It's reigning in the desert

Times Staff Writer

This weekend's Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio offers so many tempting musical choices that it's both glorious and maddening. With more than 75 acts on competing stages over two days (plus art and film components), resign yourself to not being able to see everything. Don't fret. The endless choices are part of the fun.

Even if you work out a schedule that allows you to catch most of your favorites, be prepared for last-minute changes of mind. Don't be surprised, for instance, if you are on your way to see one of those new Detroit bands that we've all heard so much about when the pulsating sounds from a dance tent prove so enticing that you can't resist the temptation to check that out instead.

The weekend's about discovery.

Think of this pop-rock showcase as the Kentucky Derby of rock -- the place where the world's most promising new bands and a sampling of worthy old ones come together in a lovely outdoor setting to test their thoroughbred credentials. This year's potent entries include the explosive blues-rock duo the White Stripes and England's rough 'n' ready Libertines.

Paul Tollett and his team at Goldenvoice, the Los Angeles concert firm that has long specialized in cutting-edge acts, spend months each year putting together a lineup based on quality rather than simply sales.

One of the joys of the first Coachella festival in 1999 was not seeing a Korn or Kid Rock T-shirt in the crowd either day.

This kind of taste has established Coachella as the most significant annual pop event in the country -- a weekend so successful (with 30,000 expected to attend each day) that the East Coast has come up with its own version on Long Island in June.

To help you pick the weekend's winners, Calendar's pop team has put together a handicap sheet listing the day's acts in order of promise. It won't please everybody, especially Ben Harper and Jack Johnson fans.

In drafting the top 50 list, the emphasis is on emerging acts with a lot on the line. Yet some of the veterans also scored high -- notably the reunion of Iggy & the Stooges, the notorious proto-punk band that helped define what it means to lose yourself in the fury of your music.



We rank the acts

1. The White Stripes

2. Iggy & the Stooges

3. Queens of the Stone Age

4. The Hives

5. N.E.R.D.

6. The Libertines

7. Beastie Boys

8. Mars Volta

9. Red Hot Chili Peppers

10. Groove Armada

11. Underworld

12. Sonic Youth

13. Cafe Tacuba

14. The Music

15. The Soundtrack of Our Lives

16. Badly Drawn Boy

17. Blur

18. Primal Scream

19. Interpol

20. Kinky

21. Polyphonic Spree

22. Johnny Marr & the Healers

23. The Von Bondies

24. Gomez

25. The Donnas

26. Roger Sanchez

27. Hot Hot Heat

28. The Rapture

29. Deep Dish

30. Felix Da Housekat

31. Tortoise

32. Christopher Lawrence

33. Masters at Work

34. Talib Kweli

35. Idlewild

36. Tha Liks

37. Peanut Butter Wolf, et al.

38. Ben Kweller

39. Timo Maas

40. Ben Folds

41. El-P, et al.

42. Joseph Arthur

43. Michael Franti & Spearhead

44. South

45. Ben Harper

46. Ladytron

47. Rooney

48. Black Eyed Peas

49. The Kinison

50. Whirlwind Heat


Saturday's lineup

Coachella Stage

1:30 p.m. The Mooney Suzuki

2:30 The Donnas

3:55 N.E.R.D. with Spymob

5:15 The Hives

6:30 Blur

7:55 Queens of the Stone Age

9:15 Ben Harper

10:40 Beastie Boys

Outdoor Theatre

12:30 p.m. Particle

2:35 Joseph Arthur

3:40 Ben Kweller

4:55 Kinky

6:05 Spearhead

7:10 Talib Kweli

8:20 Black Eyed Peas

9:40 Blue Man Group

11 Gomez

Sahara Tent

1:30 p.m. D:Fuse

2:30 Hernan Cattaneo

3:30 Christopher Lawrence

5 Felix Da Housekat

6:30 Darren Emerson

8 Marques Wyatt

8:30 Masters at Work

10:30 Roger Sanchez

Mojave Tent

1:20 p.m. South

2:30 Idlewild

3:40 The Rapture

4:50 Badly Drawn Boy

6 Hot Hot Heat

7:15 The Music

8:30 Ladytron

9:45 Groove Armada

11 The Libertines

Gobi Tent

1:45 p.m. Tha Liks

2:45 Medusa (spoken word)

3:45 Ian Mackaye (Q & A)

5:15 Peanut Butter Wolf, et al.

