Do you enjoy indoor plumbing? Avoiding heat stroke? Paying reasonable amounts for hotel rooms? If so, Coachella is not for you. Now its 14th year, the two-weekend mega-concert is both a music fan’s nirvana and a Darwinian endurance test.
If you’re hoping to avoid the mishegoss but still want to see great music, you’re in luck. More than 50 of the bands, DJs, and emcees performing at Coachella will swing through greater Los Angeles, playing warmup sets before the festival or extra gigs between weekends. (That won’t include Lou Reed who just cancelled his Coachella appearance and his Orpheum show.) As the festival approaches, other bands sometimes announce secret shows at small local venues. Pro tip: Watch the guest lists of Jimmy Kimmel Live! and The Tonight Show for acts that are staying in L.A. during the down time.
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“My favorite part of Coachella is checking out legendary acts, but I can’t stand watching them with 16-year-olds who think that the Goo Goo Dolls are ‘classic rock.'”
This year’s Coachella lineup is heavy on veteran performers like Paisley undergrounders The Three O’Clock, who play at the Glass House in Pomona on April 6; The Selecter and Lee “Scratch” Perry bring ska and dub to the same venue on April 15. OMD is set for a new New Wave revival at the Fonda Theatre on April 15, while the Orpheum plays host to “Searching for Sugar Man” subject Sixto Rodriguez (April 16). Those willing to go for a drive can also catch New Order and Johnny Marr at the Santa Barbara Bowl on April 18.
“I’m all about bragging rights; I want to see the biggest names possible in order to more effectively name drop around the water cooler.”
None of the 2013 headliners have announced L.A. warm-up shows (yet), but music fans can still inspire envy with tickets to see The Postal Service (April 15), Modest Mouse (April 16), the XX (April 17) or Vampire Weekend (April 18), all at the Fox Theater in Pomona. Closer to home, Passion Pit plays Club Nokia on April 11 and Franz Ferdinand (the band, not a Tupac-esque hologram of the Archduke whose assassination triggered World War I) takes the stage at the Fonda Theatre on April 16.
“Once a year, Coachella gets me caught up with the ‘next big thing’ bands.”
Take a trip down I-5 to the Observatory in Santa Ana on April 17 to check out Alt-J, Brit-rockers who won the 2012 Mercury Prize (one of England’s highest musical honors) for An Awesome Wave, their debut album. The synthpop of Canadian band Purity Ring will take over the El Rey on April 18, while Portugal. The Man heads to Pomona to play the Glass House. Post-Coachella, the show to see is Japandroids and Cloud Nothings, a pairing of buzzworthy garage rock bands, also in Pomona.
“After getting to Coachella, I don’t leave the Sahara tent for three straight days.”
Big names like Moby and Hardwell aren’t currently scheduled for area shows outside of Coachella, and Bassnectar will head to Las Vegas on April 13 and 20 for sets at Surrender Nightclub rather than stick around Southern California. But for those looking to dance, April 18 at Club Nokia is the must-have ticket with Modestep, Dirtyphonics, and Mimosa bringing the electro house and dubstep. For those who prefer their dance music be a bit more poppy, La Roux (last heard on the radio with the hit “Bulletproof”) plays the same night at the Fonda Theatre.
“I have vacation days to burn and a good deal on a hotel room in Las Vegas.”
Pomona may host most of the local-ish shows during Coachella week, but enough acts are heading to Sin City for a separate festival. The venue is The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, which is throwing a Spring Concert Series that includes Tegan and Sara (April 10), New Order and Johnny Marr (April 11), Vampire Weekend (April 12), Yeah Yeah Yeahs (April 13), Hot Chip (April 18), The Postal Service (April 19), and Band of Horses (April 20). Trent Reznor’s How to Destroy Angels (The Pearl at the Palms, April 13) and legendary DJ Paul Oakenfold (April 9 at LAVO) will also head to Las Vegas for gigs.
“I like the Harlem Shake. Really.”
Baauer, the man behind the song behind a million YouTube videos, will perform at Casa de la Raza in Santa Barbara on April 18. Even better, he’ll be there with emcee Danny Brown, so you can claim that’s why you’re making the drive up the 101.