It might be like Woodstock in Lana Del Rey’s mind, but for most of us, Coachella represents an escape into the very best that modern day music has to offer. Now in its 19th year, Coachella has become one of the most important festivals on the calendar, and it will continue to push boundaries like never before in 2018. For the first time ever, iconic hip-hop and R&B acts such as Beyoncé, Eminem and The Weeknd have replaced rock stars entirely at the main stage, and these headliners are joined by a diverse lineup that features more women than any previous year.
However, before fans can soak up the California sun and a weekend of incredible music, some tough choices need to be made. Whether you’re watching live in the desert or from the comfort of your own home via live stream, you’ll need to decide which artists deserve your attention most – and that’s where we come in. So fill up your water bottles, slap on some sunscreen and grab your crystal-covered body stocking as we round up the 20 performances Highsnobiety readers will not want to miss between April 13-15 and April 20-22.
Times listed reflect Weekend 1 schedule, all listed in PST
When They’re On: 3:45-4:20 p.m. (Mojave)
Schedule Conflicts: Skip Marley
Biggest Crowd Pleaser: “LMK”
Why You Should See Her: Technically stunning, Kelela’s debut album Take Me Apart is an extraordinary tour de force that mesmerizes thanks to silky production and her sinewy voice. Pulsing, hallucinogenic music has never sounded so good, so you would do well to start your day here.
When They’re On: 5:00-5:45 p.m. (Outdoor Theatre)
Schedule Conflicts: SuperDuperKyle
Biggest Crowd Pleaser: “Tyrant” ft. Jorja Smith
Why You Should See Her: The music of Colombian-American singer Kali Uchis defies labels – and throughout her just-released debut album, she uses her lush voice to push the boundaries of reggaetón, funk, and R&B with ease. If that doesn’t entice you, you may need to stop by the medical tent to get your pulse checked.
When They’re On: 6:10-7:00 p.m. (Outdoor Theatre)
Schedule Conflicts: Bleachers, The Neighborhood
Biggest Crowd Pleaser: “Get You” ft. Kali Uchis
Why You Should See Him: Daniel Caesar’s atmospheric take on gospel and R&B will hypnotize audiences long enough for them to temporarily forget their dehydration and relentless urge to pee. Everyone’s a winner here.
When They’re On: 7:10-8:00 p.m. (Coachella Stage)
Schedule Conflicts: The War on Drugs
Biggest Crowd Pleaser: “Big Fish”
Why You Should See Him: Although he might be a big fish in a decidedly not small pond now, that doesn’t mean Vince Staples won’t bring his A-game to Coachella, bringing out banger after banger while critiquing the very notion of stardom along the way.
When They’re On: 9:55-10:45 p.m. (Coachella Stage)
Schedule Conflicts: Perfume Genius, Soulwax
Biggest Crowd Pleaser: “Love Galore” ft. Travis Scott
Why You Should See Her: SZA’s meteoric rise to fame has been well-documented, but now’s the time for you to see this “20 Something” star cut her exes down to size in the flesh, adding a touch of sultry passion to the festival. Only downside is that this slot should have been longer.
When They’re On: 11:25 p.m. (Coachella Stage)
Schedule Conflicts: Jamiroquai
Biggest Crowd Pleaser: “Can’t Feel My Face”
Why You Should See Him: Who else would you rather see this weekend than The Weeknd himself? Now that he’s back on form with the EP My Dear Melancholy,, it’s the perfect time to take a glimpse at the beauty behind the madness and lose yourself in the soulful, sexual fantasies of everyone’s favorite starboy.
When They’re On: 6:05-7:00 p.m. (Mojave)
Schedule Conflicts: Cherry Glazerr, MØ
Biggest Crowd Pleaser: “JUNKY”
Why You Should See Them: It didn’t take long for the ‘Internet’s first boy band’ to refine their sound across the space of three album releases in 2017, and now they’ve made it to the big leagues. You owe it to yourself to see rap’s most imaginative crew live in full force.
Tyler, The Creator
When They’re On: 7:55-8:45 p.m. (Coachella Stage)
Schedule Conflicts: Benjamin Brooker, Fleet Foxes
Biggest Crowd Pleaser: “Yonkers”
Why You Should See Him: Forever controversial and entirely unforgettable, Odd Future alumni Tyler, The Creator recently began a more incisive, confessional journey on his album Flower Boy, but you just know that he’ll still bring that “Yonkers” energy to his main stage performance on Saturday.
When They’re On: 9:00-9:45 p.m. (Gobi)
Schedule Conflicts: HAIM, Oh Sees, The Black Madonna
Biggest Crowd Pleaser: “Let Me Down”
Why You Should See Her: Need to take some time to chill after a long day of partying and waiting in endless lines? The smoky soul sound of UK singer Jorja Smith is exactly what you need at this stage of the night. Just make sure you stick around for her purrfect anthem “I Am” from the Black Panther soundtrack.
When They’re On: 10:05 p.m. (Sahara)
Schedule Conflicts: Alt-J, Hundred Waters, Jungle
Biggest Crowd Pleaser: “Rockstar” ft. 21 Savage
Why You Should See Him: No rockstars are headlining Coachella this year, but hip-hop’s very own official rockstar is bringing his uniquely catchy brand of rap to the Sahara stage on Saturday. His music will continue to loop in your ears long after the sun comes up and you start regretting everything you did the night before.
