CVIndependent

Sun05272018

Last updateWed, 27 Sep 2017 1pm

Brian Blueskye

Keith Urban may be from New Zealand, but his brand of country music is as American as it gets.

On Saturday night, Keith Urban returned to Stagecoach for the first time since 2010—a day after releasing his new album, Graffiti U.

Despite blustery winds on Saturday night, Urban put on a magnificent performance. When he started his set by playing the first few chords of “Somebody Like You,” the excited welcome from the Stagecoach crowd was just as loud as the music.

The wind was a challenge for Kacey Musgraves, who performed just before Keith Urban and appeared frustrated a few times—but the wind didn’t seem to faze Urban. As the wind blew Urban’s hair all over the place, he joked with the audience, “This was exactly what I was looking for tonight, Stagecoach.” He added a little later that it “smells like it’s pretty cool down in the front,” before singing a few lines of the Brothers Osborne’s “Weed, Whiskey and Willie” a cappella, and then playing “Never Coming Down.”

While the daytime heat and the intense winds that came on early in the evening hindered the day for some, it couldn’t stop the beer-drinking, barbecuing, dancing and great music that took place throughout the day and into the night.

Here are some other highlights from the day:

• Ronnie Milsap’s afternoon performance in the Palomino tent was sort of bittersweet. While it was a delight to see him, his voice is simply not what it used to be; it was difficult for him to the hit high notes in some of his songs. He told the audience that a recent CD compilation included a lot of his hit songs from the ’70s and ’80s, and said, “My life is condensed into 21 CDs, or 100 8-tracks.” Personally, I loved his performance of “What Goes on When the Sun Goes Down.”

• When Jason Isbell appeared in the Palomino, he told the nearly packed house, “Personally, I feel like we’re playing on the best day of the festival,” noting that Dwight Yoakam would be playing later in the evening. Isbell talked about touring with Yoakam, saying that he couldn’t wear tight jeans, because Dwight was better than him at that. “I don’t have an airbrush, so I’m not going to beat him,” he quipped. The former Drive-By Truckers guitarist has definitely gained much-deserved appreciation among the rock and country crowds. His wife, Amanda Shires, backed him on violin, and really shined.

• Dwight Yoakam packed the Palomino tent beyond capacity and put on the best live performance I’ve ever seen from him. He paid tribute to the late Merle Haggard and performed “Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down.” Of course, he also performed his collaboration with the late Buck Owens, “Streets of Bakersfield.”

See some photos from Day 2 below, from Kevin Fitzgerald.

The 12th iteration of Stagecoach kicked off Friday—and festival attendees had one less stage to enjoy than they’ve had in previous years.

The Mustang Tent—which hosted many bluegrass, folk and alt-country bands over the years—is gone. There are now only two stages with music going at any given time, and the alt-country, bluegrass, folk and classic-country acts have been scaled way back. The Mane Stage opens later in the day (the SiriusXM Spotlight stage fills the gap before 4 p.m.), and the Palomino Tent is smaller. Considering previous Palomino headliners like the late Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson and Lynyrd Skynyrd drew crowds that could fill the current Palomino Tent way beyond capacity, this may or may not have been a good decision.

Does this mean Stagecoach is no longer any good? No, it doesn’t; Stagecoach on Friday was still a fantastic time—even if some of the cutbacks, leading to a less-diverse set of acts, were disappointing.

I primarily hung around the Palomino Tent on Friday. Here are some highlights:

• Banditos started things off in the Palomino on Friday afternoon. The Birmingham, Ala., outfit known for mixing things up with Southern rock, garage rock and bluegrass—with a touch of psychedelia—was a hit for the early-afternoon crowd. Vocalist Mary Beth Richardson had a Bohemian look, and her singing was top-notch. Considering this band once played 600 shows over three years, the members know each other—and it shows.

• Joshua Hedley most likely felt the high temperatures as he stepped onstage in a green suit, embroidered with a tiger and an alligator. Some fans in the crowd were shouting “JOSHUA!” in between songs, to which Hedley replied: “That’s my name; don’t wear it out. I know you are, but what am I?” Hedley just released his first album, Mr. Jukebox—and his Stagecoach performance was an epic celebration.

