Oasis or mirage? Your call

Times Staff Writer

SAY you're wandering in the desert and your canteen springs a leak. Half your water spills out on the sand. Is your first reaction to be glad -- hey, you did manage to save half of it, after all -- or is it to grumble about what you've lost?

In that same way, there are two ways to view the 2006 desert bash that is the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. Is it half-full or half-empty?

First, the optimistic view: Today, organizers of the massive festival in Indio will announce that Kanye West will be a surprise addition to the Saturday main stage, adding a zing to a lineup that already featured Depeche Mode, Tool, Massive Attack, Franz Ferdinand and (could it be?) Madonna in a dance tent. Going into this seventh edition of the franchise, Coachella is one of the most potent brands in the business and a model that changed the way huge American festivals are staged.

But, there are also those nagging thoughts about what has already evaporated: The months of fan chatter about a Coachella-hosted reunion of the Smiths and the Smashing Pumpkins never materialized (the latter, it turns out, was never really a viable option -- more on that later). And seeing Depeche Mode and Tool at the top of the bill feels vaguely like a repeat episode: Mode recently did three arena dates in the L.A. market and Tool was a headliner at the inaugural staging of Coachella, which runs counter to the festival's goal of avoiding recycled bookings for the top spots.

There's also muttering that the curious booking of Madonna is hardly the way to win over the proud, cred-conscious fans who have made Coachella so successful. Some would argue she earns a pass here because of her electronic-dance credentials, but others say aging pop stars should be left to Wango Tango, not the premier festival for music on the new edges. The addition of West will add to that swirl of opinions; critically acclaimed, certainly, he's also the most mainstream pop act ever on Coachella's main stage.

None of this should suggest Coachella is wilting in the sun, even with that (ugh) 97-degree forecast for Sunday. It's on track to be a sellout, with 50,000-plus expected each day and, at $85 per ticket per day, that's a powerful vote of confidence from the public. And the second and third tiers of the bill are arguably the strongest and strangest ever, with Sigur Ros, Daft Punk, Matisyahu, Common, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Sleater-Kinney, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley, Hard-Fi, Wolfmother, Cat Power, Gnarls Barkley and plenty of others from rock, dance and hip-hop.

An optimist would say: This is a sparkling chance to see a future headliner on the way up. A pessimist might counter: All it means is that this year the main stage doesn't matter. That's the thing about wandering in the desert, people can't agree on whether they see an oasis or just a mirage.

SOMETIMES Paul Tollett isn't even sure what he sees in Coachella. Tollett is the affable chief promoter of the festival, a quiet guy in a business that is geared more toward barking P.T. Barnum-types.

"I can't really tell what we have, what type of show it really is, until we make the poster and I can see all the names together," he said. "When I book it, I book it off a list. It doesn't seem as real until we make the poster. When it's just sitting in black and white on a piece of paper, I don't understand it all the way."

A few weeks ago, between bites of an ahi tuna sandwich at Pete's Cafe in downtown L.A., Tollett admitted he had fretted about the Madonna booking and how it would be perceived, but in the end he was won over by the pop star's instant affinity for Coachella and its goal.

"I don't want there to ever be a typical Coachella, I don't want people to really put it in a box because then it's less exciting for everyone," Tollett said. It was no snap decision to bring the pop icon to Indio; Tollett was talking about it at last year's show after he ran into Guy Oseary, Madonna's co-manager, who attended the festival with another of his clients, the Prodigy.

The booking of West, however, was very much a case of late-minute serendipity. The deal came together only last week and Tollett was plainly thrilled by it, and with good reason; when the Village Voice tallied the votes of 795 music critics earlier this year, West was said to have the best album of 2005 ("Late Registration") and the year's best single ("Gold Digger," which teamed West with Jamie Foxx). West has also earned rave reviews for his stage show, which is far more theatrical than most hip-hop shows and features live musicians, props and, on special occasions, plenty of guest stars.

