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COVER STORY

It's reigning in the desert

April 24, 2003|Robert Hilburn | 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.

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

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

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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

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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

word)

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.

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The top 50

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