Perhaps it’s due to the inflated expectations from previous years, or the constant stream of hype, speculation and false-starts that accompanies the unveiling of the lineup each and every winter, but once again, I am let down by the spate of bands the promoters at Goldenvoice have lined up for Coachella ’09. For the second year in a row, there are no big-ticket reunions (long a ’Chella staple), no “Man-I-gotta-see-’em” headliners (Paul McCartney, probably playing stuff from his crummy electronic side-project! The Killers! The Cure!). There is Franz Ferdinand. And the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. And, Amy Winehouse, provided she makes it until April. Oh, and there is Leonard Cohen, who should actually be pretty rad now that I think of it.
But overall: “Meh.” And yeah, I get that I probably sound like a totally spoiled indie jerk when I say that, but there was a time when Coachella used to mean something. It was the event. You would break into your savings to score tickets and flights to Ontario, California. Now the competition has caught up with them. I mean, Bonnaroo could possibly have both Phish and the Dead (and maybe the Boss) on the bill … that’s awesome. I think my head will explode.
Sure, there are plenty of totally worthy acts on the undercard: Conor Oberst and his Mystic Valley Band, Antony & the Johnsons, Superchunk, the Hold Steady, Gang Gang Dance, No Age, the Vivian Girls, etc., but I’ve seen them all before (and chances are a lot of Coachella-goers have too). And while I am excited to find out just who Supermayer are (perhaps five John Mayers combined into one, Voltron-style?) there’s no sizzle on this year’s bill. We were tempted with reports of Pavement reunions and secret Britney Spears shows in Dance Tents. We still might get some of them, who knows? Perhaps Goldenvoice has a few tricks up their sleeves. I certainly hope so. Because, for the second year running, I find myself thinking only one thing: “Meh.”