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Thu12122019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Last weekend’s annual Desert Daze music festival offered music enthusiasts a supersize meal of indy, alt, psych, punk and crazy tunes at the Institute of Mentalphysics, with music replacing meditation, yoga and UFOs.

Three days in Joshua Tree offered an upgrade from the one-day edition at the Sunset Ranch Oasis. The traffic jam in Mecca was replaced with a good traffic flow. Also gone were the traffic challenges that occurred during a recent Childish Gambino gig, held at the Institute of Mentalphysics by another promoter, that stoked mislaid reservations about Desert Daze.

Safety was a priority, as every car was subjected to a detailed search, including the opening of trunks. According to one of the security staffers I spoke to, they did remove an ax and a sword from a car on the first day.

Yes, promoter Phil Pirrone of JJUUJJUU had the logistics down for this increasingly ambitious festival. Desert Daze was spread out over the 400 acres of the center. The Moon Stage, for example, was easy to find—you just looked for the harvest moon that was dead-center over the stage. But getting lost was part of the fun; that is how I found a shrine to bygone technology hidden in a path behind vendors.

Desert Daze also included local artists, including Sand and Suede, which features handmade creations by owner Jenn Starr. Joshua Tree clothing designer Totally Blown uses a shotgun to design one-of-kind pieces. I later ran into co-founder Sarah Harris, and she was not packing a 12-gauge—just some joy from the music.

The Death Valley Girls made another appearance in the desert featuring fast-paced macabre garage rock. I bumped into the queen of Joshua Tree, Jesika Von Rabbit, near the small Buddha temple; she was quickly joined by Brant Bjork and Sean Wheeler, two desert kings of rock, for a quick photo.

The Sonics played favorites like “Louie, Louie” and “The Witch,” rivaling Television as the longest-tenured performers at Desert Daze; the band was founded in 1960.

Toro y Moi came back to the high desert, bringing some psychedelic funk to the Moon Stage during a windy and dusty night. Fellow Pappy’s alum Deerhunter also played on the Moon Stage, wearing a hoodie while commenting: “I want to dedicate this next song to Hanna. … I just pissed on my fucking leg,” offering Dezert Daze’s foremost TMI moment.

Saturday brought the Los Angeles trio L.A. Witch, which has been moving up in popularity over the last few years; I first saw the group perform at a small gig at the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs.

Saturday’s lineup included another female fronted band—The Coathangers, from Atlanta, who previously opened for the Black Lips in Pioneertown. The Coathangers are a buzz-worthy band; after 10 years of grueling touring, the group has earned respect in the indie scene.

Cherry Glazerr’s animated midafternoon Saturday performance showed off fuzzy and dreamy songs, comparable to those from the defunct band The Like. Thee Oh Sees also played on Saturday; I was happy to have the safety and security of the photo pit barrier, because the last time I saw the band, at my favorite desert roadhouse, I almost broke my ankle trying to get a shot in a mosh pit. Thee Oh Sees bring fun musical proto punk chaos whenever the group appears.

Indie Danish rockers The Raveonettes played on the Block Stage, playing newer songs like “Sisters” and classics like “Love in a Trashcan.” The Raveonettes are releasing a new single every month this year.

Another high desert alum, The Black Angels, played the entire album Passover, a 2006 release; it was a true treat. I first saw Black Angels vocalist Alex Maas in 2013, playing a soldout set at Pappy and Harriet’s.

Primus headlined on Saturday, and Les Claypool’s six-string bass was magical during “My Name Is Mud.” Drummer Julie Edwards of Deap Vally was in the pit during the beginning of the set with her 10-month old baby, Mira, who was wearing giant ear protectors; the toddler got really excited during heavy drum beats, suggesting that Mira received Momma’s drumming genes.

Claypool got partisan by offering a tongue-and-cheek comment poking fun at Donald Trump’s claim “that he can grab a woman’s vagina,” adding, “I say ‘vagina’ because I’m a gentleman.” I presume Mr. Claypool was unable to borrow Roger Waters’ floating pig that featured anti-Trump comments at Desert Trip.

On Sunday, Warpaint’s Jenny Lee took her dog, Ludo, onstage as she performed songs from her 2015 solo record Right On! I love the way Jenny Lee drops the bass lines; she was very impressive as a solo act, dominating the stage as she marched to her interpretation of true rock. She was one of the highlights of Sunday.

La Luz had an early set on Sunday; the group has been building a fan base by opening for bands like the Entrance Band and playing at the taste-making Echo Park Rising fest. La Luz is the only doo-wop surf band whose fans like to mosh—a true mystery.

