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Last updateMon, 20 Apr 2020 1pm

While music is a universal language, it can be difficult for bands to break through language and cultural barriers. However, Zoé has been breaking through both: The band from Mexico will be performing at Coachella on Sunday, April 13 and April 20.

The band began in Mexico City in 1994, and—like many new bands—it went through various lineup changes and identity crises at first, before finding a degree of consistency. The current lineup includes León Larregui (vocals), Sergio Acosta (guitar), Jesus Baez (keyboards), Angel Mosqueda (bass guitar) and Rodrigo Guardiola (drums).

During a recent phone interview, Sergio Acosta talked about Mexico’s small but powerful alternative-music scene.

“Mexico’s music scene is closer to traditional music,” he said. “The alternative-music scene in Mexico is there, but there is music from all around the world, and we have a lot of influences.”

Those influences include a variety of indie-rock and psychedelic-rock bands—but each album the band has put out since the self-titled debut in 2000 has had a different sound.

“The recording sessions for us are the joyful part of the process,” he said. “Experimentation has been a big cornerstone for us. It’s always been important for us to generate our own original sound. On our second album, we used a drill and typewriters, and any old piece of junk that we could find that could generate sound.”

Zoé has had a long working relationship with producer Phil Vinall, who has also worked with Pulp, Placebo and Elastica, just to name a few bands.

“Phil has worked with us since the mix of the first album in 2000,” he said. “When we started working with him, it was through e-mail and the tracking of our first album. Luckily for us, he was moved by the music, and we got to go to London to make our first album; since that day, he’s been our producer. He’s a very important part of the sound, and we have great communication with him.”

Zoé also has a friend in Nick McCarthy, of the Scottish band Franz Ferdinand. McCarthy was introduced to Acosta by a visual artist in Mexico.

“We met outside of the music environment,” he said. “We just became friends. Later on, Nick came for a holiday to Mexico City, and we were working on a show at the Palacio de los Deportes (Palace of Sports). We were just like, ‘Hey, why don’t you play a song with us?’ He came to the rehearsal room; we sung together; and we had a great show.”

McCarthy has also collaborated with Zoé in the recording studio.

“We have this great friendship. We always see each other when we’re in the same place, and we spent a holiday together a couple of months ago,” Acosta said.

Acosta claimed the band doesn’t think about the language and cultural barriers it faces. The band has recorded some songs in English and has managed to have success in a number of American markets; the band has also developed a degree of popularity in Europe. Acosta said it all comes down to the power of the music.

“We have some songs in English,” he said. “… We sang them in English because they sounded better. It can be frustrating having a language barrier, but we also believe that music is music. We used to listen to music that was mostly sung in English. I also love French music—and I speak very little French. We just think that people get into the music for the emotions that it creates. For about nine years, we’ve also toured the U.S., and each time we play, we see more American people who maybe speak Spanish, but maybe they also like the music. I think there are people who might not understand (all of the music), but they still like the band.”

Acosta said he and his fellow band members credit their camaraderie and friendship as the most essential element of their success.

“Zoé was founded in really good friendship, and we believed we had a good project,” he said. “For us, it’s just very natural for us to get together and make music. Nowadays, after so many years together, we still feel very creative together, and we have a lot in common. We just like to make music together, and we believe that’s what keeps us going.

“We’re very lucky to be a band who can do these kind of tours and play festivals like Coachella. We’re very happy, and we’re very proud of what we have.”

Published in Previews

Chino Moreno has a lot on his musical plate—and Coachella attendees will get to enjoy the intriguing work of one of the Deftones front man’s side projects, Crosses (†††), on Friday, April 11 and 18.

The Deftones busted out of the Sacramento music scene in the 1990s and were soon opening for prominent and established metal acts such as KISS and Ozzy Osbourne. The band also shared the stage with groups like Korn and Limp Bizkit, which went on to become their contemporaries. However, the Deftones captivated audiences in ways that Korn and Limp Bizkit never could, and were by no means a band that would be categorized as “nu-metal.” Not only could Chino Moreno scream a brutal assault of lyrics; he had a melodic voice and a fantastic stage presence. In fact, some have called him one of the best metal frontmen of all time.

Crosses is nothing like the Deftones (nor is it anything like Moreno’s alt-rock side project, Team Sleep). Crosses takes listeners on melodic, dark and hypnotic musical journeys, with a little electronica thrown into the mix. In Crosses, Moreno teams up with guitarist Shaun Lopez—who Moreno has known since childhood—as well as producer Chuck Doom. The band put out its first EP in 2011, and followed that up with another EP in 2012.

During a recent phone interview from Austin, where Crosses were slated to perform at SXSW, Moreno explained how Crosses came together.

“Shaun and I came up together early on in the Sacramento music scene,” Moreno said. “He was in a band called Far, and with me being in the Deftones, we played a lot of shows together early on. A few years ago, I ended up moving a couple of blocks away from him in Los Angeles, and he had a little studio in his pad, and I’d always cruise over to see what he was working on. One particular time, he was there working on stuff with Chuck (Doom), which turned into the Crosses stuff. I liked what I heard, and I was like, ‘Yo, let me get up on this.’ One song led to two, and then three and four.”

The first two EPs were offered to fans for free and promoted via social media. The experiment ended up being well-received, and led to a full-length, self-titled release in February. It reached No. 26 on the Billboard 200 chart.

Moreno cited a number of musical influences.

“The first time I heard Kraftwerk when I was a kid, that was something that really caught my attention more than anything. It sounded very futuristic at the time,” he said. “Around the time I was in the fifth-grade, I discovered Depeche Mode, and for me, that really changed the course of my taste in music. To me, that music had a lot of the low-fi electronics that the early rap music had. It had a really cool, sort-of dark melody that flowed throughout it. To me, that was the ultimate music.”

