Coachella 2012

Must-see music for Weekend 2

You have three days and nights. What to do? Times pop music critic Randall Roberts has the sets you just can't miss.

Full coverage | Timeline: 1999-2012 | Share your stories

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  • Other Lives

    Gobi tent: Sat. 2:05 p.m.

    If you’re a Radiohead fan, go see Other Lives. You'll be blown away, but not because they sound all that much like them. Rather, because Other Lives captures the similar wonder of collaborative music creation.



    Photo: Jesse Tabish of the Oklahoma-based band Other Lives performs at Coachella 2012. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

  • Kendrick Lamar

    Coachella stage: Fri. 2:40 p.m.

    A Compton-raised rapper signed to Dr. Dre's label, Lamar is one of the best young lyricists working today.



    Photo: Kendrick Lamar. Credit: Film Magic / Getty Images

  • WU LYF

    Gobi tent: Fri. 7:00 p.m.

    A pummeling post-punk band from Manchester, England, WU LYF stands for "World Unite Lucifer Youth Foundation," which gives you a sense of where they’re coming from.



    Photo: WU LYF performs during Coachella 2012. Credit: Luis Cinco / Los Angeles Times

  • Pulp

    Coachella stage: Fri. 7:50 p.m.

    One of the most anticipated reunions of the festival will be the return of Brit pop band Pulp, whose lead singer Jarvis Cocker delivers odes to the common people with cocky swagger.



    Photo: Jarvis Cocker performs during Coachella 2012. Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times

  • Swedish House Mafia

    Coachella stage: Fri. 11:30 p.m.

    Big beats from Swedish house trio Steve Angello, Axwell and Sebastian Ingrosso should surround the Coachella stage with many giddy dancers.



    Photo: Swedish House Mafia performs during Coachella 2012. Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times

  • Jimmy Cliff and Tim Armstrong

    Coachella stage: Fri. 5:10 p.m.

    Legendary reggae of “The Harder They Come” fame teams with Operation Ivy and Rancid founder Armstrong to celebrate the collision of roots reggae and punk rock.



    Photo: Jimmy Cliff performs during Coachella 2012. Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times

  • The Black Keys

    Coachella stage: Fri. 9:45 p.m.

    Friday night headliners the Black Keys recently released its best album to date, “El Camino,” and the Akron, Ohio-bred duo, augmented with a full band, will close out night one with, quite simply, rock.



    Photo: Dan Auerbach. Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times

  • Mazzy Star

    Coachella stage: Fri. 8:50 p.m.

    After a 16-year hiatus, the ethereal L.A.-born group featuring David Roback and Hope Sandoval returned in 2011 for two new songs, both teasers from a forthcoming new album due to arrive this summer.



    Photo: Hope Sandoval, Dave Roback of Mazzy Star. Credit: Guri Dah

  • Amon Tobin

    Mojave tent: 11:59 p.m.

    The Chilean heavy-duty beat producer brings his visionary 3-D stage set to the desert; assume that minds will be blown with geometric visuals and dubstep-suggestive rhythms.



    Photo: Amon Tobin performs during Coachella 2012. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

  • Death Grips Coachella 2012

    Death Grips

    Gobi tent: Fri. 5:45 p.m.

    The future of hip hop, or just a wild diversion? Death Grips is a three-piece from San Francisco featuring a manic, truly intimidating rapper-screamer named MC Ride and insane drummer Zach Hill. The group is unlike any other on the Coachella bill.



    Photo: Scene from Death Grips music video, "The Fever (Aye Aye)." Credit: Thirdworld.net

  • Gary Clark Jr.

    Gobi tent: 4:30 p.m.

    Texas guitar slinger Gary Clark Jr. is an unlikely Coachella act, someone whose hard guitar licks and incendiary style suggest a young Jimi Hendrix. Clark's an amazing performer and stands to make a powerful impression.



    Photo: Gary Clark Jr. Credit: Jack Plunkett / AP Press Photo

  • Refused

    Outdoor stage: Fri. 11:20 p.m.

    Wear your shin guards and helmet for this one: Swedish hardcore band Refused have reunited to deliver an update on "The Shape of Punk to Come," their classic punk album from 1998.



    Photo: Dennis Lyxz·n, lead singer of Refused, performs during Coachella 2012. Credit: Arkasha Stevenson / Los Angeles Times

  • Radiohead

    Coachella stage: Sat. 11:05 p.m.

