Coachella 2012

The 17 bands most likely to play the mother of outdoor festivals next year

by Matt Spangler

A few weeks after Coachella some bands have loaded their gear into buses and are back on the road, while others head to studios to try and capture the energy of the festival for next year’s hit songs. I myself have been replaying performances to packed audiences by the likes of Crystal Castles, Cut Copy, Chromeo and Afrojack (with Beatles legend Paul McCartney getting into the fun on the side of the stage) in my head.

Thinking about what acts might take the stage at Coachella 2012, we based the following predictions on the festival’s history of sticking to what they know—successfully blending electronic, dance and indie rock, with a sprinkling of eclectic stadium-selling artists for the masses.

At The Tents

Holy Ghost

Opening for Coachella faves Cut Copy and on the powerhouse label DFA, look for Holy Ghost to easily bag a Gobi tent spot. If the guys in the band are anywhere near as charismatic as their dads, who appear in their latest video for “Wait & See,” they’re a lock.

Dillon Francis

Diplo’s label Mad Decent has been putting out some crunky dance music lately with artists like Major Lazer and Rusko, and newcomer Dillon Francis follows suit releasing his EP “Masta Blasta” on the label. His sick remixes and dubstep sound are the perfect fit to satisfy the drum-and-bass crazed fans in the Sahara tent.

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Young Galaxy

Considering the prominence of Montreal-bred music this past year at Coachella, including Chromeo, A-Trak and Duck Sauce (though they’re all from the same family), it seems logical that next year will produce a representative from just across the border. On their third album Young Galaxy (pictured above right) had the help of Dan Lissvik to produce their best record yet, and a dance-inflected pop sound that’s pitch-perfect for the Coachella crowd.


Bag Raiders

Record label Modular Recordings is no stranger to Coachella bands and it’s likely that next year the Sydney dance duo, Bag Raiders (Chris Stacey and Jack Glass, pictured above) will represent the imprint in the Mojave tent. Their remix prowess has given them additional exposure to the dance crowd, and they’re in Europe now honing their live sound. Now it’s just a matter if anyone can tell the difference between them and their Melbourne brethren and label-mates, Cut Copy.

Morning Parade

Like Two Door Cinema Club this year, Morning Parade (not pictured) is a popular dance-driven rock band with a sound that appeals to the tents. Hailing from Essex, the boys should get a push from EMI this year leading up to the fest and a tour that could build enough stateside buzz to book them an appearance.


The Naked and Famous

With catchy hooks filling in around pretty vocal melodies, New Zealand quintet The Naked and Famous (above) make this an easy call. Signed with Fiction Records—alongside Elbow, one of the more talked about acts from this past year—The Naked and Famous are ones to start loving now.


After an old-fashioned bidding war for their major label debut and an inspired run of small shows in NYC last winter, it’s likely that you’ll see the foursome behind Mona (not pictured) appear on a Coachella stage in 2012. While their rockabilly look and southern religious roots make it tough to escape Kings of Leon comparisons, Mona’s sound borders more on Jack’s Mannequin than that of the Followill brothers. They’re scheduled to play bigger and more diverse festivals in the U.K. this year, but they’ll need more buzz stateside by early next year to get a booking.



Like Beach House before them, Dom has a chance for an early day tent slot. Grungy electro sound, check. Dance-y synthesized beats and hooks, check. Female lead singer, check…, that’s actually a guy singing those parts. Color us surprised as well. All signs point to this trio from Massachusetts taking the stage with the help of their booking agency Ground Control Booking, who has a history of booking acts at Coachella, including four bands from this past year.


The Japanese Popstars

Insanely catchy dance music beats, tripped out video animations and a collaboration with Robert Smith from the Cure seems like the perfect pieces to add up to a Coachella appearance. With a new label deal on Virgin as well as a well-crafted and talked about live show experience, we predict The Japanese Popstars will be getting a prized night-time slot in the tents in 2012.


The Sleepy Jackson

If its one thing that Coachella loves it’s its lead singer spin-offs. Two years ago it was Thom Yorke’s Atom’s of Peace collaboration with Flea and this past year it was Brandon Flowers. After Luke Steele gave Empire of the Sun a triumphant tour of the US in 2010, he’ll take his solo project, The Sleepy Jackson out on the road in 2011…likely ending with an outdoor stage appearance at Coachella 2012.

At The Outdoor Stage


Fleet Foxes

The perennial Coachella favorite haven’t hit the Festival in two years, nor had a new album in nearly the same amount of time. With their new record already garnering solid reviews since dropping yesterday and a tour sure to follow, they’re a likely sure thing for either the main stage or a headlining slot at the outdoor stage.

Lykke Li

With her Wounded Rhymes just starting to get some buzz and a summer tour around the U.S., it’s likely that Lykke Li (not pictured) will make a return to Coachella since her last appearance in 2009.


Bon Iver

Justin Vernon was the only guest star of note that Kanye West trotted out during his Coachella performance…perhaps a calculated nod to the audience. With his latest release For Emma slated for a 21 June 2011 release, it’s likely that a year from now Bon Iver will be making a victory lap with significant billing at the 2012 Coachella lineup


Nothing the Coachella crowds like better then dance driven electro-rock bands led by charismatic female singers. With their new album likely out in early 2012, you can bet on Metric (not pictured) being on next year’s bill.


Ryan Adams

Based on his recent surprise opening for Emmylou Harris in Los Angeles, Ryan Adams has a slate of new songs and could be ready to release them this year. He is a near-perennial at Coachella, having been one of the acts purported to play who canceled when he broke up with The Cardinals.

At The Main Stage


If there is a band that currently defines the Coachella audience, then Justice might be it. With their crossover appeal and club kid cred, there is little doubt the French duo would draw some of the biggest crowds at the Festival. Their new album is slated to drop in late 2011, with its single “Civilization” recently featured in the Adidas brand campaign directed by Justice collaborator Romain Gavras, so they should be primed and ready for a headliner appearance. We’re calling it for Saturday night.


Beastie Boys

File this under automatic. With Hot Sauce Committee Vol. 2 out soon, and their viral celeb-studded films “Making Some Noise” to promote their new album blowing up the Internet, there’s no doubt that the boys from Brooklyn will be ready to commandeer the Sunday night headliner spot next year.

Thumbnail image by Jason Lester Photography