20 Bands You Need To See At Coachella

By Vanessa Butler

There's not enough time to see all of the bands playing Coachella, but this list should be your ultimate guide to your weekend there.

A$AP Rocky

He may not have his own studio album, but his mixtape “LiveLoveA$AP” gave Coachella bookers enough reason to secure him and the mob a headlining spot. During the first weekend of Coachella, A$AP Rocky gave fans a live taste of his upcoming single “Goldie” which dropped yesterday, so it’s a sure bet attendees of the second weekend will hear it as well. According to all reports, the Harlem native absolutely killed his set, and attracted groves of incredibly hot women, which always makes for good company.


It may be London producer Aaron Jerome, but to people heading over to Coachella this weekend, you better call him SBTRKT. Last weekend he mixed things up and performed his track ‘Wildfire’ with a live band and supporting vocals while adding layer upon layer of sounds and textures to the mix. If you want to dance the night away inebriated on god knows what, this high energy set is the one for you, SBTRKT is one of the best post-dubstep acts you can catch live. 


Uber popular French electronic duo Justice has been one of our favorites since their debut album, so we’ve excused their twenty three minute tardiness to their Sunday night set. Performing atop their signature wall of Marshall Amplifiers and their symbol, a glowing cross, it’s hard not to kick up the desert sand to their Grammy nominated tracks even if you’re not a fan of French house music. Our favorite part of their set during the first week was their clever sample of Jay-Z’s “On To the Next One” which happens to sample Justice’s mega hit “D.A.N.C.E”, how Meta. 


We caught these guys a couple of weeks ago and were surprised with how their energetic performance made the very repetitive “whoa oh oh oh” hooks endearing.  There’s something about their “we know that we’re really attractive to all of these women” facade that make us feel like they’re playboy’s of the indie kids. Take a break from the big names and check out this catchy psychedelic pop band’s set.


If you’ve had one too many beers and find yourself in the mood to dance, make your way over to one of the most amusing sets of the festival: The Rapture. Equipped with a cowbell, sax, run of the mill rock band, and a sea of people ready to scream along to “House of Jealous Lovers,” this notorious New York rock band is a must see. We’ve heard mixed reviews on the saxophone solo though, Lady Gaga kind of ran the sax into the ground after using Clarence Clemons’s in “Edge of Glory”.


They may have had to fight wind, amp malfunctions and flying rolls of toilet paper during their first weekend set, but this young band came out on top completely unfazed. Playing their recently released song “Chew” and winning the crowd over with their London charm, shoegaze sound and stellar onstage semantics, we hope to see more of this opener band in the future. In fact, it’s the perfect set to crack open your first beer of the day.

St. Vincent

Half goddess, half saint we’re surprised St. Vincent isn’t on the minds of every festival goer. Formerly a member of The Polyphonic Spree and Sufjan Stevens’ touring band, St. Vincent began her solo work back in 2006 and has been melting the hearts of millions with her angelic voice, incredible range of instrumental work and her gorgeous features. A woman who can croon like an angel and kill a set with an electric guitar is a must see in our books, and it should be in yours too.

Miike Snow

Miike Snow, a seasoned Coachella veteran, knows how to win over a crowd as big as the ones found at the final set of a Saturday night festival. Acting as more of a party emcee, Snow delivers track after track, new and old, that sends the audience into a dancing frenzy. It’s not typical to say you’re looking forward to hearing a musician play new material, but we hope we hear a lot of tracks from the new album Happy to You during his set this weekend.

First Aid Kit

If, for some reason, you find yourself feeling nostalgic for the days of Woodstock after having a mid-afternoon pow-wow, be sure you make your way to see First Aid Kit. This Swedish folk duo apparently brought all the hippies out of the woodwork during their early set last week, and calmed the nerves of those who may have already been peaking on whatever they had popped in the line-up. It’s bands like these that are meant to be enjoyed under the hot sun surrounded by a sea of music lovers!

Housse de Racket

They may sing a few songs in French, but their electro-pop music is universally catchy. The duo may not be incredibly well known in America, but they’ve been rocking out since 2008 and have nabbed the producer of the highly popular band Phoenix for their latest album Alesa. So instead of opting for the most packed stage, go with the more cultured choice and check out Housse de Racket. You never know when you’ll be able to see them again!