    Tears will be shed, lives changed, falsettos wailed, minds opened and, for skeptics, eyes rolled, during the Oxford, England, art rock band’s Saturday night headlining slot.



    Photo: Thom Yorke. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times

  • St. Vincent

    Gobi Tent: Sat. 7:45 p.m.

    Annie Clark, who is St. Vincent, did a first-weekend set that was a highlight for many, especially when she performed an entire song while crowd-surfing. Her beguiling music is as captivating as her presence; hopefully she’ll be on the main stage in years to come.



    Photo: Musician Annie Clark of St. Vincent performs during Coachella 2012. Credit: Karl Walter / Getty Images for Coachella

  • Sub Focus

    Mojave tent: Sat. 11 :40 p.m.

    A producer who’s drawn influences from drum & bass, dubstep, house and techno, the erstwhile Nick Douwma has become a master of gut-splitting bass-drops who still understands a good melody.



    Photo: Sub Focus. Credit: Ram Records

  • Flying Lotus

    Gobi tent: Sat. 9:00 p.m.

    The most important beat maker in Los Angeles has become one of the most respected in the world, and he returns to Coachella to offer his wobbly, jazz-infused beat music.



    Photo: Steven Ellison of FLying Lotus. Credit: Axel Koester / For The Times

  • Childish Gambino

    Coachella stage: Sat. 2:50 p.m.

    Childish Gambino is the pseudonym of Donald Glover, best known for his co-starring role in the NBC sitcom “Community.” But as a rapper, Glover is Gambino, an accomplished lyricist with a flow suggesting Kanye West, label backing from the company behind Mumford and Sons, and a record that continues to draw attention.



    Photo: Donald Glover Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times

  • SebastiAn

    Mojave tent: Sat. 11:40 p.m.

    SebastiAn's thick, heavy-duty French house might not have been as huge as Calvin Harris or David Guetta's sets, but it was way more dynamic, and his stage show was equally challenging: It featured documentary footage of war.



    Photo: SebastiAn Ingrosso performs during Coachella 2012. Credit: Mark Davis / Getty Images for Coachella

  • Azealia Banks

    Gobi tent: Sat. 2:50 p.m.

    A young, whip-smart rapper whose profile has shot up since the release of her infectious single "212," Banks is pushing the boundaries of hip-hop with her taste in avant rhythms from cutting-edge producers such as Machinedrum.



    Photo: Azealia Banks. Credit: Rob Ball / Wire Image

  • SBTRKT

    Gobi tent: Sat. 10:15 p.m.

    Part of the Young Turks label run by the XX, SBTRKT is probably pronounced as "subtract" and makes funky electronic dance music with way more humanity than most peers.



    Photo: SBTRKT. Credit: Roger Kisby / Getty Images

  • Destroyer

    Outdoor stage: Sat. 2:30 p.m.

    Dan Bejar makes strange, often baroque pop music and may have a hard time convincing testosterone-fueled dudes to get on board. But his soft rock is strange in a wonderful way and should make for an odd juxtaposition.



    Photo: Dan Bejar of Destroyer performs at Coachella 2012. Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times

  • Buzzcocks

    Gobi Stage: Sat. 5:15 p.m.

    The kings of first-generation pop-punk descend on the desert to perform shout-along ditties like "What Do I Get," "Harmony in My Head" and "Everybody's Happy Nowadays."



    Photo: Buzzcocks perform at Coachella 2012. Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times

  • Jeff Mangum

    Outdoor stage: Sat. 7:20 p.m.

    The man behind indie rock band Neutral Milk Hotel makes his first Coachella appearance, as well as his first West Coast gigs since his return to performance after a decade-plus of silence.



    Photo: Jeff Mangum. Credit: Ground Control Touring / Cory Greenwall

  • The Black Lips

    Mojave tent: Sat. 2:15 p.m.

    Last weekend the Black Lips became the talk of the fest when guitarist Cole Alexander not only stripped naked, but used a part of his exposed anatomy to do a solo. It’s not the first time he’s done this — and hopefully not the last.



    Photo: Musician Jared Swilley of Black Lips performs during Coachella 2012. Credit: Michael Buckner / Getty Images for Coachella

  • James Lu Cont

    Sahara tent: Sat. 3:35 p.m.