Booking a festival is like mapping out the paths of shifting icebergs and trying to pick a spot in the sea where, months from now, the shiniest of floes will briefly come together. Some icebergs take months to capture. For eight years, Tollett had tried in vain to lure Daft Punk to Coachella. This year, he got them.

"It's all about timing; you can beg for Daft Punk forever but you're not going to get it," Tollett said of the eccentric and long-revered electronic-music duo from Paris. "Then, one year, they're ready to come out of their shell and you're in. You have to be patient. That's what happened with Massive Attack. I wanted Massive Attack to headline a third day our first year but it didn't happen."

This time, Tollett did net the British act that pulled on disparate sounds of rock, electronic, reggae and trip-hop for a series of 1990s atmosphere-rich albums that hugely influenced musicians who followed those paths.

The time was right for those two signature acts -- but that was not the case with the Smiths or the Smashing Pumpkins.

A Smiths reunion would be something along the lines of a global music moment for people who dress only in black, so there was quite a ripple in the press in March when lead singer Morrissey revealed that Tollett had offered a cool $5 million for the band to reunite for one set at Coachella. Morrissey, who has performed at Coachella as a solo act, told the interviewer, David Fricke, that no check needed to be cut "because money doesn't come into it" when it comes to the band's estrangement.

A downcast Tollett said he was disappointed that the Smiths were not an option, but dismissed as "a myth" rumors that he'd been actively pursuing a Smashing Pumpkins reunion. Tollett said Pumpkins lead singer Billy Corgan has not given signals that he is ready to pursue a reunion, and the promoter knows Corgan well enough to leave it at that. "I didn't think they were even close to getting back together so I didn't make an offer or even think about going there. You've got to wait. There's nothing I can say or do that will make that happen. I hope it does happen though."

TOLLETT said this has been the most difficult Coachella to book since the first Coachella. Back then, the challenge was persuading people that a huge, standing, European-style festival could work; now one of the problems is that Coachella has worked so well that it has a host of competing festivals across the country. In other words, Coachella's novel approach was so special that now it has become entirely common, with similar shindigs in Las Vegas, Seattle and elsewhere. The San Diego Street Scene has tilted its ambitions closer to a Coachella-style event, and a reconfigured Lollapalooza will again set up shop in Chicago as a standing festival instead of touring, a nod to the Indio model.

There's fan chatter, too, that this time Coachella finds itself in the rare position of being second runner-up in the competition for the best headlining acts.

The most alluring festival lineup this year, for reasons of music and the heart, is actually in Louisiana -- the six days of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival that begin in late April have room enough for Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon, the Dave Matthews Band, Jimmy Buffett, Dr. John and many, many more. That show is being staged as a revival of New Orleans and its music scene so it's unfair to compare it with anything short of Live 8, but Coachella might also be looking up this year to a second competitor. That's because the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Tennessee in June will plug in with Radiohead, Tom Petty, Beck, Elvis Costello and Bright Eyes among its notable names. Previously, Bonnaroo was a jam band affair, but now (like Coachella, with West and Madonna) it's widening its view of viable acts to sit better with fans whose genre tastes seem to be set on shuffle, just like their iPods.

"The great challenge is now music fans don't identify themselves as being a rock fan or a hip-hop fan or dance fan, they say they like everything, and that wasn't the case even five years ago," Tollett said. "That makes it very hard to book a show and very hard to schedule who is on stage when ... but all of it is good, it should be a challenge. You want to earn it each year."

Coachella is also competing against its past success; the festival's scrapbook includes a powerful Pixies reunion, scorching sets by the White Stripes and the evocative power of Radiohead and Coldplay. Sometimes the competition with history is literal: Radiohead's last show in America was at Coachella in 2004, and its next one will be at Bonnaroo. "There was no way they were going to come back and play Coachella first, and we wouldn't want that anyway, so that was sort of off the table," Tollett said. "It's too soon for them to come back to us."

