With the new year comes festival announcements, and we already started things off with the confirmation of the rumor that Tool would be playing their first New York show in a decade by headlining the Governors Ball. Yesterday, Coachella announced their lineup, with Beyonce and Radiohead among the headliners. While the festival has never been metal-centric, Consequence of Sound points out that this year, there’s nary a metal act to be found, and they’re pretty much ignoring punk this year as well.
Granted, in previous years when the annual Indio, CA festival has had anything remotely heavy, it’s been the exception and not the rule, but they’ve had some pretty high-profile acts play there. Last year, Guns N’ Roses first high-profile appearance of their reunion tour was at the festival. When Motorhead returned to performing live after Lemmy was outfitted with a defibrillator back in 2014, it was a headlining slot at the festival, and AFI and Queens of the Stone Age also played that year. Refused played their first US show after reuniting at Coachella, and Tool played there in 2006. This year? Nothing.
So what’s the reason behind this? Maybe the festival decided to stop paying lip service to punk and metal, opting out instead of throwing on a token heavy band to get some people interested again. It’s not like there’s a lack of good bands releasing albums or reforming that wouldn’t play. Then again, maybe it’s the fact that there aren’t as many fans of heavy stuff attending the festival – the article brings up the sparseness of the crowd during Deafheaven’s set. More likely, it’s that the fest just figured that the middle of the road alt-rock bands would fit in with the mainstream headliners, as CoS says:
Looking at the lineup’s uninspired mid-section more closely, it seems clear what happened. Rather than going after the alternative and underground bands that actually made great records in 2016, the organizers opted to fill their loosely defined “rock” quota with a healthy number of safe but entirely unexceptional indie bands that offer more crossover appeal for the festival’s growing pop audience.
Let’s face it, it’s nice to have a few metal bands on festivals like Coachella, and we’re sure their wallets appreciate playing the annual fest, but it sells out anyway. People will attend Coachella regardless of who plays, to see and be seen. And the continuing expansion of festivals like Chicago Open Air, Rock on the Range, Aftershock and Knotfest show that there will always be a place for hard rock and metal bands to play where they’ll be a lot more welcome than a desert in California.