Sebastian Ingrosso

You may have to squint to actually see Sebastian on stage by the time he starts his set, since festival goers who attend Coachella for the dance music seem to stay at the three day party that is Sahara, but being there just for the experience is well worth it. Even if you’re not a fan of house music, by the time Sebastian’s set rolls around, we’re sure you will be in a mood to watch scantily clad women dance and make out with each other.


Teetering on the extreme side of the pandemonium scale is this years it band M83. With the release of Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming late last year, people have been going crazy over the electropop king Anthony Gonzalez despite the fact that he’s been performing since 2001. Seeing M83 live is definitely an experience in itself, so suck it up and stand your ground amongst the hordes of other festivalgoers even if you can only see the screen.


2012 is the year of band revival, be it bands we want to see together or not. Thankfully, Plup is one band we’re happy to see. Get ready to party like it’s 1995 to (maybe) your favorite Britpop band in the heat of the warm desert night. Front man Jarvis Cocker, looking dapper as always, put on quite the performance for the sea of fans last weekend and will no doubt give the second weekenders the same.

Childish Gambino

Comedian, writer and Spacetime constable are just a few of Donald Glover’s talents, but out on the Coachella stage, he is one hell of a rapper. We’re not sure why reviewers are always blown away with Childish Gambino sets; they’ve been solid since he started preforming. Expect no lavish dance moves, Donald is sporting a broken foot which has halted him for other performances, but who can say no to performing for a huge crowd of fans under the hot Cali sun?


There are some people who bought a ticket for the second weekend just because they missed Santigold’s spectacular performance the first time. There weren’t many who missed it though, there was already a huge gathering waiting for her to come on the main stage. Between bringing audience members on stage for her hit song “Creator” and her incredibly gorgeous backup singers/booty dancers, there’s much to coax you in to checking out Santigold’s performance, not like you need it.

At The Drive-In

For many, it would be sacrilegious to miss the triumphant return of Omar, Cedric, Jim, Paul and Tony; your teenage self would probably travel in time to kick you in the shins if you did. Sure, we got The Mars Volta thanks to the dissolve of At the Drive-In, but seeing all of these guys perform together again is like watching a post-hardcore ballet. They’re the pros and defined a generation of angsty hooligans. Even if you’re not a fan, stick around their set for our favorite song “Invalid Litter Dept.”

Azealia Banks

Playboy Magazine wrote about Azelia in this year’s music guide, so you know she has to be good. Although she hails from Harlem, last weekend was her first official gig in the U.S. and we have to say, it’s pretty amazing that it was a time slot at Coachella. Since her debut, her name has been all over the blogs and major media sites and giving Nicki Minaj a run for her money. The crowd gathered for her set around 30 minutes prior, so if you’re going to check her out, you better get there early for a good spot.

Calvin Harris

You may feel upset that you missed Rihanna’s ten minute cameo during Calvin Harris’ set last weekend, but it’s no reason to skip out on checking this Scottish house producer out. Be ready to hear him spin some of the best rave love songs of our time, even if the mega pop superstars that are sampled in it don’t appear in the flesh or as a hologram.

The Hives

The rock revival that The Hives were a part of may be long gone, but don’t think for a second these guys have taken any of it to heart, they still know how to put on one hell of a high energy show. Front man Peele Almquist also pulled off something extraordinary last weekend by convincing fans to take part in a reverse standing ovation. “Everybody sit down,” he said. “You’ve been standing all day. It’s hard on your legs and ligaments. VIPs, you’re not that important. Sit down!” he demanded. “Just because you know somebody in middle-management at Coachella, you’re not that important." 

Tupac Hologram

This one is a no brainer. Who wouldn’t want to see Tupac preform in 2012?! It’s without a doubt the biggest event talked about during the festival, despite the fact that The Black Lips front man peeled off all of his clothes during their midafternoon set. Performing alongside legendary rapper Snoop Dogg (not a hologram) we think you should smoke ‘em if you got ‘em, order a beer and witness one of the most remarkable sets Coachella has ever seen.


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