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.
"It's hard — you make your decisions and you get to the point where you have to sacrifice," said Jon Hioki, 21, of Nevada City.
Sunday's lineup also included Matisyahu, an up-and-coming 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."
By Ron Harris