CVIndependent

Mon11302020

Last updateMon, 24 Aug 2020 12pm

Best Bang for Your Yen

Misaki Sushi and Grill

Tucked away in the back of the large strip mall at the southeast corner of Washington Street and Highway 111 in La Quinta sits Misaki Sushi and Grill. In pre-COVID times, the small, bustling eatery was packed with sushi and sashimi fans devouring some of the valley’s best fresh fish, served up in generous slices, at reasonable prices.

But if you’re looking for something beyond reasonable prices, Misaki’s house combo meal is a fantastic deal. For as little as $16, you get to choose one item from a group that includes beef teriyaki, chicken teriyaki, salmon teriyaki, mixed tempura, gyoza and shumai; and one item from a second group, which includes a California roll, a spicy tuna roll, four pieces of nigiri sushi or six pieces of sashimi. (Some of these items come with an additional charge.) If you increase your expenditure by $3, can select a second item from that first group.

The phone-order and curbside pickup service—so important these days—offered by the Misaki staff is convenient and efficient. For people who want to dine at the restaurant, outdoor seating is available on the patio.

We should also note that the portions are rather large. More than once, the three-item dinner combo option provided enough leftovers for a meal the next day.

—Kevin Fitzgerald


Best El Paseo Restaurant (Non-Pretentious Category)

The Fix Restaurant

The El Paseo shopping district can feel a little pretentious—but it always feels comfortable at The Fix Restaurant, which is self-billed as “a modern California bistro.”

The new owner has done a great job of remodeling The Fix, which was previously a bakery-focused endeavor. Both the indoor and outdoor spaces are light, bright, airy and modern. The menu selection is small yet extensive enough that most everyone can find something they’d want. One of my favorite menu items is the turkey cranberry melt sandwich—on multigrain bread, with copious amounts of turkey and cranberry cream cheese. The accompanying sweet potato fries are delicious.

However, what really blew me away is the service: On one visit, I felt like I was at a fancier restaurant when I got back to the table from the bathroom, and my cloth napkin had been neatly refolded on the table. The Fix is well-staffed, and everyone is friendly and professional. You can tell the hard-working owner, often behind the bar, has a lot of pride in his business.

Getting your fix at The Fix is not cheap, but it’s not too expensive, either—and it’s certainly well worth the money.

—Jeffrey Clarkson


Best Place to Find Consignment Treasures

Misty’s Consignments

We’ve heard some horror stories about shady furniture-consignment stores in the Coachella Valley—but our experiences with Misty’s Consignments, occupying a rambling warehouse space on Highway 111 in Rancho Mirage, have always been fantastic, on both the consignment and buying sides.

Whether we were dealing with Misty herself or a member of her staff, everyone has been helpful and pleasant. Misty has a reputation of being a bit picky about accepting consignments, but for good reason: Everything we’ve ever consigned there has sold in less time than we imagined.

Of all the furniture-consignment shops we’ve visited in these parts, Misty’s has the largest share of items for sale that make us say, “That’s interesting.” In other words: You don’t have to dig too hard to find the treasures at Misty’s.

—Jeffrey Clarkson


Best Music Festival and Adventure Park

4xFAR

“Way back” in January, the inaugural 4xFAR Music and Adventure Festival came to Empire Grand Oasis. The announcement of the event took me by surprise, as the melding of music and adventure was a new concept—and the setting, in Thermal, seemed a bit odd.

But when I went to the festival, which was presented by Land Rover, it all made sense. The two-day event offered something for everyone, as music acts like Anderson .Paak and Mark Ronson shared the venue with an ax-throwing area and test drives of the 2020 Land Rover. While we never got to see what Coachella 2020 would have been like, it’s safe to say this festival was out to compete.

The future of 4xFAR is unknown, so music lovers and thrill seekers alike must keep their fingers crossed for a second coming of this unique fest.

—Matt King


Best Weird Al Tribute

Finder’s Thrift and Vinyl/Spatula City Records

Finder’s Thrift and Vinyl is an absolute gem of a store that I discovered pre-pandemic. At the La Quinta spot, I was able to find everything from favorite albums for cheap to vintage Star Wars gear. When the shutdown came, I—among others—worried how the independent store would fare.

Thankfully, owner Matt Lehman knew exactly what to do: He quickly transformed his large record selection into an online shop titled Spatula City Records. The same deals and finds from the store were made available online, complete with fast service and shipping right to one’s door.

The online shop’s name is an homage to Lehman’s hero, “Weird Al” Yankovic, and his film UHF. Check out the Spatula City Instagram, @spatulacityrecords, to see a photoshoot done in the store that features Yankovic records displayed on every shelf—and photo even got reposted by Weird Al himself.

—Matt King


Best Pandemic Pastime

El Toro Flicks

The year 2020 and the accompanying entertainment closures have revived many underutilized and older forms of media—including the drive-in movie theater.

Drive-in theaters have popped up around the Coachella Valley; after all, social distancing comes easy when you don’t have to leave your car. El Toro Flicks in Palm Desert has become a favorite of many drive-in-goers, both because of the venue and the movie selection—the theater is located at top of the art-covered Westfield Palm Desert parking garage, and the selection of movies ranges from old classics to newer gems.

It will be interesting to see whether the drive-in theater revival continues when regular movie theaters reopen for good. I, personally, hope it does: The format has advantages for introverts and germaphobes alike.

—Matt King


Best Local-Release Promo

Throw the Goat

Throw the Goat is one of the hardest-working bands in our valley—and the restrictions of COVID-19 seemed like only a minor setback to the group.

Throw the Goat adapted to a new reality when it came to promoting new album Capitol Hell. The band couldn’t perform shows or tour to promote the album—so the band created an online campaign called Vote Goat 2020. The Goat-bros filmed tons of behind-the-scenes content and issued it to fans who pre-ordered the album, along with posters, T-shirts, and stickers.

