake, Jauz, the Interrupters, Hot Since 82, Charlotte Gainsbourg, SOPHIE, Nicole Moudaber, Tierra Whack, Pole & Pan, Beach Fossils, Yellow Days, the Frights, Nora En Pure, Yves Tumor, SG Lewis, Kero Kero Bonito, JPEGMAFIA, Calypso Rose, Nic Fanciulli, Kölsch, CamelPhat, Let’s Eat Grandma, Anna Lunoe, Amelie Lens, Hurray for the Riff Raff, Walker & Royce, Turnstile, RAT BOY, 88Glam, Ross from Friends, Lauren Lane, Still Woozy, Bakar, Blondish, Tomasa del Real, Las Robertas, Dave P. Gryffin, Bob Moses, Virgil Abloh, Tale of Us, Mr Eazi, Sabrina Claudio, Ty Segall & White Fence, Deep Dish, Smino, FKJ, SiR, Idris Elba, Parcels, JAIN, Soulection, Turnover, SALES, Stephan Bodzin, CloZee, ARIZONA, Murda Beatz, Jambinai, Ame, CHON, Little Simz, Adriatique, Lee Burridge, The Garden, Agoria, Hop Along, shame, Superorganism, serpentwithfeet, Dokay, Steady Holiday, Javiera Mena, The Messthetics, The Red Pears, Heidi Lawden, Gucci Gang, Jon Hopkins, SOFI TUKKER, Burna Boy, Lizzo, Dermot Kennedy, SOB x RBE, Clairo, NGHTMRE, Perfume, boy pablo, Guy Gerber, HYUKOH, Emily King, Dennis Lloyd, Alice Morton, Shallou, 078 Shake, Soccer Mommy, Rico Nasty, Cola Boyy, Wallows, Mansionair, Nocturnal Sunshine, Dusky, Yetto, Patrice Bäumel, Easy Life, Jan Blomqvist, U.S. Girls, Iceage, Men I Trust, Charlotte de Witte, Social House, Ocho Djes, Razorbumps, Tara Brooks

There’s a lot of great hidden gems in the rest of these performers. I think several of them should be billed higher actually but it is what it is. Out of these guys I’ve been super hyped on Bob Moses recently. A friend of mine told me about them recently and I’ve been slowly getting into them. I love the song “Back Down” along with a few others. I’m sure by Coachella I’ll be full on into them.

I’m also really stoked about Gryffin. Gryffin last played Coachella 2 years ago but I never made it to his set. I did catch his performance at Lollapalooza that summer though. He’s a great electronic artist who also incorporates instruments into his sets. I love his music too. It’s a win-win with Gryffin for sure.

ARIZONA is another one of my favorites from this year’s lineup. I’ve been digging ARIZONA since the winter of 2016. You already know because I’ve blogged about them before, but I saw them open for Hayley Kiyoko in late 2016 in a tiny Philly venue without even knowing it was them until I recognized their second song. The following summer I saw them play a small stage at Lollapalooza and the set was packed! This past year they played Lollapalooza again on the Bud Light stage (main stage) to another huge crowd! They also toured with Panic! At the Disco. They’ve just been growing and growing over the past few years so I know their set for their first Coachella appearance will be packed as well.

A few of my other favorites from the rest of the lineup are Turnover, Lizzo, and Mansionair. I found out about Turnover on my way to Coachella in 2017 and now here we are in 2019 with them on the lineup. It’s pretty cool. They’re part of the pop punk scene but their music is more indie. I’d probably say it’s on the indie punk spectrum, if thats a thing? During Coachella 2018 when we spent our drives listening to alt nation on Sirius XM, Mansionair’s “Astronaut” was always in the rotation. Now they’ll be back for real in the Coachella Valley. I’ve listened to them a few times since last spring, so I’ll definitely try to listen more in prep for Coachella 2019. Lastly, Lizzo. Lizzo is a big mood. I saw her open for Haim last spring shortly after I returned from Coachella. Slay is the word that comes to mind when I think back on that performance. She’s been getting bigger ever since so it makes sense that she’ll be at Coachella this year. I expect her to draw a decent sized crowd too.

I also suggest looking out for Wallows. They bring a great indie rock vibe to the festival and their claim to fame is their guitarist Dylan Minnette who is the star of Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why amongst other TV and movie appearances. Will Smith’s son Jaden is also on the list of those performing and who knows maybe Dad will show up for a guest appearance. Beach Fossils is another indie band worth checking out too if indie music is your thing.