• The queen of outlaw country, Tanya Tucker, took the stage decked out in what appeared to be white denim with a white Ralph Lauren American flag T-shirt. She came out with swagger and a rather catchy intro before singing “Some Kind of Trouble.” Tucker played to a packed house; even Guy Fieri came down from flavor town to witness Tucker’s set and was shown on the video screen in the crowd. Tucker noted that she had years of hits and not very much time to perform them all—but she did well during her 45-minute set, and even played a cover of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire.”

• When Molly Hatchet took the Palomino stage on Friday evening, the band made the audience sit through Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again” before a rather dramatic classical choir intro—complete with sounds of thunder. Sadly, things went downhill from there: Singer Phil McCormack didn’t seem to be on top of his game, and his vocals didn’t come through well over guitarist Bobby Ingram and bassist Tim Lindsey. People began leaving shortly after the performance began—leading to a sparse crowd later on.

Check out some photos from Day 1 below, by Kevin Fitzgerald.

DJ Bad Ash is a well-known club DJ in Los Angeles—and at Stagecoach, she’s taken her talents to the Honkytonk Dance Hall.

The singer-songwriter, whose real name is Ashlee Williss, stopped by the press tent on Friday and told me what inspired her to become a DJ.

“I’ve always been a singer-songwriter,” Williss said. “I’ve done amazing things in my career, but I’ve never made it. Several years ago, the day I released my big single, my boyfriend at the time passed away. It kind of broke me for a while, and I gave up music for about a year. I couldn’t get out there and sing and give my heart. Somehow, I was missing something and needed some type of music back in my life. An agent of mine suggested, ‘Hey, why don’t you DJ?’ I was like, ‘Oh, no! I’m a singer; I play guitar, and I come from the country world!’

“I thought, ‘I need to open my mind.’”

After taking a DJ lesson, she was hooked.

“It was so fun, and I was a natural. Honestly, it brought my spirit back to life. It made me want to get back out there and learn about all these kinds of music I never enjoyed before. Now, I’m really excited, because I get to incorporate the country music part as well as being a DJ. Now I’m unique, and I’m the first female country DJ who has been in the festival scene. It happened by accident. It was the element that was missing all along, and it was so fun. I’m really excited to be at Stagecoach, and it’s a dream to perform here.”

Learning how to DJ was a challenge, she said, but she has gotten better at it.

“I will say that the technical part—it’s still horrible,” Williss said. “It’s just like a computer, and you don’t know when it’s going to say, ‘I’m not going to work right now.’ It can freeze in the middle of a set, and that can be very scary—and everybody is looking at you like you messed up. The more you do it, the more you learn. It’s best to just get out there and be forced to figure it out. That’s what I did.”

Is country music becoming more popular in the DJ world? Williss answered with a resounding yes.

“Since I started singing years ago, I was always doing a dance-y and sexy kind of thing. Nobody ever understood it before. Now, they get it,” she said. “Now I think because I’ve added just the DJ element, people are starting to understand it. You can remix country, and I think it’s the next big thing.”

DJ Bad Ash also plays music from genres beyond country.

“Most of my gigs in Los Angeles are not country. There aren’t a lot of country events in Los Angeles or Las Vegas,” she said. “When I get the country gigs, it’s what I love and what I know best, but there are a lot of EDM and hip-hop gigs that I’ll take around the country.”

DJ Bad Ash given just released a single.

“It’s called ‘Rodeo,’ and it’s country, but a line-dance kind of country: fun, sexy and cheery,” she said. “I feel like it could become a country anthem for girls. It’s very powerful, female-driven.”

DJ Bad Ash had advice for anyone who wants to get into performing.

“It’s really just about having fun. If you’re enjoying the mix, that’s honestly what it’s all about,” she said. “If you’re having a good time and playing good songs, people are going to love it also. Let your passions come out. For any kind of artist, that’s what it’s about. It’s not about money or fame; it’s about doing what you love.”

