We were all set to skip Coachella this year—electing instead to host a mini-Coachella in our apartment, including the requisite weak margaritas and a little Matt Costa and Sleater-Kinney on the iPod—but then word hit the music blogs that Madonna had signed on for a stint in the dance tent. Yessss. Madonna. Madge. Oldsie McMetamucilPants. The kooky mom/Kabbalah guru/children's book author/scary man-lady whose latest release, Confessions on a Dance Floor, has not only been in endless rotation here at OCW but was also one of the catchiest dance albums of 2005—right up there with LCD Soundsystem—and even helped her conquer yet another demographic: hipsters with hefty disposable incomes and an ironic appreciation for Abba samples who'd be willing to endure two days of 110-degree weather just so they could see a tiny purple dot with big, huge muscles jump around onstage inside a tent that alternately reeks of puke, sweat, weed, beer and vegan farts. It all promises to be gritty, stinky and, well, utterly disappointing. But that doesn't change the fact that you'll still brag to your friends about how awwwwesome the show was when you get home. Or that you'll be cranky and sunburned. But then, that's Coachella for you. Which reminds us: Why are we going again? Keep reading for more festival picks and recommendations.
SIGUR ROS: Remember when these Icelandic dudes were h-u-g-e a few years back and that third-year philosophy major would just. Not. Shut. Up. about how cool it was that they'd invented their own language, Hopelandic? So do I. Their new stuff is good makeout music, though. Squeeze your honey under the desert sky.
MY MORNING JACKET: Caught them at the Roxy a few years back and walked out. Then they released "Off the Record," this year's "Float On." Jury's still out, but I'm intrigued.
CAT POWER:Seeing the ever-fragile Chan Marshall live is always a crapshoot: you might be treated to one of the most poignant performances ever, but you might also bear witness to yet another horrifyingly infamous tearful onstage breakdown. So, ummm, yeah. Good luck with that.
DEVENDRA BANHART:This freak-show hippie folker's voice annoys a lot of people—one friend calls him "the goat." Which might work in your favor: fewer people to compete with for a front-row spot. Just kidding. This'll totally be standing room only, and probably in a tent. Ick.
LADY SOVEREIGN: Blah, blah, white girl, blah, grime, blah, blah, London, blah, Island Def Jam, blah, blah, not quite M.I.A. but still danceably a-okay, blah, blappity, blah.
DEERHOOF:I know you're able to see this much-hyped, avant-garde "art rock" juggernaut like, every other week (okay, maybe more like a few times a year) at some more intimate Silver Lake digs, but this is Coachella! And Deerhoof! In one!
COMMON: Gorgeous Common brings his socially conscious rap to sunburnt and nearly dehydrated hipsters who've congregated in the desert looking for shelter from both the sun and their white guilt. And with an impressive list of artists who have helped contribute to his lengthy discography—including ?uestlove, Q-Tip, Cee-Lo, Kanye, Talib, Mary J. Blige, John Mayer (seriously) and John Legend—I don't think it's a stretch to predict that there'll be a surprise guest or two. Just sayin'.
EAGLES OF DEATH METAL: With everything from their name and cover art to their lyrics and super sweet guitar licks, the Eagles of Death Metal have found success in poking fun at the banalities of rock & roll. And the result is a totally feel-good, enjoyable time. Hell, I'd go so far as to call their music "cute." Just remember not to take them too seriously and you'll be fine, kid.
GNARLS BARKLEY:The vamped-up soulful brainchild of Goodie Mob rapper Cee-Lo and Danger Mouse (producer of the Gorillaz's Demon Daysand the guy responsible for the Jay-Z/Beatles mash-up, The Grey Album), Gnarls Barkley is easily the most hyped band of the entire fest. And this'll be their first ever live performance—so be present, blog about it (for evidence), and then have bragging rights for months down the line.
MASSIVE ATTACK:Unlike others in Coachella's lineup, you don't get many chances to see Massive Attack live in action. Breakbeats and trip-hop in 100-plus-degree hot desert weather? Yes, please. While Massive Attack's downtempo electronica may seem a bit mellow for a festival headliner, let's just remember where the "trip" in trip-hop came from, mmmkay?
SEU JORGE:No, I'm sureyou've heard of Seu Jorge before: dude played Knockout Ned in City of God, was Pelé dos Santos in Wes Anderson's Life Aquatic and also contributed his acoustic Brazilian covers to its soundtrack (the most memorable of which was "Rebel Rebel"). Try to forget the heat with Seu Jorge's soothing Brazilian samba-pop.
TED LEO & PHARMACISTS:This Jersey boy packs the best of Thin Lizzy's licks into his teensy, wiry frame and then busts out with a crazy ferocious voice. Teddy Boy always delivers. Don't miss this.
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THE GO! TEAM:Ever wonder what would happen if they had pep squads in the U.K.? And if that pep squad formed a rock band?
THE DEARS:A few years ago, I remember some nondescript music blog predicting Canada's the Dears would be the next Arcade Fire. Okay, so that's yet to happen, but their Morrissey-ish, Blur-ish, Brit-pop-but-not, perpetual melodic depression is still pretty damn good in my book.
THE MAGIC NUMBERS: They're from across the pond. They're all related, kinda. They have big beards and long hair. And they'll unleash some of the most perfect bouncy pop harmonies these polo fields have hosted since, um, Sloan played last year?
THE COACHELLA VALLEY MUSIC AND ARTS FESTIVAL AT THE EMPIRE POLO FIELDS, 81-800 AVE. 51, INDIO; TICKETS, FULL LINEUP AND VENUE RESTRICTIONS AVAILABLE AT COACHELLA.COM. SAT.-SUN., NOON-MIDNIGHT. $85 PER DAY; TWO-DAY PASSES, $165. ALL AGES.