It’s safe to say that the members of Throw the Goat are ready for anything the world throws at them—because they’ve proven that nothing will stop them from getting their voices and music heard.

—Matt King


Best New Local Album

Instigator, Necessary Evil

As the members of Instigator grow older, their sound only gets better.

What started as a high school band has now morphed into one of the highlights of our music scene. The thrash-metal stylings of Instigator shine bright on their second LP, Necessary Evil—and the sound is matched only by the greats of the genre.

While the band was only able to perform live a handful of times everything closed, those shows proved that the explosiveness displayed on the record comes through just as powerfully in a live setting.

Hopefully one day soon, fans will be able to witness Instigator perform Necessary Evil live in its entirety.

—Matt King


Best Theatrical Tear-Jerker

Dezart Performs’ ‘Daniel’s Husband’

Independent theater critic Bonnie Gilgallon started off her review of the Dezart Performs production of Daniel’s Husband back in January with this: “Any professional critic worth his or her salt strives to be fair, tactful, entertaining and, most of all, honest. To regularly gush or fawn over productions would cause us to lose our credibility. But every now and then, a play comes along that leaves us no choice but to gush.”

I saw Daniel’s Husband myself—and Bonnie’s assessment is perfect.

The show starred local-theater icons David Youse and Michael Shaw as Mitch and Daniel, a couple that has been together for seven years—but the two have never married, despite the fact that same-sex marriage is currently legal in all 50 states. The audience learns that Daniel badly wants to be married—but Mitch doesn’t care at all for the institution of marriage.

Of course, something happens in the play—flawlessly directed by Darin Anthony—that turns Mitch and Daniel’s lives upside down, shining a light on the importance of legalized marriage.

The performances by Youse and Shaw were amazing—Youse’s Mitch had a moment of grief and anger that constituted the most powerful scene I’ve ever seen on a local stage—and both Chuck Yates and Hanz Enyeart are fantastic in supporting roles, as is Deborah Harmon as Daniel’s mother.

Daniel’s Husband was performed on the Pearl McManus Theater stage only 11 months ago, but an unimaginable amount of turmoil has taken place in the United States since then. The pandemic has reminded everyone how vital it is for LGBTQ individuals to be able to make medical decisions on behalf of incapacitated partners—and the addition of Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court has made the nationwide existence of marriage equality seem rather tenuous. In other words, the messages in Michael McKeever’s script are rather prescient.

Kudos to Dezart Performs for bringing this powerful play to the Coachella Valley—and for leaving audience-goers gushing.

—Jimmy Boegle

Published in Staff Picks

Our music scene is rather tight knit in part because so many bands share members; it can feel like a big family when you catch a show featuring a few people pulling double duty. Nick Willman is a young drummer who actually pulls triple duty, as his chops are spread among Silver Sky, Pescaterritory, and Instigator. He is the latest to take the Lucky 13; here are his answers.

What was the first concert you attended?

KISS at the Soboba Casino in 2007. This was the only KISS show that Paul Stanley ever missed, so Gene Simmons sang all the songs, and KISS was a three-piece that night.

What was the first album you owned?

My dad already had all the CDs of most of the stuff that I grew up listening to—mainly classic and hard-rock/heavy-metal stuff. But the first CD I remember getting physically was Apocalyptic Love by Slash.

What bands are you listening to right now?

Ozzy Osbourne, KISS, and Guns N’ Roses.

What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone love, but you don’t get?

A lot of rap and new pop music does not interest me. There is nothing really special about it, and it doesn’t seem authentic.

What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live?

Led Zeppelin in 1973 at Madison Square Garden.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

“Party in the U.S.A.” by Miley Cyrus.

What’s your favorite music venue?

My favorite local venue is the Date Shed, but the Glen Helen Amphitheater in San Bernardino is my favorite venue ever. It’s one of my dreams to play there.

What’s the one song lyric you can’t get out of your head?

“Generals gathered in their masses, just like witches at black masses, evil minds that plot destruction, sorcerers of death's construction,” “War Pigs,” Black Sabbath.

What band or artist changed your life? How?

A lot of music has impacted my life, but the most significant influence on me was KISS. That’s what got me started, and without them, I wouldn’t be a musician. When I was just learning to play drums, my dad and I would jam out to “Deuce” by KISS. I’m pretty sure that was the first song I learned on drums.

You have one question to ask one musician. What’s the question, and who are you asking?

I’m asking Dave Grohl if he wants to start a new band.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

“Home Sweet Home” by Mötley Crüe.

Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time?

Appetite for Destruction by Guns N’ Roses.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

“Sick as a Dog” by Aerosmith. (Scroll down to hear it!)

Published in The Lucky 13

Local thrash foursome Instigator has quickly gained cult success among valley residents and beyond. Seemingly every venue in town has had speakers blown by the long-haired rockers; the group’s first EP, Built to Defy, gained them fans around the county. On April 3, the band released debut album Necessary Evil, which shows a high level of thrash-metal bad-assery; learn more at www.facebook.com/instigatorofficial. On bass is Garrison Calkins, whose intricate and over-driven bass riffs are the backbone of every track—especially “Atom.” He is the latest to take the Lucky 13; here are his answers.

What was the first concert you attended?

Van Halen with David Lee Roth at the Glen Helen Amphitheater in 2015. I was 14.

What was the first album you owned?

Too hard to remember. My mind is telling me that I got The Black Album by Metallica.

What bands are you listening to right now?

Right now, I’ve got Led Zeppelin, Rush, The Police, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Primus and our new album.

What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone love, but you don’t get?

I don’t get the new wave of rap that’s come in the last decade. There are a few artists I let slide, but as for the vast majority of current rap, I just don’t understand it all.

