Opinion
By Séamus Smyth

The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Phoenix, Blur and the Stone Roses were announced as the 2013 Coachella headliners via Twitter this past week and as always, sentiment and opinion vary over how impressive the card is or isn’t.

RHCP is a proven headliner, a group that could be called the Rolling Stones of the 21st century when considering their longevity and ability to remain relevant, to some degree, every year. Phoenix is a group that only recently captured mass attention with their already modern-rock classic album “Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix,” released in 2009.

Yet allotting the headline slot to the French band is still awfully surprising considering the majority of fair-weather fans would likely only be capable of ringing off the title of two Phoenix tracks (1901 and Lisztomania.)

The group has an album planned for release in the next few months meaning the Coachella organization is essentially banking on the success of this album to guarantee a healthy turnout to the Phoenix performance, a risk rarely taken by a team that generally leaves the headline slot for a performer that has been considered an attention-grabber for years.

The Stone Roses and Blur inclusion is also debatable but certainly not surprising. The current generation’s obsession with throwback acts makes choosing a group like the Stone Roses a headliner an easy way to access the false nostalgia for a group that was never truly embraced in the United States, even during the peak of their success. The inclusion and reunion of 90’s staple Blur will solidify the concrete 90s presence at the 2013 California shindig.

Although the headliners are nowhere near the level of years past, (2011 featured Arcade Fire, Kings of Leon and Kanye West at the top of the card) the middle of the pack is absolute dynamite. Grizzly Bear, Vampire Weekend, Moby, Paul Oakenfold, Tegan and Sara, Local Natives, Japandroids, New Order  and literally dozens of other groups make each day of the three-day extravaganza a never ending climax of exceptional talent.

The festival is again running two weekends straight, meaning they hope to replicate the experience on two separate occasions. One would assume that this concept must cost a fortune, however the revenue generated by Coachella is too tempting to not attempt such a precarious arrangement. Where fans suffer is that Coachella may no longer be able to lure the first-class headliners as easily as before because of their insistence on holding the event twice in a calendar year. Stone Roses and Phoenix have strong followings, but do not have the same star power as past headliners Coldplay, Kings of Leon or Radiohead.

The Chili Peppers choice is a safe one, but similar to Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg who headlined last year’s event, they are also from California meaning hanging around Palm Springs for a full week is likely not a huge ordeal. Yet for someone such as say David Bowie, an artist who was rumoured to headline this year, the idea of headlining the same festival two weekends in a row may prove economically fatuous.

The fact that Coachella is pulling double-duty again must mean that last year’s proved to be financially viable. Whether or not the event’s reputation will eventually suffer is a subject to be discussed upon the conclusion of this year’s edition.

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