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Coachella 2013: Jake Bugg and Johnny Marr bring the Brit pop

By Mikael Wood

10:36 PM EDT, April 12, 2013

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With headlining performances due later by the Stone Roses and Blur, Coachella's gigantic main stage is the place to be Friday night for fans of vintage Brit pop.

But earlier on Day 1 the smaller Mojave Tent was packed with English artists as well, including Jake Bugg and Johnny Marr, who played back-to-back sets full of ringing guitar hooks.

A 19-year-old singer-songwriter from Nottingham, Bugg offered some of the bracingly acerbic folk-rock ditties from his self-titled debut, which came out in the U.S. this week following its initial appearance at home in 2012. That means he's a new artist, even by Coachella's cool-hunting standards.

FULL COVERAGE: Coachella 2013

But if Bugg was fazed by his appearance before a sizable crowd at one of America's premier music festivals, he hardly let it show as he strummed and sang "Two Fingers," "Lightning Bolt" and "Seen It All" with an appealing indifference that approached that of Liam Gallagher. With his shaggy mop top and dress shirt buttoned to the neck, Bugg even kind of resembled the former Oasis frontman.

Marr, sweating through his own dark-blue button-down, appeared similarly dressed for cooler U.K. climes. But the onetime Smiths guitarist was more ebullient than Bugg: "Check us out -- Coachella, all right!" he said after taking the stage with his tight three-piece band.

Marr mixed material from "The Messenger," the strong solo record he put out in February, with a handful of Smiths oldies, including "There Is a Light That Never Goes Out" and "Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before." After winding through the dubbed-out textures of "The Messenger's" title track, he said, "Every time we do that song, someone lights up a pipe," and indeed the crowd at Coachella came through in that regard.

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Follow Mikael Wood on Twitter: @mikaelwood

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