Welcome to Paste’s new column, ReSlacktions, where a handful of Paste’s editors and contributors all hop on Slack to argue about the news of the day and give our reactions. For our second edition, we’re going to talk about last night’s Coachella lineup reveal and what it means for the 2019 festival circuit. The transcript has been edited for clarity, saving you from tangents like trying to figure out what Idris Elba’s DJ set will be like.
Steven Edelstone (Contributing Writer): Hey guys, welcome back to ReSlacktions, Paste’s new column where our writers react to the big news of the day. Obviously, we’ll be talking about the Coachella lineup reveal, which happened late last night, talking in depth about what the lineup means for the festival circuit for 2019 and how it compares to lineups in years past. How’s it going everyone? Happy New Year!
Lizzie Manno (Assistant Music Editor): It’s all good. 2019 hasn’t been utter chaos yet
Annie Black (Social Media Manager): Hellloooo Steven and everyone else! HAPPY 2019
Josh Jackson (Editor-in-Chief): 2019 is swell so far. I’ve been to nearly every major music festival over the years but somehow haven’t ever been to Coachella, so I’m interested to see if you guys can convince me this is the year to do it.
Scott Russell (News Editor): Happy 2019 gang!
Ellen Johnson (Assistant Music Editor): Hey y’all!!! Let’s talk ‘chella
Lizzie: we need flower crowns lol
Steven: So before we get into the nitty gritty, let’s open it up at first. What are your overall impressions of the lineup reveal?
Lizzie: I think one of the biggest points is how much people who aren’t in the loop with music would look at this year’s lineup and go “huh?” Like DJ Snake, Bad Bunny, Blackpink, etc.
Josh: And even some of us who are in the loop.
Steven: How so Lizzie?
Lizzie: I think the headliners all have big name recognition but there are so many newcomers that recently shot up in popularity on this lineup
Annie: The lineup is HILARIOUS to me. It’s like whoever is behind Coachella went to Twitter and searched something like “relevant music for the youths” and this is what was regurgitated out by the “cool” machine
Besides the headliners and the teeny tiny indie rockers at the bottom, it does feel a lot like the Spotify mood playlists come to life
Josh: These are in the top lines, too, along with Rüfüs Du Sol.
Lizzie: Maggie Rogers and Billie Eilish are big ones for sure though they’ve been building name recognition over the last few years
Steven: Well to your point Lizzie, Bad Bunny in particular was one of the most streamed artists on Spotify in 2018, both worldwide and in the US. This year, more than ever before, seems to place a bigger emphasis on streaming numbers than ever before, which means less rock in general, but more inclusive to genres as a whole, with the heavy inclusion Latin Trap and even K-Pop. How significant of a change do you all think this is?
Lizzie: I just don’t think the average joe knows who Bad Bunny is
Ellen: I think it’s very significant that Coachella is recognizing the diversification of the pop charts. Latin trap and k-pop are MASSIVE globally and nationally and the Grammys didn’t necessarily realize that, but Chella has a good grip on it. Bad Bunny is huge, y’all!
Lizzie: yeah streaming numbers and social media are so important when it comes to this lineup, particularly with k-pop and latin trap which don’t have the visibility they deserve to meet the huge demand
Josh: It’s pretty significant and not necessarily a bad thing, but it does make it less appealing for lots of people, myself included.
Lizzie: like we mentioned before, the lineup this year is the most aware of its key demographic which is under 25
Ellen: Exactly. And Cardi B had a huge year in 2018…a lot of folks are predicting Bad Bunny will go in the same direction and get even bigger
Steven: Technically, Cardi B is the least successful artist on “I Like It”
Scott: That’s true! The other two have huge worldwide reach, as I understand it. Titans of their genre
Steven: Plus, Southern California is more Hispanic than the rest of the country. J Balvin and Bad Bunny are perhaps the two biggest “gets” for Coachella this year.
Josh: Iceage, U.S. Girls, Let’s Eat Grandma and Hop Along are all in tiny type. Those are the bands I want to see.
Steven: Josh brings up a good point – almost all of the indie rock this year is in the small print, those four artists included plus Soccer Mommy and more. This is definitely much different than even last year when you had St. Vincent, War on Drugs, and Fleet Foxes on the second line. Were there any breakout indie stars from this year that could have conceivably gotten that kind of billing?
