The hotels are confirmed, the sunscreen is purchased, the car is packed. But before you and 75,000 of your closest friends head to Indio for Coachella 2013, you might want to have a strategy for the show itself. Here are five can't miss acts for every day of the shindig.
For: Those seeking the next-big-thing
The Mercury Prize-winning band joins what seems like half of the musical acts in England (Stone Roses! Blur! Jake Bugg! Johnny Marr!) with a spot in Friday's lineup. Of all those performers, Alt-J's set of electronic-tinged folk-rock will likely be the show that allows you to brag years down the line that you saw the foursome “way back when.”
Mojave Tent, 5:20-6:05, April 12
For: Those who think that pop-EDM producers are “too soft”
The combination of Skrillex and Boys Noize does not make electronic dance music for the bottle service crowd. Skrillex has been described as the godfather of “brostep” and Boyz Noize grew up influenced by hard rock and metal. Be prepared to thrash rather than pump your fist.
Sahara Tent, 7:40 p.m., April 12
Yeah Yeah Yeahs
For: The coronation of Karen O as the Queen of Indie 2013
There may not be an indie band from the early 2000s that has been as smart about building a career as the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. From limiting live appearances between albums to quality side projects (like Karen O's work on the Where the Wild Things Are soundtrack), the trio has done everything necessary to make each YYYs show an event. There is a better chance of this set yielding a classic “Only at Coachella” moment than any other show this weekend (unless Daft Punk shows up during Phoenix's performance).
Coachella Stage, 8:40 p.m., April 12
For: Anyone still rocking A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul t-shirts
The L.A. crew may have been the second-best live hip-hop act ever (behind the Roots). Coachella marks J5's reunion after splitting in 2007 due to the ever-popular “creative differences.” In the years since, the group's first album (of three), “Quality Control,” has become a classic.
Outdoor Theatre, 10:45 p.m., April 12
The Stone Roses
For: Anyone who has ever owned an Oasis, Blur, Pulp or James CD
The forefathers of the '90s Brit-pop scene, Stone Roses released their debut album in 1989. Echoes of it can still be heard all over independent music today.
Coachella Stage, 11:40 p.m., April 12
Portugal. The Man
For: A sneak peek
The Portland-based indie rock band is incredibly prolific; its 2013 effort Evil Friends will be its seventh since 2006. The big change, though, comes behind the scenes, with Danger Mouse acting as the record's producer. The band is expected to debut a few tracks from the album, which is due out in June.
Outdoor Theater, 6:40 p.m., April 13
The Postal Service
For: Early '00s indie kids, nostalgic for their 20's
One of the most common questions asked of Death Cab for Cutie frontman Ben Gibbard over the last decade has likely been, “When will there be another Postal Service album?” While the answer – “never” – has disappointed fans, a ten-year reunion with Dntel (and likely appearance by L.A. fave Jenny Lewis) will do in a pinch.
Coachella Stage, 8:50 p.m., April 13
For: Anyone missing soul music
The combination of her silky voice and energetic stage show makes Monae a must-see, but add in Coachella 2013's dearth of traditional R&B acts and her Saturday set becomes all the more unique.
Gobi Tent, 10:45 p.m., April 13
For: Fans of '80s films and pop-dance music
“Bizarre Love Triangle” is one of the great songs of the 1980s, but younger fans may not appreciate just how big the band became in England. Every album released by New Order from 1983 to 2005 hit the top 10 of the U.K. charts. A New Order/Stone Roses double-bill in 1990 would have sold out any venue in Europe.
Mojave Tent, 11:35 p.m., April 13
For: Patient people
The Icelandic group is best known for its ambient grooves with slow builds that reaching crashing climaxes. Whether the younger set in Indio will be ready for it is an open question, but those of a certain mindset (or those indulging in certain substances) will fall in love with the band's sonic landscapes.
Outdoor Theatre, 11:50 p.m., April 13
For: EDM beats and indie-pop sensibilities
With sequencers, loops, keyboards, guitars, and every instrument shy of the recorder, DeLong does it all on stage. But the rarest “instrument” is his lyrical prowess, which discards the party-all-day-hedonism of the current EDM scene in favor of introspection. His debut album ended up on Glassnote Records (home of Mumford & Sons and Phoenix) after he was spotted during a monthly residency at Los Globos.
Mojave Tent, 12:40 p.m., April 14
For: Lily Allen fans ready to dance
One of the trendsetters in the current soultronica movement in England (along with fellow Coachella artists like James Blake and Katy B), Ware is preparing to release her worldwide hit album, Devotion, in America on April 16.
Mojave Tent, 3:45 p.m., April 14
For: The feel good story of the festival
The star of the 2012 documentary Searching for Sugar Man and the unlikely cult hero of South Africa will play to the sort of audience that has eluded him in this country for his entire career. His '70s work is reminiscent of an intelligible Bob Dylan.
Gobi Tent, 6:35 p.m., April 14
For: EDM fans looking for modern superstars
The Sahara tent lineup for 2013 is heavy on legends (Moby, Paul Oakenfold) and up-and-coming acts. Among current headliners, the best bet is Hardwell, named the sixth best DJ in the world by DJ Mag. He recently joined Tiesto and Calvin Harris as a resident DJ of the new Hakkasan Las Vegas at the MGM Grand.
Sahara Tent, 7:40 p.m., April 14
For: Hip-hop fans who miss the '90s
It's been 20 years since Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) exploded into rap's consciousness in 1993. Since then, solo efforts like albums from Method Man, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, and the GZA have only added to the mystique of the original nine (now eight, after the 2004 death of Ol' Dirty Bastard).
Outdoor Theatre, 9:15 p.m., April 14