So there you have it. The Coachella 2019 lineup with a few brief overviews of all my recommendations for this year. In the coming weeks it’ll be Coachella Band Previews and prep from here on out. Although I’ll be working a few music festivals down in Mexico over the next two months I’ll still be releasing weekly blog posts up until the festival, which means I’m going to be doing a lot of writing in my free time.

I’m so stoked for Coachella this year. Once again, there will never be another 2014 it seems, but I’m okay with it. I’m excited. I’m happy with lineup. I love its diversity. I love that Coachella always seems to find up and coming artists. Mostly though, I love Coachella in general. It’s the reason why I’m following my dreams in the music industry and I can’t wait to spend another spring in the desert with my favorite people at my favorite place. Cheers to 20 years Coachella! I’m ready for you.

Legendary Venues: Troubadour

It’s been a minute between work, life, and Coachella that I wrote something for my legendary venue series. I started it last fall and it’s time that I get back into it. As far as venues go I haven’t touched on anywhere in the mecca of entertainment, Los Angeles. L.A. is home to plenty of great live venues. The Greek, The Hollywood Bowl, Whisky A Go-Go, The Shrine, The Palladium, The Wiltern, The Fonda Theatre, and El Rey Theatre are just some of L.A.’s finest. I definitely plan on writing about a few in this series at some point, but for now it’s one of Los Angeles’ most famous night clubs, the Troubadour.

The Troubadour opened in West Hollywood in 1957 by Doug Weston. It was first just a coffee house on La Cienega Boulevard before it moved to it’s current location at 9081 Santa Monica Boulevard in 1961. The Troubadour is known as a primary foundation for the careers of many great bands and musicians including Elton John, who made his U.S. debut there in 1970 after being introduced by Neil Diamond, The Eagles, whose founding members Glenn Frey and Don Henley met there also in 1970, Buffalo Springfield, who made their live debut there in 1966, Guns N’ Roses, who played their first show at the venue and were discovered by Geffen Records on the same night, and James Taylor, who made his solo debut there in 1969. Taylor also debuted “You’ve Got A Friend” at the venue with then piano player and opening act Carole King in 1970 and first met future wife, Carly Simon, there for the first time. Many bands and musicians have also recorded live albums there such as Neil Diamond, Tim Buckley, Van Morrison, and Miles Davis among others. The venue is not only known for rock music. It is known for having stand-up comedy and was essential in the careers of comedians Cheech and Chong who were discovered there.

The music history at the Troubadour is endless. It was the place that Janis Joplin partied at the day before he was found dead of a heroin overdose. It’s been a spot for album debuts, L.A. debuts, U.S. debuts, and just first live-performances in general. Unlike some legendary venues, the Troubadour still sits at the same spot it moved to in 1961. Many bands and artists consider it a right of passage to play at the Troubadour while visiting L.A. Recently, bands like Bastille and One Direction member Harry Styles have performed there. It’s the definition of a small venue with a capacity of only 500, which makes its performance history all the more meaningful. I’ve unfortunately never been to the venue. I’ve only actually been to L.A. once (technically 3 times in one trip to California) despite the amount of visits I’ve made to So Cal, but it’s on my list as a place to visit for the next time I’m there. In general, it’s a place where live music fans should visit and if possible attend a show it because it’s definitely one of Los Angeles’ most famous and legendary venues.

Coachella Band Preview: Bleachers

Okay guys….it’s a week and a half til Coachella! Who else is stoked besides me?! Even if you’re not going, that live stream is a cool way to spend your weekend (I’ve done it! Ha!). That being said, these band preview blogs are coming to an end. This will be my second to the last post before the festival. I felt like I’ve put this one off for a while for one reason or another. I guess it mostly comes down to the fact that Jack Antonoff is a badass and I felt like I could write so much about him (I condensed this post though). So in case you didn’t already know, this one is about Bleachers.

Bleachers is an indie pop band from New York City. This side project band was started by producer, musician, singer, songwriter, Jack Antonoff. He’s literally a “Jack” of all trades.  His older sister Rachel is also a well-known power house in her respected profession (fashion designer). They’re a talented family, but back to Bleachers.

Bleachers started when Jack was on the road with his former band Fun. of “Some Nights” and “We Are Young” fame. He kept his music making a secret until he eventually dropped the single “I Wanna Get Better” in 2014 along with launching a website, social media, and tour dates. Bleachers debut album, Strange Desire, was released on July 15, 2014. For the following year or more, Bleachers toured in support of the album.

