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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

A large and, by all accounts, successful comic con came to Palm Springs over the summer.

One problem: That comic con was improperly billed as the first and only Coachella Valley comic con.

Turns out a group called the Palm Springs Comic Con has been around since 2014—and this scrappy group of locals is putting on the Palm Springs Comic Con on Saturday, Nov. 19, and Sunday, Nov. 20, at the Hard Rock Hotel in Palm Springs. (Full disclosure: The Independent is a sponsor of the event.)

Locally, there is no one more passionate about comic and nerd-culture than Alex Callego.

“My love for it started 20 years ago,” Callego said during a recent interview. “My love for conventions began before that. I’d always heard about San Diego Comic-Con, even before it was this huge and gigantic thing. I always wanted to go to it because I had friends who were artists in high school, and I wanted to be a comic book writer. I joined forces with them and tried to be a comic writer, but it was never a serious thing; it was just out of love for my comic-book fandom.”

Callego said he went to his first San Diego Comic-Con by accident, more or less.

“I was on vacation with some family members. We stayed in San Diego at the same time as San Diego Comic-Con,” he said. “We walked over there, and this was back before you had to buy tickets. We just went in, and from that moment forward, it changed my life: I had to go every single year.”

Callego said he always thought it would be amazing to have a comic con in his hometown, but he was hesitant to produce one of his own.

“I was into music … and I wanted to be in a band and tour. After a while, the whole music thing went away for me for a few years,” he said. “But I was still going to San Diego Comic-Con … 10 years in a row, and then 15 years in a row. That idea of putting on my own convention was something I decided I wanted to do: It sunk in that I needed to create something of my own. Music wasn’t doing it for me anymore.

“The first event we did was in May 2014, and that’s when we launched our (Kickstarter) initiative.”

That initiative raised more than $14,000. Callego said he was bothered at first when the other group came in and started billing the summer comic con as the valley’s first and only.

“Very quickly, I let it go,” he said. “The way I saw it, and the more geek stuff out here in the desert, the better. It strengthens the culture that much more as long as it’s done right. The thing is, being first doesn’t mean anything. Being the best at something is a matter of opinion. What matters the most is being good and connecting with people. As long as I’m connecting to people, that’s what matters. I’m sure it matters to businesses that are involved and things like that.

“Our convention started off with a Kickstarter; the fans wanted it. They saw the desire to have a comic-book convention in their town and wanted it so badly that they put their own money behind it. It’s my duty as a person in the community to create something as best as possible with the resources that I have.”

What can attendees expect from the Palm Springs Comic Con? Callego said the weekend is all about offering a unique experience, as well as some really fun exhibits.

“We want the experience to be more interactive; we bring in the younger talents who are trying to do their artwork and art form,” Callego said. “This is a platform for us to be able to help them. What I want to give is an experience that is unique. … We have Titmouse Studios coming in, and they’re going to be doing a panel. They’re going to be talking about their latest show and their newest movie. We also have this thing called the Memory Box; it’s sort of like playing telephone, only through video.”

The Palm Springs Comic Con takes place Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 19 and 20, at the Hard Rock Hotel, 150 S. Indian Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. Tickets are $15 to $50. For tickets and more information, visit www.pscomiccon.com. For VIP passes ($50 value for $35), go to the Independent Market at CVIndependent.com.

Published in Local Fun

After six years at the Ace Hotel and Swim Club in Palm Springs, DJ Day has decided it’s time for his popular weekly ¡Reunion! party to come to an end.

He recently announced that the sixth-anniversary edition of ¡Reunion! on Thursday, March 31, will be the final show.

“Honestly, after six years every week, which is something like 320 nights, it begins to take its toll,” DJ Day said during a recent interview in Palm Springs. “Long story short, I just got burnt out on the whole nightlife thing. It’s run its course, and I’d like to start doing something else. I want to get back into recording music, and I’m ready to move on as a person and just take a different path in my life. It’s been great, but it’s also a very trying thing.

“When I first started out, I talked to someone who had a weekly in Portland, and she said, ‘It’s not easy. You’re going to have stretches of good times and stretches of bad times.’ It’s been up and down lately, but it’s on an upswing right now, so I figured it was time for me to leave on a good note.”

