Summer Festival Band Recommendations

So I saw a piece today on Facebook...something about "10 Reasons You Should Wake Up Before Noon @ Coachella"...and I read it and I thought, man, I could make way better band recommendations to my friends than these dudes. So I decided I would write up a list of band recommendations for Coachella. But then I thought, you know, I know several people going to Coachella, but I probably know just as many people going to Lollapalooza or Bonnaroo. And for the record, I know there are way more summer festivals than those three (probably most of them you've never even heard of...there's actually a website that lists all of them) but I'm gonna stick with these three cuz they're the "Big Three" so to speak and they have the best/biggest line-ups for me to pluck gems out of to show you, my loyal reader(s) here they are:

COACHELLA - April 16th-18th (in other words, it starts tomorrow, hence why it's first)


Baroness - 2:00-2:45pm - Mojave Stage

-Prepare to witness one of the ultimate creative forces in heavy music today. Influences that range from Neurosis to Motorhead to Emerson Lake and Palmer to god knows what else...they incorporate so many elements from crushing southern rock riffs to epic, towering guitar harmonies of the 70s that crash land into heart-wrenching twinkly/fuzzy indie rock passages and everything in between. MAYBE if you're not into heavy music this might not be your cup of tea. But even you should still watch this band just in case.

She & Him - 5:45-6:35pm - Outdoor Theatre -OR- The Dillinger Escape Plan - 5:45-6:30pm - Gobi Stage

-First, for the brave and bold, The Dillinger Escape Plan are a very avant garde hardcore/metal band. I've grown less interested in this band since they got a new vocalist and a new direction but they're still a major creative force in heavy music and worth taking in if you're really into that kind of mindfuck-y abrasive music. According to recent setlists they apparently still play "Sugar Coated Sour" and "43% Burnt" so when you hear the vocalist say "this is an old song", I suggest you move forward a bit (not too close though...seriously...)

-She & Him is the retro folk/pop duo of prolific folk/indie songwriter M. Ward and prolific actress and incredible voice (which isn't news to anyone who's seen pretty much any of her movies because they always seem to find some excuse to have her sing) Zooey Deschanel. They do a few really cute covers of old pop songs but a lot of the songs are actually written by Zooey herself. The band was actually formed when Ward heard her sing in Elf and called her up only to find out she had a whole bunch of songs written that she'd never done anything with. I highly recommend this band, not just because Zooey has a beautiful, adorable voice but because the songs are seriously really good.

The Specials - 6:20-7:20pm - Coachella Stage

-Simply one of the best, most influential ska bands ever. They formed in England in the late 70s and were a far more political band than most ska bands at the time. They had a huge impact on the so-called "Third Wave" of ska (ska-punk) because their sound featured a "danceable ska and rocksteady beat with punk's energy and attitude" which was a huge influence on later ska-punk bands. They also were unique in that, on their second album, More Specials, they experimented with sounds that were a departure from their straight up ska sound. According to wikipedia: "The album featured a more experimental approach; including influences from pop music, New Wave, and muzak. Their 'lounge music' style would later be an influence on bands to come. The Specials also experimented with what could be described as dark, almost psychedelic reggae." I know a lot of my friends are into dancey music, specifically reggae. I would highly recommend that those friends take in this band's set and dance (skank) the night away.

Lucero - 6:50-7:40pm - Mojave Stage

-Don't ever let anyone tell you that all country music sucks. This band is your evidence. Now when I say country, you have to understand, this band is way, WAY more depressing (and drunk) than any country music you've probably heard before. But it's also a lot more heartfelt and infinitely better written (including some really amazing lyrics). Don't be surprised if the singer is too drunk to stand up and plays most of the set from a bar stool but trust me when I tell you it won't hinder his ability to sing or play his beautiful music.


Porcupine Tree - 1:35-2:25pm - Outdoor Theatre

-I dunno if it's a good idea or not that the first thing I tell you about this band is that they're often hailed as this generation's Pink Floyd. According to wikipedia, "Wilson would later lament this, stating 'I can't help that. It's true that during the period of The Sky Moves Sideways, I had done a little too much of it in the sense of satisfying, in a way, the fans of Pink Floyd who were listening to us because that group doesn't make albums any more. Moreover, I regret it.'" Since then they've gone on to forge a much more focused, very distinct and unique sound that combines elements of classic, progressive, and psychedelic rock with some elements of heavy metal. Easily one of the most interesting bands in existence right now, especially in the realm of "heavy" music (if you can even call them heavy, which is debatable).

Faith No More - 7:55-8:45 - Coachella Stage

-I feel like I have to tell everyone to watch Faith No More even though I probably don't have to. Those of you that think Faith No More is a one-hit wonder absolutely need to watch them. This is easily one of the most influential bands of all time and probably the most under-appreciated of all the most influential bands of all time. It's impossible to downplay the influence or importance of this band and of its vocalist and driving force Mike Patton to the landscape of current music. Mike Patton has been colonizing untapped pieces of the realm of Left Field within the world of music since the late 80s and hasn't let up since, hammering out albums with such avant garde (and self-founded) groups as Mr. Bungle, Fantomas, and Tomahawk, releasing numerous solo records and even recording a short EP with The Dillinger Escape Plan. His output is beyond prolific. What else can I say, if you miss Faith No More, kill yourself.