There had been rumors of a U2 visit too, but it didn't work out this time -- more of that business about icebergs and timing. Tollett was asked if U2 would be too big to fit in the lineup. His answer didn't sound like one from a person who sees things as half-empty: "No. No one is too big for Coachella, not anymore."

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Hour by hour

Kanye West on one stage, or My Morning Jacket on another? Paul Oakenfold in the dance tent, or Sleater-Kinney on the main stage? Sorting out 24 hours of music over two days can be daunting. Here's a little timeline to help you make your decisions.

SATURDAY

THE NOON HOUR

CATCH IT IF YOU CAN

Infusion (12:30-1:30 Sahara Tent): The three Aussies cook up a quirky hybrid of rock and electronica.

Head Automatica (Noon-12:40 Outdoor Theater): Side project of Glassjaw's Daryl Palumbo.

The Section Quartet (12:15-1:05 Coachella Stage): They call themselves the loudest string quartet in the world and play songs by all your favorite rock acts.

ALSO

Brother Ali (Noon-12:30 Gobi Tent)

1 P.M.

CATCH IT IF YOU CAN

Celebration (12:45-1:20 Gobi Tent): The Baltimore trio is theatrical, mysterious and intense.

Rob Dickinson (1-1:35 Mojave Tent): The former singer of the Catherine Wheel continues that band's tradition of richly melodic rock.

The New Amsterdams (1:20-2:05 Coachella Stage): Former Get Up Kid Matt Pryor heads the Kansas band, which leans toward meditative folk atmospheres.

ALSO

The Like (1-1:40 Outdoor Theater): Daughters of music-world figures (drummer, producer, executive) pool their genes and come up with a wan brand of melodic pop rock.

2 P.M.

CATCH IT IF YOU CAN

Platinum Pied Pipers (1:45-2:30 Gobi Tent): Principals Saadiq and Slum Village alum Waajeed brew potent Detroit hip-hop with funk and soul flavors.

Matt Costa (2:05-2:50 Outdoor Theater): Winsome power pop with folk leaning.

ALSO

White Rose Movement (1:50-2:20 Mojave Tent)

Hybrid (2-3 Sahara Tent): Perry Farrell teams with the Welsh DJ duo.

The Walkmen (2:30-3:15 Coachella Stage): The New York band plays wide-ranging rock but hasn't separated from the pack.

3 P.M.

DON'T MISS

Lady Sovereign. (2:50-3:40 Gobi Tent): The fiery-sounding Londoner takes a stab at selling the grittily authentic grime sound to the U.S. audience. She already has strong backing -- Jay-Z signed her to the Def Jam label.

CATCH IT IF YOU CAN

Zutons (3:15-4 Outdoor Theater): The Brits mix the rootsy and the arty and come off as a sort of Light Stripes.

ALSO

Nine Black Alps (2:40-3:25 Mojave Tent): The Manchester group plays solid, down-the-middle rock.

4 P.M.

DON'T MISS

Wolfmother (3:50-4:35 Mojave Tent): The Australian band has generated a big buzz with its throwback power-trio hard rock.

CATCH IT IF YOU CAN

Lyrics Born (4:05-4:50 Gobi Tent): The Bay Area MC, born Tom Shimura, is a playful, dense wordsmith and music maker.

Animal Collective (4:25-5:10 Outdoor Theater): On its recent seventh album, "Feels," the Brooklyn group crafts loopy, vivid sonic collages.

ALSO

The Duke Spirit (3:40-4:30 Coachella Stage): The London-based group is more effective on Velvet Underground-style melodic drones than on full-out rock songs.

Joey Beltram (3:30-5 Sahara Tent)

5 P.M.

DON'T MISS

Common (4:55-5:45 Coachella Stage): The Chicago rapper, long admired as one of the genre's most articulate and idealistic figures, got the benefit of a Kanye West production on his latest album, "Be."

