Melissa Goldstein

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    Coachella '08 Reviewed: Mark Ronson, DeVotchKa, Stephen Malkmus, Yelle

    Coachella Performer with the Coolest Buddy List: Mark Ronson Perhaps the biggest mystery of the day (other than "Where am I gonna stash those pesky limbs of mine while I try to find a place to stand for the Prince set?") was the guest list for Mark Ronson's gig. Given the fact that two of his most prominent leading lady vocalists have a jam-packed transatlantic tabloid schedule to tend to, the question on everyone's mind was just who would show up to sing the U.K. super-producer's music. Thankfully, Ronson came with backup -- and we're not just talking about his coquettish string quartet that filled their downtime with synchronized shoulder shakes and '60s girl group head sways.

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    Coachella '08 Reviewed: The Raconteurs, Architecture in Helsinki, Tegan & Sara, Cut Copy

    Best Use of New Material as Foreplay: The Raconteurs For those who take their blatant agenda pushing with a we-will-rock-you twist, the Raconteurs provided a thirst-quenching happy hour cocktail.

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    Reviews: Hymns, Los Campesinos!

    A premium blend of country/city boys made good, Brooklyn's Hymns rocked a small but enthused SXSW closing night crowd at Cedar Patio with the horns-heavy jam, "I Can't Be What You Want," insisting their brass section was an impulse buy: "We found them at IHOP this morning," frontman Brian Harding told the audience. Showcasing southern rock grooves that have one leg in indie rock skinny jeans, the outfit nailed the party time mood by demonstration, with an emphatic Harding dropping to his knees as emphatic punctuation while guitarist Jason Roberts functioned as a spinning top, utilizing a Jamiroquai-style sliding technique to prove good tunes (and hot licks) will travel. Watch a clip of their set below: Hymns, "I Can't Be What You Want" Cardiff's most exclamatory art pop septet Los Campesinos!

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    Reviews: Tilly and the Wall, Say Hi, White Rabbits

    Tilly and the Wall have got spirit. Yes, yes they do. Exhibit A: As the evening's headliner for the Team Love/Polyvinyl showcase at Habana Calle 6, the Omaha indie pop collective practically pogoed to the stage chanting their own Mickey Mouse Club style cheer: "Austin: Tilly's back! We want you to shake your ass!" Exhibit B: They are, essentially, a stationary homecoming float stocked with kids from the gifted and talented (and fashionable) high school.

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    The Heavy, MGMT at Playboy's Rock the Rabbit

    When life gives you bunnies, you do the bunny hop. At least that's the tactic the Heavy's frontman Kelvin Swaby employed at the Playboy party Thursday night, peppering a funk-tastically grimy set with elated proclamations about his present company. Looking like he'd just won ten lotteries while flanked by blue velvet-outfitted playmates, the Curtis Mayfield-esque leading man bumped and grinded through an electric set that included standout "That Kind of Man" and was truly heavy on the soul and the sweat. "There's too many women in this building not to play this tune," he purred before closing things down with the U.K. outfit's drrrtiest tune, "Girl." But where the Heavy came to hop, MGMT seemed significantly less friendly to the decadent atmo.

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    Moby, My Morning Jacket Honor Lou Reed

    An assortment of music celebs star-studded enough to comfortably fill out an HBO special (think My Morning Jacket to Moby -- and that's just the M's!) gathered to pay tribute to Lou Reed at the Levi's/Fader Fort Thursday afternoon, coming on the heels of Reed's keynote address that morning. Arizona's What Laura Says Thinks and Feels kicked things off with a harmonica-tastic take on "Run, Run, Run," providing a caffeinated jolt for a crowd who had paid their line-waiting dues in order to secure entry to the Lou-apalooza. Following an upbeat cover of "Sunday Morning" by Austin's Oh No!

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    What's the Deal? This San Francisco quartet is like that girl in your romantic poetry class who, it seemed, only cared about doodling twisty, vine-y things in her notebook, but was secretly nabbing straight-A's. On their 2007 debut album, A New Hope, Minipop occasionally get their daydream on with giddy fare like "Butterflies," but also deliver methodical, echoing, swoon-worthy numbers that display their brainiac tendencies.Backing for Tricia Kanne's sweet, Eisley-esque vocals arrives in a wide range of forms, from latter-day Smashing Pumpkins surge to edgy Metric pulsations to slickly produced balladry. Who? Minipop includes Kanne, guitarist/keyboardist Matthew Swanson, drummer Lauren Grubb, and bassist Nick Forte.

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    Zooey Deschanel/M. Ward Project: Noise Pop '08's Hottest Ticket

    For the closing night of Noise Pop, the hottest ticket by a landslide belonged to She & Him at Great American Music Hall, the first bona fide public live show for the Zooey Deschanel/M.Ward collaboration. That's right. The first. Okay, so they did perform at any number of Sundance-related events. Just don't go telling Noise Pop HQ you saw them; Redford's always trying to salt their game. Following opening numbers by an extremely soulful Adam Stephens (of Two Gallants) and an updated honky tonk set from Whispertown 2000, the headliners took to the stage with band in tow. Looking even wider-eyed-than-usual and sporting a '60s-style, black halter party dress, Deschanel appeared visibly apprehensive about the hype she was up against.

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    Noise Pop '08: A Series of Fortunate Events Involving the Magnetic Fields

    The real-life Christopher Guest Musical, otherwise known as the Magnetic Fields, mounted their Brechtian salon at SF's Herbst Theater on February 29, for the second of a two-night sold out engagement. Why the hot ticket? For fans of hyper-literate (to-the-point-of-needing-Ritalin) pop, Mag Fields equals best date night ever. The group's mastermind, Stephin Merritt, sat off to the side of the stage, cradling his bouzouki and offering the odd catty remark, while special guest vocalist Shirley Simms joined pianist/spokesperson Claudia Gonson and the usual suspects. Bookworms certainly recognized the accordion player as author Daniel Handler, a.k.a.

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    Noise Pop '08: Kelley Stoltz, Grand Archives Miss the '60s

    Berkeley's Morning Benders helped get things started at the Independent on Noise Pop's second night, offering some reassuring audience endorsement courtesy of frontman (and male version of Winnie Cooper) Chris Chu, who introduced set standout "A Song" thusly: "We think you'll like it; you're not assholes." The youthful quartet, who've been successfully campaigning for the title of SF's new indie rock darlings, charmed their way through their early Beatles-y repertoire for their first big Noise Pop show so winningly we could almost hear the Wonder Years voiceover as they left the stage. But the crowd was about to get some seriously (non-threatening) not-assholes competition in the form of Seattle's countrified twee outfit Grand Archives, the current project of estranged Band of Horses co-founder Mat Brooke.

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