Last summer Bleachers’ second album Gone Now was released and Jack and the band went on tour again promoting the new music. As part of the tour, Jack had his childhood bedroom recreated in a trailer that fans were allowed to enter and listen to the album before its release in June. Jack wanted fans to be able to understand where the new album came from as it was inspired by his youth. Spending time in his bedroom was a huge part of that.

When you think of indie pop music, Bleachers fits that stereotypical vision. The music is happy and upbeat, but still offers that indie sound put together by Antonoff. He records most of the music himself in studio. He brings friends on the road to accompany him for the live shows. He also provides the vocals for the band.

I first heard of the band in 2014 when “I Wanna Get Better” was getting radio airplay (me listening to the radio…weird! I know!). “Rollercoaster” was another song I also got familiar with around the same time due to the same reasons. Bleachers isn’t a band I got into more than their popular singles, but I still think they’d be fun to see at Coachella. I feel like an indie pop band fits the mood of the festival and I probably wouldn’t see Bleachers other than at a festival or at a concert where they’re not the only band being featured.

Bleachers plays Friday. It’s Antonoff’s first Coachella as Bleachers. For me there’s not many bands, I’d like to see that day. The Neighbourhood is definitely my first choice, but checking out Bleachers would be a great option. Bleachers isn’t listed highly on the bill, but I feel like they’ll play later in the day on either the Main or Outdoor stage. I think most people are familiar with the band and would head to see them if they don’t overlap any other favorites. That’s how they would be for me too, but with a small list of acts I’d like to see on Friday, Bleachers is a very viable option. If you’re planning on seeing them or casually dropping by, here’s the tunes to listen to this week:

  1. I Wanna Get Better
  2. Rollercoaster
  3. Don’t Take the Money
  4. I Miss Those Days
  5. Hate That You Know Me
  6. Wake Me
  7. Wild Heart
  8. Goodmorning
  9. Shadow
  10. Take Me Away

Coachella Survival Tips

As you know, Coachella begins this weekend. As you also know (if you’ve followed my blog), I attended Coachella last year for the first time. Sure this doesn’t make me a Coachella veteran at all. In fact, I didn’t even camp out like many festival-goers who attend the annual event in the Indio desert. All that aside, I still feel like I can offer some tips for first timers attending the festival and staying at hotel nearby (sorry campers!) based on my experience.

1. Figure out which bands are must-see acts once the schedule gets released. Every year Coachella releases the lineup schedule a few days prior to Weekend 1 of the festival. Good news for you, it was released earlier today. Check out the times of the bands you want to see and note them in your phone or on the Coachella app, which I believe has a feature you can use to keep track of your favorite acts. Also make note of the stages (and locate the stages!). Sometimes bands may be playing on stages close enough together that you can catch half of one set then half of another set. Many times you’ll find that two of the bands/acts you want to see are playing at the same time, especially if the day is stacked with your favorite talent (Sia vs. The Chainsmokers on Sunday night). If that’s the case you’ve gotta make a choice, or like I said maybe you can do the half and half thing. If your favorite acts aren’t coming on until later in the day, sleep in and head to the festival later too. Last year on both Saturday and Sunday we went to the festival a few hours later than when gates opened because the acts we wanted to see weren’t coming on til late afternoon. After exploring the festival in full on Friday, it got boring waiting around til whatever time the next band we wanted to see came on. We adjusted accordingly for the next two days. Always allow yourself enough time to arrive though because sometimes security gets increased and it takes longer to enter the festival grounds.

2.  Get merch the first day. If you want a t-shirt, poster, or other special merch from the festival, don’t wait around til Sunday to hit up the merch stand. They will run out of your size and you’ll have way less options. Last year we hit up the merch stand immediately after we walked in on Friday (along with the Ferris Wheel, which is another good thing to do the first day, if you plan on riding). We were able to get the Coachella t-shirts we wanted and I was able to get Coachella socks from the artsy-ish building next to the merch stand. On Sunday, I decided I was going to get my uncle a t-shirt for buying me dinner the night before we flew out for the festival. Many of the tees I liked for him were unavailable in his size, so I settled for what was left. If you’re wondering, yes the line is long on Friday. It may take a little while and you may get hot and sweaty from being in the crowded line, but it will all be worth it when you have solid proof of your Coachella attendance.

