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Commentary: Coachella to thrive with throbbing electronic beats

Courtesy of Toni François

The summer music festival season is closing in fast, and as a result many official lineups have finally been announced. These festivals are scheduled to take place in the coming months in all areas of the country, and your particular tastes in music will likely determine your music festivals of choice. Each week, I’ll weigh in on an upcoming festival.

The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is a mouthful, but that lengthy title is well-deserved: this music festival has a long history of bringing together incredible acts from all sides of the musical spectrum, and this year will be no different.
Coachella is scheduled to occur two separate weekends, April 12-14 and April 19-21 in Indio, Calif. The event is held in the desert, and blazing temperatures unfamiliar to me as a native Ohioan come with the territory. That hasn’t stopped me from including this festival on my bucket list, though, and after seeing this year’s lineup, I think you’ll see why. Here is a sampling of the impeccable group of acts scheduled to perform.

Purity Ring
This act is a male/female Canadian duo that plays electronic music and is relatively new to the music world, having officially formed in 2010. Similar to later entries on this list, Purity Ring is of a darker electronic variety. I can’t imagine jumping around in a frenzy like I normally would to other music in this genre but would instead really just like to sit cross-legged on the ground and take in the variety of sounds. “Cartographist” from Purity Ring’s 2012 album “Shrines” is the epitome of this sound.
Add that to the fact that some of the sub-genres used to describe the band include “witch house” and “dream pop,” and you have a downright magical addition to Coachella’s lineup.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs
This band is well-established but just as relevant as ever. Its new album “Mosquito” is set to be released during the week between Coachella’s two weekends on April 16, a genius marketing move that just makes me think it’s even more worthy of an entry on this list. Also, its music makes me want to stomp my feet and thrash my arms in a fit of teenage angst, which is always good.
Karen O, front woman of this dance-punk band whose real name is Karen Lee Orzolek, is a commanding presence onstage without trying hard at all, a feat that just adds to the band’s appeal. I’ve wanted to be her ever since I heard “Date With the Night,” a track from the 2003 debut album “Fever to Tell.”
If you listen to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and don’t immediately feel the attitude that oozes from every single song, you’re doing it wrong.

James Blake
I never thought I’d want electronica and soul to be words I used in the same sentence, but it works so well coming from this artist that it’s my new favorite combination.
Rather than providing the kind of atmosphere I generally associate with music of the electronic variety, there’s instead something mystical and otherworldly about Blake’s sound. It fits in perfectly with a desert locale, and the only word I can think of that describes the way this would feel is post-apocalyptic in nature because of how somber this music is. He does insane vocal runs too – listen to “Once We All Agree” from his 2011 album “Enough Thunder” to hear them firsthand.
So remember: electronica and soul is the new peanut butter and jelly, macaroni and cheese, bacon and eggs – you name it. The combination is an instant classic.

Major Lazer
For not being particularly fond of electronic music, there are a wealth of acts I would actually like to see at Coachella falling under that label, and Major Lazer fits right in.
It is no easy feat to explain this act. At its most basic it is made up of a few DJs and music producers, but most of the songs produced also include collaborations with other artists. These different guests definitely help to lend a different feeling to almost every song, which is probably the greatest strength of Major Lazer, and offer something for everybody (within reason). Snoop Lion (formerly Dogg,) whose real name is Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr., has also become heavily associated with the act, which adds points purely for being so bizarre. Coincidently, Major Lazer also have an album, titled “Free The Universe,” due out between the festival’s two weekends on April 15.
Did I mention there’s a track from the group’s 2009 album “Guns Don’t Kill People… Lazers Do” that features an Auto-Tune cry of an infant and is appropriately titled “Baby?” Because there is, and if that doesn’t make you want to listen to Major Lazer I don’t know what else I can say that will.

Other acts you should know about are Kids These Days, Alex Clare, Grimes, Bat for Lashes and Biffy Clyro, to name a few. Tickets for Coachella are sold out for both weekends, but what else did you expect from the festival that brought us Tupac Shakur’s hologram?

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