What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live?

I’d love to go back and see Metallica during either the “Damage, Inc.” or Damaged Justice tour.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

Anything super-’80s; whatever most people consider to be “weird”; and classical music. Oingo Boingo, Michael Jackson, ABBA, Bach, Mozart and John Williams soundtracks.

What’s your favorite music venue?

Locally, I’d say The Date Shed, but as a general venue, I’d say The Forum.

What’s the one song lyric you can’t get out of your head?

“And we'll bask in the shadow of yesterday's triumph, and sail on the steel breeze,” “Shine on You Crazy Diamond,” by Pink Floyd.

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Metallica. Their music spoke to me like nothing else ever did—especially those first four albums. By listening to them, I found out who Cliff Burton was, and he further changed my life by being the inspiration to pick up the bass and start playing music.

You have one question to ask one musician. What’s the question, and who are you asking?

I’d ask Geddy Lee how to show people that there are more important things to be worrying about on this Earth than power and trade. I’d ask how to ensure that humanity and life come before all else.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

“Hallowed Be Thy Name” by Iron Maiden.

Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time?

Black Sabbath’s self-titled album. Such a masterpiece.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

“Red Barchetta” by Rush. This is one of the very few songs that when you hear it, you also see it being played out. All the lyrics with the music just take you somewhere else—which is nice, since we’re all trapped inside for a while. (Scroll down to hear it!)

Published in The Lucky 13

We’re under an emergency shelter-at-home order in California, with a lot of businesses closed down—meaning many people are now without a steady income, including the Coachella Valley’s hard-working, talented musicians.

Many of us also now have a lot of time on our hands … so why not use that time to get to know the local music scene better—while supporting these musicians in the process?

Also, remember that music can be a healer of wounds! For me, music can turn a terrible day into a great day—so I hope that this list can bring you joy in this uncertain time.

Because of all this, I’ve compiled a “Coachella Valley Quarantine” playlist of some of my favorite songs by valley bands. By streaming their songs on Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube or any other service, you will also assist them financially … not much, but every little bit helps!

Click here for the Spotify version of the playlist.

Click here for the YouTube version.

“Last Day,” Captain Ghost

I started the playlist off with this one, because the only way to transition into the apocalypse is with roars and sick guitar riffs. This song is as heavy as it is funky—dare I say, with perhaps a hint of ska? The screamed-out chorus lines of “set forth your hands / like it’s the last day on Earth” make this song a perfect soundtrack for the end times. You can read more about Captain Ghost in the interview I did with them last year at CVIndependent.com; facebook.com/CaptainGhostBand.

“Coachella Gold,” Giselle Woo and the Night Owls

After being announced as part of the 2020 Coachella lineup, Giselle Woo and the Night Owls’ profile in the music scene became bigger than ever. Alas, the postponement of the festival means the world will have to wait to experience in person the greatness we’ve seen evolving over the past few years. “Coachella Gold” makes you proud to live here—and a sense of community is definitely something we all need during this time. Learn more about Giselle here; facebook.com/GiselleWooandTheNightOwls.

“Beat Up Your Mom (Sides One and Two),” Sleazy Cortez

In these times of mass hysteria and paranoia, you really could use a good laugh. Sleazy Cortez’s comedy stoner-punk jams are a perfect 20-second hand wash to take your worries away. You don’t even have to worry about too many lyrics, because the only words to this song are: “Beat up your mom.” Side One’s fast punk transitions beautifully into Side Two’s slow-burning blues groove for an epic 3 1/2-minute track. Learn more about Sleazy Cortez here; sleazycortez.bandcamp.com.

“Alone,” Black Water Gospel

“This is how it feels to be alone,” sings Lance Riebsomer in the chorus of this song. The desperation in his voice echoes many people’s uncertainties in this time of isolation—yet this song has one of those guitar solos will help you feel amazing. It’s hard to describe, so just listen. I challenge you to not bob your head at least once throughout the entire track; it may be impossible. Read more about Black Water Gospel here; facebook.com/BlackWaterGospel.

“Back on Track,” Brightener

Whenever I listen to Brightener, I can’t help but smile. Will Sturgeon has a voice that just makes you happy, and any track from his band will lift your spirit. It’s no wonder the band has played many top-notch gigs in Los Angeles, not to mention Coachella in 2016. “Back on Track” is one of Sturgeon’s funkier songs, and will make your stay-cation a lot dancier. Learn more about Brightener here; brightener.bandcamp.com.

“Gallium,” Calico Wonderstone

Calico Wonderstone dominated the backyard music scene, but has only played a few shows at local venues, so the band’s name is unknown to many. The band dropped a five-song EP, but has not played a show since releasing it, meaning it has been severely underappreciated. “Gallium” is an indie-rock jam, and lead singer Ramses Lopez’s unique vocal style adds an edgier tone to the groove; soundcloud.com/calicowndrstne.

“Mainframe,” Fever Dog

Fever Dog has brought full effort into each of the genres the band has pursued. The group’s first two albums were heavy stoner rock, and then in 2017, Fever Dog released the Mainframe EP—three tracks of psychedelic jams. The title track sounds like something straight out of Pink Floyd, and is the perfect track to let your mind wander away from the negativity. Learn more about Fever Dog here; feverdog.bandcamp.com.

“Elevator Dance,” The Flusters

The Flusters offer a perfect mix of dreamy grooves and rockin’ choruses. Take “Elevator Dance,” for example; the verses are very Doors-esque, with lead singer Doug VanSant’s reverbed voice haunting the listener’s ear. But then, the guitar turns up for the choruses—and turns the slow groove to a full-on jump-around-and-dance vibe. Check out more about The Flusters here; theflusters.com.

