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Coachella 2010: She & Him's California soundtrack

April 16, 2010 |  7:20 pm

Zooey The setting at the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival can do wonders for certain acts. On a pristine green desert polo field surrounded by palm trees, Coachella is California at its most storybook. She & Him, the pairing of actress Zooey Deschanel and guitar slinger M. Ward, was jubilantly sunny on the outdoor stage, a trip down a fantasy memory lane that could serve as the sort of good-time pop t hat scores Disneyland's Main Street.

Even when She & Him gets tough, it's still a sound fit for sharing a shake at a soda fountain, as evidenced by the band's tackling of Chuck Berry's "Roll Over Beethoven." M. Ward can riff with the best of them, but with She & Him, he uses his talents to frame a warm backdrop for the sweet-voiced Deschanel. For the largely young Coachella crowd, "Why Don't You Let Me Stay Here" could have been the kind of bouncy, sing-along tune that Mom and Dad turned up when they drove down PCH. Deschanel wasn't nearly as interested in the song's pouty lyrics as she was its upbeat, jangly guitar skip, as she opened the song by doing jumping jacks with a tambourine.

Back again as they have on recent shows by the Chapin Sisters, She & Him's live show continues to mature, as backing harmonies and counter-melodies show She & Him has more than a few tricks to its name. Yet this is still retro-pop at its most swoon-worthy. "Why do I always want to sock it you hard," Deschanel sang, and one could easily imagine the bluebirds on her shoulder making angry faces.

--Todd Martens

Zooey Deschanel of the band She & Him performs during the first day of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, Calif., Friday, April 16, 2010. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)