What Coachella’s Lineup Reveals About Festivals in 2018

The Weeknd is among those headlining Coachella in the spring. One can expect it won't be the only festival he will headline in 2018.
The Weeknd is among those headlining Coachella in the spring. One can expect it won't be the only festival he will headline in 2018. Photo by Marco Torres
The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival – or Coachella, for brevity’s sake – is the premier, or at least the most noteworthy, annual music festival in the United States. Taking place over two weekends in April, it’s also one of the earlier festivals on the calendar, meaning it sort of sets the table for other festivals to come throughout the year; often times, these festivals are run by the same companies, and certain artists almost designate certain years as festival-centric ones.

Point being, in taking a look at the Coachella lineup, which was unveiled last week, certain things are evident. If anything, the lineup itself provides a pretty clear indication as to what is to follow with area festivals like Austin City Limits and Voodoo Fest.

No, of course not. But, as festivals go, rock as we traditionally know it isn’t faring so well. Rather, hip-hop, EDM and more standard pop fare have fully taken over the festival scene in recent years. Take a look at the more noteworthy acts on this year’s Coachella bill. Beyoncé is arguably the biggest pop star in America. Eminem is arguably the most successful hip-hop musician of all time. The Weeknd is one of the hottest stars in the pop/R&B game. Post Malone is an up-and-comer on the hip-hop scene. Same for Migos. Sure, Coachella didn’t shun rock altogether; no festival worth its salt would do such a thing. And while Portugal. The Man, A Perfect Circle and HAIM are all quality rock outfits, the bill is lacking in terms of noteworthy traditional rock outfits. Jack White (more on him in a bit as well) is playing Governor’s Ball in June in New York, and it’s a safe bet he will play either ACL or Voodoo Fest in the fall, but notwithstanding that speculation, rock has seen better days as festivals go.

Beyoncé was supposed to headline Coachella last year, but once Queen Bey announced she was pregnant with twins, she postponed her set but vowed to headline in 2018. True to her word, Houston’s own Beyoncé will serve as the Saturday headliner on April 14 and 21. This is great news for anyone attending Coachella; Beyoncé puts on one hell of a show. But don’t expect it to be a trend in 2018. With newborn twins at home, it’s likely (and certainly understandable) that Beyoncé will keep her calendar somewhat clear in 2018 before rolling out new music next year.

Jack White rose to fame as one half of the White Stripes. He’s played in the Raconteurs. He turned heads with the Dead Weather. He’s even experienced success as a solo musician. In short, White (along with Dave Grohl) easily ranks among the two or three most prolific, hard-working musicians in mainstream rock over the past decade or so. However, White or any of his bands haven’t released a proper studio album in more than two years, a lifetime in Jack White terms. White isn’t playing Coachella, but he is headlining Governor’s Ball, which makes sense, considering a new solo album is apparently imminent. It will be nice to have Jack White back in our lives, considering his live show is an experience unto itself.

Yes, Eminem just released a new album, and contrary to consensus critical opinion, Revival is not a disappointment. Is it on par with the first three records that launched his career into the stratosphere? Of course not, but good luck topping that trio. Sure, Revival is a bit bloated, and some of the tracks are borderline comical, but tracks like “Arose,” “Castle” and the misunderstood “Walk on Water” showcase an artist who can still bring his A game. Even so, Revival was fairly maligned upon its release, and while it debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Top 200, sales were a relative disappointment as Eminem sales go. Eminem is already booked for Coachella and Governor’s Ball, and I’d be surprised if he’s not at ACL or Voodoo Fest later this year, and these dates all make sense. Eminem is about as big a draw as you’ll find for a festival, but let’s not pretend people are here to see what he’ll do next. Rather, they’ll be on hand to experience what he’s already done.

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating – a festival is only as good as its headliner. And while Coachella absolutely nailed that end with The Weeknd, Beyoncé and Eminem, festival organizers didn’t scrimp on mid-carders either. Major acts like SZA, St. Vincent, The War on Drugs, Vince Staples, Fleet Foxes, Migos, and Cardi B fill out the festival lineup, and it stands to reason those artists will find themselves on other bills throughout the year, a year that is looking quite promising on the festival front.
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Clint Hale enjoys music and writing, so that kinda works out. He likes small dogs and the Dallas Cowboys, as you can probably tell. Clint has been writing for the Houston Press since April 2016.
Contact: Clint Hale