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Coachella's L.A. artists: Who will break out, and who will go home for good?

April 7, 2010 |  6:00 am


Coachella is the defining music event in Southern California every year -- for fans and local artists alike. The festival has become a kingmaker for striving L.A. bands rounding the corner into national prominence. Recent performances by Silversun Pickups, the Airborne Toxic Event and No Age have been both goodbye kisses to the Echo Park club gantlet and an introduction to an eager mainstream audience.

Who will be the local breakout this year? We rate the chances of L.A. artists using the only hierarchy that matters at Coachella: colored wristbands. No under-the-table swapping allowed.

Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros : VIP Pass
The debut album from the sprawling beardo-folk collective, “Up From Below,” is almost a year old, but their ecstatic campfire vibe is tailor-made for a festival like this. If there’s one occasion for unwashed, emaciated dudes to take their shirts off in public, it’s this set.

Flying Lotus: All Access Pass
Steven Ellison’s fractalized, hypnotic blend of hip-hop beats and jazz virtuosity on “Los Angeles” codified him as probably the most adventurous producer in L.A. right now. The forthcoming “Cosmogramma” is even more rapturously berserk, and he’s one of maybe a half-dozen people on the planet who makes playing a laptop live look like more fun than being in a band.
Iglu & Hartly: Over-21 Wristband (maybe)

The frat-rap band’s singer Jarvis Anderson got naked and fought a hotel security guard at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas. We’re siding with the guard on this one.

Local Natives: All Access Pass
Gorilla Manor” rightfully earned its hype for an omnivorous appetite for woozy folk, pan-global pop and scuzzy guitar rock. But onstage is where the quintet seals the deal -- their three singers really do hit those ethereal harmonies live, and the effect is a pretty close to transcendent. Our Magic 8 Ball says this weekend is where the rest of the country finds this out. 

Mayer Hawthorne: Side Stage
The Stones Throw soul man has one of the most idiosyncratic voices in local pop -- a winking, elastic falsetto that’s at times very much like Al Green, and at others like someone doing very great Al Green karaoke. Fortunately, he’s got rakish-nerd charisma out the ears, and the material from his latest record, “A Strange Arrangement,”  is smoky and funky in a vintage way that Justin Timberlake’s dad might appreciate.

The Glitch Mob: All Access Pass
The perennial procrastinators of Low End Theory, this electro trio is finally getting around to releasing its debut album, “Drink the Sea.” But lo, they’ve ditched the coked-up quick-cuts of their remixes for a meditative, atmospheric sprawl that’s gloomy on the heart but still inviting on the hips.
The Soft Pack: VIP Pass
The surf-scrim quartet, recent transplants from San Diego, have by and large shaken the whole “formerly-the-Muslims” thing, and their self-titled album of misanthropic garage punk is as zeitgeisty as it gets right now. Will it prove durable in two years? Maybe not, but their set is a great opportunity to swing by the “Legalize It!” petition tent to make friends before pushing to the front.  

-- August Brown

Local Natives photo by Benjamin Hoste