Ellen: It seems like Superorganism at least would be a bit higher
Annie: I agree— Superorganism did have a pretty successful Tiny Desk set, along with our studio session too
Josh: Tame Impala is carrying a lot of the water for rock bands in this line-up.
Lizzie: Last year, Beach House were on the same line (second) as The 1975 which is wild to me in terms of the popularity gap. They’re much more aware of that gap now
Ellen: She’s not an indie breakout star per se, but it’s WILD and WONDERFUL that Kacey Musgraves is on this lineup
Steven: She’ll likely get the sunset slot on her day too, which is a huge honor for her
Scott: Is Kacey the only country artist on the bill this year?
Ellen: I mean Kacey has massive crossover appeal, plus she’s all about some sparkles and flower crowns which is peak coachella.
Annie: I almost feel that Coachella is trying to get rid of the flower crowns aesthetic. This line up is borderline EDM fest circa 2010
Ellen: Has a country artist ever even played Coachella??
Steven: I’m sure a few, but usually they just hold off until Stagecoach which is in the same place two weeks later. Chris Stapleton played 2016
Steven: But with Kacey Musgraves’ booking, that’s just another genre that this lineup is more inclusive of this year. Same with BLACKPINK repping K-pop
Annie: Very, very true. I’m just seeing a massive trend of electronic music in whatever genre possible. SOPHIE and Kero Kero Bonito are pop, but they are Electropop
Scott: Ticket sales are not remotely an issue for Coachella, are they? I feel like it alway sells out in a hurry. But hypothetically, a loss of financial traction could explain them casting a much wider genre net and trying to appeal to as many different music fans as possible
Ellen: Yes, even pop artist like those Annie just mentioned and Maggie Rogers, Sofi Tukker and others have a big emphasis on beats
Lizzie: Ok let’s move on. Who does everyone think will draw the biggest crowds on day one? Childish, Janelle, anderson paak?
Josh: How great is it to see Janelle Monae listed second, though? Anyone who misses the Janelle Monae set is doing it wrong.
Scott: I have to think U.S. Girls (our top live act of 2018!) will attract a sizable early-day audience
Annie: the 1975
Ellen: Gambino I’m sure will have the most draw, but I’ve heard fantastic things about Janelle Monae’s live show, so hopefully word gets around and folks will show up for Monae!!!
Josh: The Prince comparisons are not unwarranted.
Steven: I think the 1975 will have a relatively small audience as they’ll likely go up against Gambino
Annie: I certainly HOPE people would go to Childish and not 1975
Ok how about day two? Tame Impala, Solange, Kid Cudi?
Ellen: Solange is one of the best live shows I’ve ever seen. I very much hope she draws a huge crowd
Josh: Oh man, I’d have trouble deciding between which of those three to see.
Steven: Kid Cudi will have a major audience, especially since it’ll likely be a KIDS SEE GHOSTS show. More people will go to that than Tame Impala, who will likely be conflicting
Lizzie: Could Weezer, Billie Eilish or Aphex Twin draw more than expected?
Annie: Billie Eilish is so hot right now. Tame Impala for sure, though they haven’t released music in so long and I wonder if people even care about them anymore
Steven: I think Billie Eilish will have the biggest crowd of day 2. She’s already a bigger star than almost anyone else on this lineup. If her album comes out before then, she could potentially headline the whole thing.
Josh: Can someone tell me what an Idris Elba set is like?
Scott: Elba DJs, apparently!
Ellen: But I can also attest to Tame Impala’s show, which is an experience all their fans should have
Lizzie: I think Tame and Kid cudi are still going to draw the most
Ellen: Do we think new Tame Impala music will be out by then?
Scott: Yup, they promised “new Sounds” while sharing the Coachella lineup announce.
Ellen: I think music will be out by festivals, they’re on so many bills
Annie: Everyone I’ve talked to about Tame Impala headlining Shaky Knees here in Atlanta this year had absolutely zero interest, but 5 years ago it would have been the complete opposite
Steven: The problem with Tame Impala headlining is that they played so many headline shows the last year or so without releasing any new music.