“Wao Wao,” Ocho Ojos

Ocho Ojos’ catalogue features the best of the best when it comes to psychedelic cumbia. The band has played Coachella twice, and has performed at pretty much every venue in the valley—a handful of times—while sprinkling some out-of-town shows in between. The Latin rhythms shine bright on “Wao Wao,” and the 4 1/2-minute banger features synth player Danny Torres and guitarist Cesar Flores trading off solos in epic fashion; facebook.com/ochoojoscv.

“Funk Jam,” Desert Rhythm Project

This is a pretty self-explanatory track from Joshua Tree favorites Desert Rhythm Project. Funk is a healer of many things; in fact, I’ve been told there’s nothing a little groove can’t fix. Lead singer Mikey Reyes' soothing voice guides listeners through this song; it’s almost as if he’s checking in with us after every extended groove to make sure we’re OK. And this track is packed tight with groove, as it’s a six-minute song that features every essential funk instrument—horns, bass and, of course, a talk-box solo; desertrhythmproject.com.

“Sand Dune,” FrankEatsTheFloor

Shameless self-promotion: This is my band, and a song I wrote—of which I’m particularly proud. I used our desert landscape to represent how lonely you can feel in a situation of unreciprocated love. I wrote it when I felt lonely; I was sitting inside all day staring at the sand dunes, but now that I have to stay inside, I truly understand how lonely it can be living in a sandy jungle. The bassline is prominent, primarily because I wrote the song around the riff—but also because it sounds cool. Learn more about us here; facebook.com/FrankEatsTheFloor.

“Tied Up,” Instigator

We’re all tied up at home, so why not throw on this aptly named metal tune from local rockers Instigator? The intro riff has been stuck in my head ever since I first heard it; about 40 seconds into the song, the headbanging begins in full effect. Leader Mark Wadlund just posted on Facebook: “‘Coronavirus’ is a great name for a song on a heavy-metal concept album about disease,” so maybe something good will come out of this situation. Read more about Instigator here; facebook.com/instigatorofficial.

“Isolated,” Israel’s Arcade

Speaking of aptly named songs, this indie-rock track from Israel’s Arcade is the perfect song for your isolation blues. “Don’t come find me … let me rot,” sings Israel Pinedo over a melancholy instrumental—featuring some sweet saxophone backup. The standout part of this track is the lead guitar, as its back-and-forth rhythm, while extremely catchy, elicits a true sense of loneliness. Learn more about them here; instagram.com/israelsarcade.

“Strange,” Ormus

Ormus’ first album was a collection of hard-hitting metal-punk tracks, complete with frontman Martin Posada’s death growls. But “Strange” sounds like something straight from the ’70s, with Posada and bass-player Serene Noell sharing vocal duties on a rock track that’s very Black Sabbath-esque. However, Ormus’ signature sound comes back in the middle of a song, for a minute-long metal-punk death-growl interlude; facebook.com/ormusband.

“Bad Conscience Blues,” Plastic Ruby

Plastic Ruby’s unique “Desert Jangle” sound slows down a bit on “Bad Conscience Blues.” Lead singer John Marek’s reverb-caked voice sings over a slow-burning psychedelic-blues track that is as groovy as it is bluesy. The three-minute-long jam would not be complete without the organ solo, however—as everybody knows that you can't have psychedelic jams without an organ. Learn more about the band here; plasticruby.com.

“King Street,” Pescaterritory

“King Street” is one of those songs that makes you feel cool. The pounding rock beat of the song may just lead you to strut around your isolation chamber. Halfway through the song, guitarist Jason Zembo steals the show with what may be one of my favorite guitar solos of all time. The best way to beat the virus is with rock ’n’ roll! Read more about the band here; facebook.com/pescaterritory.

“Ppl Like U,” Throw the Goat

The first release from Throw the Goat after a recent lineup change proves that the same ol’ Goat is still there. It’s a punk outcry against hypocrites and the current state of the world—a perfect song for letting out your rage. The band is setting up for a full album about the political nonsense, appropriately titled Vote Goat 2020. Read more about the group here; facebook.com/throwthegoat. (Photo below by Keleigh Black)

“The Death of a Gentleman,” YIP YOPS

The Yip Yops’ recent lineup departures left the group as a two-piece—but the boys are determined to not change the sound that much. “The Death of a Gentleman” is an ’80s-style synth-rock gem that sounds so much like Depeche Mode. It’s groovy; it’s danceable; it even has somber moments. A lot of ground is covered in three minutes, and will cover many of the moods you are feeling during this time. Read more about them here; yipyops.com.

“Baby’s Breath,” Koka

Another notable band in the backyard-show scene in the valley is Koka, an indie-rock group with soothing melodies that offer a bedroom-pop vibe. Their sounds have brought them Internet attention, with “Baby’s Breath” nabbing more than 37,000 listens on Soundcloud alone. Lead singer Edith Aldaz’s vocal lines are catchy; singing the oohs of this song’s chorus will definitely help alleviate some stress; instagram.com/koka.wav.

“I Wanna Be Over You,” The Hive Minds

The last song on this playlist ends things on a high note. A happy instrumental is met by lead singer Derek Jordan Gregg reminiscing about the good times: “Remember the way that I fell when I held you, December.” Gregg wants to go back to “feeling himself”—don’t we all? This song is cheery and proves that music can be a source of joy, even in times like these; www.facebook.com/thehiveminds.

I play in a couple of bands, and whenever I get recognized on the street, it’s a humbling experience. I feel honored that all of the hard work I’ve put into my music is paying off—especially when people tell me they love my band.

But a few of those encounters have started with the person saying: “You’re from Instigator, right?”

