Coachella and Governors Ball are occurring months and thousands of miles apart. The odds of them competing for a given music fan's music festival money is highly unlikely. Yet we can't help but think that the announcement of both events' lineups less than a day apart was less than coincidental. The most relevant of music festivals, of which Coachella contends for the peak and Governors Ball is quickly approaching, still compete, for renown if not attendees. After all, a killer headliner guarantees that next year's event will keep the ball rolling.
Music Times has looked at a series of factors if you're a Midwesterner or Plains-dweller that can only afford to go to one (and have something against Lollapalooza for some reason). Check it out:
Look at any music festival lineup. Most have three headliners to cover the typical three days of an event. One always stands out however. It's the headliner among headliners, an act that will stand out even compared to other events. Coachella has got AC/DC, an act that doesn't seem to mesh with typical festival audience but nonetheless a huge band that even hip kids honest with themselves can embrace with open arms. Who does Governors Ball have this year along those lines? Tough to say. They may have shared Outkast last year with 39 other festivals but there was no doubt who the biggest name on the bill was. Drake will be at both venues, and both the Black Keys and Deadmau5 get around the festival circuit plenty.
The last few years have seen an increasing influence from the EDM scene as festivalgoers prefer to end their nights with a party—even if you can't appreciate the various styles with the broad scene, dancing just sounds better at the end of a beer-soaked day. Both festivals have provided obvious standouts for 2015: Coachella is packing Axwell /\ Ingrosso while Governors Ball goes with the genre's most recognizable face in Deadmau5. The latter may have played a hundred-times more shows than the former but the thing is Governors Ball hosted Ax/Ingrosso's first ever live performance last year. It was great...a jam well-suited to end a festival. But now that it's been done before, we have to give the ultimate vote to Deadmau5. He's one of the brightest minds in EDM and he can blend the simplest house music with more progressive sounds to please both halves of his festival audience. Until Steve Angello comes back to complete Swedish House Mafia...
WINNER: Governors Ball
No genre is more relevant circa 2015, so a successful festival needs to come heavy with proper hip-hop acts and Coachella has been on a roll since serving as Outkast's launching point during 2014, as well as featuring Nas, who was celebrating the anniversary of Illmatic. Both events managed to book Drake as a true headliner for this year so the final decision will come down to which has better acts interspersed throughout. Coachella once again takes the cake: Raekwon and Ghostface Killah are slotted to perform together for the event, a fact that makes it five-times as exciting as the two onstage separately. Plus it's the 20th anniversary of Only Built 4 Cuban Linx...see where we're going here? Run The Jewels may have played Governors Ball last year but now they've got two albums worth of material to drop on Coachella.
Bonnaroo has been dominating the "wild card" category for years, incorporating comedians and film screenings deep into the night. Coachella has certainly earned some marks for art installments and films but we're more interested in the actual talent being brought onstage, so we're looking at two acts from each lineup that simply doesn't belong (and whether it will fly despite that fact). Weird Al Yankovic is a clutch pickup for Governors Ball. He won't come to mind when you ask a given music fan "who would you love to see live" but given the opportunity we guarantee that his stage will be beyond crowded come June. Maybe this category is unfair to Coachella but they didn't get Weird Al. They did get Steely Dan however. And our dad won't be in attendance.
WINNER: Governors Ball
Your correspondent has always been one to argue for at least one mosh-band at every festival, just so those who dig such music can get all of the usual concert violence out of their systems. Last year was a bit weak on that front, with Deafheaven begin the only noteworthy act to appear between the two. This year looks much more promising: White Lung, responsible for one of 2014's best punk albums, will be at Governors Ball while Antemasque, a project from Mars Volta/At The Drive-In members Omar Rodíguez-López and Cedric Bixler-Zavala, will be at Coachella. The obvious deciding factor is an appearance from post-hardcore legends Drive Like Jehu in California, only the band's second appearance since 1995.
This is not a trick question. Obviously, experimental music icon Björk is only playing at Governors Ball...one of the festival's biggest pick-ups. Coachella however has a Bjork of its own however in the form of Brant Bjork, who'll be playing an opening set with his Low Desert Punk Band. Brant is best known for being the drummer from stoner rock group Kyuss (which also included Queens of The Stone Age frontman Josh Homme) so there's some more fuel for Coachella's punk rock fire. That said, we're not going to choose his act over the umlauted Björk. No hard feelings.
WINNER: Governors Ball
Unfair Deciding Factor
Right now we've decided thrice for Coachella and thrice for Governors Ball. How to make a final decision? We don't want to suggest conspiracy theories but we think the folks over in Indio may have organized with one of their performers to drop a headline today as a distraction from Governors' announcement. Gesaffelstein posted on Facebook that his Coachella gig would be his last ever performance. You may not have heard of the techno whiz but he's been involved in production for stars such as Kanye West and A$AP Rocky in the last few years and he just released a remix for Phoenix. Are we saying that any of these individuals will show up to make his last performance a memorable one? No. But are we're not saying they won't? Until someone at Governors Ball declares it will be their last performance, we give final victory to Coachella.