7:50 Stereo Total

9 Dillinja & Lemon D

10:30 Amon Tobin


Sunday's lineup

Coachella Stage

12:45 p.m. Whirlwind Heat

1:35 The Soundtrack of Our Lives

2:35 Polyphonic Spree

3:55 Mars Volta

5:10 Sonic Youth

6:25 Jack Johnson

7:40 The White Stripes

9:10 Iggy & the Stooges

10:35 Red Hot Chili Peppers

Outdoor Theatre

1 p.m. Eisley

1:55 The Kinison

2:50 Ben Folds

4:05 Tortoise

5:20 Cafe Tacuba

6:35 Primal Scream

7:55 Thievery Corporation

9:15 Blue Man Group

10:55 Interpol

Sahara Tent

1 p.m. FC Kahuna

2:05 DJ Irene

3:05 DB

4:05 Timo Maas

6:05 Deep Dish

8:05 Darren Price

8:35 Underworld

10:35 Richie Hawtin

Mojave Tent

1:40 p.m. S.T.U.N.

2:35 Ima Robot

3:35 The Von Bondies

4:45 22-20s

6 Rooney

7:15 Dirty Vegas

8:30 Johnny Marr & the Healers

9:45 G. Love & Special Sauce

11 Fischerspooner

Gobi Tent

2 p.m. Michael Franti (spoken


3 Ian Mackaye (Q & A)

4:30 Ursula Rucker (word)

5:40 C-Minus

6:30 TBA

7:35 Mouse on Mars

9 El-P, et al.


The top 50

1. The White Stripes. If you are looking for one moment of supreme drama this weekend, this should be it. With their new "Elephant" album debuting in the national Top 10, the Stripes have certainly captured the attention of the rock world. The question now is how Jack and Meg White respond to the pressure of the spotlight. The Detroit pair draw on Delta blues sexiness and bite, arena-rock energy and exclamation, country-music irony and wit and singer-songwriter vulnerability and insight. The result is a gloriously independent vision that is as classic as Johnny Cash and as renegade as Robert Johnson. There aren't many bands in all of rock that could wrestle the No. 1 anticipation spot away from the Stripes on a festival bill. U2 is one. Radiohead? Maybe. But who else? With all the praise of the last 18 months, audiences will be expecting a lot. The guess here is Jack White won't blink. (Robert Hilburn)

2. Iggy & the Stooges. Never mind nostalgia, here are the Stooges. It's been nearly 30 years since this influential band last lowered the boom on an audience, but when it reunites (in a slightly altered state) at Coachella, Iggy Pop's laser eyes will scan the crowd and find a familiar following: disaffected kids caught between anomie and action. That was the outsider mentality the Stooges articulated in the late '60s and early '70s during their lonely crusade to make rock safe for its most primal elements. They ultimately triumphed, as punk rock and the new garage revival attest, and there's no reason to think that Iggy, original partners Ron and Scott Asheton and fill-in bassist Mike Watt won't bring it all full circle. (Richard Cromelin)

3. Queens of the Stone Age. This is homecoming night for Queens, whose distortion-driven 2002 epic, "Songs for the Deaf," has gone gold, the first mainstream break for a band born in the late '80s out of desert "generator parties" in this very valley. A hooky, sing-along version of the Sabbath-esque maelstrom that was their first band, cult fave Kyuss, Queens now includes ex-Screaming Trees singer Mark Lanegan but not, sadly, drummer Dave Grohl, who was only on loan from the Foo Fighters for "Deaf." With choirboy guitarist Josh Homme and Anton LaVey-look-alike bassist Nick Oliveri now playing in a half-dozen other desert-based experi-metal side projects, there's no telling who will turn up on stage. (Dean Kuipers)