CATCH IT IF YOU CAN

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah (5:05-5:55 Mojave Tent): The Brooklyn band was raw but invigorating at the Troubadour last fall. If it has developed in the intervening months, it could be this year's Arcade Fire.

Deerhoof (5:15-6 Gobi Tent): Satomi Matsuzaki's little-girl chirp is an acquired taste, but the band's fragmented pop has an off-kilter charm and an odd sense of purpose.

Colette (5-6:15 Sahara Tent): One of dance music's pioneering female DJs.

6 P.M.

DON'T MISS

Kanye West (5:45-6:35 Coachella Stage): Coachella has always been seen as a bastion of non-mainstream music, so by putting this hugely popular -- not to mention innovative and challenging -- rap artist on its main stage, the brain trust argues that distinctions such as underground versus mainstream mean less than pure quality.

My Morning Jacket (5:50-6:40 Outdoor Theater): The Kentucky band released an exquisite album of majestic Americana last year, but neither "Z" nor MMJ's prominent position in the Bright Eyes orbit brought them out of the cult shadows. Maybe this gig will help.

CATCH IT IF YOU CAN

TV on the Radio (6:15-7:05 Mojave Tent): Fascinating, exploratory rock that embraces soul and indie strains.

Imogen Heap (6:20-7:10 Gobi Tent): The former Frou-Frou singer's "Speak for Yourself" is an impressive debut album, combining alluring pop and electronic textures with an emotional heart.

ALSO

Derrick Carter (6:15-7:30 Sahara Tent)

7 P.M.

DON'T MISS

Sigur Ros (7-7:50 Coachella Stage): That talk before their latest album about becoming more accessible didn't amount to much. These single-minded Icelanders still do what they've always done: make grandiose, powerful, atmospheric soundscapes. The desert twilight should be a sympathetic setting for their stately dirges.

CATCH IT IF YOU CAN

Damian Marley (7:10-8:10 Outdoor Theater): Bob's eldest son has moved his career into gear with a mix of roots reggae and dancehall.

Devendra Banhart (7:35-8:25 Gobi Tent): If there's a love-it-or-hate-it act at Coachella 2006, here it is. The faerie king of the psychedelic folk revival strikes some as impossibly affected, while those under his quivery-voiced, witchy-woods spell see a visionary free spirit.

Ladytron (7:30-8:20 Mojave Tent): The Liverpool quartet bridges electronic and indie with often appealing results.

8 P.M.

DON'T MISS

Franz Ferdinand. (8:15-9:05 Coachella Stage): They are so 2004. That seems to be the attitude that's compelling many to abandon the Scottish lads' bandwagon, but really, Franz Ferdinand's only sin was failing to include a monster hit like "Take Me Out" on its second album -- a collection every bit as wickedly sharp as their debut. Maybe the momentum will resume here.

CATCH IT IF YOU CAN

Eagles of Death Metal (8:35-9:25 Outdoor Theater): Josh Homme does his serious stuff with Queens of the Stone Age and indulges his dark side with this outfit.

ALSO

Carl Cox (7:30-9:30 Sahara Tent)

Shy Fx & T-Power (8-10 Oasis Dome)

9 P.M.

DON'T MISS

Cat Power (8:45-9:35 Mojave Tent): Nice place for a performer with stage fright. Assuming she hangs in there, the question is how well the singer-songwriter's atmospheric, introspective mood rock will come across in the festival environment. She should be buoyed by support from her intense fans after canceling an earlier tour due to illness.

CATCH IT IF YOU CAN

The Juan Maclean (8:50-9:40 Gobi Tent): Driving, inventive dance-punk from the DFA production house, home of the Rapture, LCD Soundsystem and other impeccable representatives of the field.

Audio Bullys (9:30-10:30 Sahara Tent): Melancholy Brit-hop and electronic dance. Their album "Generation" includes turns from Nancy Sinatra and Roots Manuva.

