Mid-January is an exciting time for pop-music writers, as the spring music festivals begin to tease and announce their lineups.
Broken down simply: The Coachella lineup is what we’ve come to expect from the annual mega-music festival, which takes place over the second and third weekends in April. Much of the three days will be full of obscure (and slightly less obscure) indie rock, pop, hip-hop and electronic music, with headlining spots going Drake, Jack White and AC/DC.
The last one comes as a bit of a shock, seeing as the band recently retired a key member and saw another arrested. Of course, the band also released a new album and it’s getting good reviews.
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Also worth note in this lineup is ’70s jazz rockers Steely Dan.
In its third year, Napa Valley’s Bottlerock festival offers more on the obscure band front, such as Xavier Rudd & the United Nationsand The Brothers Comatose. The star power it does have is impressive and leans heavy on the rock. Headliners include Imagine Dragons, No Doubt and Robert Plant. Foster the People, Cage the Elephant and Awolnation are also scheduled for the three-day festival, which runs May 29-31.
Manchester, Tennessee’s Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival takes the win for the shock value with its lineup, which was revealed in pieces, through fans on social media (one artist per fan revealed with the hashtag #bonnaroo). It includes both piano man Billy Joel and thrash metal icons Slayer, plus rapper Kendrick Lamar and The Bluegrass Situation, featuring Ed Helms, the actor from “The Hangover.” The festival runs June 11-14.
Even Fresno’s Catacomb Party was in the mix, announcing the first round of artists for its 2015 festival, which takes places April 4. It includes its share of locals, with rapper Zee Will as the main draw and Fresno-by-proxy band The Stone Foxes and Goldboot, who should be well known to local indie-rock audiences. Headlining the show is Chicago songwriter Tom Krell, who performs under the moniker How to Dress Well. While not a household name, the guy has credibility with those who follow what’s hip. His album “What is this Heart,” received raves on Pitchfork. It received an 8.8 (out of 10) rating. It was also No. 4 on Urban Outfitters’ list of best albums in 2014.
These announcements are fun conversation for music nerds, but also a glimpse at the in-demand bands of the year. Local promoters eagerly wait for the announcements and are no doubt watching to see who might have an open date in the accompanying weeks.
High on the list of bands I’d like to see come through are the punk-rock super group Off, electro-pop band Sylvan Esso, rap duo Run The Jewels and Saint Motel. The latter has been through Fresno in the past, as recently as September, and Run the Jewels is on the same label (Mass Appeal) as Fresno’s Fashawn.
Of course, all this news is probably less thrilling for fans, who have to go about the work of actually buying tickets. Coachella, which sold out in less than three hours, is well out of the price range for many fans, especially those forced to look on the secondary market. General admission passes are sitting around $600 on Stubhub. There are only a limited quantity of three-day passes left for Bottlerock — available for $255 each. Tickets for Bonnaroo go on sale at noon, Saturday, Jan. 17, if you’re willing to cough up $299.50-$324.50, plus the cost of a trip to Tennessee.
On an up note, Fresno’s Catacomb party will be free.