It’s the New Year and Coachella has just announced their lineup for 2016! As I’ve done the past six years, I’m sharing the lineup here and including a bit of my commentary on some must-see acts. Overall, I wasn’t too excited about this year’s lineup compared to lineups of years past. But as I’ve experienced firsthand over the past five Coachellas I’ve gone to, the event is still one of the premier music festivals in the world, with a huge selection of artists and something for everyone. Whether you’re a first time attendee or a multi-year veteran, you’ll have a blast, without a doubt.
Day 1 Must-See Sets
- Sufjan Stevens – With one of the best albums of 2015 (and one of the most hauntingly-beautiful), Sufjan will be a special treat since I wasn’t able to get tickets to his sold-out shows in SF last year. Hopefully he gets a late-afternoon or early-evening set time so crowds can enjoy some of the quieter acoustic songs from his newest album, Carrie & Lowell.
- Underworld – I’m personally not too familiar with Underworld’s songs, but their status as techno legends and the fact that they’re mentioned in the same vein as Orbital and The Chemical Brothers has piqued my interest.
- Joey Bada$$ – I love his old-school beats, lyrics, and style. His last album B4.Da.$$ was solid from beginning to end, and 1999 is one of the most compelling hip hop mixtapes in recent years.
- LCD Soundsystem – They get brownie points for their song “Daft Punk Is Playing At My House.” I’ll be exploring their discography in the coming months since this recently-reunited band will be a treat to see live.
Day 2 Must-See Sets
- Grimes – Another album of 2015 contender, Grimes’ newest LP Art Angels is different in a great way. She managed to take an already-solid electronic style and craft a fun pop record based on her interests. She’s also a kick-ass live performer who writes and produces all her songs.
- Vince Staples – A hip hop artist who references Joy Division as inspiration, Vince Staples dropped the breakout Summertime ’06 that’s getting comparisons to Kendrick’s good kid, m.A.A.d city. Did I mention he’s into Joy Division? How cool is that?
- CHVRCHES – This will be my third time seeing the group and I’m still as excited as I was the first time. Lauren Mayberry is my musician crush and I count Every Open Eye as one of my most-played and favorite albums of 2015.
- A$AP Rocky – For some reason A$AP Rocky reminds me of a more laid-back Joey Bada$$. His first LP was super solid (“1 Train” is one of the best posse cuts of all time), and his newest album At. Long. Last. A$AP got some spins from yours truly.
- Guns N’ Roses – Shalalalalalalalalala-knees knees. I didn’t think I’d see this day. Given Axl Rose’s track record I’d expected a solo performance in 2026. Add in nearly twenty years of Axl Rose and Slash not even on speaking terms, and this reunion will be one for the ages. Expect lots of classic tracks and sing alongs.
- Ice Cube – I gained new-found appreciation for Ice Cube after watching Straight Outta Compton and even checked out some of his older tracks. Before this I’d always seen him as an actor in bad comedies and ok action movies.
Day 3 Must-See Sets
- Deafheaven – Where to begin? Deafheaven’s New Bermuda IS my album of 2015. I’ve seen this black metal/shoegaze band twice now, and I still can’t get over how awesome their shows and music are. Sunbather will be a future classic, and I’m so glad I’m getting the second chance to experience their new songs live after missing their last SF show.
- Kamasi Washington – Kamasi is bringing back classic jazz and giving it a modern spin. You won’t get any smooth-commercial-elevator music, just the good stuff. This will be a highly underrated show, and I recommend checking it out.
- Beach House – Bloom is one of my most-played albums on Spotify, and the group’s gorgeous and ethereal music will be perfect for the evening once the hot desert sun sets. Beach House released two albums this past year so expect plenty of new material interspersed with some classic tracks.
- Flume – You can’t go wrong with Flume. Perfect festival music that’s not overbearing or boring. Plenty of mainstream and indie cred. That’s a tough line to balance but Flume does it with ease. Hopefully we get a late afternoon/early evening set for this one.
If you enjoyed reading my thoughts on 2016’s Coachella lineup, be sure to check out my previous posts about this music festival from my archives. There’s tons of great info on what to expect, plus some detailed recaps of my past four Coachellas!
Lineups from the Past Six Coachellas
- Coachella 2015 Lineup
- Coachella 2014 Lineup
- Coachella 2013 Lineup
- Coachella 2012 Lineup
- Coachella 2011 Lineup
- Coachella 2010 Lineup