I'm going to save myself the effort of telling everyone to watch Muse and Devo since they're headliners...but god help you if you still decide to miss them because there's really no excuse (especially for Muse, who conflict with almost no one else...I'm sure a lot of people will miss Devo for Tiesto which makes me want to stab someone but that's life, isn't it?)


Sunny Day Real Estate - 4:45-5:30pm - Outdoor Theatre

-I'm glad I'm doing this one last because, honestly, if you don't listen to ANY of my other recommendations, please, PLEASE listen to this one. One of the pioneers of the original "emo" sound (not the whiney pop punk bands that people refer to as "emo" now...what was originally "emo" is basically now referred to loosely as indie rock) and one of the most capable collections of musical and songwriting talent ever assembled. I would say that if you miss this band you'll be sorry, but the only way for you to know how sorry you would be for missing them is if you actually didn't miss them. So I guess it's your call. But if you do miss them, I reserve the right to call you a moron as I rub your nose in the Diary album like a pee-stain on your better judgement.

BONNAROO - June 10th-13th (this seems to be the ugly stepsister of the other two that not as many people are interested in which is oddly fitting considering it's FOUR days, not three, it's CHEAPER than the other two, and has by FAAAR the best line-up of the least in my schedule yet since it's in June so this will be altogether)

Tenacious D

-OK if I really have to tell you to see this band, you're probably fucking retarded.

The Flaming Lips performing Dark Side of the Moon featuring Stardeath and White Dwarfs

-I don't think I really have to explain this one very much either. If you're not a fan of The Flaming Lips, do yourself a favor and pick up Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. Other than that, there's no reason not to miss this, it's going to be a once in a lifetime experience.

Damian Marley and Nas

-Once again, no explanation necessary. This is one of the coolest things ever conceived. I wish I could see this. Fuck you if you see it. Fuck you harder if you don't.

The National

-A really terrific dream pop band in the vein of The Smiths. Velvety smooth songs with velvety smooth vocals to soothe the soul and make the hair on the back of your neck stand up.

Dropkick Murphys

-Working class punk rock meets Irish folk music. Most people know who this band is because of that song from the movie The Departed so I probably don't have to tell everyone about them but seriously, if you haven't seen this band's live show, you're only getting half the experience. Just pray that they open with "For Boston."

She & Him

-see above

Against Me!

-For those of you that haven't noticed the "folk punk explosion" (to no fault of your own), allow me to introduce the poster child of this movement. They've long since departed from their folk punk roots (rooted firmly in the Gainesville punk rock scene that built itself up around No Idea Records and vice versa) but they can still write damn good songs, as evidenced by their 2005 album Searching for a Former Clarity (which almost makes up for their lackluster 2007 album New Wave).


-Gosh What A Racket! Don't be fooled by their's fun but it's nothing special. But if you miss this extravaganza, you might not even need me to tell you that you should kill yourself. If you're into massive medieval aliens cutting off Saddam Hussein's head, disemboweling George Bush, stroking giant alien penises and jizzing all over your face (don't worry it's just colored water), then what the fuck are you waiting for?!

The Melvins

-One of the most influential underground bands of all time. Mostly influenced a lot of heavy "sludge" metal bands but were also cited by Kurt Cobain as a major influence on Nirvana, especially their major label debut, Bleach. This band isn't gonna be for everyone but if you love HEAVY and LOUD then go check out The Melvins.


-In my opinion, Isis is arguably the greatest creative force in underground heavy music today (Baroness is up there too). They have a sludgey heavy metal sound but are also well known for spacey/melodic soundscapes within the suffocating sludge sound. They have influenced a plethora of bands from Cult of Luna to Mouth of the Architect to Baroness to Pelican and the list goes on. No one has done what this band has done better than they have done it and that alone is worth checking out.


-see above


-see above

LOLLAPALOOZA - August 6th-8th (the "big one" so to speak...mostly because of the history behind it...speaking of which, I really, REALLY wish this was still a touring festival...sigh...)

The Arcade Fire

-Yeah, they're pretty popular and they're one of the headliners so I shouldn't have to say this but dammit, you have to see this band. Considering how successful they've gotten, how accessible they are, and yet how creative and unique they are, I'd have no problem saying this is one of the best bands in music, all things considered. Funeral is an absolutely brilliant album worthy of all the praise its gotten. If you've never heard of this band but you've seen the movie Where the Wild Things Are, or even just seen the trailer, the song in that trailer is "Wake Up" from the Funeral album and it's an incredible, joyous song by an incredible, joyous band that will undoubtedly put a smile on your face.

Social Distortion

-One of the pioneers of the hardcore punk explosion of the 1980s. Extremely important band that you owe it to yourself to at least watch for a little bit.

The National

-see above


-see above

Drive-By Truckers

-Another really, really good country band (like Lucero) but this one is much more on the rock side of the spectrum. Awesome, exuberant alt-country with all the different elements rooted in country music. "The Righteous Path" is one song I just can't seem to stop listening to from their latest album Brighter Than Creation's Dark.

Well, that about rounds it out. There are obviously bands missing like Soundgarden and Green Day for Lolla and other headliners that I didn't think necessitated a mention but for the most part these are the majority of bands that you should talk yourself into seeing if you're lucky enough to be at any of these festivals (nevermind who you were originally planning on seeing, these bands are better :P).

Tune in next week for Derrick's Top Albums of All Time #30-21!!!


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