Moreno has said that his lyrics don’t necessarily address specific topics.

“At times, (the lyrics are) dark and desolate—but they’re also warm in places, too,” he said. “… I’m never trying to sell anything or any ideas. With whatever music it is … the music is presented to me, and what you get on there is my reaction to it.”

Moreno stressed that he doesn’t engage in side projects because he feels limited by the Deftones.

“Any of the side projects I do, I don’t do them because I feel like there’s something I can’t do,” he said. “It’s honestly just me working with different people. When you work with different people and do things in different ways, you actually learn from those experiences. I never had any sort of vocal training or music schooling, so playing with different people and playing in different projects has been how I’ve learned—and now, I continue to learn.”

Tragedy struck the Deftones in 2008, when bassist Chi Cheng was injured in a car accident that left him incapacitated up until his death in April 2013. Deftones fans contributed money to go toward Cheng’s health-care costs throughout, and the Deftones proceeded in the hopes that Cheng would perhaps one day recover and return to the band. Moreno said that in the end, the tragedy brought the band even closer together.

“I think it’s as simple as enjoying the people you’re around,” he said. “I’m lucky enough with the guys in the Deftones that we grew up together as kids, and we started in the garage in 1988 when we were 15 or 16 years old. There’s a bond there, and we actually still enjoy making music with each other. I’m most proud of that, and I know most people don’t have that. Chi’s passing was one thing that brought us closer together.”

He said he feels similarly close to his Crosses bandmates.

“I think that natural aspect of it keeps it inspiring,” Moreno said. “It’s not something that’s preconceived. This is what we do. We’re hanging out, and let’s make some tunes.”

Published in Previews

April is going to be one helluva month in the Coachella Valley.

I came to this somewhat obvious conclusion after a marathon editing and compiling session, during which I perused tens of thousands of words of copy—much of which details how and why, exactly, April is going to be so amazing.

First up: music. Brian Blueskye has been hard at work over the last month-plus, doing interviews, gathering information and writing his butt off in preparation for our special print Music Issue. The result: four profiles on bands playing at Coachella; two profiles on Stagecoach bands; stories on other bands not to miss at both Coachella and Stagecoach; and a rundown of information on Coachella-related parties occurring before and during the festival. He also did two Lucky 13 interviews, as well as his normal monthly Blueskye Report. All of this music coverage, by the way, is fantastic; some of it is already online at CVIndependent.com, and the rest of it will appear within the next week or so.

If you’re a music-lover, and you see Brian around town during the month of April, you should really buy him a drink for keeping you so well-informed.

Next up: everything else that’s going on around the Coachella Valley—and there is a lot going on, much of which is detailed in a brand-new feature we’ve added to the Independent: monthly events listings from ArtsOasis, the creative-resource center that’s a project of the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership. Head on over to ArtsOasis.org, and you can peruse a fantastic events calendar that contains all sorts of great information—or you can just look in our Arts & Culture section for a selection of these listings, which have been edited and compiled by the Independent staff. (Don’t see your event included in the ArtsOasis calendar? Head to the website and submit the information, dang it!)

And now, back to music: The Independent is proud to be sponsoring a great April event that benefits a fantastic cause. The Pre-Coachella Warehouse Party is taking place at Coachella Valley Brewing Co. in Thousand Palms from 3 to 8 p.m., Saturday, April 5. The party will feature two stages of DJ music, live art, yummy food and, of course, great beer. In fact, you’ll get four beers along with your $35 admission fee; click here to buy tickets. Proceeds from the event will go to EcoMedia Compass, a group that wants to save the Salton Sea by promoting awareness of the sea, the problems it is facing, and potential solutions. (Props to my friend Alex Harrington, aka All Night Shoes, for being one of the party’s organizers.)

Yep. April’s going to be a truly special month for the Coachella Valley. Let’s get it started, shall we?

Published in Editor's Note

Our big April Music Issue will start hitting newsstands next week—and to celebrate, we're releasing April's Coachella-themed FRESH Sessions mix a bit early!

The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival has been around since 1999, and has grown—massively—ever since. This year’s lineup features a diverse collection of performers from all over the world. To celebrate the festival, for this month’s FRESH Sessions, I've compiled a set of tracks that includes some music by up-and-coming artists at the festival, as well as songs by some more well-known acts.

I like Coachella because it showcases a wide variety of performers and genres. Everything from indie rock to trance is represented under various tents, all with an atmosphere that is electric. While the festival has lost a bit of its local element, unfortunately, it still seems to carry a strong sense of culture and creativity.

As for my appearances in April: Watch my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/ansofficial) for an updated list of gigs—but make sure you don’t miss the Pre-Coachella Warehouse Party, at Coachella Valley Brewing Co. (30640 Gunther St., Thousand Palms), starting at 3 p.m., Saturday, April 5. Tickets are $35, and that includes four CV Brewing Co. beers, lots of music, live art and tons more. Get your tickets now at brownpapertickets.com!

In the meantime, here’s the April FRESH Sessions. Enjoy—and watch out for a surprise!

  • Chromeo featuring Toro Y Moi, “Come Alive”
  • Duck Sauce, “Barbara Streisand”
  • Anna Lunoe and Touch Sensitive, “Real Talk”
  • Flight Facilities featuring Elizabeth Rose, “I Didn't Believe”
  • Chromeo, “Bonafied Lovin’”
  • DJ Topsider, “Mast (Yale x Classixx)”
  • Anna Lunoe “Up and Down”
  • Alf Alpha x All Night Shoes, “Deep End”
  • Justin Timberlake, “Suit and Tie” (Aeroplane Remix)
  • Flume featuring Chet Faker, “Left Alone”
Published in Subatomic

Music-promoter Goldenvoice puts on the Coachella and Stagecoach festivals here every year—but that’s not all that Goldenvoice does in the Coachella Valley.

