Despite Las Vegas’ own mini-Coachella, the real festival is still worth the trek

From Indio, with love: More than a dozen Coachella acts have booked shows in Las Vegas this year.
Photo: Spencer Weiner

Las Vegas' "Coachella light" trend continues this year, with no fewer than 15 acts already confirmed for local shows surrounding the SoCal festival’s two-weekend run in April.

Those on the fence about attending Coachella might welcome the news. With acts ranging from reunited indie outfit The Postal Service to new-wave icons New Order to French pop group Phoenix stopping through (those three all playing the Cosmopolitan), Vegas music fans have lots of chances to cross some favorites off their bucket lists without having to drive five hours through the desert.

But this year’s Coachella lineup still offers plenty of trek-worthy talent you probably won’t get to see in Las Vegas. The twofer of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and Cave’s side project Grinderman is a particular gem, with the latter reuniting solely for a one-off gig at Coachella. Whether Cave is fronting the mercurial post-punk of the Bad Seeds or the sleazy garage rock of Grinderman, his performances promise to bring the fest’s younger frontmen to their knees, “We’re not worthy!”-style.

Few of the bands playing Coachella would likely exist if it weren’t for Lou Reed, another name on the festival poster. The Velvet Underground frontman’s ever-evolving sound will both challenge and give context to much of the music playing at the festival, while reminding the kids that he’s not just the mumbly guy who played with Metallica on Lulu.

In that same vein, every beer-spitting, ruckus-causing young act to play Coachella owes at least a small debt to original mischief-makers the Violent Femmes, who have also reunited for the festival. With simple but aggressive rhythms and snot-nosed lyrics begging for sing-alongs, they’ve got the kind of live energy that makes overpriced festival beers worth the hassle.

Follow Andrea Domanick on Twitter at @AndreaDomanick and fan her on Facebook at Facebook.com/AndreaDomanick.

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