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Coachella music festival and celebrity magnet kicks off the season of sounds under the sun

Coachella music festival and celebrity magnet kicks off the season of sounds under the sun
Axl Rose, left, and Duff McKagan of Guns N' Roses. (Paul A. Hebert / Invision/Associated Press)

Just as higher temperatures typically arrive first, festival season gets a jump start every year in Southern California thanks to Coachella, the annual desert blowout (and surefire celebrity magnet) against which a summer's worth of less-glamorous events will inevitably be measured.

The marquee draw for this year's edition, set for April 15-17 and April 22-25 at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, is the reloading of Guns N' Roses, which after splintering in the mid-1990s is set to headline with a lineup featuring frontman Axl Rose, guitarist Slash and bassist Duff McKagan. (Who else is playing in the influential L.A. hard-rock band, which has toured over the last few years in various incarnations, hasn't been announced.)

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But in keeping with Coachella tradition, GNR isn't the only reunion on the bill. The veteran English shoegazers Lush will be there, and given the buzz generated by last year's "Straight Outta Compton" biopic, some kind of N.W.A reunion seems likely during Ice Cube's advertised solo set. The festival will also feature two reformed acts that haven't exactly kept their fans waiting: LCD Soundsystem, the wry New York disco-rock group that played a "final show" five years ago, and the punk-rap duo Death Grips, which broke up — oh, let's see here — in 2014.

Fresher faces? Coachella will have those too, including the British electro-pop singer Ellie Goulding, the fashion-obsessed rapper ASAP Rocky and the 1975, a lovably bratty British foursome whose lyrics read like social-media haiku. And there's even room for a couple of young fogeys in the '60s-pop-adoring Last Shadow Puppets and Chris Stapleton, a scruffy country newcomer with old-school Nashville in his veins.

Stapleton is set to become something of a springtime fixture around these parts: After doing both weekends of Coachella, he'll return to the Empire Polo Club for the festival's roots-music counterpart, Stagecoach. Scheduled for April 29 to May 1, this year's edition will complement three of mainstream country's biggest superstars — Eric Church, Carrie Underwood and Luke Bryan — with a varied assortment of mavericks and lifers, among them Sam Hunt, Lee Ann Womack, Marty Stuart and the Band Perry.

Stagecoach typically draws fewer Tinseltown types than Coachella, but you can bet on seeing at least one onstage in Sam Palladio, an actor best known for playing a country singer in the ABC soap "Nashville."

Only in — or near — Hollywood, folks.

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