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Coachella 2019: 15 lower-poster acts we’re excited for

Hop Along at Brooklyn Steel
Hop Along at Brooklyn Steel in May (more by Amanda Hatfield)

UPDATE: Livestream Coachella weekend 1 HERE.

Hey, we love a Tame Impala set as much as the next person, and Ariana Grande as headliner seems like a great idea. Janelle Monae, Pusha T and Rosalia put out some of the best records of 2018 and we expect Solange to make one of the best of 2019, plus we’re super excited for Aphex Twin, SOPHIE and a bunch of others, but let’s talk about the artists in small print. Coachella’s 2019 lineup was just announced, and here are 15 artists we’re excited about, all worth getting there early for (in no particular order)…

HOP ALONG

Hop Along are one of our favorite rock bands — especially live — and they put out one of our favorite records of 2018 and we’re psyched to see them popping up on festival lineups this summer (they’re also playing Firefly). We love watching them pack clubs with diehards up front screaming the words (which even used to happen back when they were regularly an opening band), but they’ve also got a warm, earthy sound that’s perfect for a sunny outdoor show, which Coachella will presumably/hopefully be.

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JPEGMAFIA

Experimental rapper JPEGMAFIA started off 2018 with the release of his great album Veteran, and he gradually rose all year, put on some great, confrontational live sets (he likes to go into the crowd), and topped the year off with the killer single “Puff Daddy,” proving that he just gets better and better. He’s touring with Vince Staples in 2019, and if you like off-kilter rappers like Vince but haven’t hopped on the JPEGMAFIA train yet, you’d be smart to change that.

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YVES TUMOR

After more experimental beginnings, Yves Tumor brought his voice to the forefront and made the jump to pop music (experimental pop music, but pop music nonetheless) on 2018’s excellent Safe in the Hands of Love, one of our favorite albums of the year. He’s also got a must-see live show that we witnessed when he opened for Blood Orange (who’s also playing Coachella) in Central Park last year. With an ace backing band, dance moves, and a ton of charisma, Tumor had zero trouble winning us over instantly and we suspect he’ll do the same for many people at Coachella 2019.

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RICO NASTY

Rico Nasty’s Nasty was one of our favorite albums of 2018 and it cemented her as one of the best, most distinct rappers around. Nobody sounds like her, and she’s got a multifaceted sound that goes from melodic sing-rap to punk-inspired mosh-rap and beyond. Even if you go into her set knowing none of her songs, she’ll probably find a way to quickly leave a memorable impression.

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U.S GIRLS

For years, U.S. Girls was mainly a Meg Remy solo project, sometimes commanding the stage with just an ipod and a cassette player for backing. But with last year’s excellent A Poem Unlimited, she collaborated with Toronto collective Cosmic Range (that includes her husband, Slim Twig), turning U.S. Girls into a powerhouse eight-piece disco/soul live band. The album was one of our favorites of 2018, and the live show may be even better (she also has no problem translating to big outdoor stages).

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TURNSTILE

Possibly the heaviest act playing Coachella this year, Turnstile are not to miss. And while heavy music may be an outlier on this festival, Turnstile actually fit right in. They’ve got a guest spot from Diplo on their genre-defying 2018 album TIME & SPACE (one of the year’s very best), and they’re already regulars at rap festivals like Camp Flog Gnaw and Made In America. Turnstile’s songs have an accessibility that non-hardcore fans can easily latch onto, as well as an authenticity that lifelong punks will instantly recognize, and saying their live shows rip is an understatement. Just see ’em.

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HURRAY FOR THE RIFF RAFF

There’s not much at all like alt-country-turned-political-indie-rock act Hurray for the Riff Raff on Coachella 2019, and they’ll be sure to win you over if you need a break from the glitzier stuff. Their early-2017 album The Navigator is as powerful and relevant today as the day it came out, and its single “Pa’lante” has become one of the key anthems of the resistance. Get to their stage bright and early and get ready to yell along to its triumphant coda.