    The erstwhile Stuart Price’s biggest profile gig this year makes Coachella seem like a backyard fair: He was the producer of Madonna’s Super Bowl halftime show. But he drew her attention as a longtime house producer whose vital tracks are thrilling on the dance floor.



    Photo: Jacques Lu Cont. Credit: Fabric London

  • Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg

    Coachella stage: Sun. 10:35 p.m.

    In previous years, last minute additions were commonplace — and featured cameos by real humans. This year the most talked-about surprise was the late Tupac Shakur, being resurrected by Dr. Dre and Snoop in the form of a hologram. As a result, Tupac's "appearance" will be even more attended this second weekend.



    Photo: Snoop Dogg performs with Dr. Dre at Coachella 2012. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

  • Le Butcherettes

    Gobi tent: Sun. 1:55 p.m.

    Singer Terri "Gender Bender" Suarez was one of the most compelling lead singers on any stage last weekend, where she and her band Le Butcherettes pummeled a crowd. Suarez is a wild performer and ended up climbing the rigging and hanging from the top.



    Photo: Teri Gender Bender of Le Butcherettes performs during weekend one of Coachella 2012. Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times

  • Florence and the Machine

    Outdoor stage: Sun. 9:45 p.m.

    Florence Welch’s voice might move those mountains on the desert horizon if the sound engineers aren’t careful, and expect her Machine to ably support her in the great wide open.



    Photo: Florence Welch performs at Coachella 2012. Credit: Arkasha Stevenson / Los Angeles Times

  • Thundercat

    Mojave tent: Sun. 5:20 p.m.

    Avant beat producer and master bassist Thundercat is part of Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder records posse and makes deep, fusion-like tracks that should rumble through the tent.



    Photo: Stephen Bruner of Thundercat. Credit: Ninja Tune

  • Calvin Harris

    Sahara tent: Sun. 8:25 p.m.

    The obvious reason to hit Calvin Harris' set is in case Rihanna shows up to perform "We Found Love" with him, as she did during Weekend 1. But the real reason to check the set is that, of all the big-ticket house producers on this year's roster, Harris' stuff is the most fun to dance to.



    Photo: Calvin Harris performs at Coachella 2012. Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times

  • Company Flow

    Gobi tent: Sun. 8:20 p.m.

    Rap trio Company Flow’s return has the post-backpackers going crazy. Consisting of El-P, Bigg Jus and Mr. Len, the former Rawkus Records’ group will no doubt perform music from their classic 1997 album “Funcrusher Plus.”



    Photo: Company Flow. Credit: My Space

  • Gaslamp Killer

    Gobi tent: Sun. 6:00 p.m.

    The L.A.-based tripped-out beat maker works his gear as if he’s Animal from Sesame Street – mop-top bouncing and arms flying.



    Photo: Gaslamp Killer. Credit: Theo Jemison

  • The Weeknd

    Outdoor stage: Sun. 6:55 p.m.

    Mystique is half the battle in pop music, and few have as much of it as The Weeknd, the pseudonym of producer Abel Tesfaye. His three mixtapes over the last year, as well as his beats for Drake, have made him a highly sought-after artist.



    Photo: The Weeknd. Credit: Global Talent Agency

  • Wild Beasts

    Mojave tent: Sun. 3:25 p.m.

    A virtually indescribable British rock band, Wild Beasts make pretty art rock with a groove, and since its inception in 2006 have evolved into a group untethered from trends and hellbent on expansion.



    Photo: Wild Beasts. Credit: Tom Beard

  • Seun Kuti and Egypt 80

    Outdoor Stage: Sun. 3:10 p.m.

    The son of Fela Kuti carries the defiant, proud and totally funky tradition of his father with a huge, band pumping Afro-Beat rhythms.



    Photo: Seun Kuti performs at Coachella 2012 Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

  • Gotye Coachella 2012

    Gotye

    Mojave tent: Sun. 7:10 p.m.

    Of-the-moment Australian singer Gotye is currently the subject of a world musical obsession over his song, "Someone That I Used to Know," and you could tell last weekend at the Mojave tent. It was an amazing singalong moment, and one sure to be replicated.



    Photo: Gotye Credit: Arkasha Stevens / Los Angeles Times

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