I am not—but I take the confusion as a compliment. In only a short few years, the local band has grown from a high school garage band into a full-fledged force. The group’s thrash-metal stylings and shared vocal duties create an electrifying mix, and are available to blow out your speakers anytime via 2018 EP Built to Defy. Listen to tracks like “Power” and “Tied Up” for some heavy vocals, head-banging instruments and piercing guitar-solo sandwiches. The release of the music launched them into local stardom; the band has graced seemingly every valley stage at least once, and has even been catapulted into out-of-town shows.

And, yes, you can count on there being a mosh pit.

Instigator is Mark Wadlund on vocals and guitar; Jaxon Fischer on vocals and guitar; and Garrison Calkins on bass. Original drummer Joe Boomer recently departed; the new drummer is Nick Willman, of Pescaterritory and Silver Sky.

“We all met at school—La Quinta High School,” Wadlund said during a recent sit-down with the band. “A girl had introduced me to Jaxon, saying that he liked metal—and being that I liked metal, I had to say what’s up. We sang the riff to Slayer’s “Chemical Warfare” for five minutes, and then we became best friends.

“We saw Garrison around school wearing (Metallica album) Ride the Lightning shirts and saw that he played bass, so we decided to get together and jam. We then found Joe from the drumline a few months later. This all happened about four years ago.”

At that time, Wadlund and Fischer were sophomores, while Calkins and Boomer were freshmen. Little did they know what they’d become.

The band members talked about the favorite show they’ve played.

“The FACELIFT shows are pretty fun,” said Fischer, referring to the local punk band. “They’re crazy, gnarly backyard shows. It’s a mosh pit going on the whole time, and all the kids are just going wild.”

Added Wadlund: “Yeah, we opened up for Doyle, guitarist of the Misfits, at the Whisky a Go Go in Los Angeles. It was the second time we played there, and we even got to meet Doyle before the show. He’s 7 feet tall, very vegan, and very buff. Garrison and I both could’ve squeezed inside of his body.”

Now that the band members are post-high school adults (sans new addition Willman), they have to face the music … literally.

“There’s less time for practice, because we have to pay rent and go to our (college) classes,” Wadlund said. “Being an adult forces you to be out of the band for a little bit, but we all try our very best to still meet.”

Fischer added: “Our schedules are a little more flexible now, because we don’t have to go to school in the morning, so we can always practice in the morning and still be able to go to work and pay our rent.”

Has the addition of high-schooler Willman thrown a wrench in any plans?

“Nick’s a good kid and has passed all his classes so that during his senior year, which is this year, he gets out at (noon),” Wadlund said. “More often than not, that’s when we are just waking up.”

That is a true fact: I met with the boys for the interview at 1 p.m. at Starbucks, where they had their “morning coffee.”

I was curious when the members realized the true potential of the band.

“Honestly, at our very first show,” Fischer said.

Added Wadlund: “We were playing for over a year just practicing and writing songs, so our first-ever show, at The Date Shed, went really, really well. We were also very nervous, but we pulled through and had an amazing set.”

Fischer said: “We did a cover of ‘The Conjuring’ by Megadeth and ‘Black Magic’ by Slayer. I thought we played a lot of the songs horribly, but everyone thought we were really good, so it made us think, ‘We could do this.’”

Wadlund conceded that their egos may have been a little over-inflated in their early days.

“People think that you’re much better than you really are when you’re younger,” he said. “We started when we were 16 and 17, and had our parents drive us around to all of the shows. Now we’ve grown past that, and we’re good because we practice. Yeah, we were good when we were young, but the real turning point is being older and still being really good and impressing people. When you’re an adult, you get the most authenticity (in terms of feedback). People aren’t authentic with kids.”

A new album is coming soon. The members have returned to Brian “Puke” Parnell of Throw the Goat, who produced their Built to Defy EP.

“Our producer is the busiest guy in the world; he doesn’t have a day where he’s not doing anything,” he said. “We’re on the very last inches of the mastering process. Compared to our first album, this album is going to be unbelievable. This new album is so fucking good that it will blow away what you think anybody in this valley can do. I want this to be something that the Coachella Valley can be proud of. I can’t wait for everybody to hear it.”

When the Independent last featured Instigator, about a year and a half ago, Wadlund said he wanted to instigate a movement within the valley through music. So far, so good.

“My mom used to work at La Quinta High School,” Wadlund said. “She would speak to admins and teachers, who would talk to troubled kids and tell them about Instigator. They’d tell them a story about these kids in high school that started this band to get their frustrations out into music. We played at the high school at a bunch for rallies, and we’ve definitely inspired kids there. … We exposed everyone to this extreme thrash metal that most of them didn’t even know existed. Just having it in front of their face with the double-bass drum kit and the Marshall stacks changed their lives.”

Yeah, Instigator is indeed instigating something in this valley … hence my occasional encounter with someone asking me if I am part of the band.

“It’s so easy for people our age to have this big ego and think that we are the shit, but that’s not the truth behind us and who we are,” Wadlund said. “We are excited to be doing this—not because no one else is, but because it’s something that we want to do, and we know it’s bettering the community. It’s getting people together that would not normally be together at all, for the sake of music and happiness.”

Instigator will perform with Pescaterritory and Israel’s Arcade at 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 25, at The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St, in Indio, Tickets are $10. For more information or tickets, visit www.eventbrite.com/e/pescafest-tickets-82683066277. For more information on Instigator, visit www.facebook.com/instigatorofficial.

Published in Previews

January is bringing a brand-new festival to the land of festivals!

4xFAR, presented by Land Rover, is a brand-new music, food and adventure festival coming to Empire Grand Oasis in Thermal on Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 18 and 19. It will feature music with headliners Anderson .Paak and Mark Ronson, as well as a plethora of adventure activities, such as mountain biking, climbing, fly fishing and off-roading! General-admission tickets are $95 for one day, or $185 for both; head to 4xfar.com to get ’em.