Goldenvoice, in partnership with California CareForce, is holding another free health clinic at the Riverside County Fairgrounds in Indio, on April 3-6.

Last year, California CareForce and Goldenvoice provided free medical, dental and vision care to 2,770 people at a cost of just more than $1 million.

During a recent interview in La Quinta, CareForce president Pamela Congdon discussed the specifics of the four-day clinic.

“We’ll have 70 dental chairs and 10 vision lanes, and we can make about 300 prescription glasses per day,” Congdon said. “We give a full eye exam, and with the dentists, we can do extractions, restorative fillings and cleanings. We run it like a mini vision office and a mini dentist's office. Medical will also have acupuncture and a chiropractor.”

Congdon said that they hope to help at least 900 patients a day.

“It’s really the working poor,” she said. “It’s people who have jobs who are good people, and they’re down on their luck. The problem is that if people can afford medical insurance, it doesn’t include dental and vision. Eighty to 90 percent of the people who come through our clinic need dental and vision. Some of these people haven’t been to the dentist in 20 years, and some people have been using an old pair of glasses.”

She told one story about a college student who needed extensive dental work.

“He needed five implants and a bunch of other dental work,” she said. “Good kid, college student—and he had an estimate of $20,000. We weren’t able to do the implants at our clinic, but we were able to remove all of the teeth.

“These are people like you or me. It could be your neighbor coming through—you don’t know. When I went the first time, I thought it was going to be a bunch of homeless people, and it’s not.”

Goldenvoice’s involvement has been essential to providing these services. Congdon said that after noticing the income divide in the area, as well as the lack of medical services and the valley’s spread-out nature, Goldenvoice was eager to step in and give back to the community.

“I think they’ve been so grateful to the community for the Coachella festival,” she said. “They wanted to give back to the community and the people who can’t afford to come to their festivals.”

The people who line up to receive care are also very grateful, even though many of them face a long wait.

“They feel like you have given them hope and their dignity back,” she said. “They will come up to you and say, ‘We don’t know what we would have done without you.’”

Congdon had advice for how people should prepare if they need services at the clinic.

“It’s going to be a long night,” she said. “They need to bring their medication; they need to bring snacks and food, and nothing that’s sugared or anything like that. We want them not to feel stressed. They should also bring portable chairs. We’ll get them through the clinic as fast as we can. Unfortunately, we don’t know any other way for them to get in line and get the ticket.”

Congdon said that the medical professionals ask no questions related to citizenship.

“When they come through, we do patient registration. We just get emergency contacts and demographic information, and whatever of that they want to give us is fine. Then they need to go to triage; we need to make sure their blood pressure isn’t too high. We do diabetes testing; and we ask for their medical history.”

The California CareForce Clinic will take place at the Riverside County Fairgrounds, 82503 Highway 111, in Indio, from Thursday, April 3, through Sunday, April 6. Tickets will be issued to patients at 3:30 a.m. each day. Only one service number will be issued to each person in line. Patients will be let into the clinic at 5:30 a.m. for registration. For more information, call 877-811-6038, or visit www.californiacareforce.org.

Published in Local Issues

So you really want to go to Coachella, see some super-cool bands and have the time of your life.

But you have no tickets, and the event is sold out. Other than watch for another possible locals-only sale, what do you do?

I worked at the Coachella box office during the last two festivals, so take it from me: Unless you don't mind pissing a few hundred bucks into the wind, and watching your friends go in while you cry by yourself, don’t buy a festival wristband from anyone unless you’re 100 percent sure everything’s legit.

The most heartbreaking case I saw involved a young girl who came to the Coachella Valley all the way from Australia. She'd bought a dodgy ticket and couldn't get in touch with the person from whom she’d bought it. Boy, did I feel bad for her. It was also unseasonably cold, and she was wearing short shorts and sandals. I did lend her my sweater while she tried to get in touch with the guy from whom she'd purchased her pass. Alas, it was not meant to be.

You do not want to be like her. Here are some guidelines.

No. 1: Do not buy wristbands from a third party. Sure, there are large third-party ticket-sellers that sound legit, but if you have any issues, the folks working the front gates at Coachella cannot help you. You are only covered and if you buy through the one legitimate channel: Goldenvoice/Coachella and the ticket agent, Front Gate Tickets.

If you have any issues with those third-party-purchased tickets, you will have to get in touch with the company from whom you bought them, and it will be up to them to help you. If you, say, have a faulty wristband and need a new one to be issued, good luck getting them to come to Indio to bring you a new, working wristband. I repeat: The folks working at Coachella cannot help you.

No. 2: Do not buy from a “friend.” Unless you know this friend’s middle name, or their parents came to your bar mitzvah, or they know that you wet the bed until you were 9, don’t do it. I’ve seen too many people standing in front of the box office, heartbroken and crying: “But I know this guy/girl; they couldn’t come, so I bought their ticket off of them.” The standard response is: “OK, so call them up, and tell them to call/e-mail the ticketing people, and have them let us know that they are happy for you to have the wristband. Maybe then we can help you.”

Far too often, the story continues: OK, the person is actually just a friend of a friend of a friend, and the wannabe Coachella attendee with the non-functioning wristband doesn't have a phone number for the friend of a friend of a friend.

One popular scam involves a person reporting a “never-received pass,” even though that person did, in fact, receive a pass. That person then gets a new pass to replace the “never received one,” and sells the first, now-deactivated pass.

Another common story: “This one guy bought all of the tickets for a big group, and we paid him back. All of the others got in, but my wristband is not working.” I repeat: You need to know the person from whom you got the wristband very well. Have the phone number, the address, the middle name and photocopies of the ID and the credit card used for the transaction, with a statement that you are allowed to have one of their wristbands. Trust no one you haven’t known since kindergarten. The wristband is attached to the purchaser's name, and his/her presence or lack thereof can make or break you. The purchaser has all the power as to whether you’re going in.

