Coachella: Top musicians to see this year



Ellie Goulding

You can’t help but see Ellie Goulding’s entire aesthetic as so Coachella. It makes sense then, that Coachella would bring the whimsical, 29-year-old singer and songwriter back after already once wowing Coachella crowds in 2014. Goulding has branded her breathy, high-piercing voice in a category of its own, experimenting with synth-pop and indie/electronic edginess over the years. Now on tour promoting her third studio album, “Delerium,” Goulding and her legion of fans - known fondly as “Goalddiggers” - will dance under the desert sky to her latest singles, “Something in the Way You Move,” “On My Mind” and the “50 Shades of Grey” power-ballad, “Love Me like You Do.” If you miss her in Indio, she’ll be performing at Viejas Arena in San Diego on April 23.

- Michelle Dederko, DSD online editor

Sufjan Stevens

If you’re searching for some deep, soulful lyrics and perhaps a multi-instrumentalist frontman, Sufjan Stevens is your go-to. Sufjan released his seventh studio album in 2015, Carrie & Lowell, which received great accolades, like peaking at number one on the Top Independent Album charts in 2016 and number 10 on The Billboard 200 in 2015. Sufjan has continuously brought a narrative-based songwriting in all of his work and tends to deliver a powerful, moving set each time he takes the stage.

- Liz Bowen, DSD lifestyle/entertainment writer

The Kills

Musical partners Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince found rock and roll destiny when they formed lo-fi garage duo The Kills in 2000. Three years later they released their debut LP, Keep on Your Mean Side, and they haven’t looked back. Since 2009 Mosshart has also taken on lead vocal duties in The Dead Weather (with Jack White), but The Kills remain stronger than ever. The pair’s long-awaited fifth album Ash & Ice, delayed for years by multiple surgeries to repair tendons in Hince’s hand, drops on June 3. “It’s the most forward-thinking record we’ve ever tried to make,” says Hince. “It’s a record of now and it’s a record of the future.” The Kills’ two Coachella performances should be a great preview of the new album, as well as what to expect from the band to come.

- Scott McDonald, DSD music writer

Mavis Staples

Want to have your spirits raised at Coachella and your head blown off (in a very good way)? Then run, don’t walk, to catch the supremely soulful Mavis Staples. A Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and a gospel-music legend, Staples sings with such rousing fervor she can make almost any listener a believer, at least while she’s on stage. Wilco leader Jeff Tweedy has produced two of the most recent albums by Staples, who will tour this summer with her former paramour, Bob Dylan. At 76-going-on-17, she’s an undeniable force of musical nature.

- George Varga, Union-Tribune music critic



From the moment brothers Howard and Guy Lawrence broke out onto the scene under the DJ name Disclosure, all eyes have been on this young English duo exceeding all expectations in the music world. Their debut album “Settle” had ears perked and feet moving to the lead single “Latch,” featuring (at the time) up-and-coming artist Sam Smith, now a four-time Grammy Award winning superstar. Their latest album “Caracal” features more with Sam Smith, plus the singles “Magnets” with Lorde and “Nocturnal” with The Weeknd - offering the inevitable suspicions of a guest artist joining Disclosure on stage at Coachella.

- Michelle Dederko, DSD online editor


The Canadian electronic-pop star has been making waves in the music scene by creating a sound that is uniquely and totally Grimes. Her upbeat music is woven with vocals that can only be attributed to herself, as she records and writes all of her music. Her style is best described by herself as, “By sounding a little like everything that you’ve ever heard, the whole sounds like nothing you’ve ever heard.” Expect a loud, cohesive mash of classical music, hip-hop, electronic, dream pop and synth pop at this Juno Award-winning artist’s set.