4. The Hives. Can the sensation of the Swedish Invasion live up to expectations created by its big-bucks signing by Interscope Records after a tug of war with Warner Bros.? Can the band progress beyond the retro garage-punk of its belatedly acclaimed 2001 album "Veni Vidi Vicious"? Who cares? The combination of raw explosiveness and knowing humor is a blast, and singer Howlin' Pelle Almqvist's parodic, Jaggeresque "mock"-star act seems more genuine -- and much more entertaining -- than those of most "real" rock stars. (Steve Hochman)

5. N.E.R.D. No one ever really dies; people's energies just change form. That's the metaphysical principle behind N.E.R.D., the acronym-de-rap of duo Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo, a.k.a. whiz production team the Neptunes. Such numbers as the propulsively funky, mock-macho "Things Are Getting Better" and the head-banging anthem "Rock Star" at times recall the heavy-hitting yet playful vibe of Run-DMC. With help from rapper pal Shay and backed up by Minneapolis soul-pop act Spymob, the pair's concerts are more dynamic than most live hip-hop, despite some weak vocals and pedestrian stabs at twisting up rap cliches. (Natalie Nichols)

6. The Libertines. The London-based band makes pop-rock with blissfully frayed edges, finding the middle ground between T-Rex and the Smiths while creating a collision of punk-era intensity and decadent barroom boogie. Its debut album, "Up the Bracket," is tough, urgent, reckless and was produced by Mick Jones of the Clash. The result is often more Strokes than "London Calling," but the Libertines' sound is too direct and loose to be dependent on any particular pop movement. Singer-guitarists Peter Doherty and Carlos Barat stumble, slur and wail their words of excitement and defiance like they mean it, man. (Steve Appleford)

7. Beastie Boys. The innovative New York trio showed the pop world not only that white boys can rap, but also that they can be hip-hop auteurs able to create soundscapes both sophisticated and smart. But these Boys sometimes seem like part-time musicians. They went six years between albums in the '90s and have been away for five more since "Hello Nasty." That doesn't mean they are wasting their time -- they were the guiding force behind the Tibetan Freedom Concerts -- but it does put a lot of pressure on them each time to reestablish their relevance. (R.H.)

8. Mars Volta. Singer Cedric Bixler and guitarist Omar Rodriguez are from At the Drive-In, and their band reflects much of the urgency and electricity of that defunct Texas group. Mars Volta played with riveting force last year at Coachella, creating one of the weekend's biggest buzzes. That performance was a dazzling mix of raw, soul-music touches and prog-rock elements that felt so fiercely uncompromising that you couldn't wait to hear it on record. That album is due in June. (R.H.)

9. Red Hot Chili Peppers. The party has appeared to be over for the Chili Peppers more than once during the Los Angeles band's turbulent career, making its fairly recent evolution into a classic alt-rock institution as inspiring as it is surprising. Stabilized by the return of guitarist John Frusciante two albums ago, the once-reckless aggressors now temper the manic funk-punk hedonism with bittersweet ballads that embrace the vulnerability behind the bravado. But with bundle-of-energy Flea at the bass controls, manic will still have its moment. (R.C.)

10. Groove Armada. Masters of slick beats and style during their early days as favorites of the tastemaker crowd, the English duo of Andy Cato and Tom Findlay has evolved over the years into a substantive and eclectic dance act. Their most recent album, "Lovebox," was a coming-out for the more mature version of Groove Armada. At Coachella, though, where Findlay and Cato's live performance of a year ago was a high point, the pair's dance side will win out, meaning stylish techno beats, a healthy amount of percussion and a dash of showmanship. (Steve Baltin)

11. Underworld. If any dance act is to upstage the rock brigade at Coachella in 2003, it's likely to be this British band. During their L.A. debut as a duo at the Wiltern last fall, Karl Hyde and Rick Smith delivered an inspired performance. The highlights of that night, including the rock 'n' roll energy, frenetic keyboard anthems and expertly paced rhythms, will translate as smoothly as a Paul Oakenfold segue to the main stage of Coachella. "Born Slippy" (from "Trainspotting") is guaranteed to cause an explosion in the throngs. (S.B.)