Coachella 2018 will be remembered for a lot of firsts.

Beyoncé was the first black woman to headline at Coachella. This was the first year when there was no rock headliner—and a year when rock music took a backseat to rap.

It was also a year of change. The Sahara Tent—known in the past for featuring some of the biggest names in EDM—had a new layout and was in a new location. This Coachella introduced West Indio Market, a large food court.

Yeah, Coachella has come a long way since the first festival in 1999; in fact, my friend Courtney, who attended the first few incarnations of Coachella, said it’s totally unrecognizable compared to those first festivals.

However … let’s examine these aforementioned 2018 remembrances. Was there really less rock music at Coachella in 2018? I’m not sure that was the case, outside of the headliners. The Sonora Tent featured a long list of up-and-coming indie and garage bands, while A Perfect Circle drew a large crowd to the outdoor amphitheater on Sunday night, even though Eminem hitting the Main Stage about 15 minutes later. I also saw plenty of rock bands in the Mojave and Gobi tents.

If you love music, and you attend Coachella with an open mind, you’re sure to stumble across a new band or solo artist to love. I was exposed to many great new things over the weekend, like SuperDuperKyle—and I found myself adding a handful of new artists into my music library when I came home.

Here are some highlights from Sunday.

• Punk-band FIDLAR put on a wild show in the Mojave Tent on Sunday afternoon. For Coachella attendees who were trying to find something edgier, it was a welcome time, given the craziness of the mosh pit. Lead vocalist and guitarist Zac Carper was decked in hospital scrubs and said, “We’re going to try something new,” as he went went down into the crowd and started a new FIDLAR song called “Alcohol.” Carper also told the ladies later in the set that if anyone made them uncomfortable or inappropriately touched them in any way, they had permission from “Fidlar, LLC” to “punch them in the fucking face.” He told the men before starting one of their songs, “Dicks off the dance floor—we’re going to have a ladies-only mosh pit,” before actually ordering men away from the moshing area. “Dudes, don’t you dare try and gentrify this shit!” he said.

• The Do LaB remains a popular attraction. The small tented area back near the nice indoor bathrooms has always been a fun party, and I have talked to some people who actually spend most of their festival time back there. During my visit to The Do LaB on Sunday afternoon, the party was in full swing, with water hoses squirting down the crowd, outlandish outfits and nonstop dancing in the heat.

• Jazz saxophonist Kamasi Washington performed an early-evening set on the Outdoor Stage, drawing a small crowd that grew over time. He told the audience that he didn’t really want to talk much, but he did say he believed the diversity at Coachella “wasn’t meant to be tolerated; it’s meant to be celebrated.” Washington changed up his setlist for Weekend 2, playing mostly songs from his upcoming and still-unreleased new album for the first time. His backing orchestra and vocalists gave his set a real psychedelic feel, but the jazz created positive vibes the longer you watched. It was something attendees needed after a long day in the heat.

• Over the past few years, Goldenvoice has put at least one EDM act on the Main Stage. On Sunday night, ODESZA was that EDM group for this year—and the performance was beautiful. Atmospheric, uplifting and beautifully performed songs featured some vocalists, some guitar and even a full drum choir. The visuals accompanied the performance in a powerful way—and while ODESZA didn’t create its logo out of drones as the group did last week, it still delivered a hell of a performance that will be talked about for years to come.

• Despite lukewarm reviews of Eminem’s Weekend 1 set, I kept the Sunday headliner on my personal schedule. His set started out well, and Eminem had a lot of energy—but he was reluctant to perform any of his hits, and I soon realized why people had complained during Weekend 1 that his set was scattered and messy. He lost much of the crowd during the set. “Stan” (it would have been nice to have a Dido or Elton John cameo) and “Just Don’t Give a Fuck” were performed after the 30-minute mark, as was “Love the Way You Lie.” Also, a new rule needs to be created: If Dr. Dre is going to appear as a guest, he needs to perform something besides “The Next Episode” and “California Love.” I know Dre can do whatever he wants … but it’s starting to become a little too predictable.