Deap Vally was a highlight of Sunday’s afternoon, featuring Julie Edwards, the co-organizer of Desert Daze and the spouse of promoter Phil Pirrone. Deap Vally starred the howling vocals of lead singer Lindsey Troy, and the set featured “Gonnawanna” from September release Femejism.

METZ’s heavy punk sound was mosh-pit worthy, as the noise-rock group plays traditional punk that sparked a small circle pit in front of the otherwise mellow Block Stage.

On Sunday night, I hurried to catch Foxygen at the Block Stage set for a 7:30 p.m. scheduled start; attendees could see the stage crew trying to identify an unknown sound issue that finally resolved for a start time around 8.

Television headlined the Moon Stage. An apology came from Tom Verlaine, as he explained the band was asked to start a half-hour late. Verlaine asked for the spinning lights to be turned off, stating, “We’re going to have seizures if you keep those twirling discs on.” The lighting person complied, making it darker on stage. Fans in the front row sang along to “Prove It,” a detective story-themed tune from the 1977 release Marquee Moon.

I have followed Desert Daze since it began at Dillon’s Roadhouse in North Palm Springs. Little by little, this festival has grown to the point where music fans now have an opportunity to hear a lot of progressive music in a setting that’s not too large. Desert Daze is a place to hear great music—not a place just to be seen. Hopefully, the community embraces this DIY festival that has just one purpose: to rock.

Published in Reviews

It’s been said that rock ’n’ roll is dead. But for the members of Los Angeles outfit Death Valley Girls, that statement is grossly inaccurate.

For them, rock ’n’ roll is a way of life. They’ll be returning to the desert on Saturday, July 16, for a show at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace.

Fronted by Bonnie Bloomgarden, Death Valley Girls also includes guitarist Larry Schemel (brother of former Hole drummer Patty Schemel), bassist Nikki Pickle and the drummer, known simply as “The Kid.” They have taken psychedelic rock and have made it their own, creating what they call an “acid-tripping science experiment.” Their music is a haze of prog rock, psychedelic rock and good old fashioned balls-to-the-wall rock ’n’ roll.

“I think rock ’n’ roll means everything,” Bloomgarden said during a recent phone interview. “It’s sort of like a religion. We live like nomads, with (few) belongings, in the name of rock ’n’ roll. It’s the legend we grew up with, the people we believe in, and it’s what makes us feel whole. I think that’s what religion does for other people. Recently, I’ve been thinking it’s our religion. The more I think about it, the more I think that’s what Christianity or other religion does for some people: It fills them with love, hope and gives you your answers, and it gives you a platform to ask your questions.”

Death Valley Girls did not get off to a smooth start.

“It’s a weird time in music. It took us about six months to book our first show,” Bloomgarden said. “We’re old school, so we were like, ‘We have to record some songs, and that’s how people will book us for shows.’ We didn’t go through the friend channel; we went through more of the idea that the music should speak for itself—which it unfortunately doesn’t.”

The band’s name is a reference to a true-crime story.

“Larry came up with the name,” Bloomgarden said. “It’s sort of a nod to a Mansonesque dream of a utopia in Death Valley, and it’s a play on words with a kind of attitude.”

Of course, the name is not a literal interpretation, so having a male member is just fine with them.

“People love flak and giving it for some reason, but to us, if anyone is focused on the words ‘Death,’ ‘Valley,’ or ‘Girls,’ it’s ridiculous. It’s three words together,” Bloomgarden said. “It’s a band name, and we don’t worry too much about what people want to think or find out. I’m not a huge fan of the word ‘girls’ being in band names, but I like our name just fine.”

Death Valley Girls has released two albums to date: Street Venom in 2014, and the brand-new Glow in the Dark.

“The first record, we had rock ’n’ roll in our souls that we needed to get out and get out of our minds, and the only way to get songs out of your mind is to record them,” she said of Street Venom. “This record serves a purpose for the greater good, we hope. It’s a culmination of everything we learned as a band coming together, and (we made) this record with intention and purpose in two days. Looking back on it, we realized this is meaningful to us.”

Glow in the Dark was inspired by an unusual gig.

“This record came from this idea to play this show at the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles for a mummy exhibit,” Bloomgarden said. “We realized that these mummies had been in a museum since 1890 in Chicago, and they just moved them to Los Angeles for this exhibit, and they had probably never heard rock ’n’ roll before. We wanted to make a set for them, to introduce them to rock ’n’ roll and wake them up. … We realized we should record it on a record, and that should be our baseline for where we record from moving forward: waking the dead, or introducing them to rock ’n’ roll.”