12. Sonic Youth. The Sonics' 2002 album "Murray Street" is a startling, gorgeous return to form by the nerdy, distortion-loving art-damage band that politely kicked open the door to post-punk more than 20 years ago, inspiring everyone from Nirvana to Wilco to the White Stripes to Neil Young. After some of the group's unstructured poetry experiments on the recent albums "A Thousand Leaves" and "NYC Ghosts and Flowers," Sonic Youth has once again found the link between roaring dissonance and pop, to devastating effect. In the wake of the garage-rock revival, Sonic Youth stands out even more brightly as one of the genius innovators of the age. (D.K.)

13. Cafe Tacuba. This veteran band took its name from a famous Mexico City cafe and turned it into a synonym for the alternative music movement that swept Latin America in the '80s and '90s. It remains one of the most original, creative and enigmatic alt-Latino bands, at times accessible, at times inscrutable but always innovative. After 13 years, the quartet's original lineup is intact, fronted by hyperkinetic lead singer Ruben Albarran, who dons different identities with every outing. The band is on the comeback trail after a two-year touring hiatus, and expectations are high for its upcoming album, its first in four years. (Agustin Gurza)

14. The Music. Arena-rock for the 21st century? Alternately spacey and driving, the British quartet fuses Zep-esque guitar, clattering '80s rock and pulsing electronica into tunes that adapt classic sounds to modern times. The reverberating guitars and pounding drumbeats get under your skin, and singer-guitarist Robert Harvey displays the eccentric confidence of a future rock star. (N.N.)

15. The Soundtrack of Our Lives. Rasputin-like vocalist Ebbot Lundberg, the former singer for punkers Union Carbide Productions, leads this leaping, posing, rather unlikely Swedish band whose epic sweep and revival-meeting transformative power puts it on a spiritual par with Radiohead or Spiritualized, but with a better sense of humor. (D.K.)

16. Badly Drawn Boy. This gentle British singer-songwriter has given us two outstanding albums in three years, the tender "The Hour of Bewilderbeast" and the equally sweet "About a Boy," and one disappointing one, the curiously insular "Have You Fed the Fish?" The problem is that "Fish" is the latest, which raises the question: Has the Boy (Damon Gough) run out of interesting things to say, or has he just hit a bad spot? He's something of a wild card live, aiming for a spontaneous feel on stage that sometimes connects with the audience and other times is so off target, you feel like you're on a plane that simply keeps circling the airport. (R.H.)

17. Blur. Damon Albarn was one of Britain's most stylish and brainy writers of the early '90s, but there was speculation that he lost his confidence and edge when rivals Oasis outshined (and outsold) his band in the mid-'90s. Albarn's Gorillaz project looked like an attempt to start anew, but he and Blur have a new album due in May, and we'll likely hear a preview this weekend. (R.H.)

18. Primal Scream. The English band has charted an erratic but usually entertaining course ranging from rootsy to industrial since its early '90s landmark "Screamadelica." Its latest album, "Evil Heat," mixes electronics and rock in a blend that sometimes evokes the Jesus and Mary Chain, for whom Bobby Gillespie played drums before becoming Primal Scream's colorful frontman. (R.C.)

19. Interpol. Comparisons to Joy Division are unavoidable with this New York band, but at its best on its 2002 debut album, "Turn on the Bright Lights," Interpol takes its bleak ambience into realms of, uh, slightly different bleak ambience. But it also can be hauntingly affecting in its own right, making Interpol the leading force of this particular wing of the '80s revival. (S.H.)