Ellen: Yeah, and the year before
Annie: Exactly! It’s like, oh… Tame Impala. Cool… again…?
Ellen: They headlined Panorama in 2017, as did Solange
Josh: I don’t know Billie Eilish just turned 17. She’s clearly on the downslide of her career.
Lizzie: Billie eilish will draw far more especially if she drops new music
Steven: Lizzie and I were talking last night – Billie Eilish will have just turned 28 by New Years 2030.
Annie: I hate that so much
Ellen: It’s stressful to me that Billie Eilish was born this century!!!!
Steven: And she only has a million less monthly streams than Beyonce… without an album
Ellen: That’s the most shocking thing
Josh: Snail Mail must look at Billie Eilish and think, what was I even doing with my teenage years?
Ok how about day three? Ariana, Khalid, Bad Bunny, CHVRCHES. Pusha T as well
Steven: Khalid and Bad Bunny will have the biggest crowds. Both of those are top 10 on Spotify (I think top 5 for Khalid if I remember correctly). They’ll be huge.
Annie: Ariana is going to be the queen of Coachella, I would bet money on it.
Ellen: I think Ariana and Khalid will rule. I’m hoping Ariana goes for all the theatrics, she should aim for Beyonce circa 2018 levels!!
Steven: Which set do Billie/Khalid do their collab? Both?
Lizzie: I would think Billie
Ellen: Hers? Khalid is an old man compared to Billie. Go where the youths are
Annie: I do not think any one else on the entire lineup will have as many people in the crowd as Ariana— she’s been on such a roll lately— the thank u next vid, completely owning kanye on twitter, people LOVE HER
Steven: Going off of Josh, Coachella is one of those few festivals that can produce career-making sets. Who do you think that could be this year? You could make the argument that that was Tame Impala in 2011.
Ellen: I could see someone like Maggie Rogers skyrocketing after Coachella, I just feel like she’s destined for stardom. She’s got IT, y’all. That girl is going up up up
Lizzie: billie eilish, maggie rogers, the 1975
Josh: U.S. Girls, Tierra Whack, Blood Orange. Tierra Whack is going to convert a lot of people.
Steven: How long will her set be? 15 minutes?
Josh: Only if she plays the whole album.
Ellen: I know someone who went to her set at a festival and it was 20 minutes long
Josh: I’m probably looking too low on the list, though. The bigger stages will probably be the ones that matter.
Annie: I disagree with Blood Orange, Josh — Devonte has done Coachella before and thought he’s fantastic, I don’t see it being career making
What do we think about the lack of legacy acts? Weezer is the only one that’s slightly in that vein. Good thing, bad thing, thoughts?
Steven: There really aren’t that many bands left that could conceivably reunite, but also command a crowd at a young-leaning festival like this. I think OutKast was the last along those lines.
Josh: At this point, Coachella legacy acts are more like Aphex Twin.
Steven: And the worst part, you know Weezer is on there because of “Africa”
Scott: Oh nooooo. that’s 100% true. Toto cameo?
Ellen: I hope they play their SNL sketch as backdrop visuals the whole set
Lizzie: Last big legacy act was Guns and Roses in 2016 who headlined. AC/DC headlined coachella 2015 as well which would seem crazy now
Steven: Going along these lines, there’s been some debate online about who should headline – Tame Impala or Solange. Who do you got?
Lizzie: It’s a tough call but if Tame have a new album to promote, probably Tame
Ellen: Solange plz lord!!
Annie: Tame Impala, until they release new music, doesn’t hold the same weight today that Solange does
Steven: It reminds me a bit of when The Black Keys headlined in 2011, but they let Swedish House Mafia close the mainstage that night.
Scott: I’m Team Tame. They’ve got a new album on the way, and they’re also the only “band” among the headliners, as opposed to a solo artist. That’s gotta count for something, particularly since rock bands got such short shrift on this lineup as a whole.
Josh: I love Solange, but I’d pick Tame Impala. It also comes out to at least throwing a bone to rock fans.
Annie: I don’t think rock fans are interested in Coachella anymore
Ellen: I hope Lizzo has a career-defining set on Sunday! I’ve never seen her live but I bet she works a stage. After this year, I would think Pusha would higher as well
Annie: I was literally typing about Lizzo!! She’s been doing the festival circuit for a couple of years now. It’s time for her big break.