Jacob Banks was the first unsigned music act to appear on the BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge.

He’s since released two EPs before scoring a record deal with Interscope Records and releasing a third EP—so it’s appropriate that he finally had his Coachella moment this year.

His R&B/soul sound is at times dark, and at times uplifting—with moments featuring a gospel vibe and even some African music. (Banks was originally born in Nigeria.) During a stop at the press tent at Coachella on Sunday, Banks said he never dreamed he would become the performer he is today.

“I was never trying to make a name for myself,” Banks said. “The lucky thing about me is I’m from a city in the United Kingdom called Birmingham. The music industry didn’t really know much about me, and I was making music more out of necessity. As long as I could pay my rent and be alive, I was OK with that. I was never trying to really be heard—and my manager could testify to that.

“I did my own PR and did my own radio plugs, because I didn’t have anyone, and there was no blueprint,” Banks said. “I never struggled to be heard, only because I wasn’t trying to be heard. I was just trying to make my music for people who listened to it and allowed me to be fine financially. All of this—including Coachella—was never in the books. My dreams were never that big.”

Banks said creative freedom is something he takes very seriously.

“It’s everything to me: I need to have creative freedom,” he said. “The reason being is I have to live with my decisions, and creative freedom doesn’t always mean I make the right decisions. It means I make the wrong (decision sometimes), and I have to take responsibility for it. This is my life’s work. I have to be able to put my name on everything I do, and proudly. I have to be able to be creative to the fullest of my ability.”

Banks said new music is coming soon.

“We have an album called Village, and it’s coming out in September,” he said. “For every project I do, I always try to move forward. I think this is more introspective, whereas the last one was kind of outwards. This is looking inside at life, learning things and unlearning things, and working on myself.”

The Coachella audience was appreciative of Banks. His performance on Sunday afternoon in the Mojave Tent was well-attended.

“It’s been fun, and I’ve enjoyed this week more than last week—only because I was sick as shit last week,” he said. “It was hard, but I always say to my boys that ‘I wouldn’t have shit to cry about.’ I get to express myself for a living, and as long as I’m breathing, I can sing. I’ll find a way to give a good show, even if it kills me. People are giving me their time, and time is the only currency that matters. If people are coming to my show, they could be anywhere else in the world, but they’re choosing to be right here and right now, so we’re going to give you a good-ass show.”

Beyoncé’s Coachella Weekend 1 performance made news around the world.

Well, her Coachella Weekend 2 performance was just as impressive, even if it was pretty much a direct copy of her set last week, complete with the Jay Z appearance, and the Destiny’s Child reunion.

Although Beyoncé started about 15 minutes later than scheduled, it was an incredible spectacle—with the energy of a crowd of more than 100,000 people.

The Internet stream truly didn’t do her performance justice. Being there in person to witness the show—to hear Beyoncé’s voice and feel the energy of that crowd—was amazing. This is what big-time live music is truly about and why people go to shows. Beyoncé held the crowd for close to two hours—and there were people as far as the eye could see until the very end.

Of course, there were some other great performances during the day.

• X Japan had the unenviable task of headlining the Mojave Tent on Saturday night during Beyoncé’s set. However, I was able to take in some Japanese rock in the Sonora Tent in the afternoon, thanks to the all-female Japanese punk band Otoboke Beaver (below). This group was quite a sight. I’ve seen some all-female Japanese bands in the past, and they seem to always be entertaining, with a cranked-up stage presence and performances that always go above and beyond. The mosh pit the group stirred in the Sonora throughout the performance wasn’t for the physically weak.

• Shortly before CHIC was scheduled to perform on the Main Stage in the afternoon, the video wall suddenly turned on—and showed Nile Rodgers walking through the crowd with his guitar on. He was talking with and meeting fans who were already gathered in the area.

