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Madonna brings mainstream to Coachella

Most — but not all — cheer as she performs at California music festival
/ Source: The Associated Press

Madonna thrilled thousands of fans at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival Sunday, even as she brought a mainstream feel to the traditionally edgy event.

A swollen outdoor crowd erupted in cheers after the Material Girl made her entrance inside a glittering disco ball that split in two and launched into “Hung Up” for her opening number. She performed an abbreviated set of five songs in less than a half hour.

Not everyone was excited to see the pop star at the musical extravaganza best known for its lineup of indie-rock bands and dance-oriented DJs.

“I’m here for anything but Madonna,” said Alessandra Ambrosio, a Brazilian model. “Madonna is too pop to be here.”

More than 100,000 people came to the inland desert for two sold-out days of sun and sound. With 47 acts on Sunday’s bill alone, fans had so many choices they had to miss some bands to catch others.

Theresa Hioki, 20, sat next to her bother on a large expanse of grass, contemplating the rest of the day’s music ahead of them. Sunday’s lineup also included the up-and-coming Matisyahu, a Hasidic reggae and hip-hop artist.

Hours before Madonna, the San Francisco-based Mates of State, a husband and wife duo, performed their unique blend of alt-pop drum and organ music.

Jason Hammel, a former cancer researcher, bounced in his seat as he beat his drums furiously, while his wife, Kori Gardner, a former school teacher, swayed in her red summer dress and played complex passages on her organ. The couple has grown from Oakland party gigs to receive a wave of attention for their smart, singable tunes.

British chart favorite James Blunt drew a large crowds, playing to a wedged-in audience in the Mojave Tent. Near the tent openings, the crowd stood 20 deep to catch a glimpse of the singer as he crooned mellifluous tunes, capping his performance with the hit “You’re Beautiful” from his album “Back to Bedlam.”