Ellen: I agree Annie!!!! We as a culture need Lizzo
Josh: I missed Lizzo in the middle of the pack there. Co-sign 100%. She’s amazing.
Scott: I would argue that Soccer Mommy is one of the most misplaced acts on the bill in terms of text size-to-profile ratio. Clean was one of 2018’s most universally acclaimed albums! Would be writing her into my Sunday must-sees in sharpie.
Annie: Soccer Mommy feels…. so out of place on this line up for Sunday
Lizzie: Will Blood Orange, UMO and Jon Hopkins be decent draws?
Ellen: I could see UMO drawing a bigger crowd too, they’re a good intersection of like Coachella mood music and rock
Lizzie: I think Blood Orange will do the best out of the three
Steven: UMO could definitely get a big crowd, especially if they’re in a tent and it’s really hot outside
Scott: I wonder if folks are still gonna have the energy for SOB x RBE on Sunday. Don’t think they’ve ever made anything but bangers.
Annie: Iceage is going to probably play so early in the morning
Josh: boy pablo and Soccer Mommy are good Sunday morning respites.
Ok I think this is a good point to talk about the few indie rock acts that are on here. Thoughts on inclusions?
Steven: The second to last line on Saturday is killer. Hop Along, Shame, Superorganism all on the same line! Iceage got a bad billing on Sunday though
Scott: They picked some great ones! It just seems like a vein of the lineup that is destined to go under-mined. Don’t sleep on serpentwithfeet either!
Ellen: I think Coachella doesn’t feel obligated to include as many indie rock acts any more. So many other festivals are curating better rock lineups. But I am thrilled to see Soccer Mommy and Hop Along on here, as well as the others that were mentioned
Steven: Ellen makes a GREAT point – does Coachella even need to book indie rock when you have more niche festivals doing it?
Annie: I’m excited about it, but the mass amount of people who go to Coachella do not care about small indie acts. they’re there for the glitter and electronics and bass drops
Ellen: Shaky Knees is THE indie rock festival. Unfortunately no one is going to Coachella to see Hop Along. Except me.
Lizzie: I feel like no one’s gonna go to Iceage which makes me sad
Steven: In my experience, no one shows up until at least 3pm on Sunday
Lizzie: Who out of Beach Fossils, Hop Along, US Girls, Shame, Soccer Mommy, Boy Pablo, Iceage get the biggest draw?
Steven: Beach Fossils or US Girls
Ellen: They have some early 2010s nostalgia draw for people
Steven: Especially if we start seeing some major 10 year retrospectives of chillwave
Annie: I feel that coming on for sure. You could say I feel it all around. Look, a chill wave joke
Ellen: Let it be known that laughs were heard ‘round the office at that chillwave joke
Steven: Speaking of US Girls and Hop Along… Coachella in the past has gotten a lot of criticism about its lack of female acts. This year feels a bit different, though still nowhere close to Primavera, which literally had a 50/50 lineup. Do you think they went far enough?
Annie: There’s a ton of female representation along with a ton of queer representation!! King Princess and SOPHIE are queer icons
Lizzie: they did better this year. Anyone have any numbers on this yet?
Steven: This is the third year in a row with a female headliner, which is big for a festival that didn’t book one since Bjork in 2007
Ellen: It doesn’t LOOK anywhere close to 50/50, but it is better than years past
Scott: Helpful to have a clear visualization of the breakdown
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Ellen: Everybody follow BookMoreWomen if you wanna get enraged on the daily, but also inspired when someone like Primavera shows!! up!!!
Lizzie: ugh this is worse than I thought at first glance
Annie: Yeah, this is not nearly enough
Josh: Wow. Still so far to go.
How about what this lineup says in general about future 2019 lineups?
Annie: I foresee more electronic music
Steven: The days of rock subheadliners are over
Ellen: About rock subheadliners. We need them!!! Oh hey at least Greta Van Fleet isn’t on here
Josh: I think Bonnaroo, Austin City Limits, Shaky Knees, etc. are still going to have plenty of rock acts in the second line.