• Like Beyoncé, David Byrne—the former frontman of the Talking Heads—turned in a buzz-worthy set during Weekend 1, and recaptured the magic during Weekend 2. The stage setup one would expect—guitars, bass, drums and keyboards—were gone. Instead, Byrne and his backing band played on a bare stage with only a curtain of streamers hanging behind and to the sides of them. Byrne still sounds fantastic, and it seems as if he has many ideas left in that brain of his (or at least the brain he was shown holding up at the beginning of the performance—while seated at a table and singing).

• Haim, an all-female pop trio of sisters from the San Fernando Valley, had to feel a little pressure, given they were playing right before Beyoncé—but they put on one hell of a show. Bassist Este Haim reminded the audience that it was the second anniversary of the death of R&B and rock legend Prince, and then added that it was also the 10th anniversary of Prince’s fantastic performance at Coachella in 2008, which she attended. She said that if it had not been for Prince’s inspiration, she wouldn’t have been playing music today. To conclude the set, all three sisters pounded out a drum/percussion solo before they stood in the middle of the stage, hugged each other and walked off the Main Stage.

A few weeks ago, I had a conversation with someone about Coachella, and specifically this year’s lineup.

“It’s not as fun as it used to be,” he said.

On Friday, as I walked around the Empire Polo Club, I pondered my friend’s assertion. I don’t agree: Coachella is still fun!

There were a lot of changes made to the layout this year. The new Sonora Tent, an air-conditioned space inspired by the Glass House in Pomona that hosts a lot of the smaller rock acts, has been moved to where the Mojave Tent used to be. The Mojave Tent has been moved to where the Sahara Tent used to be, while the Sahara Tent moved to the front lobby area, close to the Ferris wheel.

I spent a couple of hours of wandering aimlessly and taking in the vibrant art installations. One highlight: Spectra, designed by design studio NEWSUBSTANCE (right). I was in awe: At 75 feet tall, the interactive tower features colored windows that spiral along with the design to the top. These different colors make for interesting views when you stop to look out the windows as you go up and down.

Here are some music highlights from Friday.

• Fazerdaze, a band from New Zealand, rocked the Sonora Tent’s early-afternoon crowd. Frontwoman Amelia Murray said it was surreal to go from recording music in her bedroom to playing at Coachella just a year after releasing the band’s first album, Morningside. The garage-rock-meets-dream-pop sound was a hit with the crowd, who gave the band a fantastic round of applause at the end of the 45-minute set.

• Cash Cash, a house-music trio, performed an energetic set in the Sahara Tent in the late afternoon. At one point, they stopped to lead the crowd in a sing-along of Oasis’ “Wonderwall.” Hearing the entire tent sing the chorus was beautiful, and the trio complimented the crowd, saying we were all beautiful singers, before continuing on with the blasting set. 

• SuperDuperKyle, a rap and pop star on the rise, put on a hilarious and entertaining set on the Main Stage in the afternoon. When Kyle went crowd-surfing, one of his onstage collaborators screamed at the crowd to bring him back to the stage: “Get in, loser! We got a Coachella to do!” During Kyle’s final song, he was on a surfboard—being passed around by the audience as he told them in which direction to send him.

• Whatever The War on Drugs’ sound is—’70s? ’80s?—it was perfect for the early evening as the sun set behind mountains. The drummer is a show of his own, looking like he came right out of a time machine from the ’70s. 

• After all the talk about St. Vincent’s Weekend 1 performance, she managed to live up to the hype during her Weekend 2 set: It was everything that’s awesome about pop and rock, with intense 3-D visuals and a psychedelic pop feel. I suspect that Lady Gaga wishes she was St. Vincent, because St. Vincent has edginess and charisma—a woman who isn’t afraid to make people shake their asses and rock out during the same show

• Jean-Michel Jarre (below) might have played to crowds of more than 1 million, but at Coachella, his crowd was sparse during his Outdoor Theater-headlining slot. This is a shame, although it’s understandable: He’s in the midst of his first-ever American tour, and he had to compete with SZA and Soulwax, Jarre did start to win people over at the end, who were most likely wondering what in the hell was going on, as the visuals from the stage included pyramids, distorted video footage of Edward Snowden talking about Internet privacy, lasers and lights shooting around everywhere—all along with the French electronica that is Jarre’s sound. The further you stepped away from his show, the more impressive his visuals looked.