3. Eat a big meal before you come to the festival. There’s both advantages and disadvantages to this. Sure at some point you’re going to get hungry while you’re at the festival. There really are so many delicious options to choose from, but lines can be long and the food is expensive, like $10 for a personal pizza expensive. Last year we went out to eat each day before the festival. It helped save money and time. The disadvantage: you don’t get to sample all the cool, creative vendors Coachella has to offer, unless of course, you want to over stuff yourself. By going out to eat before getting to the festival, we were filled for most of the day. Then, later on, we got something if we felt hungry. In this way, we only dealt with the long lines and expensive food once a day or so.

4. Stay hydrated. Coachella is in the desert. It’s hot in the desert. During the day temps can be in the 90’s to over 100 degrees. It’s important to drink plenty of fluids at the festival even if you don’t feel thirsty. By fluids, I don’t just mean alcohol either, but its even more important to stay hydrated if you’re choosing to drink, especially in the day. You don’t wanna pass out or end up in a hospital. Water at Coachella is cheap. It’s $2 per bottle. There’s also water stations where you can refill your bottle. Pro tip: The water in the refilling stations is extremely warm, so I only recommend this if you’re broke or desperate. One cool thing I discovered last year is that they sold fresh fruit waters at the festival. There was pineapple and watermelon water. These waters are awesome. Buy one if you feel like splurging a little on hydration. The benefit to these waters though is that when you finish the water you have a cup of ice left so you can easily refill your cup from a station and not have piss warm water. By doing this you’ll get your money’s worth and necessary hydration.

5. Wear sunscreen. Besides the fact that it gets super hot in the desert. It’s also clear and sunny about 97% of the time (this is a made up number, but it seems accurate) in Southern California, especially in the desert. Those rays are strong. Sunscreen is a necessity if you don’t want to turn into a tomato or end up in a lot of pain anytime someone touches or bumps into you. Apply daily before you hit up the festival. I also believe you’re allowed to bring sunscreen into the grounds, but apply before regardless. You may forget about sunscreen once you arrive with all the distractions the festival has to offer.

6. Bring a sweatshirt/jacket. For as hot as it is in the day time, it can get about 30 degrees cooler each night. Before my first day at the festival last year, I decided to bring a backpack with a sweatshirt inside for night time. I wore a tank top and shorts. I didn’t believe I would need the sweatshirt at night because even with the temp dropping 30 degrees it would still be in the mid to upper 60’s. I figured I could handle that at night. Wrong. 60’s in the desert with a breeze each night is freezing, especially when your body is adjusting from a hot 90 degree day. If I was watching a set in a giant crowd it was less chilly, but standing in an open space in front of the main stage….brrrrr. Even standing in crowds I was slightly chilled and wore my sweatshirt. Some people even bring pants to wear at night. You know how well your body handles different temps though. Prep for what you need, but like I said, bring a covering of some sort for later.

7. Charge your phone each night. You know it and I know it. You’re going to use your phone a lot at Coachella. Whether it’s to check set times, take selfies with friends or pics of the art installations and festival scenes, post to social media, or send out texts and snapchats, your phone will get a lot of use. Many people bring their phone cords to recharge at the festival. As I found out last year though, those recharging stations don’t always work. You can always bring a portable recharger (which you’ll have to charge), or you can try to conserve battery when you’re not using your phone. Pro tip: Put your phone in airplane mode (I did this several times last year). I’ve also noticed that newer iPhones have a feature called Low Power Mode that you can turn on. There’s plenty of ways to keep your battery charged when you’re not on your phone at the festival. To be safe though, charge it every night. Start with 100% battery power each day and hopefully you make it through the day before you return to your nightly accommodations.

8. Find a meeting spot. I read this several times when I was prepping for my first Coachella. With the amount of people in such a small space at Coachella the cell service can be poor. If you lose your group of friends or plan to separate, it’s good to have a meeting spot. I actually believed I lost my cousin for a brief time last year on the last night of the festival during Florence and the Machine’s set. I wanted to be close for the set. Her back was sore so she wanted to sit further back and relax. We decided we would meet to the right of the last sound tower after the set was over. I had some issues with getting close. The set was more crowded than I anticipated and I wasn’t having fun. I decided to walk back and sit with my cousin but she wasn’t at our meeting spot. My cell service was spotty at that time due to the large amount of people at the set (people were arriving for Drake afterwards too). I couldn’t reach her. I had no idea where she went. Fortunately we found each other before the set was over because a few of my messages finally sent. After that experience, I understood the need for a meeting spot.

