This weekend, Guns N’ Roses will be inducted to Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. This summer, KISS and Mötley Crüe will go on one epic hard rock tour together. When one imagines a “rock star,” bands like these always come to mind. But in this musical climate where hip-hop artists and DJs are becoming the biggest money makers, the term “rock star” is due for some modernization.
Coachella Valley Arts and Music Festival, once the epicenter for everything indie, is doing just that by having some of the biggest “rock stars” in music today play this weekend. Even if some of these headliners aren’t holding a guitar in their hands, they can rock the stage with equal bravado and attract the same screaming groupies.
The Black Keys: Arguably the biggest rock band in the world at this very moment, the Keys will be “howlin” at the moon both Friday nights at Coachella. On their current, and first,arena tour, the garage rock duo of Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney sold out Madison Square Garden in less than fifteen minutes.
They’re also bringing back the true rock star who are not afraid to say what is on their mind. The Black Keys recent beef with bands such as Nickelback and they’re refusal to be include on internet streaming services such as Spotify have given the band an air of swagger and controversy heading into the desert.
Pulp: After a ten year hiatus, iconic 90s British band Pulp reunited late last year, and were a shoe-in to be included in the Coachella lineup. Their rise in the Britpop movement in the mid-90s placed them among the likes of Oasis and Blur.
Frontman Jarvis Cocker pulled off one of the biggest rock star moves ever — protesting a 1996 Michael Jackson performance onstage. Cocker and fellow Pulp members got up and, well, just danced and ran around while Jackson was surrounded by kids. Cocker was arrested for the incident at the request of Jackson, but was hailed by fellow rock stars, who suggested he be knighted for the incident.
Afrojack: At only 24 years young, Danish super-DJ and producer Nick van de Wall, aka Afrojack, is one of the biggest house DJs in the world. The international jet-setter runs his own label and has been featured on club bangers for the likes of Pitbull, David Guetta and Beyonce. He’ll be closing down the Sahara tent Friday night, with plenty of celebrities watch from the VIP area. His girlfriend, after all, is Paris Hilton.
Radiohead: These Brits don’t tour much anymore, so when they do, Radiohead is a must-see. The most critically acclaimed rock band alive, their concerts are full of lighting and musical assaults on the senses going long into the night — with no two shows being the same. Plus, only lead singer Thom Yorke could bring the ponytail back.
David Guetta: While those other two French/robot DJs Daft Punk have been hopelessly rumored to perform Coachella for years, the French house DJ Guetta will gladly take over the Sahara tent on Saturday for them. Guetta has sold over 15 million singles with his hit songs featuring the likes of Nicki Minaj, The Black Eyed Peas, Usher and Flo Rida. He was the first musician to have his hands imprinted at Hollywood’s Grauman’s Chinese Theater.
Sure, he leans toward pop, but Guetta knows how to take over a festival and get the crowd moving — like a true rock star.
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds: Can’t mention rock and roll without one of the Gallagher brothers. The Oasis, coke-fueled, fist-fighting decadence at the height of the Britpop era in the 90s produced a generation of devoted fans and followers able to recite “Wonderwall” at the drop of the hat.
Noel Gallagher, the guitarist and chief songwriter of Oasis, is back and better than ever with his new band. Gallagher and his High Flying Birds will be performing a Saturday sunset set on one of the main stages.
Justice: Incorporating a heavy-rock and prog-rock sound has made DJ duo Justice some of the biggest rock stars on the planet. Leather jackets, torn up jeans, cigarettes, whiskey and impressive facial hair are as much apart of the electronic duo’s sound as the music — which is loud, abrasive, distorted and just plain danceable. Last year, Justice went for an even more rock-sounding style on their latest album Audio, Video, Disco. The duo’s set on the Coachella stage Sunday night is a can’t-miss.
Florence + the Machine:Leave the diva attitude to Rhianna and Adele, Florence Welch of Florence + the Machine is all rock star. Her unique take on big, loud orchestral pop and rock wows in a live setting, as evidenced by last year at KROQ’s Almost Acoustic Christmas. The big wigs over at Coachella paired her up right before Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre, and for good reason — this girl is a sparkly dress-wearing, harp-yielding gangster.
Girl Talk: Greg Gillis is the life of every party he’s thrown since becoming Girl Talk. That’s because Gillis goes all out during his live performances — dropping balloons, blowing confetti, inviting throngs of women onstage to dance their you-know-whats off. His unique mashups combine old-school rock with familiar rap and pop songs — think AC/DC with 50 Cent. If the kids in Project X hired a DJ, he’d be it.
Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg: The original gangsters of Coachella. The iconic rap superstars are teaming up to close out the festival on Sunday night their way — the Cali way. Expect nothing but the hits that made them millionaires and the stench of the “sticky icky” floating throughout the polo grounds. While Snoop has always toured to sold out crowds, this will be Dre’s first time back in the spotlight in quite some time.
Word on the street is these two have a few tricks up their sleeves — expect famous friends to stop by and an encore that will have everyone talking come Monday.
-Derek Sedam, CBS Radio Los Angeles