April 26th, 2008
04:47 PM ET

Coachella diary, day 1

This year's Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, California, kicked off with a tone as laid-back as Friday night's headliner, Jack Johnson. Forty-three acts performed on five main stages in 96-degree weather.

Our highlights - and one or two lowlights - can be found below (on a scale of one through five, five being best):

Breakout bands:

The Raconteurs *****

Jack White, Brendan Benson and company channeled Led Zeppelin in a highly charged set that took the band to the next level, and caused many fans to wonder which group was really White's side project - the Raconteurs or the White Stripes.

Vampire Weekend ****

They've gone from the Ivy League to the big league faster than you can say "rehearsal in my dorm room at Columbia University." The year's biggest buzz band charmed an overflowing crowd with happy-go-lucky Afro-pop. We'll even forgive the Chachi factor - bassist Chris Baio is the nephew of actor-turned-reality star Scott Baio.

Pendulum ****

Festivalgoers bounced their heads to the beat long after the electronica rock outfit from Australia left the stage. Obviously, this Pendulum is swinging in the right direction.

Rating the reunions:

The Verve ****

When singer Richard Ashcroft launched into the band's classic "Bitter Sweet Symphony," the song was every bit as fresh and haunting as it was 11 years ago. Here's a reunion that sounded like the group had never left.

Breeders **

Unfortunately, the Breeders' first live set in six years sounded as ragged as their troubled history. Kim Deal and her twin sister, Kelley, could have used a bit more rehearsal before taking the main stage - where many in the audience drifted off to see Vampire Weekend next door after the Breeders failed to connect.

The scene:

Star power *

Shia LaBeouf, Steven Tyler from Aerosmith, Gary Dourdan from "CSI" and the dude who played Bud Bundy on "Married With Children." [Editor's note: David Faustino.] Where are Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore and Tara Reid when you need them?

You get what you pay for *

Parking may be plentiful, and the price is certainly right (free) - but at the end of the night, cars were at a standstill for more than an hour. Turns out somebody forgot to unlock the gate.

- Denise Quan, CNN Entertainment Producer

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