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Coachella 2014: Chance the Rapper and other can't wait acts

Times pop music staffers weigh in on the artists they're most looking forward to seeing, including Foxygen, Future Islands and Banks.

April 04, 2014|By Times staff writers
  • Chance the Rapper will perform at Coachella this month.
Chance the Rapper will perform at Coachella this month. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles…)

The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival kicks off April 11. The Times' pop music staffers weigh in on the artists they're most looking forward to seeing.

Chance the Rapper: This Chicago-born artist is one of the great hopes of a new hip-hop generation. His masterful "Acid Rap" mixtape set ears ablaze when released in 2013, and that's why Chance, born Chancelor Bennett, is known in the rap world. To CNN viewers, the 20-year-old artist is a shining star of "Chicagoland," the network's documentary about local politics, a city struggling against gang violence and Mayor Rahm Emanuel's attempts at addressing both. After a curtain-raising performance at Lollapalooza in 2013, how will Chance fare on his biggest stage? Expect massive buzz for this Sunday performance.

Foxygen: A bitter mix of power pop, laconic British invasion balladry and joyous lyrical wit, the Los Angeles band has released a pair of lovely rock records that read as future underground classics. Specifically, the band's 2013 record "We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic" is a blissful psychedelic pop album as assured as it is memorable. The band has been relatively silent for the last year, considering the album's acclaim, and it's one reason why anticipation for its Coachella gigs is so high.

— Randall Roberts

INTERACTIVE: Plan your Coachella schedule

Zedd: Perhaps the most shamelessly motivated of the current crop of EDM megastars, Zedd is the type of artist who's happy to incorporate a beer company's slogan into his latest single if the tie-in ensures added exposure. But that drive toward the top is also what gives the Russian producer's exhilarating stadium-rave jams — particularly "Stay the Night," with vocals by Hayley Williams of Paramore — such a heady rush. I'll be pumping my fist to that one even as I (easily) resist the urge for a Bud Light Platinum.

Future Islands: Friends, colleagues and the Internet tell me that this arty Baltimore outfit has released songs other than "Seasons (Waiting on You)," the lead track from its new "Singles" album. Nevertheless, I'm holding out hope that Future Islands' set at Coachella consists entirely of this beautifully warped synth-pop tune, in which singer Samuel T. Herring barks out a sad-guy lament over a groove as mournful as it is weirdly triumphant. Last month, Herring's full-bodied performance of the song on the "Late Show With David Letterman" went viral; I can't wait to see it in the flesh.

— Mikael Wood

Nina Kraviz: For better or worse, this house and techno producer's work is infused with sex. Yes, the Russian artist is pretty striking behind the decks (and she caught some undeserved flak for that early in her career). But her very accomplished singles and LPs, such as last year's "Mr. Jones," are soaked in the rowdy, desperate hormones of the old Dance Mania catalog. Many of the globe's best clubs (Berghain, Fabric, Space) have had her out to play, and all it takes is one pass through the delirious video for her minimalist standout single "Ghetto Kraviz" to understand why.

CRITICS' NOTEBOOK: Coachella's 166 acts

Art Department producers Kenny Glasgow and Jonny White: This crew has knocked around the Canadian house scene for decades. But its sleek and slithery 2010 single together as Art Department, "Without You," helped set a new template for sexy-yet-narcotized party music. Alongside peers like Seth Troxler and Jamie Jones, the crew is broadening the appeal of the underground while challenging the conventions of mainstream electronica. Whenever the idea of EDM finally crawls off to die, this is probably the sound that's coming next.

— August Brown

Jhené Aiko: This R&B singer's sultry, emotive voice has soundtracked plenty of lonely Saturday nights for her fans over the last few years. But Aiko, who has lent her voice to tracks by J. Cole, Big Sean and Drake, isn't about succumbing to wrenching heartbreak. When describing her breakout single, "The Worst," she told me it was best enjoyed alone with a joint. Her voice is airy enough to make you feel like you're floating in the clouds, even without the aide of the green leaf she has an affinity for singing about.

Banks: An army of R&B outliers has been shaking things up with alternative spins of the genre since Frank Ocean and the Weeknd hit it big. Banks is right up there thanks to her ability to weave soulful electronics with '90s golden-era R&B. Her music is dark and brooding, rightfully earning her those Fiona Apple comparisons, but she balances the vulnerability with the sort of smoldering sensuality that made us fall in love with Aaliyah back in the day. Swaying in the desert to her seductive "Waiting Game" has already landed a spot on my top moments of the weekend.

— Gerrick D. Kennedy


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