Stuffed with both stars and strivers, the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is often thought of in one of two ways: as a prime spot for a victory lap or as a place to get the ball rolling. But with three full days of music, the festival also features plenty of mid-level acts just looking to maintain. Here are five you might've overlooked on this year's bill.
Friday, 7:25 p.m., Coachella stage
These moody New Yorkers have been operating at something of a low boil since 2007, when their splashy major-label debut failed to deliver the big-league alt-rock stardom they seemed poised for at the time. But Interpol hasn't lost its flair for stylish, dramatic guitar music, as heard on last year's "El Pintor," a dark gem of an album that suggests frustration might just suit them. (Sorry, dudes.)
Saturday, 6 p.m. Coachella stage
Like the Lumineers in 2013 or Bastille in 2014, Hozier feels like this year's version of the act booked for Coachella just prior to scoring a huge mainstream hit. Fortunately for him (and for us), the Irish singer-songwriter's bleary goth-gospel ditty "Take Me to Church" is a far better tune than either "Ho Hey" or the dreaded "Pompeii." Perhaps he'll succeed here in connecting a face to his name.
Sunday, 9 p.m., Sahara tent
It wasn't so long ago that this French DJ and producer was leading EDM's charge onto pop radio with hits like "Titanium" featuring Sia and "When Love Takes Over" with Kelly Rowland. (BTW, if you haven't heard the latter lately, do yourself a favor and listen -- it's still massive.) Now, though, Guetta seems to have been all but eclipsed by stadium-rave new jacks such as Calvin Harris and Zedd, both of whom drew monster crowds last year in Indio. Don't be surprised if Guetta fights back by busting out some impressive guests.
Drive Like Jehu
Saturday, 10:50 p.m. Gobi tent
An established launching pad for high-profile reunions, Coachella is going surprisingly light this time on the get-back-togethers, with just Ride and this influential San Diego crew. Fans of the more visible Rocket from the Crypt might remember Drive Like Jehu as the brainier side project of Rocket frontman John Reis. But with Reis' blistering guitar work and singer Rick Froberg's desperate yelp, Drive Like Jehu -- which first re-formed last summer for a show at San Diego's Balboa Park -- deserves your full attention this weekend. It should erase any memory of last year's Stone Roses debacle.
Sunday, noon, Mojave tent
Real-deal rock stars in their native Canada (or so we're told), the members of Sloan have been grinding out club dates on this side of the border for the better part of two decades. But if all that experience has so far led to little American glory, it's made the band one of the tightest power-pop combos you're likely to encounter anywhere. Its bag of songs is insanely deep too, with more super-tuneful jams than the New Pornographers could even dream about.