9. Take the shuttle. Since I’m writing this post for people who aren’t camping, I recommend you take a shuttle to the festival each day. Taking a shuttle is less of a hassle than driving. Last year we had a travel package that included rooms, wristbands, and shuttle passes. If you don’t have a packaged deal and are staying at a hotel, I recommend buying a shuttle pass. The shuttles take you directly to the festival and directly back. There’s different shuttle lines to different hotels. You don’t have to worry about parking, finding your car, getting too drunk, or even just keeping track of your car keys. Each day it took about an hour to arrive by shuttle from the moment we decided to leave our room until we were inside the festival gates. Of course travel time depends on where your hotel is relative to the festival. Ours was about 13 miles away. We never had to wait in a huge line for a shuttle either. Maybe that was because we arrived and left at non-peak moments. If you’re staying at a rented house, a hotel that’s not part of a direct shuttle line, an AirBnB, or some other type of nearby accommodation, find the closest shuttle line and walk or drive to it. Sure the driving part might defeat the purpose a bit, but you still won’t have to drive as far, worry about parking or finding your car, and you’ll have a bit of time to sober up on your ride back. A shuttle is the way to go.

10. Arrive early to get a good spot at a set. If you have a favorite band or artist you want to see up close, arrive to the set early to work your way to the front. Actually, arrive a set or two before your favorite act comes on that way when people leave the earlier set(s) you can work your way up as people in front of you disperse. No one likes a person who tries to push to the front at the last minute. You don’t want to be that person. Plus majority of attendees aren’t fortunate enough to have a V.I.P. pass that gives you access to special V.I.P. viewing areas at most stages. You have to get a good spot the old fashioned way. Arrive early and move up. If you’re desperate to try to see a headliner up close, come 2-3 sets early. I realize this isn’t always possible because there’s other bands you want to see. Just do your best and make sacrifices if you have to. Trust me when I say, even if you’re in the back and you can barely see the artist on stage, you’ll be able to hear the music, you’ll know if there’s any surprise appearances, and most importantly, you’re at fucking Coachella! There’s so many people who would love to be in your spot. Just soak in the atmosphere, the moment, and all the good vibes. Sing out loud. Dance your heart out. Be kind to others. Make new friends. Be young. Be wild. Be free. And have fun! Coachella is one of the best and most well-known music festivals in the world, so enjoy every second.

And with that last tip, that’s all I have to offer for Coachella 2016. Let’s get this year’s party started! Until next year…

Happy Coachella!

Coachella Band Preview: BØRNS

I’m not sure if you knew or not but, COACHELLA BEGINS ON FRIDAY! For those of you camping, it begins Thursday night, but the festival officially begins on Friday. Since Friday is only a mere 3 days from now, this will be the final band preview for Coachella 2016 (I do have an extra special Coachella post for tomorrow planned though). Over the past 3 months, I’ve previewed all of my favorite acts performing this year and now it’s getting down to the wire. There was a handful of bands to choose from that I wanted to write about for this final preview so I figured I’d choose one whose music style is more so my cup of tea, meaning not another EDM artist.

Garrett Borns, better known to the world as BØRNS, is a indie pop/alternative rock artist from Grand Haven, Michigan. His debut single, “10,000 Emerald Pools”, was released a little more than a year ago on November 10, 2014. His EP Candy was also released the same day. After the EP release, BØRNS played multiple TV appearances and festivals to promote his EP. He joined the likes of MisterWives last spring and Charli XCX and Bleachers last summer on tour. BØRNS debut album, Dopamine, was released on October 16, 2015. The album peaked at the 24th spot on the Billboard Top 200 in the U.S.

BØRNS plays an indie pop/alternative rock style of music. His music also has elements of synth and can be considered synthpop. There’s even a hippie-like sound to a few of his songs too. His high pitched vocals are smooth. At times they even remind me of Justin Timberlake’s sound, except better because his music has a much more indie sound.

I first heard of BØRNS over the summer at some point. I’m not exactly sure if I heard him first on the local alternative radio station or on my friends Spotify playlist. The song “Electric Love” was the first song I heard though. Since the summer, I’ve heard the song many more times as well as several other BØRNS songs that I like just as much and have recently been getting into.