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KERO KERO BONITO

A bit like U.S. Girls, 2018 saw UK group Kero Kero Bonito transform from ironic laptop pop to a less ironic full live band, and they lost none of their charm in the process, as heard on the TOTEP EP and the Time N’ Place LP. (Turns out they are equally as good at shoegazy indie rock as they are at glossy, glitchy pop.) Likewise, their live show, full of crowd participation moments, is a real blast — the crowd was bouncing so much at their November show in Montreal, it was knocking drinks off tables in the back of the room.

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THE MESSTHETICS

People have wished (and joked) for years about Fugazi reuniting for Coachella (would they have to lower the ticket price to $5?), and while that still hasn’t happened, this year two members will be playing Coachella together with The Messthetics. They’re a new instrumental trio featuring Fugazi’s rhythm section (Brendan Canty and Joe Lally) and experimental/jazz guitarist Anthony Pirog, and while these songs might be a bit harder to latch on to than, say, “Waiting Room,” it’s still gonna be a real treat to see these guys in action.

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LITTLE SIMZ

Though it hasn’t officially been announced yet, we’re hoping 2019 is the year Little Simz drops her new album because the UK rapper has been putting out a string of singles and they’ve been truly awesome and even more stunning than anything on her breakthrough 2016 album. And if you don’t trust us that she’s good, trust Lauryn Hill and Gorillaz.

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TIERRA WHACK

Philly rapper Tierra Whack was hardly known at all before 2018, but then she put out her 15-minute, 15-track, audiovisual album Whack World and by the end of the year she was dominating year-end lists. There’s truly nobody else like her in the world right now, and we feel pretty confident that you’re only gonna hear about her more and more. Catch her now before she’s one of the big-font artists herself — it’s sure to be a very special and talked about set.

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RAZORBUMPS

Razorbumps are the second to last band listed on Coachella’s Sunday lineup, so it’s probably safe to assume they’ll be given one of the least convenient set times of the festival, but it’s worth the effort to see them. This Denton, Texas crew had no trouble winning over the crowd when they toured with Turnstile (who are also playing Coachella) last year; their 2018 album HELLRAZORS (which came out on Pop Wig, which is run by members of Turnstile and Trapped Under Ice) is jittery and post-punky but the “punk” side really gets amplified when you see them live.

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SERPENTWITHFEET

serpentwithfeet’s debut album soil, one of our favorites of 2018, sounds like nothing else we heard all year. Its songs of devotion are influenced by soul, hymns, and chamber music, with added electronics and distortion for something entirely unique, and Josiah Wise’s haunting, unforgettable voice ties everything together. It translates really well live, where there’s also the added treat of Josiah’s sense of humor, coming out in between-song banter and the occasional ad-lib.

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LET’S EAT GRANDMA

Let’s Eat Grandma seriously leveled up with the release of their excellent sophomore album I’m All Ears, one of our favorites of 2018 and a masterwork of shiny, off-kilter pop. Their live show has evolved to keep up, but it hasn’t lost the magic of their quirky beginnings, either – expect instrument swapping, clapping games, and Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingworth spontaneously lying down onstage. Fingers crossed for a guest appearance from SOPHIE, who co-produced two I’m All Ears highlights (“Hot Pink” and “It’s Not Just Me”) and is also playing Coachella.

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SOCCER MOMMY

There’s not a ton of guitar-based indie rock on the Coachella lineup this year – along with Hop Along and Hurray for the Riff Raff, Soccer Mommy is one of your best bets if that particular style is what you’re into. She and her band are well worth checking out anyway; the songs from their 2018 album Clean, one of our favorites of last year, have a mellow, fuzzed out melancholy that should go down like a cool drink of water under the desert sun. They’re also addictive earworms that’ll linger in your head long after the show is over.

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Coachella 2019 happens in Indio, CA on the consecutive weekends of April 12-14 and April 19-21. See the full lineup below.

Coachella 2019

UPDATE: SET TIMES HERE.

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