Here is what you can do to protect yourself (and even then, there are no guarantees): If you get a wristband from someone, have he or she contact Front Gate, the Coachella ticket agent (frontgatetickets.com; 888-512-7469), and add your name to the system. Register that wristband before you buy it. If the person is legit and can’t go, then why would he/she care if you change the shipping address in the system? If he/she refuses or says it isn’t necessary, DO NOT BUY THE WRISTBAND. To be extra-safe, get the wristband number after he/she calls, and call Front Gate yourself to make sure the wristband you are about to buy is now attached to your name.

If there’s a conflict, the person who bought the wristband and whose name is on the account has full authority. If you registered this wristband, and you also show up in the system, you are second in command—but you will not win if there’s a dispute. I’ll say it again: You should only buy a pass from someone you completely and utterly trust.

No. 3: Do not buy a wristband from a dodgy dude/dudette standing outside of the festival gates. Why? Re-read the last 800-plus words.

If you have a truly close friend who is getting rid of his/her ticket, and you follow all of the above advice, chances are you’ll be OK if you take the ticket—and you should thank your lucky stars that you have such a friend. If not, accept that you missed out this year, and get ready to buy your 2015 passes when advance sales begin; you can even opt in to a payment plan. Remember: If you are the original purchaser of a pass, you do not have to worry about being scammed.

But, please, do not trust Craigslist and other third-party sellers, “friends” who really aren’t, or scalpers. It isn’t worth it.

For more info, read up at www.coachella.com/festival-info.

Published in Community Voices

While other Coachella Valley cities tend to get more attention, it’s the city of Indio that—by a fairly wide margin—has the largest population.

With more than 80,000 residents, it’s one of California’s fastest-growing cities; it’s also the home of the Coachella and Stagecoach music bonanzas. In fact, city leaders recently gave Indio the tagline “The City of Festivals.”

However, a drive down once-bustling Fargo Street in the downtown/old town part of Indio reveals that all is not well: Most of that population growth has been in the suburbs, and the city’s core features numerous vacant, boarded-up buildings. Meanwhile, the city government’s reputation is still recovering following the 2010 retirement of Indio City Manager Glenn Southard following a series of financial controversies. (Editor's Note: Elaine Holmes wants to make it clear that she was a supporter of Southard and his "positive approach to Indio.")

But there are signs of progress in downtown Indio, too. For starters, the College of the Desert’s new East Valley Center is rising on Oasis Street, and is slated to open in a year or so. And back down on Fargo Street, the quirky Indio Performing Arts Center is drawing people to downtown for a variety of entertainment.

One of the people who is leading the charge to improve both Indio itself and its reputation is Elaine Holmes. She and her husband, Doug, gave up jobs in corporate America to move from San Clemente to Indio in 2004, when they bought PJ’s Desert Trophies and Gifts, located in downtown Indio on Miles Avenue. During her nine years in Indio, she’s gotten increasingly involved in the city leadership. She was on the board of directors of the Indio Chamber of Commerce, and 2 1/2 years ago, she was elected to the five-member Indio City Council. This year, she’s serving as the city’s mayor (a title that rotates among members on an annual basis).

The Independent recently sat down with Holmes at PJ’s Desert Trophies and Gifts to talk about the city of Indio, her involvement, the city’s future—and even medical marijuana.

So, why Indio?

The people. The people in this community are wonderful. They are very giving; they’re very generous with their own selves and their own time. They are people who are eager to see other people successful. … You just can’t help but get involved with that, and we did, and we really got engaged.

Was there something special—something different—that you noticed about Indio when you moved here that, for example, you hadn’t seen in San Clemente?

It’s a whole different way of life, and, certainly, Indio is a smaller community. It’s a tightly knit, more-close-knit community. When were in San Clemente, because we both worked in corporate America, we didn’t have time to get involved with the community, so when we moved here, we became more engaged.

What made you decide to jump into political life? Even in a relatively small town, politics is politics …

I am a businessperson—really, a small-business-person now—and I felt that I needed to be an advocate for other small-business folks in the city of Indio. That really was the first launch. Secondarily, we are involved with this old town, or downtown, and became a part of the revitalization. I saw the potential; there’s so much potential in Indio, up by the freeway, but also in this old town area, and I really wanted to be involved and be a part of it.

The first time I drove through here (downtown/old town Indio), I went: “Whoa. This looks rough,” especially the part that IPAC is on (Fargo Street). Here (Miles Avenue), it looks nicer, and you’ve got the big (College of the Desert east) campus going in just a few streets down, which is great, but, frankly, there’s a long way to go. Tell me what steps you want the city to take to get it so downtown Indio is vital again.

It’s been a work in process for several years. We began the revitalization process before the downturn in the economy, on Miles Avenue here, predominantly. … Here on Miles Avenue, we redid all of the electrical, the underground (work), the sewers, the water. We tore up the streets and created a walkable area, a well-lit area … because before you can entice business in, you have to have water; you have to have sewer. If a restaurant comes in, you have to have the ability to put in, say, a grease trap. So we put in all of the infrastructure, all of the not-pretty things, first, so we could then work on the rest of it. College of the Desert is something that’s been in the works for several years, and we’re seeing it come out of the ground.

The great thing about Indio, and about this downtown: It used to be that they called it the hub of the valley. This downtown area used to be absolutely thriving with shops and visitors and all of that stuff, and then, as things changed, and the world changed, it continued to deteriorate. … People have a perception that the area’s rough. There’s not an issue with (violent) crime. There’s theft; there are theft issues, sure, but there are theft issues everywhere, particularly now with the downturn in the economy. … We work day and night here; we always have at this store. That’s what small businesses do. We saw the fact that this was a safe place; it had just fallen into disrepair, and I when (my husband) Doug and I look at something that’s in disrepair, we think: “Ah ha! Potential. We can fix it up.”

