There’s quite a buzz around the grounds at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival and that’s because of all the killer B’s.
Ultra clever wordplay aside, from headliners Bad Bunny and BLACKPINK to nostalgia acts Blondie and Bjork, to surprise addition blink-182, it seems like event organizers emptied out the “B” folder this year and I’m here for it.
So, in honor of this coincidence, I’m going to follow the “B” theme. Each year I like to read the fine print on the Coachella poster to learn about some acts I didn’t already know. Then, after doing some research, I become excited to see them. Discovering new bands is my favorite part of Coachella.
Here are my five “small-print-on-the-poster” acts that I think you should catch, and sure enough, three of those five start with the letter B.
Tell me more: BENEE, actual name Stella Rose Bennett, is a 23-year-old artist from New Zealand who first rose to internet fame in spring 2020 when her song “Supalonely” went viral on TikTok. She’s a talented singer-songwriter in the alt-pop sphere, and while “Supalonely” is a mellow pop party jam, sort of in the ballpark of Dua Lipa-type vibe. She seems to have graduated a little from that style with her 2023 banger “Green Honda,” which is a little rawer, while still bringing all kinds of punk power. Being from New Zealand, it’s hard not to measure her up against Lorde, but BENEE keeps it a little less serious. Party anthems. Basically every Benee song I listened to, I liked even more than the previous one.
When: 3:45 p.m. Friday in the Mojave Tent
Tell me more: Bakar, is a 29-year-old Brit, whose full name is Abubakar Baker Shariff-Farr. He is an indie rock rapper, whose musical style is what I call “Hangover music.” Like the perfect laid back, soothing, fun jams to play when you wake up the next morning from a rough night. This may be a weird comparison, maybe, but I put him in that category with someone like Jhene Aiko. Listen to Bakar’s song “Hell N Back” and just soak it in. In fact, I’ve devoured everything on his album “Be My Yellow.” Side note, “Hell N Back” may be the song of the summer because it will be showcased in the Pixar movie “Elemental,” which comes out in June.
When: 9 p.m. Saturday in the Sonora Tent
Tell me more: Traditionally I seek out new artists that I’m unfamiliar with for these selections, but as someone who was in college in the early 1990s, I don’t want you guys to miss out on The Breeders. They had one of the most popular jams on my campus in 1993’s “Cannonball.” Yeah, you remember that one, right all you 45-and-olders out there? A smooth baseline, powerful chorus and sort of devil-may-care attitude. Twins Kim and Kelley Deal leading the way. I love a group-sing moment at Coachella and I know “Cannonball” will be one — and I will be shouting alongside the Deals for sure. Fun fact: This is not their first time at Coachella, they also played in the desert 15 years ago in 2008.
When: 6:40 p.m. Saturday in the Sonora Tent
Tell me more: Stepping away from the “B” bands, TV Girl brings their Southern California aesthetic to the desert this year. Though new to me, the hypnotic indie-pop band from San Diego has been a mainstay of the indie scene for more than a decade now. TV Girl has a completely unique sound. Their music feels like it came from the 60s, but with 2020s technology supporting it. Check out their songs “Blue Hair” or “Lovers Rock” and see if it’s for you. I can already tell they are for me, and I’m looking forward to rhythmically bop my head to them at the polo grounds.
When: Friday, 5:55 p.m. in the Sonora Tent
Tell me more: This is another Southern California group. Maybe it makes sense that SoCal collectives seem to fit so well at Coachella with a sound that would work well as the sun goes down over some palm trees. Cannons, with charismatic lead singer Michelle Joy, is a Los Angeles-based band that had a bit of a breakthrough hit in 2021 called “Fire For You.” It’s a steamy scorned lover song, with Joy’s haunting echoing voice it just sort of pounds away at your temple in a good way. Something about their sound reminds me of the Cardigans, and that’s a good thing.
When: 7:10 p.m. Sunday at the Gobi Tent
Shad Powers is a columnist at The Desert Sun. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.