BØRNS 2016 Coachella appearance will be his first. He did play other major festivals like Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits last year, but Coachella goes beyond other festivals in my opinion. He’ll be kicking off the festival with a Friday set. As I’m writing this post, I’m listening to BØRNS and I can picture hearing this song while a cool breeze blows and the palm trees and bohemian hipsters are swaying. It should be a great set to attend to start off the weekend. With the limited amount of time, here’s some songs you need to have on repeat over the next three days:

  1. 10,000 Emerald Pools
  2. Electric Love
  3. American Money
  4. Seeing Stars
  5. Past Lives
  6. The Emotion
  7. Fool

2016 Coachella Valley Arts and Music Festival Lineup Release

A yearly ritual right after the New Year begins for music fans is the release of the Coachella Valley Arts and Music Festival lineup. Last year I paid more attention to it than ever because, as you all know, I attended the festival last April. Again, I can’t adequately express how great of an experience Coachella is, and this is from someone who didn’t even camp out. My soul felt totally at home while listening to live music and soaking up the sun and chill vibes in the desert for 3 days last year. It’s something you have to experience to understand. Since I previewed the bands at the festival last year in the hype leading up to the main event, and the response went well, I plan on doing the same thing this year even though it might not have the same meaning for me (Yeah, I’m not attending Coachella 2016 and I’m a little bummed about it). Before looking in depth at each band, I have to give an overview of all the acts. Since the lineup was released around 9:45 p.m. ET last evening, I can finally talk about them. First up, the headliners.

The Headliners: LCD Soundsystem, Guns N’ Roses, Calvin Harris

In the days leading up to the lineup release, I actually found out that LCD Soundsystem and Guns N’ Roses would be headlining. Safe to say I anticipated a great lineup this year and I was a little jealous (mostly because of LCD Soundsystem). 80’s rock band, Guns N’ Roses, are reuniting for the first time in 20 years for this upcoming Coachella performance. They’re the old school rock band performer this year, similar to AC/DC at last year’s event. The Saturday night set should be an epic rock n’ roll event for all who attend. Another band reuniting for Coachella 2016 is LCD Soundsystem. The band, who announced their split in 2011 and played their “final show ever” at Madison Square Garden that same year, is getting back together to play Coachella for the third time. They headline on Friday night. Lastly, Scottish DJ, EDM artist, and current boyfriend of Taylor Swift, Calvin Harris is set to close out the festival on Sunday evening. As a Coachella veteran and this year’s headlining EDM act, the Calvin Harris set should be the biggest of the festival. His set in 2014 was the second largest ever in festival history. As I learned last year, EDM is a huge deal at Coachella (I mean that Kaskade set though) so you can count on Calvin Harris’s as being one for the ages.

The Other Highly Billed Performers (aka the next two lines on each day of the poster): Ellie Goulding, Sufjan Stevens, Jack Ü, M83, Underworld, The Kills, Foals, Ice Cube, Disclosure, Zedd, A$AP Rocky, CHVRCHES, Halsey, James Bay, Sia, Major Lazer, Flume, Beach House, The 1975, Rancid, Miike Snow, Of Monsters and Men, G-Eazy, Purity Ring, Rae Sremmurd, Volbeat, 2manysdjs, Lord Huron, St. Germain, Savages, Grimes, Courtney Barnett, Run the Jewels, The Arcs, RL Grime, Gary Clark Jr., Silversun Pickups, Lush, ZHU, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Matt and Kim, Chris Stapleton, Cold War Kids, Death Grips, The Chainsmokers.

Like always, the Coachella lineup consists of a variety of music styles. There’s plenty of pop, rock, indie, alternative, and electronic in this year’s group of top acts along with a mix of a few other genres as well. Ice Cube, A$AP Rocky, Death Grips, and G-Eazy make up the rap contingency, especially without a main Rap/R&B headliner this year. James Bay, Sia, Halsey, and Ellie Goulding make up the pop acts. Sufjan Stevens and Lord Huron hold the crown for indie performers this year. Then there’s indie/rock/alternative bands like CHVRCHES, Grimes, Foals, M83, The 1975, The Kills, Of Monsters & Men, Silversun Pickups, Purity Ring, Beach House, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Matt and Kim and Cold War Kids and the ever popular electronic/dance/house music with Jack Ü, Disclosure, Zedd, Miike Snow, ZHU,  RL Grime, Major Lazer, The Chainsmokers. There’s even some old school punk in the mix with Rancid.