Concrete steps: How is downtown/old town Indio going to become a place that’s vital again?

It starts with College of the Desert and the fact that there will be 3,000 students at peak enrollment in the downtown area. You need people here, day and night, in order to make an area successful, because that’s what will drive retail and restaurants and the housing component. … (On May 15), the council approved moving forward with mixed use, so there will be restaurants and retail on the bottom, and living (spaces) on top.

Where?

Right across the street from the College of the Desert, there’s an empty lot. … The new detention center’s coming up; the new county administration center is also coming up, so in the next three years, there will probably be an additional 5,000 people in the downtown area. … Both (the detention center and the county administration building already) exist on a smaller scale; both are going to be torn down and rebuilt on a much larger scale. … There will be a captive audience here.

If it were up to you, would downtown Indio become like El Paseo or downtown Palm Springs is, in the sense that they are draws for tourists and people from elsewhere in the valley alike? Or are you content with Indio being a hub mainly for people who live in the east valley?

The vision for downtown/old town Indio is that it’ll be a combination of both. There will be specialty retail and restaurants. … When you think of the number of people who come into the desert, from Canada and tourists, it will be a draw for them. As it stands now, there are (already) some eclectic and unique stores. But also, with the college and the people who live here, there will be services, so people from the east end of the valley will come here, because there is something specific here that they need. So it will satisfy both as it evolves.

There’s going to be a law school here. Ultimately, my vision is: We have the (Indio) Performing Arts Center; we have the CV Art Center. … The (Coachella Valley History) Museum is just a block away. So, if you will, it’s arts, culture and entertainment, and you’ve got that educational base. So you have people moving here, and you’ll have things to do, places to go and places to eat. That’s ultimately where I want it to be.

How does the state dissolving all of the redevelopment districts affect Indio? Did it hurt the efforts badly?

It did. It threw us a curveball, there’s no doubt about it, because the city amassed quite a bit of this property several years ago, so we could bundle or package it to developers, and they could have a large area. When the state took that over, it all came to a screeching halt. There are challenges with it. Right now, we’re trying to deal with the state of California in terms of leasing some of the building space, and looking at disposition agreements in terms of how we go about selling (the property) to specific organizations or developers for future development. It slowed things down in terms of the forward momentum.

Let’s get a past downtown for a bit and talk about the big festivals. First of all, does it annoy you that everyone calls (Goldenvoice’s biggest festival) Coachella, when it actually takes place in Indio?

You know what? It’s all part of the vibe. It would be great to have Indio in the name, but … I think most people know that the festivals are in Indio.

There was a move last year by a fellow City Council member (Ascencion “Sam” Torres) to add a large tax to Coachella tickets. That got shot down, and you were opposed to it. Since then, Goldenvoice has signed a new agreement to stay in Indio (through at least 2030, and to possibly add two more festival weeks, perhaps in the fall). What are your goals, from the city’s standpoint, in terms of the festivals—bringing people here, what Goldenvoice does, etc.?

First of all, Goldenvoice does an enormous amount with the city, particularly with the kids. I think people see the concerts, and that’s what they associate with Goldenvoice, but what we see of Goldenvoice are people who really spend a lot of time and money focused on the community. We had the (remote area medical) health thing at the fairgrounds just before the concerts. They play soccer with the kids; they support the teen center, the Boys and Girls Club, so they’re already engaged in the community, and we want them to continue with that engagement, and to an extent, become even more engaged.

People come from all over the world; that is so neat, and I want, from a business perspective, for all the businesses in the community to reap the benefits of those tourists who are in town. … I also want the world to see the city, and some people are going to move here, and to have people from different cultures, and different parts of the country and world, to move here, to me, adds more to the eclectic flavor of the city that Indio is.

How do you get the word out to the festival-goers that, “Hey, you should actually stop and look at what’s going on in Indio?”

At (the May 15) council meeting, we put together an ad-hoc committee—I did as the mayor—to look at how we can engage the tourists and the people who come here for the concerts to let them know about all the restaurants and great places to go in the city. So we’re going to be pulling together a committee, myself and Mayor Pro-Tem (Michael) Wilson, with some of the local businesses, to address that very issue, and to see how we can be creative to drive people to our businesses.

Would you like to see more businesses come in that could benefit from the festivals? From what I understand, Indio's first new hotel in decades, a Holiday Inn Express, is soon opening.

Absolutely. … It’s “The City of Festivals.” Let’s look at more festivals. Let’s look at something that the city does every month that draws people and tourists into our city that therefore drives retail, and drives hotels and motels. … The more people we have here on a consistent basis, the more of a need we have for the hotels, the restaurants and the retail, because they’ll be able to sustain themselves.

I want to specifically ask you about IPAC. It’s such an eclectic, work-in-progress venue, and they do some pretty cool stuff there; in what direction would you like to see IPAC move?

… There are three components: community theater; a learning environment, particularly for the kids, because music and the arts just aren’t in schools any more; and a place to hold concerts. There are so many local bands here; let’s have a venue for them to play and perform.

Regarding medical marijuana: Right now, Palm Springs is the only city in the valley that allows dispensaries, and a lot of medical-marijuana dispensaries and collectives are closing up shop (after the California Supreme Court ruled that local governments could prohibit them). If it were up to you, where would Indio fall in terms of allowing dispensaries or other medical-marijuana businesses?

