With only days to go until Coachella, we thought it was time to sort through the best of this April’s offerings. Nearly everybody in attendance sticks around for the headliners—Childish Gambino, Tame Impala and Ariana Grande—so we thought we’d dig just a little deeper into the 2019 lineup for some slightly smaller font-sized names.
We took a listen to all 160-plus artists on the lineup and narrowed things down to the 11 acts that we think are worth staying through the entire set. Sure, there are plenty of acts you’ll probably want to briefly stroll into, whether to support local L.A. bands (The Interrupters, Wallows), scope out what are sure to be some huge guest appearances (we’d place our bets on cameos during the sets from Bad Bunny, Playboi Carti, Pusha T, Gesaffelstein and Blood Orange) or out of sheer curiosity (a DJ set from Idris Elba and the introduction of Gucci Gang, a supergroup from Gucci Mane, Lil Pump and Smokepurpp. But we think these 11 sets are worth the extra effort to see and stay through.
Anderson.Paak & the Free Nationals
Friday, Coachella Stage, 7:05–7:55pm
That Oxnard’s own Anderson.Paak can spit verses from behind a drumset is a marvel to those of us musically less-inclined. That he can do so with an infectious flow that channels classic soul’s very best makes him a can’t-miss.
Saturday, Mojave, 9:05–10:35pm
Years before “sunset vibes” became a practical festival genre, Richard David James was turning out genre-defining dance tracks. In this rare U.S. performance, expect to melt into the desert landscape with easygoing ambient tunes—and then brace yourself for something like “Come to Daddy” to creep the crap out of you.
Saturday, Outdoor Theatre, 9:35–10:40pm
Expect every teenager to turn up for the 17-year-old singer’s set, which we can only image will draw headliner-sized crowds. Don’t let the hype keep you away: Love or hate her dark and sometimes snoozy electro-pop sound, this is bound to be a star-making performance for a singer who’s already owning the national stage.
Friday, Sahara, 8–9pm
K-pop–meets–hip-hop girl group BLACKPINK’s brassy, anthemic “Kill This Love” has racked up hundreds of millions of YouTube views, and their profile has grown so big that their Coachella performance will be livestreamed in Times Square. In other words, everybody’s going to be talking about his performance; if you’re lucky enough to be in attendance, consider it essential to be there firsthand for a sure-to-be-remembered moment. The group’s been slotted into the always-overpacked Sahara tent, so make sure to get there early and plan on not being able to leave until after the end of the set.
Saturday, Gobi, 1:35–2:20pm
We’ll fess up: We weren’t familiar with Jambinai until we combed through the Coachella lineup. But what we found—an avant-garde instrumental band that combines sludge metal and post-rock with traditional Korean instruments that include the zither-like geomungo—is a refreshingly unique addition to the fest.
Friday, Coachella Stage, 9:50–10:40pm
With an exemplary run of albums, a commanding stage presence and a recent Prince-like aura, Monáe’s singular brand of funk, hip-hop and R&B is as feel-good as it is flawless.
Friday, Coachella Stage 5:50–6:40pm
Praise the Coachella gods that this year’s token high-billed country act is Kacey Musgraves: We’d struggle to come up with a more magnetic singer-songwriter right now than the lauded country star.
Friday, Sonora, 2:55–3:25pm
Costa Rican trio Las Robertas power through ’90s-inspired noise pop that makes the perfect soundtrack for foot stomping at the front of the crowd or lounging in the grass—a perfect Coachella recipe if you ask us.
Sunday, Mojave, 5:45–6:30pm
The Minneapolis singer-MC has refined a diva persona that comes through with equal intensity whether she’s belting out uplifting soul anthems or clubworthy booty-clap bangers.
Friday, Coachella Stage, 4:35–5:20pm
Chilean singer Mon Laferte serves a vintage-inspired warm blend of rock, blues, pop and cumbia, backed by a slick ensemble. Even if you don’t understand a word, you’ll be doing your best to belt along by mid-chorus.
Ty Segall & White Fence
Saturday, Outdoor Theatre, 2:45–3:35pm
L.A. convert Ty Segall has become a SoCal festival staple, and for good reason: Whether he’s blasting amps with fuzz or strumming a sweet acoustic set (in this case, something in between for his collaborations with White Fence’s Tim Presley) he manages to make each concert feel like a communal experience.