- Liz Bowen, DSD lifestyle/entertainment writer

Ice Cube

It’s hard to imagine that the actor seen across movie screens this weekend in “Barbershop: The Next Cut” is the same guy representing West Coast Gangsta Rap at Coachella. Things like the “Are We There Yet?” films, turns as a Coors Light spokesman, and appearances on daytime TV talk shows keep him distanced from his days as a founding member of incendiary rap group N.W.A. But not only is Ice Cube (aka O'Shea Jackson) a born performer with a deep catalog of classic hits, he’s long hinted that a N.W.A. reunion was in the works for the back-to-back weekends in Indio. The band’s recent hit biopic, “Straight Outta Compton,” has introduced them to a whole new generation of fans, and this set is a lock for one of this year’s best.

- Scott McDonald, DSD music writer

Guns N’ Roses

Welcome back to the jungle, kids! Now some questions. Will this partially reunited Los Angeles band implode on stage? Will the hard-rocking group - which, in the 1980s and early ‘90s, sometimes started its shows as much as 6 or 7 hours late - even get on stage before Coachella’s early morning main-stage curfew begins? Either way, GNR is filling the festival’s classic-rock slot, a role that last year went to the crowd-pleasing AC/DC. Coincidentally, GNR singer Axl Rose has been rehearsing recently with AC/DC for a brief tour. Can a medley of “Paradise City” and “Highway to Hell” be in the offing?

- George Varga, Union-Tribune music critic



Attention is certainly not something that 40-year-old Sia seeks when she performs, but of course, the singer/songwriter seems to attract it in her notoriously oversized platinum blonde wigs shielding her face. During the videos and performances for her singles “Chandelier” and “Elastic Heart” off the album “1000 Forms of Fear,” Sia tried endlessly to protect her privacy with these elaborate cover-ups, perhaps backfiring only to attract more curious fans. Now, her latest album “This is Acting,” reveals more of her talent, composed entirely of songs written by Sia which were rejected by other artists, including Beyoncé, Adele, Rihanna and Katy Perry.

- Michelle Dederko, DSD online editor


Nineties punk-rock renegades Rancid will be shaking things up at this year’s Coachella. The band delivers a high-energy set filled with their familiar punk anthems “Time Bomb,” “Radio” and “Ruby Soho” that have been getting fans amped up and pissed at the man for years. Expect some new tunes from their 2014 album “...Honor Is All We Know” as well. Rancid’s show at Coachella will kick off the start of their spring and summer tour. Get ready to get dirty and mosh hard because punk is not dead at this circle pitter’s dream show.

- Liz Bowen, DSD lifestyle/entertainment writer

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Major Lazer

Fresh from playing a historic (and entirely self-funded) concert in Cuba to an estimated 400,000 fans, Major Lazer returns to Coachella for a headlining slot this year. The trio of Diplo, Walshy Fire, and Jillionaire are still holding onto the tail of the comet that is “Lean On” - their 2015 international smash hit. It’s now Spotify’s most streamed song of all time, with something like 620 million plays. Not to be outdone, the song’s video currently sits on YouTube with 1.2 billion views and counting. After performing under the shelter of Coachella’s Mojave Tent in 2013, the trio will undoubtedly get an upgrade this year. Bandleader Diplo recently picked up a pair of Grammys for his work with Skrillex and Justin Bieber, but you can count on even more gold from Major Lazer on both of their Sundays at Coachella.

- Scott McDonald, DSD music writer

Kamasai Washington

This year’s Coachella festival features at least three jazz-oriented acts, which is three more than most past editions. Alas, the English trio Gogo Penguin and the Canadian trio BadBadNotGood are still too under-the-radar here to create much buzz. Not so, Los Angeles saxophonist and band leader Kamasai Washington, whose high-profile collaborations with Kendrick Lamar, Flying Lotus, Snoop Dogg, Ryan Adams and Broken Bells have earned him major hipster cred. Washington’s résumé also includes bona fide jazz gigs with Gerald Wilson, Kenny Burrell and Quincy Jones. His overreliance on funk rhythms may dismay some, but expect Washington to blow up a storm at the biggest gig of his career thus far.

- George Varga, Union-Tribune music critic

Source: DiscoverSD