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Tacocat Talks Being A 'Tiny-Font' Band At Coachella

Tacocat performs at Austin, Texas, venue The Scoot Inn in March 2016.
Robin Marchant
Getty Images for Tumblr
Tacocat performs at Austin, Texas, venue The Scoot Inn in March 2016.

On April 14, the first day of the annual Coachella music festival in Indio, Calif., the Seattle band Tacocat was taking in their surroundings. "We'd had a few drinks and a little bit of marijuana," Tacocat lead singer Emily Nokes says over the phone from Los Angeles, where the band is hanging out between Coachella's two weekends. "And drummer Lelah Maupin, she's like, 'I really want to write a song that's called "The Poorest Girl at Coachella." ' It's kind of unlike anything I've ever seen. ... Just really, really high-scale fashion and people and food. People will drop $15 on a drink, no problem. Everything is way more opulent than average." The foursome is known for salty-sweet surf-punk nuggets like "Men Explain Things To Me" (bemoaning mansplainers) and "Crimson Wave" (an ode to menstruation), as well as the brilliant "Men Who Rock" parody of Rolling Stone's approach to women in music — so this isn't so much its usual scene.

For a band whose name is in the smallest font size — so small you have to squint to make sure you're reading it correctly — Coachella is bound to be a bit of a head-spinner. Tacocat, which formed in 2007, played its first major festival, Sasquatch!, in its home state just last year. When Nokes first arrived with Maupin, guitarist Eric Randall and bassist Bree McKenna, it was the sheer scale of the place that boggled her mind the most. "I was very nervous," she says. "It's a big festival, we're very much a smaller-scale band. After hours of wristband checks and parking passes and figuring out where certain lots are and getting on a golf cart and driving around the perimeter of the festival, we realized we hadn't even been inside the festival yet. How anyone gets to sound check on time, I don't know."

Tacocat played the fest's Sonora Tent, a new space for scrappy bands with guitars, shouted vocals and a DIY ethos — artists that have been historically underrepresented at Coachella. "It was cool that they offered up that opportunity to bands that don't necessarily travel in a trailer, or have their own light show," says Nokes. If the lineup isn't compelling enough to the average Coachella attendee, the tent has one thing going for it that everyone wants: It's air-conditioned. "I was like, 'They should come in here because it is so hot outside,'" Nokes says. "But it started filling out, and I remember looking out there halfway through and being like, 'Whoa. That is a lot of people.'"

Those additional, if possibly accidental, eyes and ears on Tacocat are no small thing. Many bands have seen boosts in visibility and even sales from performing in such close proximity to bigger draws; there's always the chance a high-powered music executive could be seeking a reprieve from the heat on his or her way to one performance or another and discover a new favorite band. For now, though, Nokes is happy with a style item in The New York Times and the "bananas, California-style press," she says. "I don't really know what that means with people actually listening to our music, or just knowing that our band name exists, and that it's not a taco truck."

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Harley Brown