What Coachella's 2020 lineup means for everyone too poor to go
From new album releases to big-name returns, Coachella's lineup has a lot of wins even for people without thousands in savings.
With its release last week, there's a good chance you've probably seen the Coachella 2020 lineup by now, and there's a reason for that: the festival is a US juggernaut incomparable to anything Australia has to offer, with a lineup that every single year manages to start as many trends as it does fights over lineup placement and headliners. This year is no different. Rage Against The Machine's reunion will take place - it's their only confirmed shows, with that 'leaked poster' showing their Splendour In The Grass appearance to be fake - alongside Frank Ocean and Travis Scott in headliner mode; two acts that showcase the brilliance of US hip-hop and R&B and its most spectacular and popular.
Dive deeper, however, and you'll find an undercard that holds a lot of promise of what's to come: Run The Jewels, Megan Thee Stallion, BROCKHAMPTON, Charli XCX, Peggy Gou, TNGHT and The Chats on Friday; Flume, Disclosure, Summer Walker, Caribou, Yaeji, Carly Rae Jepsen and Orville Peck on Saturday; and Lana Del Rey, FKA Twigs, Ari Lennox, Mura Masa, Denzel Curry, Noname and plenty of others on the Sunday too.
Tickets to the festival reflect its lineup size, especially when converted to Australian dollars - it's over $600 AUD for a three-day pass, excluding shuttle buses, camping and other costs - meaning that it's only for a select few, with many people - us included - having to watch the festival from the sidelines, a.k.a. the yearly YouTube live stream which, over the last few years, have allowed us to see some of the festival's legendary sets in the comfort of our own home at 1PM in the afternoon (maybe there is a positive to being an Australian Coachella fan). However, aside from the annual live stream, the Coachella lineup also comes with a tonne of suggestions as to what's to come within the next twelve months, from album releases to looming trends that, as we've seen in the past few years through K-Pop and beyond, often come true.
Here's what we think the 2020 lineup entails, and in case you haven't seen it yet, here's the poster in all its stacked glory:
Hip-hop's dominance is unstoppable, and it's only going to get bigger:
Over the last two decades, Coachella have gradually transitioned from a festival showcasing the alt-underground of indie, rock, punk and alt-dance into an entirely different beast, one that centres itself on a blend of high-brow (see also: non-soccer mum) commercialism (booking Beyoncé and Ariana Grande, but not Ed Sheeran for example) and those on the cusp of being something remarkable regardless of their genre. Throughout this time, waves of genre popularity have been paralleled in its lineup - EDM's explosion, pop's strange indie heroes, mid-00s emo-punk - and in 2020, it's clear that we're entering the new decade with hip-hop at the throne.
From the second you look at Coachella's lineup poster, it's clear that hip-hop and R&B are at the forefront of the festival's collective booking minds. All of the three headliners are influential in the genre in some way - Rage being a massive influence in the rise of political rap à la Run The Jewels and Kendrick Lamar; Frank Ocean in illusive R&B; Travis Scott in ways we'll be seeing a lot of in the new decade - and each of their first lines are dominated by hip-hop-aligned musicians too: 3/5 on Friday (Run The Jewels, Rex, Megan); 3/7 on Saturday (DaBaby, Summer Walker, 21 Savage); 4/7 on Sunday (Lil Uzi Vert, Daniel Caesar, FKA Twigs, Ari Lennox).
Dive deeper, and hip-hop's representation spans countries and its many, many pockets of affiliated sub-genres. There are long-time classics (Freddie Gibbs and Madlib) side-by-side with rappers just finding popularity in the year just gone (Lil Nas X, Roddy Ricch); rappers from Indonesia (Rich Brian) and Australia-via-Zambia (Sampa The Great); and, perhaps best of all, a hyper-commercial sense of visibility to the women who dominated 2019 in hip-hop, from City Girls and Megan Thee Stallion to Ari Lennox and FKA Twigs.