10 P.M.

CATCH IT IF YOU CAN

Depeche Mode (9:30-11 Coachella Stage): The depression ward has been remodeled into peppy jukebox packed with synth-pop hits from the 1970s and '80s. Not exactly cheery, but the English trio has shelved the self-seriousness and now seems happy to revel in nostalgia along with its fans.

Atmosphere (9:50-10:40 Outdoor Theater): The Minnesota duo is one of the leading forces in the emo-tinged progressive hip-hop world.

ALSO

Living Things (10-10:45 Mojave Tent): The St. Louis rock band is all over the map on its debut album, but Lillian Berlin's syllable-swallowing vocal style pinpoints one chief influence: the Stooges.

Tosca (10:15-midnight Gobi Tent)

11 P.M.

CATCH IT IF YOU CAN

Daft Punk (11-midnight Sahara Tent): The robot-guised Parisian duo has been a major dance-music force for more than a decade.

She Wants Revenge (11:05-midnight Outdoor Theater): The L.A. duo's florid, lurid dance-rock makes the Killers seem like deacons. Engagingly over the top, they're in the running for the weekend's top guilty pleasure.

ALSO

The Rakes (11:05-11:50 Mojave Tent): The London band is just out of the starting blocks.

SUNDAY

THE NOON HOUR

CATCH IT IF YOU CAN

Infadels (12:30-1:10 Gobi Tent): Taut, lean Brit rock, in search of a great song.

ALSO

One Republic (12:10-12:40 Mojave Tent): The Colorado-formed, L.A.-based band plays emotive rock in a U2 vein.

Kristina Sky (Noon-1:30 Sahara Tent)

The Octopus Project (Noon-12:45 Outdoor Theater)

1 P.M.

DON'T MISS

Giant Drag (1:05-1:50 Outdoor Theater): Singer-guitarist Annie Hardy is a sullen siren, drummer and synth-tapper Micah Calabrese is a musical dynamo, and as their name suggests, they are determined to bring you way down. In a good way.

CATCH IT IF YOU CAN

Be Your Own Pet (1-1:30 Mojave Tent): This time slot pits two of rock's most fascinating young women against each other, with Giant Drag's Hardy over there and this bratty young band's Jemina Abegg over here.

Youth Group (1:10-1:55 Coachella Stage): The Australians' driving, buoyant, plaintive rock might aspire to U2 but comes closer to such bands as James.

Murs (1:30-2:20 Gobi Tent): The rapper is a prominent force in West Coast underground hip-hop.

2 P.M.

CATCH IT IF YOU CAN

The Dears (1:50-2:40 Mojave Tent): From Montreal, the Smiths on downers.

Los Amigos Invisibles (2:15-3:05 Coachella Stage): This longtime favorite in the rock en espanol world is known for its playful, infectiously engaging lounge psychedelia.

Mates of State (2:15-3:05 Outdoor Theater): Husband and wife Kori Gardner and Jason Hammel have carved out a niche of smart, personal, intricately designed rock.

ALSO

Gabriel & Dresden (1:30-3 Sahara Tent)

3 P.M.

CATCH IT IF YOU CAN

Amadou and Mariam (2:45-3:35 Gobi Tent): The Malian couple help Coachella step into world music, bringing a light touch to their polyrhythmic grooves.

The Magic Numbers (3:30-4:20 Coachella Stage): Trinidad, New York and London are the band's geographical touchstones, but it's sunny, Beach Boys-basted California that colors its debut album. Uneven, but sweetly comforting when they hit their stride.

Ted Leo & the Pharmacists (3:30-4:20 Outdoor Theater): It's easy to get swept up in the New Jersey musician's brisk, bracing indie-rock.

ALSO

James Blunt (3-3:50 Mojave Tent): Something for the parents? The Brit with the hit ("You're Beautiful") is a Michael Bolton for our times, overwrought and overproduced.