For the past few months, DJ Day’s good friend and regular guest at ¡Reunion!, Aimlo, has not been present.

“(Aimlo) is moving away and hasn’t been coming since the end of last year. For the past three months, he’s been doing his own thing and gearing up for the move,” DJ Day said.

DJ Day, whose birth name is Damien Beebe, said the decision was completely his own, and that Ace Hotel management was surprised to learn about his decision, yet was supportive and understanding. He said he will continue his last-Saturday-of-the-month Highlife party at the Ace.

“The Ace Hotel didn’t even see this coming. I’ve been kicking around the idea for a year, and in my gut, something told me it was time to move on and do something different,” he said.

DJ Day said one of the things he enjoyed the most about ¡Reunion! was the vibe that could often be felt in the room—something I experienced myself many times.

“Trying to Rolodex through six years’ worth of shit is insane. There have been some crazy times, from people dancing on tables to trying to put money in my underwear,” he said. “The best times were (when the crowd was) willing to take a chance and trust me musically, and it creates this reciprocal feeling in the room where everyone is on the same vibe together. It’s a church-like vibe, and everyone has the same spirit going through them. It’s the best feeling I can get through music and playing other people’s music.”

¡Reunion! has featured many amazing guests. The first ¡Reunion! I attended was in 2013 during Coachella, when Flying Lotus showed up and performed a surprise set in the Amigo Room.

“There have been times when I didn’t even know who was in the room just hanging out,” DJ Day said. Lykke Li was in there chillin’ one night in a booth; Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine was there one night, and just other random people. You never knew who would be at the Ace.

“During the first two years, we’d have special guests once a month. Jeremy Sole (of KCRW radio) put together this flier, and I was trying to remember all of the people who came through, but it’s a pretty big list of folks. I just wanted it to be a place where people could come and hang out … and be comfortable. That’s why it’s ‘¡Reunion!’—it’s a place for people to come together. I wanted to create a good vibe, and I’m proud to say we never had any fights or dumb shit happen in six years.”

Along with Aimlo, the aforementioned Jeremy Sole was a regular guest at Reunion, and other local DJs such as Pawn, Pedro Le Bass, JF//Discord and Independent resident Alex Harrington often joined the party. There has always been a spirit of collaboration and openness.

“I’m very happy to be part of anyone else’s success, or give people a platform to do their art of playing their music when they never had (a platform) before,” DJ Day said. “I love being part of the community here and being part of the future of young people. For me to give a hand to anybody, it’s a great thing.”

Despite DJ Day’s busy touring schedule—including various international trips—he always came back home to play at ¡Reunion!

“I was on tour in Europe, and I remember coming back one night (and) getting off the plane at LAX,” DJ Day said. “I went home and showered, and went right to ¡Reunion!, because DJ Nu-Mark was playing that night. I wanted to go and just make sure everything was cool. My wife was like, ‘What the fuck you doing?’ And I was like, ‘Hey, I gotta be there.’

“What has taken its toll, in an emotional sense, is going overseas and playing for like 4,000 people in Tokyo, and coming back home to no love. It’d be like, ‘Where the fuck is everyone?’ I felt like people were starting to take this shit for granted, and it was like old reliable: ‘Oh, I’ll go next week,’ and next week becomes next month and on and on. Then you’re relying on the hotel guests, and that can fluctuate.”

DJ Day said ¡Reunion! has been a true learning experience, because he never knows what kind of crowd and vibe each Thursday night will bring.

“I have to be on my toes for whoever is there,” he said. “Some nights, it’s been straight party shit; other nights, I’m playing Portishead at fucking midnight. It just depends.”

DJ Day has talked about how much effort he put into his record Land of 1000 Chances, which was released in 2013. He said he’s a much different artist now than he was back then.

“Whatever music I choose to make now is coming from a totally different perspective, life-wise and internally, than where I was at that time,” he said. “That was a culmination of events that were going on behind the scenes both within myself and other areas of my life. That record addressed some of them, and I put my heart and soul into that record. I’ll still do that with the next one, but it’ll be from a different place. … I think I’ll be more of an optimist, and my taste has evolved and changed.”

What does DJ Day see himself doing on Thursday nights after the final ¡Reunion! show?