20. Kinky. One of the newest and freshest bands to come out of Monterrey, Mexico -- considered a Seattle south of the border for its lively alternative music scene -- this inventive quintet creates a high-energy show with its vibrant, hot-and-cold blend of Latin percussion and computerized electronica. It debuted last year with an intriguing, self-titled album but made a much bigger splash with its far more dynamic live performances, infectious fusions of samba, funk and house grooves that sweep listeners along. (A.G.)

21. Polyphonic Spree. A couple dozen musicians and singers in white robes bopping about in the throes of ecstatic bliss? Talk about your cult bands. But the Spree, a Dallas aggregate conceived and led by former Tripping Daisy frontman Tim DeLaughter, is proselytizing for nothing more than the spirit of such joyful pop apostles as Brian Wilson and the Beatles, and even dour Thom Yorke. Don't worry, the Kool-Aid is OK. (S.H.)

22. Johnny Marr & the Healers. The sought-after guitarist of the Smiths and Electronic fame finally fronts his own group. Marr's distinctive vibrating drone dominates the Healers' rhythmic, ringing sound, mixing sinuous psychedelia with funk, blues-rock and insistent hooks. And can he sing? Well, yeah, actually. (N.N.)

23. The Von Bondies. This male-female quartet trades vocals and performs with the gleeful abandon of many Detroit peers. Its primitive rock, swampy blues and noisy punk could be more distinctive but show definite potential. (N.N.)

24. Gomez. British lads steeped in American roots idioms, the members of Gomez regularly hole up in some rented house and come out with records that sound something like the Band mixed with a homespun Pearl Jam. A front line of three lead singers keeps things hopping, and though Gomez hasn't shown a lot of interest in wooing a U.S. audience, its intimacy and loose-limbed camaraderie have an ingratiating charm. (R.C.)

25. The Donnas. Do you wanna hit it? Palo Alto's the Donnas do. When these four girls start a-rockin', don't go a-knockin' their blend of Ramones-esque 1-2-3-4 punk and swaggering, Crue-style metal. Their slickly revved-up odes to sex, drinking and power chords may be aggressively single-minded, but there's no denying the cowbell-bangin' fun of it all. (N.N.)


26. Roger Sanchez. In his Coachella debut, the Grammy-winning remixer-producer returns to his DJ roots for a thumping house music set laced with tribal beats and Latin rhythms. (S.B.)

27. Hot Hot Heat. The Victoria, Canada, quartet, fronted by the keyboards and voice of Steve Bays, may be the best of the new crop of '80s-influenced rock acts. Its angular neo-new wave taps such ace influences as XTC and the Cars both in style and smarts. The group's 2001 debut album, "Make Up the Breakdown," recently was picked up by Warner Bros. (S.H.)

28. The Rapture. Even in a season when pared down is the hot ticket, the spareness of the opening track on the New Yorkers' upcoming album is startling -- an urgent, minimalist diagram of stuttering bass, shards of guitar and tapping high-hat that evokes early-'80s models such as Gang of Four and No Wave hero James Chance. The Rapture, which served notice last year with the punk-funk club hit "House of Jealous Lovers," also mines Joy Division and PiL, and the vocals are in the classic yelper tradition that runs from John Lydon to Television's Tom Verlaine to the Cure's Robert Smith. One to watch. (R.C.)

29. Deep Dish. If their recent L.A. appearances are any indication, the duo of Ali Shirazinia and Sharam Tayebi rise to the occasions. So for this, the pair's Coachella debut, expect them to bust out some surprise selections. (S.B.)

30. Felix Da Housekat The acclaimed Chicago house music act delivers a lot of soul and funk in his crowd-pleasing DJ sets. (S.B.)

31. Tortoise. Chicago's most esteemed post-punk collective is back on top of a 13-year career reshuffling indie rock into vast, epic compositions that stress precise instrumentalism and pull from roots in dub, "kraut rock," electronica and avant-garde jazz. The most recent lineup, which includes free-jazz guitarist Jeff Parker, has a new album due in the summer. (D.K.)

32. Christopher Lawrence. An L.A. dance music icon, Lawrence brings his signature style of expansive trance hooks to Coachella for the hometown fans. (S.B.)

