LV Weekly

Badass Festival: Coachella

April 17-19, Indio, California

Seriously? We dare you guys to wear that at Coachella.
Photo: Torey Mundkowsky

Five years ago, I stood a few feet from the smallest of five stages at the Coachella Music & Arts Festival, witnessing the first—and only, to date—honest-to-goodness Las Vegas band to play the prestigious Indio, California, music gathering. Though their tent was hardly packed, The Killers looked nervous, and with good reason—the world had yet to learn the words to “Mr. Brightside” and “Somebody Told Me” (debut Hot Fuss wouldn’t be released for another month), and future success seemed to hang in the balance. When I spoke to frontman Brandon Flowers along the front rail afterward, he still appeared dazed from the experience, asking me whether it had gone terribly or terribly well. (The answer: a bit of both; Flowers’ keyboards were inaudible throughout, rendering the set a lot less dancey than intended, but the local gospel choir rented to sing “I’ve got soul but I’m not a soldier” in “All These Things That I’ve Done” made for quite the memorable desert moment.)

On that day—May 2, 2004—The Killers were listed along the lowest line of the Coachella poster, far below that night’s headliner, Radiohead, or the then-just-reunited Pixies. Circumstances will be far different this Saturday—April 18, 2009—when Flowers, Dave Keuning, Mark Stoermer and Ronnie Vannucci stride onto the same Empire Polo Field grounds. This time, the Coachella poster’s top line for Saturday will consists of two very familiar words: The Killers.

Call it a useful barometer of the band’s rapid ascendancy: In five years’ time, the band has gone from small stage to main stage, midday to nightcap, bottom line to headline—the same preeminent Saturday-night slot previously occupied not only by Radiohead, but also by Prince, Depeche Mode, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Coldplay during Coachella’s impressive 10-year run. Fest organizer Paul Tollett takes pride in The Killers’ rags-to-riches story: “We [Goldenvoice promotions] used to have them open for bands at the Huntridge, then they played the bottom of the tent, and now they’re headlining,” he says. “It’s the first band we’ve had work their way up like that.”

Of course, with mainstream success comes predictable backlash, so this year’s Coachella message board is dotted with Killers-hating threads like “The Killers as a followup to Prince? No Way!” and “Who do you think will be the REAL headliner for Saturday?,” along with a poll titled “Killers vs. Incubus (if you had a gun to your head).” (Incubus won with 63 percent of the vote, if you were wondering.) Tollett doesn’t sound concerned. “I’ve seen them headline a handful of festivals throughout Europe—Reading and Leeds and Glastonbury—80,000 people or more at each,” he says. “And they’ve always been great.”

Whether or not you agree should have little bearing on your decision to drop $269 on a three-day pass or $99 per day (plus fees). Really, unless you’ve been waiting decades for weirdo industrialists Throbbing Gristle to reunite, there’s no single act on the bill worth that kinda cash, to say nothing of the outlay for transportation, lodging and food (hell, Leonard Cohen just played Phoenix). Nor should any single act keep you from attending. If you do Coachella this year, do it for its tremendous collection of artists—more than 120 acts will take the stage from Friday at noon to Sunday at midnight, from U.K. icons like Paul McCartney and Morrissey to fast-rising Americans like Fleet Foxes and Vivian Girls. Sure, the economy sucks, but what better way to forget all that, for three days at least, than traipsing around an idyllic desert oasis listening to, well, whatever type of music hits you best in all the right places?

While you’re there, why not swing by the main stage on Saturday night to see just how far The Killers have come? Betcha Brandon won’t be nervous this time. It’s also a pretty safe bet I won’t be able to wander up to the rail to chat with him afterward.

Breaking down the Coachella 2009 Schedule

Miss at your own peril

Leonard Cohen (Friday, 7:35, Outdoor Theatre): The dark-folk legend hadn’t played the U.S. in 15 years before this month, so it’s not like you’re gonna get a ton more chances to hear “Suzanne,” “Bird on the Wire” and “Hallelujah” in concert—unless you’re okay with covers and karaoke.

TV on the Radio (Saturday, 6:25, Coachella Stage): Brooklyn’s finest have played Vegas twice—opening for The Faint in 2004 and for Interpol in ’05—but that was before the art-rockers released Return to Cookie Mountain and Dear Science back-to-back, and their buzz built into an uproar.