If I was attending this year, I’d definitely want to hit up the Matt and Kim set the most. I’ve wanted to see them play for the last couple years and I passed up on the opportunity last summer. I’d also love to see CHVRCHES, M83, The 1975, Of Monsters & Men, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Cold War Kids, Halsey, Sufjan Stevens, and Major Lazer. Since I wanted to see the 1975 and Cold War Kids within the last few months, it would be cool to finally see these guys in the desert. I hyped Halsey a few months ago as being one of the hottest new up and coming performers so her set is bound to be a great one. CHVRCHES is a band I recently got more into and really enjoy, especially their latest album. I feel like M83, Of Monsters & Men, Sufjan Stevens, and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros have been quiet for a while and I’ve liked all three groups for a few years now so they’ll be worth a listen. Then there’s electronic band, Major Lazer, who recently became more well-known with their song “Lean On”. If there was time I’d also love to check out Sia, Ellie Goulding, Beach House, James Bay, The Chainsmokers, Silversun Pickups, Rancid, Grimes, and Foals. I think Sia’s performance is going to be as huge as the three main headliners. It’ll be worth it to check out her set. Rancid is such a legendary punk band too that it would be hard to pass up an opportunity to see them. The other artists I mentioned would be fun to check out as well even though I may not be as familiar with their music as the acts I first listed. In all, this group definitely makes a great selection of top-billed talent worth seeing this year.

The Rest: The Last Shadow Puppets, Joey Bada$$, DJ Mustard, BØRNS, Christine and the Queens, Snakehips, Robert DeLong, Bob Moses, Ibeyi, Marco Carola, Parov Stelar, Black Coffee, Years & Years, Nicole Moudaber & Skin, Lido, HEALTH, Mavis Staples, Sasha, Goldroom, Carla Morrison, Nic Fanciulli, The Front Bottoms, Skepta, Sam Feldt, Lemaitre, Louis the Child, Frances, George FitzGerald, DJ EZ, Gallant, HÆLOS, Låpsley, Miami Horror, SG Lewis, Sheer Mag, Mbongwana Star, Nina Las Vegas, Nora En Pure, Masha, Deerhunter, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Rhye, Bat for Lashes, The Damned, Vince Staples, Tchami, Nina Kraviz, Snails, RÜFÜS DU SOL, Lost Frequencies, Chronixx, Vanic, Justin Martin, AlunaGeorge, Mano Le Tough, Shamir, DJ Koze, BADBADNOTGOOD, Moon Taxi, SZA, Ex Hex, Mr. Carmack, SOPHIE, Protoje, Alvvays, Zella Day, Dubfire, Matthew Dear, DMA’s, Matoma, Algiers, GoGo Penguins, The Black Madonna, Cloves, Strangers You Know, Amine Edge & DANCE, Phases, The Dead Ships, Maceo Plex, Baauer, KSHMR, Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats, Adam Beyer & Ida Engberg, Wolf Alice, Pete Yorn, Hudson Mohawke, Kamasi Washington, Claptone, TOKiMONSTA, Melody’s Echo Chamber, Autolux, John Digweed, Thomas Jack, Anderson .Paak, Nosaj Thing, Deafheaven, Epik High, Tensnake, Alessia Cara, Crystal Fighters, The Vandals, Joywave, PRAYERS, Young Fathers, The Heavy, Tei Shi, Meg Myers, Soul Clap, Cassy, De Lux, Girlpool, Fur Coat, AC Slater

Out of the rest of the acts performing this year, only a few stand out to me. This might be bad news for me as a self-proclaimed music expert since I’ve only heard of a few of these bands. Guess I need to step up my game and learn about these bands. The few that do stand out though are BØRNS, Years & Years, Matoma, and Joywave. Over the summer I wrote about Years & Years and the release of their debut album. After selling out their fall tour, they’ll be supporting Ellie Goulding on her upcoming tour this spring, which I guess, from the looks of it, also includes a stop in the Coachella Valley for both in April. I’ve listened to BØRNS and Joywave a few times on Spotify and I’ve always enjoyed what I heard.