That show, Bloomgarden swore, was not her first experience with a mummy.

“We saw a mummy walking around two months before the mummy show, and that’s how this thing sort of came to be. I guess that mummy had to be reawakened. After that, I do believe people can be awoken from the dead,” she said. “I’m more confused about this than I ever have been, but me and The Kid were walking down my street, and at the gas station, there was the mummified remains of a human being. She was trying to get into the gas station, and she had bosoms. She was making the mummy sound, and it wasn’t a human about to die: It was a human who had been mummified and dead for thousands of years. This is just a fact. I’ve never seen anything like it, and that’s why we contacted the museum, to see if they had any mummies missing. … It changed our life, so it’s all for the better we saw the mummy.”

Both of Death Valley Girls’ albums have been released by Burger Records. The indie label and its subsidiaries have released numerous indie albums, including a cassette by local band CIVX. Many bands have gained exposure thanks to Burger Records, during an era when promoting rock ’n’ roll records is harder than ever.

“Burger Records are the best people; they’re music historians, music enthusiasts and rock ’n’ roll lifers,” Bloomgarden said. “They give people a chance and teach kids about old rock ’n’ roll that many wouldn’t think would see the light of day again. For that, we are forever grateful.

“I think of what they did with cassettes a few years ago. … It’s cheaper; it’s more compact; and you can share them with other bands on tour, because every other band has a tape-player in their van. … Cassette culture brought more people back to music. They definitely started that for sure.”

The band is opening for Jesika Von Rabbit, queen of the high desert music scene.

“I can’t wait to see Jesika Von Rabbit play. We’ve always wanted to play with her, and we love Pappy and Harriet’s,” Bloomgarden said. “We’re excited to get to get loose in the desert and look up in the sky and get to see stuff. We don’t have many stars out here, so any chance we get to go to the desert is awesome.

“They have a horse at Pappy and Harriet’s that you can pet, and that’s exciting too.”

When I told Bloomgarden that the nachos on the menu at Pappy and Harriet’s are named after Jesika Von Rabbit, she was thrilled.

“What an honor! Maybe we can eat her nachos with her—that’d be so cool!” she said.

Death Valley Girls will perform with Jesika Von Rabbit and The Shadow Mountain Band at 8:30 p.m., Saturday, July 16, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $10. For tickets or more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit www.pappyandharriets.com.

Published in Previews

July is going to be hot—but never fear, because there are some great air-conditioned events going on.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino is again the place to be in July. At 8 p.m., Saturday, July 2, get some advice on how to know when to hold them, and know when to fold them, when Kenny Rogers performs. The pop-country icon has sold more than 120 million albums! Tickets are $29 to $69. At 8 p.m., Saturday, July 9, pop-star Kesha will be stopping in. Since 2010, Kesha has taken the music world by storm—although many still don’t know what to make of her. After a nasty court battle with producer Dr. Luke, she’s returning to live performances and seems to be heading down a different creative path. Tickets are $39 to $79. At 8 p.m., Friday, July 29, get out your dancing shoes, because Earth, Wind and Fire is coming back to town. It’s been a rough year for the group due to the death of founding member Maurice White, but the band is still in demand and continues to dazzle audiences. Tickets are $49 to $79. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has several intriguing events in July. At 8 p.m., Saturday, July 16, standup comedian Brian Regan will perform. Regan, who is known to refrain from using profanity, is quite popular across all age groups and has been going strong since the ’90s. Tickets are $55 to $85. There’s another event worth mentioning if you are a fan of world music: At 6:30 p.m., Saturday, July 30, there will be a show by Armenian singer Armenchik. Born in Armenia and raised in Los Angeles, Armenchik showed a natural talent for singing at a young age and has performed all around the world. Tickets are $60 to $150. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 is going to heat up at 8 p.m., Friday, July 22, when Maxwell (right) stops by. In 1996, Maxwell released Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite, which is said to have changed R&B forever. Maxwell’s singing ability is right up there with that of Marvin Gaye; it’s no wonder that Urban Hang Suite was a hit, even though Maxwell did it without much commercial support. In fact, the album went on to sell 2 million copies. If there is one show you shouldn’t miss in July, this is the one. Tickets are $71 to $111. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace has a solid schedule through July. Ted Quinn, the longtime host of the free open-mic nights on Mondays, has stepped down. During July, Pappy’s is bringing in a series of guest hosts: Jesika Von Rabbit on July 4; Leslie Mariah Andrews of the Small Wonder Experience on July 11; Bella Dawn on July 18; and Lee Joseph on July 25. In other news: At 9 p.m., Sunday, July 10, the group Imarhan will be performing. Imarhan performs Tuareg music, which has a soulful and groovy rhythm. Sadam, Imarhan’s frontman, is the cousin of Eyadou Ag Leche, of Tinariwen, who also helped write some of the music for Imarhan’s self-titled debut album. Tickets are $15 to $17. At 8:30 p.m., Saturday, July 16, the queen of the high desert, Jesika Von Rabbit, will take the stage. Also on the bill: Death Valley Girls. Hopefully this performance will mark the return of Von Rabbit’s dancing man, Larry Van Horn, who recently told me he suffered a leg injury, but is getting back into the groove. Last but certainly not least, at 8 p.m., Saturday, July 30, The Evangenitals will be coming back yet again for a guaranteed great time. The show is free! Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Coachella Valley Art Scene is teaming up with the Ultrastar Mary Pickford Theatre in Cathedral City for the second summer in a row. Each Friday, a local band will play from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. On Friday, July 1, Giselle Woo will be performing. On Friday, July 8, David Morales from EeVaan Tre and the Show will take the stage; on Friday, July 15, The Flusters are the act; on Friday, July 22, EeVaan Tre himself will be performing, and on Friday, July 29, Madison Ebersole will perform. Admission is free. Ultrastar Mary Pickford Theater, 36850 Pickfair St., Cathedral City; 760-328-7100; www.ultrastarmovies.com.