It’s come before the council once, I think, a couple of years ago. I think all of us would look at what a medical-marijuana clinic would bring to the city. We’d look at it on a case-by-case basis and decide if that was something that would be a benefit to the city and to the residents of the city. What decision would be, I don’t know. I know that the council is pretty open-minded or is very good at taking each item that comes to us on a case-by-case basis and asking the questions … to determine if it’s something we want in our city, whether it’s medical marijuana or a business.

The story that we did for our first print-version cover story was on growth. We got some numbers from the Southern California Association of Governments that showed Indio, Coachella and especially the nearby unincorporated areas were going to see the bulk of the growth in the valley between now and 2035. With that growth comes challenges: Indio’s going to have to deal with infrastructure, new roadways, and so on. What kind of a role is the Indio City Council taking for Indio to prepare to be a city of more than 110,000 people by 2035?

We’re updating our general plan, first of all. We always look at infrastructure improvements, and we do infrastructure improvements every year, whether it’s to our roads, or whether (it involves water)—we have the Indio Water Authority, our own water agency—and we are constantly upgrading that in terms of water storage and our ability to deliver water to our residents and businesses. (Growth is) something that’s forefront in our minds all of the time. Our city has grown, for the last 15 years or so, and continues to grow, so we have to be ready for that, and we’re constantly looking at: Where do we need to make changes? Where do we need to upgrade? That’s always top of mind. …

The east end of the valley has the highest number of youth here, so the need for services and the environment for these young people to be entertained or to eat or to hang out is critical. (We need) parks. My dream would be an aquatic center—something that was envisioned several years ago, and the economy kind of took that away from us. … That’s the future … the kids. That ties in to education and the whole economic engine, to have the jobs here for these kids to go to.

One of the things I really miss in terms of living in the Coachella Valley is a full-fledged four-year university here …

It’s coming.

It’s coming? Tell me about it.

I want to defer to Jan Harnik, the mayor of Palm Desert, but what drives that is a student population to go to these schools, and therefore, when they come out of school, the ability to find jobs and careers. … As the population grows … it’s a cycle. That’s how it works. As the desert is growing, so is the need for a university.

This is your first foray into elected office. Are you content to stay on the Indio City Council …

Absolutely.

… Or might you have bigger plans down the line?

No. I am all about being involved with the city. The reason I got on the City Council, as I said, is to be an advocate for small business. I like the city; I like being an advocate; I like being a part of the growth. And that’s the beginning, the middle and the end of my political career.

Published in Local Issues

When I decided to attend Coachella and Stagecoach on behalf of the Coachella Valley Independent, editor Jimmy Boegle and I had some concerns about my physical limitations. A back injury that I suffered in 2011 has left me with problems with standing and sitting for long periods of time.

While I was indeed concerned, I was confident that I was up to the task. However, by the third day of Coachella's second weekend, I was starting to really feel my physical limitations.

I decided to visit promoter Goldenvoice’s ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act) Access Center, located in the lobby area of both Coachella and Stagecoach. I was given an ADA wristband, which allowed me access to the handicapped areas, where I could sit and watch each band from a comfortable distance.

One of the things I’ve always loved to do is attend concerts. It’s an amazing experience to be able to experience live performances by bands and performers you’ve enjoyed for years, and to experience new artists you aren’t familiar with. However, I’ve been nervous and hesitant to do since 2011, given the issues I have with both sitting and standing.

Government statistics say that about 20 percent of Americans have a disability—so how do you accommodate those who have a disability at a music festival?

Goldenvoice employees have been trying to answer that very question since they created the ADA department, and have been making improvements every year—from how they design the layout of the grounds, to how the staging areas are set up.

“It’s a never ending commitment,” said J.B., an employee of Goldenvoice who is affiliated with the ADA Access Center (and who declined to give his last name). “We are constantly refining everything in every aspect of the festivals. We’re working hand in hand with every department.”

The department has a broad range of services available for handicapped patrons.

“We cover everything from the parking lot and designated wheelchair and companion areas to sign-language interpreters on the stages,” he said.

While the ADA Access Center does try to accommodate each case on a per-need basis, they have no control over some parking-lot access issues, he said; that is handled according to the DMV and law enforcement rules, meaning placards or license plates are required for handicapped-access parking.

For those who have a disability and have been hesitant to attend Coachella or Stagecoach, I can say that Goldenvoice has you covered.

“Ultimately, I would say the numbers (of disabled attendees) grow every year,” he said.

He also offered an inspiring thought after providing access to disabled patrons over the years.

“(By) providing ADA services here at the festivals, we are opening up to a broader audience that perhaps never thought, ‘Hey, I could go to a music festival,’ and now they’re seeing they can go in their wheelchair and enjoy it as much as any other able-bodied person.”

As someone who sought services from this department over two weekends, I can say that the ADA Access Center does a good job. As I was leaving the Access Center at Stagecoach to go catch John C. Reilly and Friends, J.B. told me something that almost made me choke up: The department has provided services to terminally ill patrons who have told them that it might be their last Coachella or Stagecoach.

I’d personally like to thank Goldenvoice for providing me with ADA access; without it, I don’t know how well I would have been able to hold up and cover the festival as I did.

They saved the best for last.

Day 3 of Coachella 2013’s second weekend started off with blistering temperatures, but attendees came prepared. While a windstorm put a damper on the closing events of Coachella’s first weekend, the winds on the second Sunday remained relatively calm.

While Saturday’s schedule was heavy on the EDM, on Sunday, it was mostly about the rock. Throughout the Coachella’s history, Day 3 has always seemed to feature the biggest acts.

The Gaslight Anthem took to the main stage at 3:30 p.m. One figures the New Jersey punk outfit would attract a sizable crowd, but the attendance was quite thin.

