Ah, yes, the big sweat-fest in the dessert is upon us again. Sure, we got offers to interview John Lydon and (no shit) the cartoon characters from Gorillaz, but in keeping with CityBeat tradition, we'd rather hip you to the more under-the-radar bands you might not have heard of yet. Are they all worth checking out? Not always. Check out the verdicts and recommendations below, cut it out and bring it with you, but whatever you do, steer clear of Iglu & Hartly. You'll thank us on Monday.
Friday, April 16
Baroness: Sludgy, badass metal from the dark underbelly of Savannah, Ga. Verdict: Not for everyone, but if you have even a slight penchant for headbanging, you gots to check 'em out.
Aeroplane: Eighties-inspired, disco-rific songs made by two Belgian hipsters. Verdict: If you like your electro sounding like it was scored for Sesame Street, then, by all means. More cute than innovative.
Sleigh Bells: Like a lo-fi M.I.A. or Crystal Castles without all that screaming, this Brooklyn duo has a lot of buzz. Verdict: Some great songs under all the distortion. Here's hoping the sound guy keeps the reverb to a minimum.
Iglu & Hartly: A mix of Red Hot Chili Peppers, Crazy Town and the worst parts of the '80s. Verdict: As if you couldn't tell from the description, this is an absolute electro-rap-rock shit sandwich served up by a bunch of shirtless L.A. tools. It's like Andy Samberg came up with them for an SNL sketch, except when it's real, it's not so funny.
The Avett Brothers: The Carolina alt-country trio was supposed to have a breakout year in 2009 with their Rick Rubin-produced album, I and Love and You. Verdict: The album didn't really score big, but they need to be seen live to be appreciated. Raucous and moving, often within the same song.
The Specials: The reunited ska and two-tone legends will likely perform hits like “A Message to You, Rudy,” “Ghost Town” and 10 other songs you've heard but weren't quite sure who played them. Verdict: Old or not, YouTube clips prove they still sound great live.
Saturday, April 17
Craze & Klever: A ridiculously talented Miami scratch master and an equally adept Atlanta DJ team up for some serious break beats. Verdict: Might be playing too early for such krunkness, and we remember one year when a DJ's records warped from the heat, but this should be awesome especially if the E from the night before hasn't worn off.
The Almighty Defenders: Literally a mix of King Khan & BBQ Show and Black Lips, its stupid-fun garage rock with an R&B heart. Verdict: Solid! The band you won't mind sweating it out to.
The Temper Trap: Mellow indie-rock outfit whose hit “Sweet Disposition” seems to be in every introspective TV commercial on the planet. Verdict: One-trick ponies, if not a lame mule. The rest of their songs aren't as catchy, and they're boring as shit live.
Porcupine Tree: English prog-metal trying desperately to be that band that can appeal to both Tool and Linkin Park fans. Verdict: Could be good live. Check out the first two songs. Decide from there.
Corinne Bailey Rae: The one-time folky soul singer just made a new album about how her husband died from a drug overdose. Verdict: Did someone say buzzkill?
David Guetta: Aging, French house producer who's worked with everyone from Akon and Britney Spears to Kid Cuti and Fergie. Verdict: Shouldn't appeal to anyone but eurotrash or people who still suck on pacifiers.
Sunday, April 18
Sly Stone: The funk-rock brother is without the Family Stone, and who knows if the enigmatic and mentally debilitated frontman will even show up. Verdict: Dicey. Stop by, pay respect, but bounce if it gets too sad.
The Glitch Mob: Despite not having a proper album yet, the L.A. electro trio have gained a steady following for their bangin' remixes of Dr. Dre and TV on the Radio. Verdict: Should be killer live, even for those with a minimal appreciation for the genre.
Club 75: The other Parisian rockers on the bill, they have a bit more of a post-punk bent compared with Phoenix's arena-ready rockers. Verdict: Kinda fun on record, but probably as boring to watch as Amelie.
Local Natives: The L.A. indie-rock band is hot thanks to its much-buzzed-about debut, Gorilla Manor. Verdict: Local Natives manage to sound like every other hot band all at once, but every live review we've read has sung their praises.
Little Boots: Britain's answer to Lady GaGa play sugary disco-pop that gets stuck in your head all day long. Verdict: Nah. Would be great in a club (she killed at The Casbah a few weeks ago), but an afternoon slot at a festival might make the backup dancers melt.
Talvin Singh: Producer who combines drum and bass with classical Indian music complete with tambla playing. Verdict: It sounds like a fucking new-age meditation record, which, to be fair, some people might want on a Sunday, but non-yuppies should steer clear.
The Soft Pack: The only San Diego band on the bill, they play Brit-influenced post-punk with a SoCal attitude. Verdict: Come on, support the hometown boys. The Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival happens at the Empire Polo Field in Indio, Calif., April 16 through 18. www.coachella.com.