33. Masters at Work. This is a rare opportunity to see New York house music stalwarts Little Louie Vega and Kenny "Dope" Gonzalez DJ together. (S.B.)

34. Talib Kweli. Kweli and Mos Def's 1998 album "Black Star" is a defining statement from the '90s wave of NYC positive rap, bringing a literate message of humor and humility to a scene bloody with gangstas. His solo style on his 2002 album "Quality" feels a bit too conventional in comparison to such strong new voices as the Roots and Jurassic 5, or even his friend Common, but rest assured -- hands will be in the air. (D.K.)

35. Idlewild. It's hard not to think of Michael Stipe and Morrissey when you hear this Scottish band's singer, Roddy Woomble. And on the new album "The Remote Part," the sound is too neat to make much impact. But live, Woomble's unforced charisma and his bandmates' supple support put Idlewild in the ranks of Coldplay among the new U.K. idealists. (S.H.)

36. Tha Liks. Tha Alkaholiks shortened their name, but their hilarious drunken swagger (or is it stagger?) is the same. The torchbearers for West Coast hic-hop since the fade of the Pharcyde create gags that are as good as the beats: Who else would play Eric B. & Rakim's "Eric B. Is President" pan-flute style on the top of 40-ounce bottles? (D.K.)

37. Peanut Butter Wolf / Jaylib / Wildchild. It's a DJ throwdown for Stones Throw Records, the label of old-school turntablist and Kool Keith producer Peanut Butter Wolf. PBW shares the stage with DJs Jaydee (J Dilla) and the Oxnard Lootpack crew's Madlib, performing together in a new unit called Jaylib. This is a return to MC duties for Madlib, who, after producing tha Alkaholiks for years, released a brilliant 2000 album, "The Unseen," as his rapping alter ego, Quasimoto. Fellow Lootpacker and Alkaholiks producer Wildchild make it a family affair. (D.K.)

38. Ben Kweller. The erstwhile teenage indie-rock sensation has grown into an unpretentious, slightly goofy singer-songwriter. His melodically sophisticated piano- and guitar-driven tunes draw from such broad influences as the Beatles, Pavement and Evan Dando. But when describing youthful concerns, from romantic vulnerability to pursuing one's dreams, Kweller's worldview is all his own. (N.N.)

39. Timo Maas. One of the fastest-rising DJs on the international scene just a few years ago, Maas has arrived. His superb show last year at the Mayan, with live vocals and a rock show pacing, sets the stage for one of the weekend's most intriguing sets. (S.B.)

40. Ben Folds. Ben Folds likes to get a laugh or two during his shows, but his music is less inclined to silliness these days, finding a balance of comedy and small tragedy more akin to Randy Newman. Now a solo artist behind the piano, Folds makes music heavy with shades of meaning and wry contradiction. The result is usually smart and festive, as real melancholy mingles with pop melody as blissful as the Beach Boys. (S.A.)

41. El-P / Aesop Rock / Rjd2 / Mr. Lif / Murs. Producer El-P and his New York-based Def Jux Records roster are hands-down the most creative force in the hip-hop underground, with both sounds and words consistently challenging and no concessions made to pop trends or bling-bling fashions. (S.H.)

42. Joseph Arthur. Live, the singer-songwriter sometimes gets too caught up in building loops and layers from his acoustic guitar and voice via various effects devices. But when it all gels, the Akron, Ohio, native's brooding, personal intensity is as powerful as that of his mentor, Peter Gabriel. (S.H.)

43. Michael Franti & Spearhead. Franti has always been an intriguing musical alchemist and articulate voice for progressive politics, but he's had trouble recapturing the energy and originality of his previous group, the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, and of Spearhead's 1994 debut. Still, his upcoming "Everyone Deserves Music" is a groove-centered, issue-tackling, rural-flavored set that in its best moments is trenchantly topical. (R.C.)