The illustrious McCallum Theatre is featuring wonderful events throughout January. At 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 10, double-trouble actor and singer Jack Jones will grace the McCallum stage. He has more than 50 years of jazz and pop performances under his belt, so it’s no wonder The New York Times said that “he is arguably the most technically accomplished male pop singer.” Tickets are $40 to $90. At 8 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 14, put on your green duds, and head to the McCallum to enjoy the Derina Harvey Band. This Celtic-rock group is described in press materials as being like “a rockier version of Canada’s Great Big Sea, if fronted by Adele.” Whoa! Tickets are $25 to $55. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs is hosting a plethora of big acts to start off the New Year. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 11, George Thorogood and the Destroyers will bring 45 years of hard rock to Indio. While the weather may be freezing you to the bone, come and get “Bad to the Bone” with bona fide rock legends. Tickets are $39 to $59. If you’ve been missing the classic sounds of the Motown era, you’re in for a real treat on Saturday, Jan. 18, at 8 p.m., as both The Temptations and The Four Tops are returning to town. Both groups’ hits have been tugging on your heart strings for more than five decades. Tickets are $39 to $69. At 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 24, the legendary Tony Bennett will bring his “I Left My Heart” Tour to the Fantasy Springs stage. He’s been performing for nearly 70 years, with more than 50 million records sold; come witness one of music’s living icons while you still can. Tickets are $49 to $109. If you don’t want to bother paying for heat in your own home, come out at 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 25, when 98° promises to set the stage on fire. If the ’90s is what you’re longing for, both music-wise and temperature-wise, this show is for you. Tickets are $39 to $69. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Spotlight 29 is showcasing a few festive events in January. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 11, Mexican singer-songwriter Pancho Barraza will return to Coachella. Do you really need more of an excuse to go dance? Tickets are $65 to $85. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 25, Spotlight 29 is featuring a very unique event titled ¿Y Si Me Caso? This “musical wedding” promises to be as musical as it is dramatic, as one man decides which woman he should marry. Tickets are $25 to $65. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Agua Caliente intends to turn the heat up on those cold winter nights.At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 11, the one-and-only D-O-double G is coming to town. That’s right, Snoop Dogg, with openers O.T. Genasis and Warren G, is bringing that West Coast gangsta rap to Rancho Mirage, and you’d be a fool to miss out. Tickets are $85 to $115. If R&B is more your speed, then on Saturday, Jan. 18, at 8 p.m., make sure you catch Boyz II Men. Since the ’90s, the boyz have been putting audiences in their feelings with emotional ballads and sweet harmonies, so be there! Tickets are $65 to $85. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 25, the Long Island Medium herself, Theresa Caputo, will return to The Show. This night will include Caputo’s stories about her experiences as a medium, and will feature interactions with some of the audience members. Tickets are $75 to $120. Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa Rancho Mirage, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

At Morongo, you can catch a few fun performances this month. At 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 10, enjoy Baby Bash performing for Jimmy Reyes’ Birthday Bash. Come get your 2000s rap fix and celebrate a birthday at the same time! Tickets are $10. At 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 24, Hollywood Medium Tyler Henry brings “An Evening of Hope, Healing and Closure” to Cabazon. This is a brand-new live show, that, of course, includes an audience Q&A and readings. Tickets are $69. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s is the home of more than a few rockin’ shows this month. At 9 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 11, Pappy’s will host the Americana-folk of Justin Townes Earle (below). The son of Steve Earle, who was named after the legendary Townes Van Zandt, has more than lived up to his impressive musical pedigree. Jonny Two Bags opens, and tickets are $25. At 8:30 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 16, indie surf-rock group Surf Curse will jam the night away. This is one of my favorite bands right now, offering an extremely dance-y and catchy vibe across songs that are sure to make any one with ears wanna jump around. Tickets are $16 to $18. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

Toucan’s has some appealing LGBT-slanted events on the January docket. At 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 4, country-music man Ty Herndon returns to Palm Springs for a night of country hits from his late ’90s heyday, with newer songs as well. Tickets are $30 to $40. At 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 11, Jai Rodriguez kicks off his 2020 cabaret tour with “Tales of an Aging Twink.” He’s appeared on Broadway in Rent, and was part of the original Queer Eye cast, so it’s safe to say this night will be one to remember. Tickets are $25. And on Friday, Jan. 31, at 7:30 p.m., drag queens Jackie Beat and Sherry Vine will bring their comedy show “Best Frenemies” to Toucan’s. Tickets are $25. Toucans Tiki Lounge and Cabaret, 2100 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-416-7584; www.reactionshows.com.

The Purple Room promises to entertain with a packed January schedule. At 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 10, catch two-time 2018 Grammy nominee Clint Holmes sing both hits and originals with his jazz vocal stylings. Tickets are $60 to $65. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 25, Amanda McBroom will return to the Purple Room—this time performing songs from noir films! Tickets are $35 to $40. And on Friday, Jan. 31, at 8 p.m., witness the Black Market Trust combine jazzy hits with Django Reinhardt-style guitar-playing into one magnificent show. Tickets are $35 to $40. Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

If you’ve been itching to support local talent, get thee to The Date Shed at 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 10, to catch local rappers Provoked Poetry, Willdabeast, Thoughts Contained and DJ ODC for Provoked Poetry’s album release. Tickets are $10. And on Saturday, Jan. 25, at 8 p.m., you can see three of the valley’s best young rock groups: Pescaterritory, Israel’s Arcade and Instigator, at Pescafest. Tickets are $10. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St., Indio; 760-775-6699; www.facebook.com/dateshed.