Lastly, I need to mention Matoma strictly for my jam of last spring, “Old Thing Back (Matoma remix)”. In fact, I used to listen to this song on repeat in my lead up to leaving for Coachella. Pretty sure I even played it for my cousin during our 2-3 hour drive to Palm Desert the day we arrived in So Cal. It sets the mood for some good vibes despite the explicit lyrics. Of course, the song was originally released as a song on The Notorious B.I.G.’s Greatest Hits Compilation in 2007. It was one of two songs unreleased previously. In late 2014-early 2015 the song regained popularity when it was released as a remix by Norwegian DJ Matoma. It’s kind of ironic that I’m writing this small bit about “Old Thing Back” today since a few days ago the song popped in my head when I realized I hadn’t listened to it in a while. Now I’m sitting here listening to it again on repeat. Matoma, you’re playing a year too late for me, but I’m sure festival-goers will be dancing their hearts out to the “Old Thing Back” remix in April.

After last year, I thought the lineup would make me super jealous that I wasn’t attending this year. It always seems like there’s a strong lineup every other year according to my tastes. 2014 was unreal in my mind and after 2015’s decent lineup, I thought 2016 would blow me away, especially after I heard LCD Soundsystem was reuniting to headline. To be honest though, it didn’t. I find it comparable to last year in a lot of regards. That means next year might be incredible. I should probably start saving up now since I vowed that the next time I go, I’m getting VIP tickets. I guess we’ll see what happens, but 2016 will no doubt be memorable for all attending despite opinions, whether good or bad, on the lineup. It was for me anyway.

Coachella Band Preview: Alabama Shakes

Too hyped that Coachella is only 3 weeks away? Me too. I’ve been listening to music, planning what to pack, and figuring out some other things I need for my arrival in beautiful Southern California. It’s about to get so real. In the meantime though, I’ve decided to blog about a band from the south playing the festival this year for their first time, Alabama Shakes.

Alabama Shakes was formed in 2009 when lead singer/guitarist Brittany Howard and bassist Zac Cockrell began writing songs while still in high school together in Athens, Alabama. They recruited drummer Steve Johnson to join the group  prior to recording some of the tracks they had been working on. Later, guitarist Heath Fogg came on board and so began their life as Alabama Shakes. They were formerly just called The Shakes but added the “Alabama” to differentiate from other bands also known as The Shakes. Their first album Boys & Girls was released in April of 2012, but they started gaining attention prior to that due to the release of a four song EP in September 2011. The band received Grammy nominations for “Best New Artist” and “Best Rock Performance” the following year for their work on the debut album.

I first heard of Alabama Shakes in the spring of 2012 shortly after the release of Boys & Girls. I heard the single “Hold On” and really enjoyed it. Then I remember reading about the group/album thinking, “these guys are gonna be like Foster the People was last year. I need to get into them before everyone else finds out about how good they are. (I like to say I knew about bands “first”.)” So I went out and bought the album. I told all my friends to listen to them. I saw they were touring and selling out shows after a solid performance at SXSW (South by Southwest) that year. However, what I thought would happen didn’t really happen as I expected. Alabama Shakes did end up receiving those Grammy nominations that were predicted when I first heard about them, but I still think Foster the People blew up more.

The band plays a blues, soulful type of rock known as roots rock, which is a combination of folk, blues, and country rock. They could also be classified in the Americana genre. Now that I think about it, it makes total sense why I got into Alabama Shakes in spring 2012. It was also at that point that my interest in The Black Keys started to peak. I purchased El Camino probably a month before I got Boys & Girls. Although I wouldn’t classify their styles and sounds as being the same, both Alabama Shakes and The Black Keys have some similarity with the blues rock sound they produce. Alabama Shakes definitely has more soul and a country-ish feel to their music though. I guess I kind of progressed to Alabama Shakes after listening to The Black Keys.

Like some other bands/artists playing Coachella this year, Alabama Shakes also have a new album due out soon after the festival (the week after Weekend 2 to be exact). The sophomore album is called Sound & Color and the group has already released two singles from it, “Gimme All Your Love” and “Don’t Wanna Fight”, but I doubt those will be the only new tracks the band plays in Indio. This year Alabama Shakes joins Coachella for the first time in a minor headlining role. They play Friday on both weekends. There’s not that many bands I have on my must-see list for Friday, but Alabama Shakes is one of them. I remember wanting to see them in 2012, but not having anyone to go with (at that point I wasn’t too keen on going places by myself). So now I can finally fulfill those wishes.

Song recommendations:

1. Hold On

2.Don’t Wanna Fight

3. Hang Loose

4. Always Alright

5. You Ain’t Alone

6. Be Mine

7. I Found You