44. South. The London trio mixed rock and electronic textures under the guidance of Mo'Wax Records founder James Lavelle on its 2002 debut album "From Here on In." It also collaborated with Lavelle on the "Sexy Beast" soundtrack. Think Stone Roses meets Radiohead. (S.H.)

45. Ben Harper. Harper is a folk-blues purist with a Jimi Hendrix fixation, a man who plays an obscure lap-slide guitar designed for Hawaiian luaus, a rocker who sits when he plays, singing of social justice and emotional turmoil in a voice that jumps from falsetto to restless growl. His latest album, "Diamonds on the Inside," has him stretching deeper into roots reggae, folk rock and serious funk. Harper has never had a major radio hit, but, with the Innocent Criminals, can tour large amphitheaters filled with hard-core fans, many of them from the jam-band world, though Harper's music hardly fits that mold. Noodling is not in his nature. (S.A.)

46. Ladytron. The electro-clash favorites emphasize both their dance elements and smart pop hooks. (S.B.)

47. Rooney. The L.A. band's super-catchy pop-rock makes it sonic kin to Weezer or '80s new wave a la the Cars, but 19-year-old frontman Robert Carmine is also the younger brother of actor and Phantom Planet drummer Jason Schwartzman, so they're kin to Hollywood royalty. Time will tell if they become rock gods or a boy band. (D.K.)

48. Black Eyed Peas. It's been a while since the 2000 release "Bridging the Gap," but L.A.'s own Peas are still exploring the dance floor beneath their multiculti vibe. The rhymes are too simple to really shake the foundations of hip-hop, but the group revels in the funk from which all hip-hop flows. This is, after all, a party. (D.K.)

49. The Kinison. A young Illinois band with a desperate rock flavor, layering big riffs and feedback with often-intense vocals and screaming jags that recall At the Drive-In, maybe, without the apocalyptic crescendos. (S.A.)

50. Whirlwind Heat. This Michigan trio is raw and arty, using bass, voice and drums to create a spare sound of nerve-rattling noise. Whirlwind Heat's debut album "Do Rabbits Wonder?" was produced by Jack White of the White Stripes, and it's the first band signed to his label, Third Man Records. But it shares little of White's flair for melody and excitement. Amusing but limited. (S.A.)



Blue Man Group. Having gone from subversive New York street performers to franchised act with a Vegas branch, the indigo dudes are taking their PVC pipes on a full-production tour and have a new album, "The Complex," with guest vocals by Dave Matthews, among others. (S.H.)

C-Minus. The star DJ from the Power 106 (KPWR-FM) Sunday night alternative show "Mass Distortion" has done corny mike breaks on the new Queens of the Stone Age album, some drum programming on the solo album by Fieldy from Korn and turntable tricks on Kelis' "Wanderland." (D.K.)

Fischerspooner. Old wave, new bottle? Maybe. But at least the multimedia spectacle concocted by the New York duo of Warren Fischer and Casey Spooner provides something else to focus on besides the mind-numbing drone of electronic beats welded to Depeche Mode/Kraftwerk-style pop. (N.N.)

Jack Johnson. Laid-back beachcomber balladry from this surf-star-turned-troubadour has been a surprise hit with a young rock crowd. Expect new songs with his second album, "On and On," due May 6. (S.H.)

G. Love & Special Sauce. Acoustic blues remains the core of the Philly guitarist's act, but he and his band have consistently mixed it up with reggae, hip-hop and rock. (S.H.)

The Mooney Suzuki. These New Yorkers evoke the MC5's Detroit rock anarchy but not its commitment to tearing down the status quo. The resulting energetic pantomime is fleetingly dangerous and sexy yet never hits that fight-the-power nerve. (N.N.)

Spymob. Minnesota modern rock group Spymob looks like a boy band but was somehow tapped to back producers Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo on the N.E.R.D. breakthrough, "In Search Of." The mob is now in the studio working on its own album. (D.K.)

Also. Eisley, Ima Robot, S.T.U.N. and the 22-20s.

As with all live events, the Coachella music festival lineup and schedule are subject to change.

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