“Watching Better Call Saul on the DVR,” he joked. “No, actually, I don’t know. It’s going to be weird, and it’s going to be an adjustment. I’d like to spend more time with my family. That’s what I really want.”

DJ Day said he’s not sure what the future will hold for Thursday nights at the Ace.

“I’ve been there since Day 1—I used to do sets by the pool, so I’ve actually been there seven years,” he said. “I offered to find a replacement for me, whether it was Aimlo or Pawn, to continue that night, given they know it, but they might go in a different direction and do something completely different.”

DJ Day said he feels very thankful as six years of ¡Reunion! come to a close.

“I couldn't have done this without my man Aimlo, who's been there from Day 1, and my Ace Hotel family who have been nothing short of awesome,” he said. “I also want to give a tremendous thanks to all of the artists who've played ¡Reunion! and everyone who's come out and supported us throughout the years. Much love to you all.”

The Reunion Six-Year-Anniversary Farewell will take place at 9 p.m., Thursday, March 31, at the Ace Hotel and Swim Club, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. Admission is free. For more information, call 760-325-9900, or visit www.acehotel.com/palmsprings. Below: DJ Day with Alex Callego.

The Purple Room Restaurant and Stage is known for its residencies featuring acts such as the Gand Band and The Judy Show—but the venue hasn’t been particularly well-known as a place to see edgier, younger talent.

However, that is beginning to change, thanks to a new series of programming called Purple Room After Dark. The series features local and visiting acts in shows that start at 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights.

Handling the booking for Purple Room After Dark is Alex Callego, who has worked with the Ace Hotel and Swim Club, as well as Bar. He also handles the Palm Springs Comic-Con and various other local events.

“I was approached by Tony Marchese, and by Dean McFarlane, who I used to work with over at the Ace Hotel,” Callego explained. “When Dean moved over to Purple Room, I said, ‘Hey, maybe you can get me in there. I’d love to try to do some entertainment over there.’

“It took about a year. Tony contacted me and basically wanted to have a meeting. We sat down, and I gave them a proposal, and we are launching our first shows at the end of February. This is the first time I’ve been able to actually be creative with what I’m doing—and there’s a lot of stuff I’m really excited to do.”

Local acts slated to play at the Purple Room in February include Waxy (Friday, Feb. 20), DJ Aimlo (Saturday, Feb. 21 and 28), CIVX (Friday, Feb. 27) and Independent resident DJ All Night Shoes (Saturday, Feb. 28).

Callego said he has big plans for March.

“I have Organic Junk Fude on Friday, March 6, with the Yip-Yops. Organic Junk Fude is a band that was around in the early 2000s and sort of had a cult following. They were this punk band that were kind of like GWAR, and also did hip-hop. It was a really strange stage show—and I was actually in the band for a bit. They were gone for a few years. They all have kids, and now they’re back and writing new music.” (See The Lucky 13 for more on Organic Junk Fude.)

Callego also isn’t afraid to go beyond musical acts for Purple Room After Dark.

“Another thing I have that I’m excited about is a stand-up comedy show on Friday, March 20, with Allen Strickland Williams, Eric Dadourian and Solomon Georgio. Allen Strickland Williams is part of a sketch group called Women; they’re getting a lot of attention and just got picked up by IFC.com. … All of them individually in Women are really talented and do different things. Solomon Georgio was just on Conan, and he did a lot of awesome comedy writing. Eric Dadourian was written up somewhere as part of the 100 Best Comics in Los Angeles.”

The band Roses is scheduled to appear on Saturday, March 21. It features members of the late, lamented group Abe Vigoda.

“Abe Vigoda played Coachella, but they are now defunct,” Callego explained. “Roses just did a mini-tour and played in New York. They also part of the scene that plays at The Smell in L.A. I’m also going to have Dunes on Saturday, March 28, which also features ex-members of Abe Vigoda.”

Callego said admission to most shows is free for the time being.

“We will have some shows that will have a $5 or $10 cover charge at the door, but I would say a good 90 to 95 percent of our shows will be free,” he said.

Purple Room After Dark takes place at 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday, at the Purple Room Restaurant and Stage, located at 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. Admission to most shows is free. For more information and a complete schedule, call 760-322-4422, or visit afterdark.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

Published in Previews