• Whether or not you’re a fan of The Weeknd, it’s indisputable: He was incredible on Friday night. His visuals on the Main Stage were over the top and intense. At times, The Weeknd reminded me of Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, as he’d perform—and you’d only see a little bit of him as visuals played over the entire stage.

As people were exiting the festival for the night, many of them felt compelled to stop and watch The Weeknd a bit—it was hard to walk away.

Rap music is arguably the most popular music genre in America—but it’s been slow to take hold in the local music scene.

However, that’s starting to change—and one of the artists leading the way is Al Rossi. He’s quickly picking up followers on Spotify; his music shows clarity and quality—attributes of possible future hits.

During a recent interview, Rossi explained where he’s at in terms of his music.

“I’ve been doing music for the last eight years,” Rossi said. “Now I’ve been taking it more seriously since I’ve been getting a lot of new listeners, and people are starting to know who I am now. It runs in my blood. A lot of my older cousins had their own little projects among their friends, and I picked it up. My grandfather was a blues musician, and I have a bunch of equipment I don’t even know how to use, because he gave it to us. He would do little tours around the South … and he got back into doing church music. Music runs in my family.”

Rossi said most of the local rap music is coming from the East Valley.

“There are not a whole lot of venues, but the ones who really give us support are the Red Barn, who do some hip-hop stuff; The Hood Bar and Pizza, who do some hip-hop stuff; and we have Sol Nightclub in Coachella, and they’re really open to a lot of music, and they have a lot of good people working there,” Rossi said. “Those are our central spots that really support our scene. Not too many places in Palm Springs (support us), but I have gotten a little bit of play in Palm Springs. Copa Nightclub spins my records, and a DJ who goes to Zeldas will spin some of my records.”

Rossi said he doesn’t relate to much of the current chart-topping rap music.

“It’s a little too simple to me right now. The old ’90s music would give you some food for thought—always talking about what’s going on,” he said. “Now it’s just competitive and about nothing. It’s too basic for me. I like a little word play and some substance. Today’s music is nothing but beats. It’s not really lyrical. Now all they want to do is talk down on the legends that started rap. You can’t talk down on who helped build this platform that we’re able to work on. I don’t understand it.

“I’m all about clarity. I want to make sure the vocals sound right. This EP I put out cost me quite a bit, because I paid to be in a good studio and use a good microphone. … The guy I mess with is out of Palm Desert, Tariq Beats, works with rap artists and has even made beats for Chris Brown, and he’s not really being seen yet, but he’s made a lot of impact. He might not have that No. 1 track on the charts, but he’s on a lot of people’s albums, and you’ll find his name in small print in the album credits. Production means a lot to me, along with clarity. It what makes music better. I critique myself a lot, too. Every song I do, I want it to sound like a single. I’m trying to fight for that one song to go mainstream. I’m paying for my quality to be sharp.”

I asked Rossi if he feels that the artistic sides of songwriting are sometimes sacrificed for success or plays.

“The club scene is popping right now. I make things club-friendly. It’s catering to that party life, and that’s what’s in right now,” he said. “If you can get mainstream in the club, you’re solid in a lot of spots. I talk a little bit about my life and stuff that’s relative. I want people to play my music, and that’s where my focus is now. Everybody is chasing a catchy hook, chorus and a bouncing beat, and that’s all it comes down to—but if you hear rap music on the radio, you’re probably changing the station, because they aren’t saying anything. I have a couple of records like that, because that’s who you have to cater to. … I believe history repeats itself, and I believe it’s going to loop itself back around to where it’s more emotional, with more feeling in the music. Tupac (Shakur) could rap about the whole economy and things going on, and it was going to be an anthem in the club. But do people really want to know what’s going on? I already know what’s going on. I want to be peaceful, sit at home and not think about what’s going on—because the world is crazy right now. Pop-ups on your Facebook and all your feeds—it’s always something negative.”

Al Rossi said he’s found some comradery in the local scene.