Published in Previews

Few bands in the Coachella Valley can match the power and intensity of Instigator. The band’s hard-hitting thrash sound and eccentric stage presence often lead to epic music performances that may just rob you of your hearing for a few hours. At the helm of Instigator is Mark Wadlund, whose electrifying lead lines and powerful vocal chords contribute to a mature sound, even though the group’s average age is 19. For more information, visit facebook.com/instigatorofficial or @Instigatorband on Instagram. Mark Wadlund is the latest to take the Lucky 13, here are his answers.

What was the first concert you attended?

AC/DC at Coachella when I was 15. I waited four hours to see them front row!

What was the first album you owned?

Rust in Peace by Megadeth. Still the best album I own.

What bands are you listening to right now?

I’ve got some Misfits, Def Leppard (the old, good stuff lol), Faith No More, and Extreme, among others.

What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone love, but you don’t get?

People being in the trend of fashion and looks over raw musical talent and performance. Drop the fucking look, and hone your craft. This would literally make the world a better place to enjoy (with) creative freedom and expression.

What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live?

Pantera, hands down. I would give my legs to resurrect Dimebag and Vinnie Paul … just not my arms. HA HA HA HA!

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

Jaxon Fischer (Instigator rhythm guitar). I listen to various amounts of old school rap: Dr. Dre, NWA, Snoop Dogg, etc.

What’s your favorite music venue?

It depends: Locally or everywhere? Playing or watching? Generally, I'd say The Date Shed.

What’s the one song lyric you can’t get out of your head?

"I look around, my room is filled with candles. Each one a story, but they end the same,” “The Mission,” Queensrÿche.

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Megadeth. I heard “Holy Wars ... The Punishment Due” when I was about 14 or 15, and I didn't really know that it was possible to play guitar like that. I knew about guitar solos from Van Halen, but the riffs! The riffs of that song changed my life.

You have one question to ask one musician. What’s the question, and who are you asking?

I would ask Dave Mustaine how to resurrect the metal scene for the entire world. The world needs metal; the world needs a hero.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

“Sea of Red,” Judas Priest.

Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time?

Peace Sells … but Who's Buying? By Megadeth. I know I talk about Megadeth a lot, but this band changed/built my entire life.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

“The Laugh,” by Armored Saint. Outstanding song, outstanding musicianship, outstanding message. (Scroll down to hear it!)

Published in The Lucky 13

Last year, a group of teenagers from La Quinta High School became the talk of the local music scene thanks to their unique brand of instrumental music.

The group known as Instigator participated in CV Weekly’s Battle of the Bands competition, opened for Mondo Generator at The Date Shed, and enjoyed some gigs at The Hood Bar and Pizza. Now the band has a recording—Built to Defy, produced by Throw the Goat guitarist Brian “Puke” Parnell, coming on Friday, May 25. The group will celebrate with a show at The Hood that evening.

I asked Parnell why he wanted to record Instigator.

“When Throw the Goat played with Instigator last year at The Date Shed, and we were both opening for Mondo Generator, I was really blown away by them,” said Parnell. “I was talking to the guys after the show and talking to their parents. I asked them if they had any recordings, and they didn’t. It was something I definitely wanted to do for them, because I wanted to make sure that it sounded right. I knew how to capture the sound already at that point by ear.”

When I first saw the band last year, I loved the fact it was entirely instrumental—despite criticism from the Battle of the Bands judges’ table via House of Broken Promises and Unida guitarist Arthur Seay, who didn’t like the lack of lyrics. Seay will be glad to learn the band has now begun to incorporate lyrics—and the group sounds even better.

During a recent interview with the band members in La Quinta, they said they were embracing the vocals.

“It helps to broaden the dynamic of the entire band, especially with how you have to get a message to your listeners,” said lead guitarist and vocalist Mark Wadlund.

The members’ individual lists of influences make for a strange mix when put together. For starters, all of the members agree that drummer Joe Boomer’s punk and hip-hop influences are a big part of their music.

“They ruined me,” drummer Joe Boomer said about his bandmates with a laugh. “I was on track to being a normal drummer. It was cool, though, because I never felt challenged by school band or marching band, because there’s a lack of creativity. They give you music and expect you to play it. With these guys, I didn’t know how to do what they were doing, so I latched myself onto them and started to learn.”

Rhythm guitarist Jaxson Fischer is influenced by psychedelic rock and blues.

“We’re all individually inspired by different tastes and things, and we incorporate that personally into the way we play,” said Fischer. “Joe is the only person I know who can combine death metal and hip-hop into a song through his drumming. It just works.”

Like most bands, Instigator had problems gaining credibility at first.

“I think we struggled with not being taken seriously for a while,” Boomer said. “I feel like we had to fight for any amount of respect we’ve earned. We had little issues everywhere. At the time, it felt like major setbacks. We had a security guard at a venue not let us into our own show. I think we got to the point where we have a little more respect now—or we just don’t care. We don’t need to worry about impressing people anymore.”

Wadlund agreed.

“I think the music speaks for itself,” Wadlund said. “You have to show people what you’ve created. That’s what it’s all about.”

Recently, Instigator played a show at West Hollywood’s legendary Whisky a Go Go—but there was a downside: The band was required to sell a certain number of tickets.

“The pay-to-play thing threw us off,” Boomer said. “Most of the tickets we sold were to friends and family. We obviously couldn’t sell them out there in Los Angeles, so all we could do is sell them to family members.”

“Or to whoever was available on a Thursday night,” added bassist Garrison Calkins with a laugh. “We kind of fed off the four other bands that played. They sneered at us a little bit, but not when we got up and played onstage.”

When it came time to record, the band members’ parents dropped them off at Parnell’s house in Idyllwild for a weekend.

“All he had for us was a couch that only one of us fought for. I brought a cot, and the rest of us slept on the ground,” Calkins said. “Being in the studio was a whole new thing for us. When you’re in there, you have all these monitors surrounding you, and you can hear every little mistake.”