Copa Palm Springs will be hosting comedian and actor Leslie Jordan (below) again at 8 p.m., Friday, July 1; 8 p.m., Saturday, July 2; and 7:30 p.m., Sunday, July 3. He’ll be performing his one man show, Straight Outta Chattanooga. Tickets are $25 to $45. Copa, 244 E. Amado Road, Palm Springs; 760-322-3554; www.coparoomtickets.com.

Published in Previews

Deserted at the Palms came to Wonder Valley on Saturday, May 21, and the mini-festival represented the best of the indie, punk and dream-pop bands who spend much of their time earning their keep in the clubs up and down the Sunset Strip.

The Palms is a small restaurant and bar owned by the Sibleys, located on Amboy Road; it’s one of the last buildings you see before you drive north on the well-known Palms Springs short cut to Las Vegas.

Of course, many super music fans were present, like Echo Park native Patti Castillo, aka “Cave Girl,” who received this moniker during the Charles Bradley show at Pappy’s, for using a found rock to pound her tent stakes into the ground. Since camping was encouraged and free for this event, it was no surprise to run into Stewart as she pitched her tent with the help of a fellow camper and her dog, Cool. The fanciful festival brought people together to enjoy music under windy, primitive conditions.

The first band I saw was Rudy De Anda, who played both the opening set and a second set later, because another band had gotten stuck in the sand, according to Daiana Feuer, who co-produced the festival. De Anda’s macabre lyrics—“Voy a usar tu sangre para escribir” (“I am going to use your blood to write”)—was in contrast to the Dead Ships, which brought a more commercial sound to the outdoor stage. The Dead Ships returned to the area, riding high after a Coachella 2016 appearance.

Bloody Death Skull, fronted by Daiana Feuer, was fantastic, with witty tunes and commentary from Feuer, including the statement that a “boob is a good place to rest, but not for a ukulele.”

The Sex Stains, fronted by Allison Wolfe, showed up late, but the group always puts on a high-energy show.

Kim and the Created is generating lots of buzz after playing last year in Mecca at Desert Daze. It’s hard to place Kim and the Created into a category—but punk is a good place to start. A metal frame along the stage offered a perfect place to hang upside down and sing. Kim and the Created never disappoint.

Haunted Summer’s dream pop stood out above the rest. The soulful and howling vocals on “Retrograde” were mind-blowing. Lead vocalist Bridgette Seasons is like a wonderful mish-mash of Grimes and Björk. Haunted Summer expects a new record release in the fall.

The members of Fartbarf wore Neanderthal masks with cowboy shirt; they came recommended by aforementioned superfan Patti Castillo.

Pearl Charles melted hearts with her exquisite voice. She’s another desert veteran who has performed in Pioneertown with band the Blank Tapes.

Death Valley Girls were pure fun with their catchy lo-fi distortion. The Garden delighted fans with the song ”Jester’s Game,” off the 2013 release HaHa.

Closing out the fun in this weirdly wonderful place was Mild High Club. The group’s music soothed, winding down a breathtaking if windy night in Wonder Valley.

Find more from Guillermo Prieto at www.facebook.com/irockkphotos and irockphotos.net.

Published in Reviews