Louie Vega (3-4:45 Sahara Tent): The storied DJ is half of the Masters at Work partnership.

4 P.M.

CATCH IT IF YOU CAN

Phoenix (4-4:45 Gobi Tent): The French band's hopelessly hooky music puts the power in power-pop.

Metric (4:10-4:55 Mojave Tent): The Toronto band's sophisticated art-rock is bracingly unpredictable. It will be up to singer Emily Haines to melt the remoteness that coats the music.

5 P.M.

DON'T MISS

Matisyahu (4:45-5:35 Coachella Stage): There's just no stopping the former Matthew Miller, whose merger of reggae music and Orthodox Jewish viewpoint has sparked an unlikely stardom.

CATCH IT IF YOU CAN

Minus the Bear (4:45-5:35 Outdoor Theater): Beyond-tight, herky-jerky structures verge on abstraction, but Jake Snider's plaintive voice brings it a strong emotionalism.

Wolf Parade (5:15-6:05 Mojave Tent): Modest Mouse's Isaac Brock had a hand in the Montreal band's album "Apologies to the Queen Mary," an intense array of twitchy, unpredictable rock.

ALSO

Kaskade (4:45-6 Sahara Tent)

Jamie Lidell (5:10-6 Gobi Tent): The Englishman's histrionic, throwback soul music jumps from Al Greenish here to Stevie Wonder-like there, but it all seems like a stunt.

6 P.M.

DON'T MISS

Gnarls Barkley (6:40-7:10 Gobi Tent): Danger Mouse plus Cee-Lo equals eccentricity squared, and the upcoming album by the team sounds something like Al Green meets Frank Zappa. They're already getting play on KROQ-FM for a single whose title sums it up: "Crazy."

CATCH IT IF YOU CAN

Sleater-Kinney (6-6:50 Coachella Stage): It's easy to take for granted after all this time, but the Northwest trio has always challenged itself to move forward musically while sticking to indie-rock ideals bred in the riot-grrrl movement.

Bloc Party (6-6:50 Outdoor Theater): A returnee from Coachella '05, the London band established a quick foothold in the U.S. last year with its dynamic, tightly wound rock. And there it stays, having yet to release a successor to its debut album "Silent Alarm."

Paul Oakenfold (6-7:40 Sahara Tent): The Englishman has transcended the role of superstar DJ with albums of original music and ambitious concert stagings, but he returns to the decks this weekend, priming the Sahara Tent for its Madonna moment.

Stellastar* (6:30-7:15 Mojave Tent): Grandly majestic rock.

7 P.M.

DON'T MISS

Yeah Yeah Yeahs (7:15-8:05 Coachella Stage): The minimalist dance-punk trio built a following on the confrontational charisma of singer Karen O, then blossomed musically on its recently released sophomore album "Show Your Bones." The collection hasn't moved the New Yorkers up the ladder commercially, but it suggests they'll stick around.

CATCH IT IF YOU CAN

Digable Planets (7:15-8:05 Outdoor Theater): The reunited trio aims to recapture the spirit that made its innovative, jazzy hip-hop such a revelation when it arrived in the early '90s.

Seu Jorge (7:35-8:25 Gobi Tent): One of the past year's world-music breakthrough performers, the musician brings some African-inspired blends to his Brazilian music.

8 P.M.

DON'T MISS

Madonna (8:10-9 Sahara Tent): In this marriage of convenience, Coachella looks bold for monkeying with the formula and Madonna looks hip for showing up here -- even if she brings her disco incarnation to the sanctuary of a dance tent, away from the skeptical glare of the indie-rock fans.

Mogwai (8:25-9:15 Outdoor Theater): The Scottish band specializes in mood-drenched, sometimes tender, usually relentless rock.

CATCH IT IF YOU CAN

Editors (7:40-8:25 Mojave Tent): The young English band is enrolled in the Joy Division division, with a debut album marked by swooning, furrowed-brow angst that also evokes the Smiths.