Wadlund said the band’s name is also its mission.

“We literally are all about instigating a movement out here in the valley,” Wadlund said. “Obviously not by starting metal—metal started a long time ago—but we’re about instigating a movement of people. It’s a musical get-together, and it’s an entire music scene, or a huge crowd of people, or meeting new friends at an Instigator show. It just feels inspiring.”

Instigator will perform with Minor Emergency and Frank Eats the Floor at 9 p.m., Friday, May 25, at The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. Admission is free. For more information on Instigator, visit www.facebook.com/instigatorofficial.

Published in Previews

Summer is upon us—officially, even, as of the night of June 20. Why don’t you beat the heat and enjoy a great show or two?

Agua Caliente Casino Report Spa’s June schedule is a little light, but there are a couple of things worth mentioning (beyond a sold-out Moody Blues show on Saturday, June 3). At 7 p.m., Saturday, June 17, you’ll need to get your shout-outs to your “shorty in lockdown” ready, because the Art LaBoe Summer Love Jam will return. All joking aside, there’s some great music on the lineup this year. Funk legend ZAPP is one of the acts worth going to see, as the group has been sampled by several hip-hop artists, including Dr. Dre. Tickets are $45 to $65. If you never got to see Pink Floyd play a live show, you missed out, since the members have stated there will be no reunion—ever. But at 9 p.m., Friday, June 30, you can experience Pink Floyd’s music set to lasers at Paramount’s Laser Spectacular. Some of these laser shows with Pink Floyd’s music can be pretty cool—plus it beats sitting at home watching Netflix. Tickets are $20 to $30. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has just one big show in June—but it’s huge. At 8 p.m., Friday, June 9, get ready for some serious laughs, because Chris Rock will be stopping by. Chris Rock has been incredible to watch over the years, given how well he always reflects the times in his stand-up routine. I still love the bit he did about Lil’ Jon and rap music, which has become one of his best-known standup moments. Tickets are $89 to $149. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Spotlight 29’s entertainment slate for June is also a little light, but there is one thing you won’t want to miss (aside from the Ziggy Marley show, which you can read about on Friday, June 2, here at CVIndependent.com): At 8 p.m., Saturday, June 24, Los Chicos del 512 will be performing a tribute to Selena. The group will perform all of Selena’s music that you know and love. Tickets are $20. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino Resort and Spa has several great events on the calendar. At 9 p.m., Friday, June 2, Marlon Wayans will bring the funny; tickets are $23 to $29. Be sure to check out my interview with him here. That same night, at 10 p.m., Friday, June 2, power-pop band The Romantics (upper right) will perform. This is a show you should see if you’re a true rock ’n’ roll fan. The Romantics had a couple of big hit songs: “What I Like About You” and “Talking In Your Sleep.” The band’s lineup once included Blondie drummer Clem Burke; he’s no longer with the band, but three original members are! Tickets are $20. Keeping with the ’80s theme, at 10 p.m., Friday, June 16, new-wave band The Motels will be appearing. The Motels had one or two hits in the ’80s and then faded away, before re-forming in 1998. Martha Davis still fronts the band—and still believes in the music. Tickets are $20. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace will be the place to go this summer for great live music—and the venue’s June calendar is packed. Read my interview with the Tijuana Panthers here; the band will perform at 9 p.m., Friday, June 2, and tickets are $15. At 8 p.m., Friday, June 9, Mick Rhodes and the Hard Eight will take the stage. Rhodes was once the front man of the Los Angeles punk band Human Therapy, and now performs in this spectacular alt-country band. If you can’t make it to the show, at least check out the band on the streaming services. I can almost guarantee you’ll like it. Admission is free. At 9 p.m., Saturday, June 10, New Orleans R&B/country band The Deslondes will be returning to Pappy and Harriet’s. The band’s New Orleans sound is timeless; The Deslondes really do have something going for themselves. After seeing the group perform at Stagecoach, I can tell you it’s a fun band to watch. Tickets are $15. At 9 p.m., Saturday, June 24, psychedelic rock band The Black Lips will be returning. The band’s shows are often pretty insane. While they’ve behaved themselves at Pappy and Harriet’s the last couple of times, they’ve been known to get naked, vomit, set things on fire and so on. War Drum front man Jack Kohler once told me a story about how when he worked for the Ace Hotel and Swim Club in Palm Springs, he was told to deliver shaving cream to the band’s hotel room—and found the band shaving a group of women from head to toe. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Purple Room has some familiar names returning in June. At 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday, June 2 and 3, America’s favorite dragapella group, The Kinsey Sicks, will be performing the Things You Shouldn’t Say show. Tickets are $30 to $45. At 8 p.m., Saturday, June 17, The Buddy Holly Review will do its thing. As a fan of Buddy Holly, I’ve been interested in this show; I’ve heard it’s a lot of fun. Tickets are $25 to $35. At 8 p.m., Friday, June 30, there will be a benefit for the American Cancer Society featuring Debby Holiday (below). Debby Holiday is a star on the rise with two hit singles, “Never Give Up” and “Key to Your Soul.” Tickets are $25 to $35. Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

The Hood Bar and Pizza has a couple of events, starring local bands, that are worth your consideration. At 9 p.m., Friday, June 2, there will be a metal show with Drop Mob, Perishment, Instigator and In the Name of the Dead. Considering how long as Drop Mob has been around, it’s good to see the band finally being noticed. Admission is free. At 9 p.m., Thursday, June 8, Courtney Chambers, Caxton, and 5th Town will take the stage. This should be a fun show; all of the bands are female-fronted—and rather talented. Admission is free. The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-636-5220; www.facebook.com/thehoodbar.

Published in Previews