When They’re On: 11:05 p.m. (Coachella Stage)
Schedule Conflicts: None, there is no where else you should be at this time.
Biggest Crowd Pleasers: “Crazy in Love”, “Formation”, “Single Ladies”, the list goes on…
Why You Should See Her: Does this really need explaining?
When They’re On: 3:45-4:30 p.m. (Mojave)
Schedule Conflicts: Japanese Breakfast, Laney
Biggest Crowd Pleaser: “Caroline”
Why You Should See Him: The playful Portland rapper will be an early highlight on Sunday thanks to his easygoing charm and wit, but what we’re really hoping to see during his set is a surprise cameo from Mel B, who popped up in the video for his single “Spice Girl”. Say you’ll be there, Scary Spice!
When They’re On: 6:00-6:35 p.m. (Coachella Stage)
Schedule Conflicts: AURORA, Jessie Ware
Biggest Crowd Pleaser: “Bodak Yellow”
Why You Should See Her: Cardi B is the unapologetic female rapper that we need right now, so make sure you catch her live at her most unfiltered before she gives birth and takes some well-deserved time out. To miss this set would be a mistake that you’ll end up complaining to your grandchildren about decades from now.
When They’re On: 6:55-7:40 p.m. (Gobi)
Schedule Conflicts: 6lack, John Maus, French Montana
Biggest Crowd Pleaser: “Classic Man”
Why You Should See Him: If you haven’t listened to Jidenna before, allow the “Classic Man” to introduce you to his Wondaland at Coachella this year, but don’t even try to match his style. While the dandy rapper will likely perform on stage in one of his signature suits, you’ll be crushed between sweaty fans covered in dust, so prepare accordingly.
When They’re On: 7:20-8:05 p.m. (Mojave)
Schedule Conflicts: Jidenna, Portugal The Man, Princess Nokia
Biggest Crowd Pleaser: “PRBLMS”
Why You Should See Him: The bravado of 6lack’s moody flow and confessional lyrics are a far cry from Jidenna’s smooth vocals, so it might be tough for some to choose between the two on Sunday. Honestly though, 6lack has already proved himself one to watch, so it might be worth checking him out now before he hits the big time (even more) with future releases.
When They’re On: 7:50-8:40 p.m. (Sonora)
Schedule Conflicts: 6lack, Ibeyi, Miguel
Biggest Crowd Pleaser: “Tomboy”
Why You Should See Her: The self-proclaimed “G.O.A.T.” is far from conventional, and this is precisely why Princess Nokia is more than worthy of your time on Sunday night. After just one album, the American rapper is already hip-hop royalty, and if she plays her cards right, a memorable performance at Coachella could force her to change her name to Queen.
When They’re On: 8:30-9:20 p.m. (Outdoor Theatre)
Schedule Conflicts: King Krule, ODESZA, Princess Nokia
Biggest Crowd Pleaser: “Adorn”
Why You Should See Him: Constant comparisons to Prince are unfair; Miguel is an accomplished artist in his own right, and you’d be a fool to miss out on the kaleidoscopic dream world that he’ll take you to on Sunday night with a combination of ethereal vocals and psychedelic energy. Get ready to sing your ‘wildheart’ out.
When They’re On: 9:20-10:00 p.m. (Gobi)
Schedule Conflicts: Migos, A Perfect Circle, The Drums
Biggest Crowd Pleaser: “How Does It Feel”
Why You Should See Her: We know you’re probably thinking about ditching Kamaiyah in favor of Migos, but don’t be so hasty. Singled out as a future contender in XXL‘s “2017 Freshman Class”, the Californian rapper channels the eccentricity of ‘90s visionaries like Missy Elliott without ever copying their style – and her live performances are not to be missed.
When They’re On: 9:30 p.m. (Sahara)
Schedule Conflicts: A Perfect Circle, Kamaiyah, The Drums
Biggest Crowd Pleaser: “Bad and Boujee” ft. Lil Uzi Vert
Why You Should See Him: Need a bit of culture in your life? Commercially viable yet still far removed from pop, the Migos boys will undoubtedly be a Coachella highlight this year for fans who like to keep it bad and boujee. Culture II didn’t hit the critical heights of the first installment, but who cares when Quavo, Offset, and Takeoff continue to dominate the charts so effortlessly?
When They’re On: 10:20 p.m. (Coachella Stage)
Schedule Conflicts: Barclay Crenshaw, Michael Mayer
Biggest Crowd Pleasers: “Without Me”, “Lose Yourself”, “Love The Way You Lie”
Why You Should See Him: Whether you still enjoy Slim Shady’s music two decades later or think his latest project was anything but a revival, there’s no denying the fact that Eminem has hits to spare. As the biggest selling rapper of all time, Marshall Mathers could fill out an entire day of the festival solo. Come for the early classics and stay to see if his new songs hold up in comparison.
Now, check out our illustrated analysis of the 5 types of people you’re definitely going to see at Coachella this year.
- Lead Image: SUZANNE CORDEIRO/AFP/Getty Images