“Thr3 Strykes are my boys. We work with the same producer, Tariq Beats,” Rossi said. “You can hear similarities working with the same person. I went to school with them, too. I’ve known them for a long time. I like J. Patron and have done a couple of tours with him before. Tiptoe Stallone out of Indio is one of my go-to people. When I’ve had questions about music, he shoots me in the right direction.”

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/alros3rd.

The members of GayC/DC are all characters—but bassist Glen Pavan is a show of his own. Not only is he the bassist for the fabulous all-gay AC/DC themed rock band; he’s also the master of confetti and shenanigans. GayC/DC will be returning to The Hood Bar and Pizza for an encore CV Independent Presents show on Saturday, May 5. For more information on the band, visit www.facebook.com/gaycdcband. Glen was kind enough to answer the Lucky 13; here are his answers.

What was the first concert you attended?

The Stray Cats at the Capitol Theatre in Passaic, N.J., perhaps on their first tour, in 1982. I was still in elementary school at the time. My older sister snuck me into the venue by having me walk in behind her, hiding underneath her long winter coat. My mom was pissed when she found out, but I’m still grateful all these years later! The energy level of the band and crowd was a huge thrill (on top of the excitement of being snuck in), and I loved when they played the theme song to the Munsters.

What was the first album you owned?

It’s hard to pinpoint, as my oldest siblings and cousin were all teenagers when I was born, and I would get their hand-me-down records and 8-tracks. By the time I started kindergarten, I had my own collection of Beatles, Cheap Trick, The Cars, Devo, Meatloaf, The Knack, The Police, ELO, Blondie and KISS albums. They’re all still my favorites. I also had a bunch of rock ’n’ roll movie soundtracks as a kid. Anytime I came across movies like Xanadu, Rock ’n’ Roll High School, Tommy, Get Crazy or Sgt. Pepper on TV, I was immediately captivated and in love with the songs.

What bands are you listening to right now?

I’m turning lots of people onto the Italian band Giuda (pronounced “Judah”). They look like a pub band but play the most authentic glitter rock you’ve heard in 40 years. My singer, Chris, just got me into Muse and Bow Wow Wow, and my drummer, Brian, is getting me deeper into Motorhead. I’ve also been on a huge Johnny Thunders kick since the L.A.M.F. (anniversary) show in December, and a Tubes kick since their show in January.

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

I love the look, the talent, and the camp of the wave (like what I did there?) of “yacht rock” cover bands playing around now, but those songs were boring and neutered then, and remain boring and neutered now—“rock” music for people who don’t rock.

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

I wish I could have seen The Who in 1970, around their performances at the Isle of Wight Festival, or the Live at Leeds/Hull shows. They were finishing up the Tommy cycle and starting to introduce the Lifehouse tunes to the set, and were just the most muscular rock band imaginable. All four members of the band were just on fire, and it’s just complete aural overload. I love when current bands today push themselves to the limits of intensity, creativity and proficiency as The Who did then.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

Hard-rock/heavy-metal Christmas music. It’s just so silly and happy and totally rocks. I start listening to it way early each year, like in September. Cheap Trick’s Christmas album from last year was such a wet dream come true for me. I played that album more than 100 times between Halloween and Christmas. My poor partner must have had to endure sitting through it indirectly at least 50 of those times, too. That’s true love right there. I’m very blessed.

What’s your favorite music venue?

When performing: Any outdoor stage. We are the best-looking band in the daylight! I get to see the crowd enjoy themselves more, which keeps me invigorated. For attending shows: I enjoy places with no security barricades. I always try to get right up front and center and be able to closely watch every musician play their instrument. And I love taking home unique souvenirs like guitar picks or setlists and getting killer front-row pictures and videos.

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

I keep coming back to “Be All, End All” by Anthrax. It encourages me to stay motivated while still being realistic, and to never feel sorry for myself; and it reminds me that while I can’t control everything that happens in my life, I can control my reactions. Very Carl Jung. “Nothing’s ever easy when you do it yourself, All you can do is try, life’s not unfair, life’s just life, death not suicide, be all, and you’ll be the end all, life can be a real ball, state of mind, euphoria.”