The band walked onstage and began performing without an intro and without addressing the crowd—and they suffered through technical difficulties throughout the set. Guitarist and lead vocalist Brian Fallon’s microphone didn’t appear to be loud enough; the guitar solos were low volume and barely present. Overall, the band’s performance seemed … dull. The band—notable for being the closest thing to Bruce Springsteen within modern music—decided for some reason to cover Stone Temple Pilots’ “Interstate Love Song” toward the end; they closed with “The Backseat,” which was probably the best song of their set.

Too little, too late.

“I like them; they were on my list of bands that I wanted to see,” said Karen, who came all the way from Toronto.

However, she was honest about the band’s performance.

“I enjoyed them, even though the sound wasn’t perfect. It was still worth seeing.”

The eccentric and renowned Dinosaur Jr. performed on the Outdoor Theater stage at 5:10. The Massachusetts band—known for lead guitarist and vocalist J Mascis’ perfection of the art of feedback—offered a variety of songs from throughout their career. The band’s sound—which could be described as a combination of hardcore-punk, metal and psychedelic rock—made them a perfect act to follow Kurt Vile and the Violators. Mascis’ Marshall stack amps were arranged in a feedback zone that he moved in and out of between vocals; on couple of songs, he ceded lead vocals to drummer Murph and bassist Lou Barlow. Toward the end of their set, Dinosaur Jr. played a cover of The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven,” in their own unique sound.

Rodriguez—the subject of the documentary Searching for Sugar Man, which won Best Documentary Feature honors at this year’s Academy Awards—took the stage in the Gobi tent at 6:35 p.m. to an audience of die-hards excited to hear the newly famous Detroit musician, whose music became the soundtrack for the anti-Apartheid movement in South Africa, unbeknownst to Rodriguez. Rodriguez’ folk sound, however, presented a problem: At the same time, Social Distortion was blasting throughout the entire festival; Tame Impala was performing in the nearby Outdoor Theater; and James Blake was performing in the neighboring Mojave tent (with Rza of Wu-Tang Clan making a special appearance during Blake’s set).

When Rodriguez walked on to the stage, he was guided on each arm to his guitar and microphone due to the inoperable glaucoma that’s causing him to go blind. When Rodriguez began his performance, the other bands easily drowned him out. Still, his fans got as close as they could to try to hear him. His performance of “I Wonder” early in his set led to loud applause when fans heard the opening bass line.

Despite all of the noise, Rodriguez and his backing band were on the ball. Fans began to trickle in after James Blake and Social Distortion were finished, just as Rodriguez began “Sugar Man,” which sent smartphones up into the air to capture video or shoot photos. After a folk-sounding cover of Little Richard’s “Lucille,” Rodriguez began to lose a portion of the audience to some of the other performers about to go on stage, but nonetheless, Rodriguez delivered a strong performance until the very end.

Regarding the art exhibits of Coachella: When the sun sets, the night time is the right time, because many of the exhibits have lighting that makes them visually stunning. On Sunday night as Vampire Weekend played on the main stage, the exhibits in the areas closest to the main stage came alive for one last night.

The Balloon Chain looks more impressive at night as it moves through the festival with balloons lit and streaming across the night sky. Mirage lights up at night, putting an impressive accent on the Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired structure. The Do LaB’s teepee-style tents glow at night, bringing out the different shades of the fabric.

One exhibit that grabbed attention throughout the weekend was the Poetic Kinetics’ PK-107 Mantis. A cherry-picker-like structure with wings that look like they came off a jet fighter, Mantis moves up and down, looking like a giant, robotic praying mantis.

Lindsay, attending the festival all the way from Ireland, stood and watched it with curiosity

“It’s quite spectacular. It really stands out at night time,” he said.

Another attraction that could be seen moving around the festival at night were the Electric Butterfly Effect butterflies. They were illuminated in neon colors and looked like they were really moving.

In the evening, nothing is better than a ride on the Ferris wheel—one of the festival’s most popular attractions. Despite an $8 ticket price, there was a long line on Sunday night.

A couple offered a very sentimental take on their Ferris wheel experience, stating that from up above, you can see the diversity of the festival. “You can see music bringing everyone together,” said Karen from Pasadena.

Her friend, Matt from Palm Desert, agreed.

“It’s such a great thing to get all these people together. It was kind of epic seeing everything up there going on at once,” he said.

When it came to the last of the musical performances, the main stage seemed to lose a large percentage of the attendees’ interest.

After the sun went down, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds took the stage, at 8:40 p.m. Cave’s dark songwriting—referencing the Old and New Testament, plagued characters, and sometimes heartfelt sentiments—make him an unusual performer, and several people didn’t know what to make of him. As he walked onto the stage—backed by a children’s choir and with a woman doing sign language in front of the video monitor on the right side of the stage—he didn’t have much of a crowd. As he started his first song, “From Her to Eternity,” the choir provided a drone to Nick Cave’s howling of the lyrics.

While performing “Deanna,” the crowd sang along to the chorus of “Oh, Deanna, D-e-anna,” giving Cave the crowd participation he deserved, before a good chunk of his audience moved over to the Outdoor Theater to wait for Wu-Tang Clan.

If there was one important lesson to be learned during Coachella 2013, it’s this: Wu-Tang Clan ain’t nothing to … mess with.

Wu-Tang attracted an audience at the Outdoor Theater that went into to the Main Stage area, around The Do LaB, and near the Gobi tent. Wu-Tang, backed by a large orchestra, rocked the audience with their hard-core hip-hop anthems from their legendary Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) album. Wu-Tang’s energetic set ran into the end of Nick Cave’s set and into the beginning of Red Hot Chili Peppers set, holding the audience even as the Peppers took the stage. After Wu-Tang finished their set and wished the fans a happy late 4/20, the crowd at the quickly moved to the main stage area.