Annie: I think that there’s a place for rock music, and coachella is no longer that
Ellen: But that’s true, we do still have Roo and Lolla to hold out for!!
Lizzie: Do we think Lolla, Govs Ball, Bonnaroo are going to look like Coachella this year?
Annie: I’ve lost faith in Bonnaroo after last year’s line up
Steven: I think Gov Ball will be similar to Coachella but with less “gets”
Annie: I think Pitchfork, Gov Ball, and Lolla will come through
Lizzie: Ok just to wrap up…Who do we think from this 2019 Coachella lineup could be a future festival headliner?
Steven: Billie Eilish
Lizzie: Khalid as well
Steven: I think we could totally have a Janelle/Billie/Khalid Coachella in 2021
Ellen: Bad Bunny I’m calling it! So we think Tame will be the LAST rock headliner ever?!
Annie: I really think so. I think Tame Impala is electro enough that they fit the bill this time (barely) but I don’t see it happening ever again, unless it’s the 1975
Steven: That’s a great question – outside of a random legacy act or the return of Arctic Monkeys/Tame Impala/Muse/Arcade Fire/Radiohead, maybe
Lizzie: I think The 1975 will be headlining soon
Josh: Aside from Idris Elba, there’s really nothing left-field about this line-up. Surprising for a festival that had a hologram headline.
Steven: Aphex Twin is super out of left field though! He’s played one US set since Coachella 2008
Josh: Yeah, Aphex is the most interesting “get” outside of the headliners.
Lizzie: Remember Hans Zimmer the other year? That was nuts
Steven: It’s interesting to see how things have changed. When you look back to just 2017, you had Father John Misty, Future Islands, Bon Iver, New Order, the xx getting second billing. Don’t see any of them remotely close anymore
Scott: My theory about financial motivations for phasing out rock/embracing more diverse genres is apparently off-base, because Coachella made a record-breaking $114.6 million in 2017. First time a recurring fest has made $100M+. And that was with those indie-rock names Steven mentioned on the bill
Steven: This is the year Coachella finally delivered a lineup that appeals directly to their target audience.
Annie: I really just think they’re trying to stay relevant. Coachella was cool 10 years ago, it was cool 5 years ago, now it’s kind of a meme
Ellen: Isn’t everything Annie?
Annie: In fact, I’ve seen Coachella line ups today AS MEMES. the headliner was fortnight
Josh: OK, as we’re wrapping up, no one has convinced me to book a ticket to Indio.
How about we finish with rating the lineup out of 10?
Steven: 6, but I think this lineup basically NAILS where music in general is at in 2019. This lineup feels more relevant than ever before. No legacy acts or anything – it’s 100% what’s big NOW
Ellen: Uhhhh for me personally it’s like a 6? I also just don’t think I’d thrive at Coachella
Annie: Official lineup based on MY personal opinion: 4. Official lineup based on THE COACHELLA TARGETED DEMOGRAPHIC: 8.5
Lizzie: I give them like a 7 for the all zeitgeisty stuff
Scott: A 7, I guess? Some (but not nearly enough) progress towards gender equality, inclusivity of more global genres, a quietly strong indie-rock lineup, semi-exciting headliners, but with a Spotify playlist-esque, algorithm-generated kind of slickness that puts me off a bit.
Ellen: Yup it’s Spotify in a festival
Josh: I’ll go with a 6 for lack of imagination. Surprise me.
Lizzie: Honestly I think there’s stuff for the indie, EDM, pop and hip-hop kids, even bits of Latin and k-pop. I think they were going for a decent balance. I think they got the headliners right, which they don’t always do
Steven: I guess a better question – what could Coachella do to have a better lineup?
Lizzie: I think gender diversity is big
Ellen: Yeah all major festivals need to get SERIOUS about gender equality. Just book more women. C’mon
Steven: As far as gender equality and up and comers go, it’s legitimately surprising not to see Noname or Mitski here
Annie: Real quick, I’m shocked Dua Lipa or Bebe Rexha or Charlie XCX isn’t on this lineup
they seem like no brainers
Lizzie: Ok I think that’s a wrap. Thanks everyone!!!!
Steven: See you all in Indio? LOL
Scott: I’ll just watch on YouTube or wherever