What band or artist changed your life? How?

As I’d expect most kids from the ’70s to answer, it’d be KISS. They took the presentation and mystery of rock music to the freakin’ stratosphere! Experiencing their media onslaught during their original run was just mind-blowing for us kids. It wasn’t just a group of guys playing their music for everyone to enjoy; it was an overload of everything in excess. Costumes! Makeup! Merch! Toys! Comic books! Pyro! And every nine months, they put out another excellent album of songs about fornication, fornication and fornication. It was the coolest and most exciting thing to happen to kids, and it was pure magic. When you find mutual KISS buddies as an adult, you’re instantly best friends. KISS Army is for life.

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

The answer is none of my business, so it’s more of a rhetorical question, but I’d like to ask just what kept the original Runaways from reuniting before drummer Sandy West passed away. Have you seen the documentary Edgeplay? It’s just a heartbreaking story, and I so wish it would have had a happy ending. Seeing them together again is another rock ’n’ roll hope of mine that will never come true.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

My funeral won’t be sorrowful about me being gone; it’ll be about celebrating my friendships and my efforts to live life as largely (ha ha, fat joke) as I could with the time I had. Hence, you all get to hear the “1812 Overture” live, with cannons. And confetti. And fabulous gift bags.

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

I’ll go with Bat Out of Hell, Meat Loaf. It blows my mind as much now as it did when it came out; it’s so theatrical and over the top and just completely timeless. The production, band performance and backing vocals are breathtaking. The degree to which Meat Loaf pushes the vocals is nothing less than epic, and Jim Steinman’s melodies, lyrics and themes are heavenly. The final song, “For Crying Out Loud,” is my favorite, guaranteed to give me goosebumps for nine minutes straight every single time I hear it. How magnificent is the power of music!

What song should everyone listen to right now?

“Dick Around” by Sparks. They’re the band I try to turn friends onto the most, especially with this song. The rapid fire delivery of lyrics, the funny subject matter, the crazy amount of symphonic music for a pop song, the crazy amount of headbanging metal for a pop song—it’s so grandiose. Have a listen, and if you’re intrigued, grab their new album Hippopotamus from last year; it’s their 24th album! (Scroll down to hear it!)

Local band Brightener had been on a bit of a hiatus, but the band has started to resurface recently, including the CV Independent Presents show at The Hood Bar and Pizza with Haunted Summer on April 12. Behind the drums of Brightener is Elias Texel, who recently got engaged to his girlfriend, Ashley. For more information on Brightener, visit brightener.bandcamp.com. Elias was kind enough to answer the Lucky 13; here are his answers.

What was the first concert you attended?

Whoa, it was actually an MxPx concert! Ha ha! I was in fourth-grade and went with my best bud and his older brother. We were amazed.

What was the first album you owned?

The first album I remember buying was Sum 41’s All Killer No Filler. Really got my 11-year-old angst going.

What bands are you listening to right now?

I’ve been listening to A LOT of Future Islands. Also: Dr. Dog, MewithoutYou, Joyce Manor, Flying Lotus, and Phoenix.

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

People won’t like me for this, but Lana Del Rey.

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

I haven’t seen Death Cab for Cutie yet, but they are on my musical bucket list.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

“The Sound” by The 1975. I never listen to it around people I know. Ugh, I can’t escape it!

What’s your favorite music venue?

I haven’t been to that many, but I really love the Troubadour in Los Angeles.

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

“I farted in a can and stirred it with my finger singin’ oh da da da da da da oh dada dada, threw it out the window,” “Heart It Races,” Dr. Dog.

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Snarky Puppy. A whole new world of possibilities with music opened for me when I started listening to them.

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

Brian Blade: “Will you give me some of your powers?”

What song would you like played at your funeral?

“Life Is a Highway,” Tom Cochrane.

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

Menos el Oso, Minus the Bear.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

Go listen to “Compromised” by Tim Atlas. I’ve had it on repeat for the last couple of weeks. (Scroll down to hear it!)