Rumors about the next Coachella festival always start right about the time the current Coachella ends. At that point, they primarily come in this form: “Dude, next year? Smiths reunion. It has to happen.”
Never mind that they were once offered a reported $5 million to play the annual desert bash in Indio, Calif. - and they turned it down. Oh, and forget all of that stuff about how they don’t ever speak to or even like each other anymore. And you remember that drummer Mike Joyce sued Morrissey and Johnny Marr in ‘96 ... and won ... right? (Of course, by 2005, Joyce was apparently broke again - and so desperate that he started selling rare Smiths recordings on eBay.)
Coachella ‘09: Let the rumors fly but let the Smiths talk die
By late summer/early fall, however, speculation about the impossible at Coachella really ramps up. (Like this: “No, seriously, I heard from the pot dealer of a friend of a cousin of a guy who used to work at Goldenvoice that Moz and Marr are talking. It’s totally on!”)
By Christmas, other ginormo names enter the mix, and we no-life Coachella watchers start attempting to map out three days of stars-plus-high-undercard-acts. (“The Killers ... maybe they’re the Friday night headliner, like Jack Johnson last year. Either that, or they’re on Sunday night with the Smiths or Bowie. I hear Saturday night is U2, or Pearl Jam, or Radiohead.”)
Radiohead is always mentioned, by the way. To the point that I sometimes hope they never play Coachella again, just to make ‘04 even more special than it already is.
But, see, I’m kinda perverse about particular resurrections anyway.
Blur, one of the few bands I’d lay 3-1 odds on as a legitimate lineup contender this year ... now that’s a reunion I welcome, as the firm of Albarn, Coxon, James & Rowntree hasn’t been away so long that it has become mythologized. (Plus, I suspect there’s still great work left in that lineup.) The Smiths and Talking Heads, on the other hand, I really don’t want to ever reunite, for the same reason why I’m glad the Clash never did.
Would it blow my mind if either ever happened? Do I think their sets could be incredible? Of course. Yet with any reunion there’s always a high chance of disappointment. And regardless, whether historic highlight (Pixies, ‘04) or lackluster letdown (for me, New Order, ‘05), a legacy will have been unsealed - in the cases of the Smiths and T.Heads, rather perfectly preserved legacies at that.
I have little doubt both bands still possess such rare chemistry that they would summon something amazing. But I’d still rather they stay broken up, and we all move on.
Anyway ... I was saying something about Coachella lineup speculation ... for the point of this ramble is that now is when it starts to really get heated up.
Now, when we’re probably 2-3 weeks away (at the very most) from an announcement, now is when Coachella fanatics the Web-world over hone their powers of deduction and elimination and really start zeroing on who will be there ... and who won’t (for instance, the freakin’ Smiths! Let it GO, people!).
Nerd though I am, I nonetheless do not keep a running, written list of names - like this logic-driven one, a roundup I’m sure is as in-the-know as any you can find, yet which I still figure is only 75-80 percent on the money.
That blogger’s educated guesses certainly include a few head-scratchers, doncha think?
The Black Keys even though Dan Auerbach has a solo album and tour happening?
Primal Scream even though they’re playing Club Nokia a month before the fest - a no-no to lineup mastermind Paul Tollett, who typically doesn’t permit that sort of pre-fest play? (A week-of-event warmup gig - that’s different, and happens every year.)
Kings of Leon even though they just played last year? (How many back-to-back repeaters can you name?)
Ditto Animal Collective, which seems wrong on both counts - show this month plus they just played.
And ... Hall and Oates?!? Huh? Neil Young seems a stretch right now, too.
I bet big on one thing every year, and for the moment my money is still on U2.
The Killers, Franz Ferdinand, Fleet Foxes, TV on the Radio, the Hold Steady, Hercules and Love Affair - those all seem like no-brainers. I almost feel that strongly about the inclusion of Jenny Lewis, Kimya Dawson, the Knux, Built to Spill, the original Specials. I’d like to say there’s still a chance for a My Bloody Valentine sighting, but I think a second set from Wilco would be more likely.
I’m as excited as anyone else about the return of No Doubt - but, please, not at Coachella, OK? My two cents: the coolest thing they could do is to get back to their roots and play the Verizon parking lot headlining Bamboozle Left.
Beck and Depeche Mode - everyone but everyone keeps mentioning these two, but I’m still not so convinced.
Beck would be great, and he hasn’t headlined since Coachella was born. (How better to celebrate the 10th anniversary, eh?) That said, he played a LOT locally last year.
Depeche has a new album coming, yeah, so a Coachella appearance makes sense ... in the most obvious, commercially motivated way possible, which is precisely why I think Tollett will avoid having them. Three years between performances is likely to strike him as too soon. Red Hot Chili Peppers at least waited four before they came back.
Of the other reunion rumors I’ve heard, only Pavement and the Replacements seem plausible to me. Pearl Jam and R.E.M. will always come in high on the speculation meter, simply because they’ve never played Coachella.
And then there’s Bowie.
Here’s the thing: The guy never does anything without a compelling reason. He only seems to tour anymore when he has something new, and by now we’d be hearing what that might be. And much as he’s filled his shows this decade with plenty of classics and lesser-known gems, he’s also not the sort of artist to indulge one-off nostalgia just because.
Now ... maybe if it were billed as Bowie doing “Ziggy Stardust” in its entirety, or a set devoted to that and other Ziggy-era staples, or maybe a set built out of Bowie/Eno collaborations ... he’s done Low in full before, so something like that isn’t out of the question. Performing complete albums is in vogue now; even Coachella dipped into it with Roger Waters’ “Dark Side” set last year.
Then again ... performing complete albums is in vogue now ... and Bowie tends not to do whatever’s in vogue. Keep dreaming, starkids.