My Bloody Valentine (Sunday, 7:50, Coachella Stage): If I hadn’t seen Kevin Shields & Co. with my own eyes (and more to the point, heard them with my own bewildered ears) at last September’s All Tomorrow’s Parties New York fest, I still wouldn’t believe the shoegazing gods were back in business. Their noise-pop + idyllic desert setting @ night = redefinition of “epic.”

Don’t sleep on these super sleepers

Alberta Cross (Friday, 1:25, Outdoor Theatre): The folky duo’s music might best be categorized as Americana … if both members weren’t raised in Europe. Check out the song “Low Man,” and get to the Empire Field early on Day 1.

Drive-By Truckers (Saturday, 3:40, Outdoor Theatre): Hipsters tip Kings of Leon and My Morning Jacket way more often, but good ol’ Southern country-rock doesn’t get much finer than Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley’s three-guitar slingers.

Fucked Up (Sunday, 2:50, Mojave Tent): Toronto hardcore punkers—yeah, who knew Canadians had angst?—have quite the reputation for live mayhem. Mosh or be moshed upon.

Come Monday, folks will be raving about

Beirut (Friday, 6:30, Mojave Tent): Assuming you’re not emotionally spent after Leonard Cohen, Balkan-channeling wunderkind Zach Condon and his inimitable gypsy orchestra will surely finish the job.

The Chemical Brothers (Saturday, 9:30, Sahara Tent): Sure, it’s “only” a DJ set, but when Tom and Ed are in the house, er, tent, the Brothers gonna work it out, and the Coachella crowd gonna eat it up.

Antony and the Johnsons (Sunday, 5:25, Outdoor Theatre): Because absolutely no one, on this lineup or any other, croons quite like Antony Hegarty.

You’ll kick yourself if you pass on

Paul McCartney (Friday, 10, Coachella Stage): No matter how many times you’ve heard “Hey Jude,” the 50,000-strong “Na na na na-na-na na” chant will stay with you forever.

Superchunk (Saturday, 4:55, Outdoor Theatre): Call ’em “slack motherfuckers” if you want, but the simple truth is the indie vets just don’t play out much anymore.

Etienne de Crecy (Sunday, 10:50, Sahara Tent): He’s a French house DJ. Oh yeah, and he performs inside a cube—a giant, lit, pulsating, rotating, freaking cube. Beat that for a festival capper.

Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival 2009 Schedule


Coachella Stage

The Courteeners, 2-2:30

We Are Scientists, 2:50-3:40

The Airborne Toxic Event, 4:05-4:55

The Black Keys, 5:30-6:10

Franz Ferdinand, 6:35-7:25

Morrissey, 8:30-9:30

Paul McCartney, 10-end

Leonard Cohen, Normandy, France, January 1988

Leonard Cohen, Normandy, France, January 1988

Outdoor Theatre

Alberta Cross, 1:25-2:10

Noah & The Whale, 2:25-3:15

Molotov, 3:40-4:30

M. Ward, 4:55-5:45

Conor Oberst & The Mystic Valley Band, 6:10-7

Leonard Cohen, 7:30-8:30

Silversun Pickups, 9:05-9:55

Gobi Tent

El Gran Silencio, 12:45-1:40

Ryan Bingham, 1:55-2:40

People Under the Stairs, 3:05-3:55

Los Campesinos!, 4:20-5:10

Buraka Sound Sistema, 5:35-6:20

The Bug ft. Warrior Queen, 6:35-7:25

Peanut Butter Wolf, 8:30-9:20

A Place to Bury Strangers, 9:45-10:35

Bajofondo, 11-end

Mojave Tent

Dear and the Headlights, 1-1:45

The Aggrolites, 2:05-2:50

Cage the Elephant, 3:15-4:05

The Hold Steady, 4:30-5:20

White Lies, 5:45-6:35

N.A.S.A., 7:15-8:05

Beirut, 8:30-9:20

Patton & Rahzel, 9:45-10:35

Genghis Tron, 11-end

Sahara Tent

Switch, 12-1:30

Craze & Klever, 1:30-2:30

Gui Buratto, 2:30-3:30

Steve Aoki, 3:30-4:30

Felix da Housecat, 4:30-5:30

The Ting Tings, 5:30-6:20

Crystal Castles, 6:40-7:30

Ghostland Observatory, 7:50-8:40

Girl Talk, 9-9:50

The Presets, 10:10-11

The Crystal Method, 11:25-end


Coachella Stage

Billy Talent, 1:40-2:25

Joss Stone, 2:40-3:30

Paolo Nutini, 3:55-4:45

Michael Franti & Spearhead, 5:10-6

TV on the Radio, 6:25-7:15

Thievery Corporation, 7:40-8:30

M.I.A., 8:55-9:45

The Killers, 10:25-end

Outdoor Theatre

Cloud Cult, 1:30-2:10

Liars, 2:30-3:15

Drive-By Truckers, 3:40-4:30

Superchunk, 4:55-5:45

Calexico, 6:10-7

Fleet Foxes, 7:25-8:15

Band of Horses, 8:40-9:30

Jenny Lewis, 9:50-10:40

Atmosphere, 11:05-end

Gobi Tent

Ida Maria, 1:30-2:10

Bob Mould Band, 2:30-3:20

Blitzen Trapper, 3:45-4:35

Amanda Palmer, 5-5:50

Tinariwen, 6:15-7:05

Booker T & The DBTs, 7:30-8:20

Junior Boys, 8:45-9:35

Glass Candy, 10-10:50

Gang Gang Dance, 11:15-end

Mojave Tent

P.O.S., 1-1:30

Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, 1:45-2:35

Thenewno2, 3-3:45

Dr. Dog, 4:05-4:55

Henry Rollins, 5:05-5:50

Glasvegas, 6:05-6:55

James Morrison, 7:20-8:10

Electric Touch, 8:35-9:25

Turbonegro, 9:50-10:40

Mastodon, 11:05-end

Sahara Tent

Zizek Club, 1-2

Drop the Lime, 2-3

Para One, 3-4:05

Surkin (live), 4:05-5:10

Zane Lowe, 5:10-6

The Bloody Beetroots (DJ set), 6-7

TRV$DJ-AM, 7:20-8:20

Crookers, 8:30-9:30

The Chemical Brothers (DJ set), 9:30-11

MSTRKRFT, 11:10-end


Coachella Stage

The Knux, 1:35-2:20

Okkervil River, 2:35-3:25

Lupe Fiasco, 3:45-4:35

Peter Bjorn and John, 5-5:50

Yeah Yeah Yeahs, 6:15-7:15

My Bloody Valentine, 7:50-9

The Cure, 9:25-end

Outdoor Theatre

Mexican Institute of Sound, 12:45-1:30

The Night Marchers, 1:40-2:30

The Gaslight Anthem, 3-3:45

Lykke Li, 4:05-4:55

Antony and the Johnsons, 5:25-6:15

Paul Weller, 7-7:50

Public Enemy, 9-10:10

Roni Size Reprazent, 10:35-end

Gobi Tent

Themselves, 12:45-1:35

Friendly Fires, 2:10-3

Sebastien Tellier, 3:25-4:15

K’naan, 4:35-5:25

Clipse, 5:50-6:35

Devendra Banhart, 7-7:50

The Orb, 9:05-10

Mojave Tent

Vivian Girls, 12:45-1:30

No Age, 1:45-2:30

Fucked Up, 2:50-3:40

Brian Jonestown Massacre, 4-4:55

Murder City Devils, 5:20-6:10

X, 6:30-7:20

The Horrors, 7:45-8:35

The Kills, 9-9:50

Throbbing Gristle, 10:10-end

DJ Christopher Lawrence spins at Body English on March 11, 2009.

Sahara Tent

Marshall Barns, 12-1

Supermayer, 1-2:15

Shepard Fairey, 2:15-3:15

Busy P, 3:15-4:15

M.A.N.D.Y., 4:15-5:15

Perry Farrell, 5:15-6:15

Pulmp DJs, 6:15-7:15

Late of the Pier, 7:25-8:15

Christopher Lawrence, 8:25-9:25

Groove Armada (DJ set), 9:30-10:30

Etienne de Crecy, 10:50-end

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Spencer Patterson

Spencer Patterson is the Editor of Las Vegas Weekly, having previously served as Managing Editor, Arts & Entertainment Editor and ...

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