After no less than four COVID-related cancellations in 2020 and 2021, the biggest names in music are once again heading to the Indio desert for the Coachella festival on the weekends of April 15-17 and April 22-24 — at least, as of today. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s not to bet on a concert, let alone a festival, actually happening when it’s scheduled.
Coachella revealed its 2022 lineup on January 12, with Harry Styles, Billie Eilish and Ye as headliners. EDM heavyweights Swedish House Mafia got separate billing, while breakout acts like Phoebe Bridgers, Megan Thee Stallion and Doja Cat are also high on the bill.
However, a magnifying glass — possibly even a microscope — is needed to make out much of the rest of the bill. Which is a shame because there is an embarrassment of riches further down the marquee. Not only are there some very recognizable names in small print (justice for pop queens Carly Rae Jepsen and Kim Petras!), but also a crop of future stars across multiple genres.
From punk rock to hip-hop alternative country, there’s something for everyone at Coachella 2022: You just have to strain your eyeballs or increase the font size on your phone to find them. To save you the effort, we have rounded up 10 must-see acts from the lower reaches of the stacked lineup, who are well worth investigating in advance of the concert.
Amyl and The Sniffers
Australian punk rockers Amyl and The Sniffers went global in 2021 with sophomore LP, “Comfort to Me.” With raucous, expletive-filled anthems and an anything-goes stage show, they are destined to be crowd favorites at the festival.
Key track: “Hertz”
Chelsea Cutler’s intricately crafted lo-fi pop songs and collaborative approach have already made her a festival highlight. Coachella is the optimal setting for the organic palette of her sophomore LP, “When I Close My Eyes” — fingers crossed for a cameo from regular cohort Jeremy Zucker.
Key track: “Walking Away”
Handpicked as the opening act for Olivia Rodrigo’s upcoming The Sour Tour and the recipient of the BRIT Award for Rising Star, Holly Humberstone goes into 2022 with significant buzz (not least from Variety). Given her trajectory, the UK singer/songwriter is sure to be listed in larger font next time around.
Key track: “Scarlett”
Since branching out from the group the Internet, Steve Lacy has earned critical acclaim with his Grammy-nominated debut LP, “Apollo XXI.” A commercial breakthrough finally arrived in 2021 with the belated viral success of “Dark Red.”
Key track: “Dark Red”
Kyary Pamyu Pamyu
While K-Pop acts are conspicuously absent from this year’s lineup, there is a J-Pop stalwart on the bill. Japan’s Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, who is best known for viral hit “PONPONPON,” is sure to win new fans with her high-energy techno tunes and mind-melting stage act.
Hey track: “PONPONPON”
Former Chairlift frontwoman Caroline Polachek has become a leading light of the genre loosely called hyper-pop — which twists conventional pop music into innovative and at times alarming new shapes — forging a whole new fan base with the experimental pop of 2019’s “Pang.” Most recently, she featured on Charli XCX’s “New Shapes” alongside Christine and the Queens.
Key track: “Bunny Is a Rider”
Bringing TikTok stardom to the desert, Role Model (real name: Tucker Pillsbury) first built a following sharing his melodic indie-pop anthems on the platform and now gets to test his mettle on the big stage.
Key track: “Death Wish”
Rina Sawayama’s self-titled debut was widely hailed as one of the best pop albums of 2020 upon its arrival. Elton John was so smitten that he invited the Japanese-British artist to join him on a version of her song “Chosen Family” from 2021’s “The Lockdown Sessions.”
Key track: “XS”
Literally anything could happen when British-Baijan rapper Slowthai takes the stage at Coachella. No stranger to controversy, to cite one example, the artist memorably brought the fake severed head of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on stage at Mercury Prize Ceremony. Expect the unexpected.
Key track: “I Tried”
Reno rockers Surf Curse are currently enjoying a worldwide hit with a song first released in 2013: When “Freaks” went viral on TikTok last year, the band rallied to make the most of their newfound fame — will one of the feel-good stories of the year continue to unfold in the desert? Hopefully, we’ll get to find out…
Key track: “Freaks”
Pictured above (from left): Holly Humberstone, slowthai and Rina Sawayama.