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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

February is the shortest month of the year—but it just so happens to be the time for some of the hottest events of the year.

The McCallum Theatre’s packed schedule includes a lot of great stuff. At 7 p.m., Monday, Feb. 4, classical violinist Joshua Bell will be performing. He’s the violinist who was the subject of a Washington Post story about him busking in the subway—with few paying attention to him or knowing who he was. Bell has a classical-music career that goes back 30 years, and he’s played some of the biggest classical music halls around the world. Tickets are $60 to $105. At 8 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 14, Broadway star and vocalist Linda Eder will take the stage. Eder is no stranger to the McCallum and has turned in sell-out performances on its stage before. Tickets are $38 to $68. Do you love magic? Then at 3 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 17, you’ll love It’s Magic! The show will feature some of the biggest stars of magic, and it’s produced by Milt Larsen and Terry Hill, best known as the producers of America’s Got Talent. You’ll see magicians who have performed in Las Vegas and magicians who have racked up international acclaim. Tickets are $18 to $38. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has some big names coming through; here are just a few to give you an idea. At 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 1, The Beach Boys will be performing. Beach Boys member Mike Love is now the only original member remaining, though longtime member Bruce Johnston is still along for the ride. The band’s shows remain wildly popular with fans; you’ll hear all the songs that sold millions of records and changed rock ’n’ roll history in America. Tickets are $39 to $79. At 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 8, R&B group Boyz II Men will be performing. This would be a nice Valentine’s Day gift for your sweetheart, if you have one—or even a great night out with friends. I’ve always been blown away by the Boyz’ singing talents and unbelievable harmonies. Tickets are $39 to $79. If those two big names aren’t big enough for you, you’ll love this one: At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 16, the Dogg himself, Snoop Dogg, will be performing. Snoop’s name is iconic in hip-hop, and he was one of the biggest rappers in the world back in the ’90s (in fact, he still is today), with rap anthems that get heavy radio and club play. Tickets are $59 to $109. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has some compelling offerings in February. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 9, the famous all-male revue Thunder From Down Under will take place. If your girlfriend isn’t replying to your text messages that night, that’s most likely where she is. Tickets are $15 to $25. On Valentine’s Day, specifically at 8 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 14, it’ll be a magical night at the Art Laboe Valentine’s Super Love Jam. Laboe has become comically known for all the people who call into his radio show to give shout-outs to their loved ones in prison, which often involve names like “Baby Joker.” Laboe recently gave an interview where he said that he doesn’t judge his listeners—and that’s kept him on the air and has led to some uplifting moments for inmates and their families. The Love Jam will feature Zapp, Midnight Star, The Jets, GQ and The Delfonics. Tickets are $40 to $60. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 16, you’ll want to soft-rock all night, because Air Supply (upper right) will be performing. I’m sure Air Supply is hoping for a big resurgence similar to the one that soft-rock contemporary Toto is enjoying having right now … but actually, Air Supply is doing just fine without a Weezer cover and without any memes, because Air Supply has sold more than 20 million copies of its greatest-hits record and is still highly in demand. Tickets are $40 to $60. Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 has a few shows booked for the showroom in February. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 2, comedian Felipe Esparza (below) will be performing. You might remember him from his performances on Comics Unleashed and Comedy Central’s Premium Blend, as well as other TV and film appearances. He currently has a hilarious Netflix special out. Tickets are $30 to $40. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 9, Mexican singer-songwriter Pancho Barraza will take the stage. Barraza is a performer of traditional Mexican music. Tickets are $65 to $85. Now for something different … at 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 16, a comedy play titled A Oscuras Me da Risa will be performed. It’s a multi-character comedy about a happy couple going on a weekend getaway and going their own separate ways. Tickets are $36 to $91. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace has some must-see shows, per usual. At 9 p.m., Friday, Feb. 15, psychedelic rock-band La Luz will be performing. I recently gave La Luz’s new album Floating Features a listen, and it’s fantastic. This should be a great show—and is a must for any rock fan. Tickets are $15. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 23, the alt-countryish band Evangenitals will be back. As I always say, you haven’t lived ’til you’ve seen the Evangenitals play. Stick around for their multiple sets, especially the last one at the end of the night. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry … wait, you won’t cry, but you’ll laugh hysterically. Admission is free! At 7 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 28, Pearl and the Canyon Revelry Band will be performing. Pearl Aday (daughter of Meat Loaf) has quite a set of pipes, and at a young age was a backing vocalist in her dad’s band. She’s been performing country and released her debut album in 2010; she just released a new album, Heartbreak and Canyon Revelry. My metal-loving friend Frank pointed out that her husband is Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian—so you might catch a glimpse of him at the show. Tickets are $10. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Purple Room Palm Springs is definitely a nice place to consider taking that special someone to for dinner and a show. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 9, singer Jonathan Karrant will be performing. Karrant is known for his “Hollywood’s greatest hits”-style show, as he performs songs by Burt Bacharach, Michel Legrand and many others. Tickets are $30 to $35. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 16, Broadway star and vocalist Roslyn Kind will take the stage. The half-sister of Barbra Streisand has toured the globe performing with Babs and her nephew, Jason Gould. Tickets are $45 to $55. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 23, cabaret performer and singer Iris Williams will be performing. Her jazzy vocals on up-tempo numbers and her ballads will be a treat to hear. Tickets are $40 to $45. Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

Toucan’s Tiki Lounge and Cabaret has a February event worth noting. At 7:30 p.m., Friday, Feb. 15 and Saturday, Feb. 16, pop-country singer Steve Grand will take the Toucan’s stage. You’ll probably remember him as the singer of “All-American Boy,” a song about a gay man in love with a straight man, which went viral on YouTube. The gay country singer has since found continued success; he’s no stranger to the Palm Springs area, having performed at the LGBT Community Center of the Desert’s Center Stage gala in 2016. Tickets are $35 to $45. Toucans Tiki Lounge and Cabaret, 2100 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-416-7584; reactionshows.com.

Published in Previews

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