Last week’s performance by the Red Hot Chili Peppers was plagued by a windstorm, and it seems that last week’s attendees didn’t get to see the full stage show by Hall of Fame inductees. The band’s full stage show, with video monitors and much more colorful lighting, seemed to help the band perform a little better. Unfortunately, the set list didn’t offer much of their early ’90s classics other than “Give It Away.”

While the Coachella 2013 lineup seemed a little lackluster, and too many performances were plagued by technical problems, scheduling problems, and various other problems, the event was nonetheless solid and a full experience for those in attendance.

Published in Reviews

It’s definitely hot out here.

The second day of the second weekend of Coachella 2013 featured high temperatures in the 90s by mid-afternoon. But despite the heat, most of the attendees were having a good time.

Still, many sought shade under the Mirage art exhibit, designed by Paul Clemente of Los Angeles. Mirage, a Frank Lloyd Wright-looking housing structure, was crowded in the open spaces under the roof.

“It’s pretty hot, but not too unbearable,” said John, from Santa Monica. “It bothers me a little bit, especially right now.”

The Helix Poeticus—a large mechanical snail that moves around—was close by, attracting the curiosity of attendees who were snapping photographs and touching it as it slowly slithered around the main stage area, close to Mirage. Eric Hendricks, from Orange County, was in awe.

“I love it; I love the interactiveness of Coachella with the people,” he said.

However, there was a potential downside.

"It’ll run you over if you’re not paying attention,” Hendricks said.

The Do LaB, a long-running exhibit at Coachella, features live DJs in an area within teepee-like structures. “The vibe is great, and there’s a lot of bass,” said an Indio man coming out of The Do LaB. The dance floor and the DJ stage resemble a smaller version of the dance parties once shown on MTV’s Spring Break.

On the subject of electronic dance music, Saturday’s lineup of EDM artists was featured in the Mohave tent as well as the large EDM-featured Sahara Tent.

Major Lazer took the Mojave stage at 6:25 p.m. on Saturday to a full house that extended to areas around the stage. Jillionaire and Walshy Fire jumped around, barking orders to the crowd to jump, put their hands up, and remove their shirts and toss them into the air. The people obeyed, sending a collage of various colored shirts into the air. Diplo stayed at the mixing board, offering remixes of songs from Nirvana, Damian Marley and Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Toward the end of the set, the group was joined by 2 Chainz, who performed earlier in the day.

The EDM in the Mojave and Sahara tents drew a large chunk of the crowd, trying to get a peek at artists such as Grizzly Bear and Fedde Le Grand. The main stage and the outdoor theater saw drops in crowd sizes between 6 and 8:30 p.m.

The ‘80s British ska band The Selecter took the stage at 7:10 in the Gobi tent to a small crowd. Many of the attendees had most likely never heard of the group, yet were dancing and bouncing around to the band’s anthems such as “On My Radio,” “Missing Words” and “Too Much Pressure.” The crowd had very few people “skanking”—a signature dance move done by ska devotees. But regardless, attendees couldn’t resist dancing or bouncing.

Punk icons the Descendents took the outdoor theater stage at 9:05. Milo Aukerman walked on and started playing “Everything Sucks” with some technical difficulties (the volume was too low) to a smaller-than-expected crowd. The band only plays a few shows a year due to Milo’s gig as a “plant researcher” at DuPont, and he chooses his vacation days wisely when it comes to touring. Still, the band had incredible energy and managed to pull in an audience that increased in size throughout the entire set. Milo read off a list if “punk commandments,” some of which were “thou shalt not commit laundry” and “thou shalt not take the van’s name in vain.” During what seemed to be a longer set than last weekend’s show, the Descendents looked happy and energetic.

The EDM presence remained strong through the evening. Moby … ahem, DJ Moby was performing at the Sahara, which was packed to capacity with an overflow. Moby, dressed in a Black Flag T-shirt, jumped up and down to pump up the crowd. He moved between fast-paced beats, ambient, trance, dubstep, and even a few cuts from his own albums. The visuals that flashed through the video screens were at times psychedelic, somewhat chaotic, and breathtaking. 

As The xx prepared to take the main stage, with Franz Ferdinand scheduled to play in the neighboring Mojave tent, DJ Moby’s audience began to thin out.

While Phoenix played on the main stage, New Order headlined at the Mojave tent. For a moment, it felt like a Metallica concert: New Order used the same intro as Metallica, Ennio Morricone’s “The Ecstasy of Gold.” When Bernard Sumner and the rest of the band took the stage, Sumner addressed a technical difficulty, thanking the sound engineer for failing to fade properly.

While Sumner (guitar and vocals) and Stephen Morris (drums) both look like they have aged into AARP status, make no mistake: They still rock! While Peter Hook is sitting out this reunion (and took a shot at the band in the press by referring to them as a “tribute band”), Tom Chapman fit in nicely on bass guitar.

Throughout the set, Sumner took shots at main stage headliner, Phoenix. “Thank you for being here instead of over there,” he said. Later on, he said—while experiencing technical difficulties in between songs—that they were out to prove to Phoenix that louder doesn’t mean better.

New Order played songs from throughout their career. “Your Silent Face,” from 1983’s Power, Corruption and Lies, featured a makeshift film in the background that made light of mankind’s destruction, showing shipwrecks off the shores of beautiful islands, helicopters flying over ravaged cities, shanties in parts of Los Angeles, and a big tidal wave hitting homes on the L.A. coast line. The band’s performance of “Blue Monday,” their hit single that was later covered by Orgy in the late '90s, delighted the audience. The former Joy Division members paid tribute to the late Ian Curtis with a portrait of him appearing on the backdrop as they played “Love Will Tear Us Apart.”

While I was leaving, I had one question in mind: Phoenix who? Performances on other stages stole the show from the early evening until the very end.

Photos by Noelle Haro-Gomez

Published in Reviews

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