Your Crash Course in Coachella 2011

WARNING: If your plans this weekend are to be on campus, this article may only make you extremely jealous... or possibly even bitter.
The glory of the Marathon Party has come and gone and now it is time to set our sights on the next big adventure: Coachella. One quick listen in Collins or before class is all it takes to be convinced that the blogosphere is not the only place buzzing with excitement for one of the country's most highly-anticipated music festivals. As many of us are counting down the few days left before we depart for Indio this weekend, we thought it would only be appropriate to highlight some of the artists that will be performing. Kelsey Brown is here to let you know what is up with some of the folk/alternative/rock/pop acts (#notarealgenre), and Ashraf El Gamal (of music blog VLVR) is weighing in on some of the hottest electro/dub-step/hip-hop artists. Of course, there is not enough room in one article to talk about every quality act that will be at Coachella, so please don't mind that we only pulled out a few. If you want to see a list of the full lineup, click here.


The Black Keys Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney make up the blues-rock duo that is The Black Keys. Armed with songs heavy in electric guitar, drums, and soul, The Black Keys have recently made great strides in conquering the music world. Their most recent album, Brothers, released in 2010, earned them two Grammys. They have a reminiscent kind of groove that is thick with vitality. Merely listening to The Black Keys makes you feel ten times cooler. For those that missed the hilarity of their music video for “Tighten Up,” you need to check it out right here. Some other songs to indulge in are Howlin’ For You, Next Girl, and Never Gonna Give You Up.

If you like ‘em … then you should just go see them because there’s no one else quite like them.


Afrojack The Dutch House DJ Afrojack is a must-see on the first day. His progressive sound and high energy club tracks make him one of the most notable electro artists in the lineup. Afrojack has been a staple in electronic dance music for the last couple years and it doesn’t look like he’s going anywhere with his newest track Doing It Right, which is an eight-minute progressive masterpiece with multiple drops that will have you fist pumping like you’re name was Pauly D. A few other notable tracks to check out before this weekend’s shenanigans begin include: Take Over Control, Replica, and Amsterdamn.

If you like ‘em, also check out: Steve Angello, Laidback Luke, and Axwell.

Skrillex As one of the legendary Deadmau5’s signees, Skrillex combines a unique sampling technique along with face melting dubstep drops. The best way to desribe Skrillex’s music is to say that it is the hard rock/heavy metal of our generation that makes for a ridiculously high energy live show. He takes your expectations for a song and flips them completely upside down. Not everyone is a huge fan of this kind of intense dubstep, but I would definitely suggest giving the guy a serious listen. Fun Fact: at one point, Skrillex’s debut album held eight of the top ten spots over at Beatport (the iTunes for electronic music). His most popular track, Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites, is a great way to get an introduction to his style. Also give a listen to Cinema (Skrillex Remix), Hey Sexy Lady (Skrillex Remix), and Scatta (watch out this one’s a little scary).

If you like ‘em, also check out... There aren’t many artists out there quite like Skrillex, but if you like his stuff you might also like 12th Planet and Caspa.

OFWGKTA Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All (or Odd Future for short) is one of the most intriguing hip-hop acts in recent history. Their vivid imagery of things that we would only see in horror flicks or our worst dreams have also made them one of the most controversial groups on the scene. However, not all their music has this common theme as all of its members offer unique styles. Their live shows have potential to be some of the most fun you’ll have the whole weekend. It's hard to describe these guys' steez in words. Check out this live performance and see for yourself. There is no doubt in my mind that they are one of the most unique artists you’ll see at Coachella. Give these a listen before this weekend: Yonkers (their most recent single, which has been featured on MTV) and Rolling Papers (something more calm and a personal favorite of mine). If you want more of their music head over to their Tumblr page.


Mumford & Sons Mumford & Sons do not give you the typical folk/bluegrass experience. This London-based group is so full of banjo, fiddle and foot-stomping that they sound like they are straight out of Dixieland. Permeating throughout their songs are deep, heart-felt lyrics crafted to interplay with the instruments in a way that can make you feel like you’re floating to the ceiling. Some of the best in their repertoire are Little Lion Man, The Cave, White Blank Page & Thistle and Weeds. As their website suggests, “Feel the fire in your belly and the romance in your heart as you listen, let your voice break into rapture - and you too sigh no more.”

If you like ‘em, also check out: Kings of Leon, Flogging Molly & Good Old War

Tallest Man on Earth This Swedish man is not actually the tallest on the earth (public records say that he is only about five and a half feet tall). Despite his stature, he has lived up to the height of his name with bold performances known to consume audiences. With his captivating voice and prolific lyrics, this folk singer has been described as the 2011 version of Bob Dylan. His most popular songs include The Wild Hunt, King of Spain, Love Is All, & The Dreamer.