There are a lot of great albums expected in the year ahead:
Generally speaking - and as we point out last year - Coachella won't book an artist unless A) they were an explosive force in 2019; B) they're a long-time favourite doing a reunion or comeback show at the festival; or C) they're an act launching new material in the year ahead. Often, Coachella's lineup placings give hints as to who's dropping music in the next year, and last year was no different: many of the acts that brought questions of "why are they so high on the lineup?" delivered albums which locked their place in the commercial canon, such as The 1975 and Billie Eilish.
This year's Coachella lineup has a few suggests of what's to come when you look away from names like Rage Against The Machine (who are using Coachella to reunite) and FKA Twigs (who come into Coachella with one of the year gone's best records). Calvin Harris' strange inclusion comes off the back of just one song last year, while Flume - who sits in the same lineup place as a co-headliner, although a day later - does so with only a few singles in 2019, hinting that they may have plenty more to come before Coachella rolls around.
Otherwise, there are a tonne of albums rumoured/semi-confirmed for 2020 release that may bookend a Coachella performer's year. Run The Jewels have a new one coming out this year, as does Megan Thee Stallion and King Gizzard (probably, maybe five) who both play the Friday; Disclosure, Caribou, Lana Del Rey, Lil Uzi Vert (hopefully), Mura Masa, Lil Nas X and the list goes on for the other two days. Keep an eye out for the smaller names too, as chances are they'll be people you'll become much more familiar with in the next year: we can vouch for girl in red, Fontaines D.C., Anna Calvi, Kyle Watson and plenty of others.
Australian music is going to continue to blossom in the US:
For the first time in a while, 2019 felt like Australian music - as a whole, not just in the electronic sphere - was progressing towards an international explosion of kinds. Our electronic and dance music spaces have always found success internationally through everyone from Flume and Alison Wonderland to Golden Features and What So Not, but this year, it felt like something had shifted: the US - and elsewhere - were finally starting to pay attention to the plethora of talent that Australia has to offer, regardless of whether it's electronic or pop, hip-hop and alt-rock.
This year's Coachella lineup reflects this. Typically, a handful of Australians litter the lineup - last year, we had Tame Impala (as our first ever Australian headliner), RÜFÜS DU SOL, Parcels, FISHER, Mansionair and Anna Lunoe - but this year, it seems like the Australian presence has grown ten-fold, as we hinted on social media. This year, there's Flume in co-pole position - as we talked about just before - alongside King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, The Chats, Amyl and The Sniffers, GG MAGREE, Hayden James, Skegss, Dom Dolla and Sampa The Great. They're all remarkable musicians who showcase the brilliance of Australian music across a range of spectrums, so it's amazing to see them up there with some of the greats.
The world's music scene transcends geographical boundaries more than ever before:
Sort-of inline with the comment above, it wasn't uncommon for an Australian musician to only find fame in Australia; a Swedish musician to only become big in Sweden; a Brazilian musician to only be popular in Brazil and so on. With platforms such as Spotify holding a dominant grip on the international music scene, however, this feels rather rare these days - something becoming seen, as mentioned, in the rising popularity of Australian musicians internationally and their presence on the 2020 Coachella lineup, which we'd imagine has room to grow and grow in the years ahead.
Australia isn't the only country represented on Coachella's lineup though. After BLACKPINK were an unsurprising hit at last year's event, Coachella has Korean heavyweights BIGBANG returning to American soil for the first time since they called a hiatus for South Korea's enforced male inscription service, while Peggy Guo and Yaeji welcome Korean house to Coachella; Rich Brian, Joji and NIKI represent Indonesia alongside a special 88Rising event scheduled for Saturday; Anitta and Pablo Vittar are two unsurprising Brazilian additions; a Russian act on the fourth line called Leningrad - you can't miss them - and then, there's Hatsune Miku: the vocaloid simulator project that technically doesn't have a home country, as it's a musical software transformed into a fully-fledged touring musician.
Beyond Coachella's lineup, it's clear that the geographical boundaries which once bounded artists are now lifted thanks to social media and the internet, and that's something we'd expect to see flourish in the new decade as forces among K-Pop and Latin music continue to dominate in even the furthest of countries from the hometowns. Here's hoping Australian festivals tap into some of that talent too.
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