9 P.M.

DON'T MISS

Massive Attack (9:10-10:20 Coachella Stage): The massively influential electronic music innovators are touring in the U.S. for the first time in eight years.

CATCH IT IF YOU CAN

Coldcut (8:50-9:40 Gobi Tent): The veteran British duo of Jonathan More and Matt Black, founders of the Ninja Tune label, is known for cutting-edge productions and politics.

ALSO

Coheed and Cambria (9-9:50 Mojave Tent): Standard-bearers for neo-progressive rock.

Mylo (9:15-10:30 Sahara Tent)

10 P.M.

CATCH IT IF YOU CAN

The Go! Team (9:40-10:30 Outdoor Theater): The infectiously sunny English collective's upbeat pastiche of samples and live playing seems to cast a spell wherever it goes.

Dungen (10:10-10:55 Mojave Tent): The Swedish folk-rock band's rustic psychedelia has found an audience in the U.S.

Gilles Peterson (10-11 Gobi Tent): The English DJ's latest album showcases esoteric American soul-music gems.

ALSO

Michael Mayer (10:30-midnight Sahara Tent)

Chris Liberator (9:30-11 Oasis Dome)

11 P.M.

DON'T MISS

Art Brut (11:15-midnight Mojave Tent): The British arrival stirs up a dizzying, circusy rock sound and sings with disarming wryness about forming a band, getting thrown out of art galleries and finding a new girlfriend.

CATCH IT IF YOU CAN

Tool (10:45-midnight Coachella Stage): The mysterioso Los Angeles band's doom-laden art-metal has a huge cult audience, in part because the group enhances its enigma by remaining secluded for long periods -- its new album, which comes out next week, is its first in five years. Maynard James Keenan is a charismatic frontman, but Tool claims the rare distinction of having been eclipsed by its own side project, A Perfect Circle.

Scissor Sisters (10:55-midnight Outdoor Theater): There's such guileless enthusiasm in this New York band's performance of its Bowie-Bee Gees-Elton pastiche that it's hard not to root for them. It's harder to forget that you're listening to a Bowie-Bee Gees-Elton pastiche.

ALSO

Jazzanova (11-midnight Gobi Tent)

*

IN THE SPOTLIGHT

FRANZ FERDINAND: They've almost been crowded out by all the British bands that have followed their 2004 breakthrough, when they made the U.S. love English rock again. That's not really fair, because their second album, "You Could Have It So Much Better," is even sharper than their debut. (8:15 p.m. Saturday, Coachella Stage)

*

IN THE SPOTLIGHT

KANYE WEST: The presence here of the supremely popular, artistically challenging rap star should rattle the walls of genre orthodoxy, while also showing a whole new audience why his 2005 tour was regarded as one of the most ambitious and entertaining in hip-hop history. (5:45 p.m. Saturday, Coachella Stage)

*

IN THE SPOTLIGHT

MY MORNING JACKET: Jim James' high-range voice will compete with the sky and mountains as the weekend's most striking natural wonder. The singer and his bandmates fill the role held last year by Wilco, extending the vision of Americana laid down by R.E.M. (5:50 p.m. Saturday, Outdoor Theater)

*

IN THE SPOTLIGHT

MASSIVE ATTACK: The Bristol group is one of the innovators, a group whose mix of electronics and soul inspired trip-hop and dance music. Its first U.S. tour in eight years comes after the release of a fine anthology, and sets the stage for a new album in 2007. (9:10 p.m. Sunday, Coachella Stage)

*

IN THE SPOTLIGHT

MATISYAHU: The Jewish kid from White Plains, N.Y., walked into the lion's den in February when he brought his Hasidic-themed reggae to the Ragamuffins Festival in Long Beach, and he won over both the discerning fans and the elite of Jamaican music. The crowd at Coachella should be a snap. (4:45 p.m. Sunday, Coachella Stage)

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