If you like ‘em, also check out: Delta Spirit & Bright Eyes


Empire Of The Sun You won’t want to miss this fun, catchy, Australian-based electro-pop duo. If you are a fan of MGMT, you will most certainly enjoy Empire of the Sun’s music. They have an ethereal sound that will make you feel like you are floating in the clouds. Walking On A Dream and Standing on the Shore are two songs that are sure to be played on Saturday.

If you like ‘em, also check out: Ellie Goulding (below), Broken Social Scene, and Cut Copy


Lil’ B “The Based God,” as he likes to call himself, is one of the most enigmatic artists you will ever see or hear. His music shifts back and forth -some songs are just ‘ignorant’ rap (excessively using “swag” and talking about things I dare not mention in this article) and some are deep, conscious songs. His live shows are often hilarious, but also a lot of fun as he engages with his audience on a different level than most artists. To give you an idea of the Based God’s oscillation, check out Wonton Soup and The Age of Information. You may not really understand his style or even like it, but his set will most certainly be interesting at the very least and an amazing time at the best. Lil’ B is the kind of artist that you definitely have to get used to so Google search “Lil’ B mixtapes,” get a couple of them and just try to give them a listen. Since there’s no one even close to Lil’ B on the set list I’ll leave you with a couple of my personal favorites: Base For Your Face and Hoes On My D*** (featuring Andy Milonakis).


The National The National is a must-see of the weekend. They create a sound that is undoubtedly unique from anything else being produced in the indie music world. Front man Matt Berninger’s deep voice blends together with slow, sultry background arrangements to create a very real and cathartic experience. The seduction of their sound will draw you in, but it is their lyrics that will keep you forever. The National is known for songs that epitomize the common man, and their fifth album, High Violet, is no exception. As Pitchfork describes their new music, “Six drinks in, tired of your coworkers, wishing you could just go home and laugh at sitcoms with someone? Maybe get laid? The National's got your back.” Songs to look forward to are Bloodbuzz Ohio, Conversation 16, Fake Empire, & Slow Show.

If you like ‘em, also check out: Arcade Fire & Interpol

Ellie Goulding The sweet sounding Ellie Goulding is a pleasantly unique version of electro-pop. For those that enjoy dancing to British pop by female singers, Goulding is your girl. She released her first album, Lights, in March 2010, and then re-released it as Bright Lights in November 2010, adding six fresh songs to the tracklist. Across the board her songs are pulsating with energy, whether she is singing about sleeping around or falling in love. For a taste of Ellie Goulding, check out Lights, Starry Eyed & Under the Sheets.

If you like ‘em, also check out: Robyn, Marina & the Diamonds, & Scissor Sisters

Nas & Damian Marley This duo includes two of the most prominent artists in each of their respective genres (hip-hop and reggae). Nas and Damian Marley’s collaboration album, Distant Relatives, features some of the best work we’ve heard from hip-hop legend Nas in recent years. Damian Marley also shows off pretty impressive rapping ability along with the reggae sound we expect from the great Bob Marley’s son. As We Enter will be especially awesome to see live as the two legends go back and forth from line to line. Also give Patience, a personal favorite of mine, a listen.

There’s no one quite like these two at Coachella, but if you like ‘em you might also want to check out Erykah Badu.

Duck Sauce This duo features A-Trak (who will be performing on Friday as well as Sunday) and Canadian DJ Armand Van Helden. They are known for playing some of the wildest live sets around. These two are sure to raise the roof (hehe) and have everyone in attendance dancing with catchy, funky original songs like Barbara Streisand and Anyway, as well as remixes like Hot Mess (Duck Sauce Remix) a remix of a song by Chromeo, who will also be playing on Sunday.

If you like ‘em, also check out: Afrojack (above), Chuckie, A-Trak, and The Bloody Beetroots.

Kanye West The Chicago-based artist, also known as Yeezy, has arguably been one of the most critically acclaimed rappers/producers of all time. If you are only going to see one artist this weekend, Yeezy is definitely the one to see. The stadium-worthy music in his newest album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, makes for an inevitably epic and unforgettable show. His live sets utilize astounding light shows, ridiculous outfits, and surprise guests out the wazoo. With the classics from previous albums (Through The Wire, All Falls Down, Flashing Lights, Can’t Tell Me Nothing, and Heartless), there is an endless amount of room for some nostalgic throwbacks. On the other hand, his most recent tracks (Monster, Power, All Of The Lights, Christian Dior Denim Flow, and Runaway) will make for one of the best shows out there. Look for members of G.o.o.d. music (West’s label) to make guest appearances (Kid Cudi is scheduled to be in Hollywood the night after Coachella so a guest appearance is very possible). Pusha T and Big Sean are also possible guest appearances to look for. You probably don’t have time to check out all the above Kanye West songs. If you can only check out one, watch the All Of The Lights video to get a little preview of what will likely be the best Sunday night of all time.