CVIndependent

Fri12042020

Last updateMon, 24 Aug 2020 12pm

Matt King

Best Coast is back: It’s been five years since the Los Angeles-based rock duo of singer Bethany Cosentino and instrumentalist Bobb Bruno put out a proper album—and it’s been pretty lonely without them.

The band’s 2010 debut, Crazy for You, exploded onto the music scene, with tracks like “When I’m With You” and “Boyfriend” becoming indie gems. Headlining tours; opening gigs for acts such as Paramore, Green Day and the Pixies; and the release of two more albums only heightened their popularity, yet we hadn’t heard anything new from the band since 2015 (not counting a 2018 kids’ album). Until now.

Best Coast recently released two new singles for upcoming record Always Tomorrow, due Feb. 21. “For the First Time” is a soft-rock tune with sparkling indie guitar and a great synth line, while “Everything Has Changed” is a heavier track—yet the singing makes it more of a happy, uplifting song. Both singles feature lyrical content regarding life getting better, and will put any listener in a great mood.

You can catch Best Coast on Feb. 27—right after the release of that new album—at The Alibi Palm Springs.

“I think for me, music always sort of serves as a therapeutic act,” Cosentino said during a recent phone interview. “I always write about my experiences and my life, and I try to keep things open in hopes that they are relatable to other people. A lot of the stuff that I talk about on this record is stuff that I’ve been going through for the past 10 years. It definitely helped and was very cathartic to get a lot of it off my chest.”

Cosentino’s lyrics are one of the best parts of the Best Coast listening experience. Take the emotional verses on “No One Like You”: “If I sleep on the floor / will it make you love me more? / If I pack up my things and leave / can I still be the queen to your king?”

“I’m always just trying to create something that people can connect to,” Cosentino said. “I feel like the music that resonates with me the most is the stuff that’s relatable—(music) that I can trace back to my own life and own experiences. I try to be a help to people with the music that I make, and I hope that people can relate to it.”

Best Coast’s Palm Springs show is the first date on the duo’s first headlining tour in five years.

“Touring is very fun, especially when you have new stuff to get out there and share with the world,” she said. “There’s a big shift in energy when you have new music and when you get to come back after some rest. Given that we haven’t done a headlining tour in five years, we are very restless. We’re definitely excited to get back out there and share some new stuff—and old stuff, too. We are stoked to revisit the live vibe.”

The band’s name, obviously, references the West Coast. The band has more than a few songs about a love for California; the 2015 record is even titled California Nights. It turns out Palm Springs is a favorite place for the group.

“I think the only time we ever played Palm Springs was when our last record came out,” Cosentino said. “We did this big event for Tumblr at the Ace Hotel, and it was really cool.

“I love Palm Springs; it’s one of my favorite places to go. It’s an easy, chill, little getaway from L.A. I’m stoked to be playing a proper show there—and we’re bringing this band called Lunch Lady. One of my best friends in the world plays in the band, so it’s cool to get to bring them and expose them to a bigger audience.”

With the addition of new songs into Best Coast’s repertoire, I was curious how the duo’s setlists will be organized for the tour.

“We’re trying to figure out the best way to keep some of the classics and add in a bunch of the new songs,” Cosentino said. “We’re really excited about this new record, so it’s hard to pick which ones belong in the set and which ones feel like they won’t translate as well to a stage. We’re in the early stages of trying to figure out the exact set list. We’re not going to abandon the stuff we put up before, but it’s pretty tricky trying to figure out how to integrate it all when you have a new record out that you’re so excited to play songs from.”

While each record by the band features a similar vibe, the influences differ from album to album. The two new singles feature a more classic-rock vibe—a departure from previous Best Coast material.

“A band that has always sort of been with us and influenced us is Fleetwood Mac,” Cosentino said. “I know it’s not maybe the most obvious influence, but Bobb and I both love Fleetwood Mac so much; we both grew up listening to them from our parents. They’re a band that we’ve always kind of tried to go to and see what kind of risks they took and what sort of changes they made. I think Fleetwood Mac is one of those bands (with which) every record they ever put out was always different than the last.

“With this record specifically, we really tried to do something different without abandoning who we are as a core. It’s definitely a bit of growth, and a bit of a departure sonically and musically. We took some risks, and we tried some stuff; this record has a lot of classic rock ’n’ roll influences, which is something we’ve never tried too much of. A lot of bands that came out in the studio that we referenced were Thin Lizzy, Def Leppard, Fleetwood Mac and The Cars. We tried really hard to do our own version of ’70s and ’80s rock. It was cool to work with Bobb and sort of blend our two loves together. There’s a lot of heaviness in the guitars from Bobb—and a lot of poppy softer rock stuff from me.”

The end of the 2010s saw Best Coast end up on a few “Best of the Decade” lists—as well as a few “Most Anticipated Albums of 2020” lists.

“It’s always really cool to be recognized in any capacity,” Cosentino said. “For anybody to ever tell me that something I created impacts them in any way is always really nice to hear and really makes me feel valued. I’ve been doing this for 10 years, and there have been a lot of times when I’ve wondered if anyone cares. I’ve been my own harshest critic for a very long time. It’s very easy to dip into that headspace of, ‘Does anyone even care what I’m doing?’ To see our name appear on lists like that is always really cool. Not even (just) the lists—sometimes it’s cool just to see people tweet something or send me a little message on Instagram. … It makes me feel special to know that people care about what I’m creating.”

Best Coast will perform with Lunch Lady at 8 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 27, at The Alibi Palm Springs, 369 N. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. Tickets are $25. For tickets or more information, visit dice.fm.

February is the month of love! It’s also leap month, so you have an extra day to enjoy all the amazing entertainment coming to the valley. Who doesn’t love that?

My favorite event in Indio returns for its 74th year this month: The Riverside County Fair and National Date Festival makes its way to the Riverside County Fairgrounds February 14-23. The musical headliners this year are funk legend George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic (Feb. 15); Mexican banda icons Banda Machos (Feb. 16); an entire ’90s themed night featuring Vanilla Ice, Coolio, Tone Loc and Young MC (Feb. 21); breakout country star Chris Janson (Feb. 22); and fifth-generation Mexican mariachi band Mariachi Sol de Mexico. (Feb. 23). For just $10 (with discounts), you get these great musical acts, plus rides, food and countless other activities! For tickets or more information, visit datefest.org.

Many notable acts are set to grace the McCallum Theatre stage; the theater has shows on 25 of the 29 February days! From Wednesday, Feb. 19, through Sunday, Feb. 23, you have six chances to come witness The TEN Tenors in action, performing new show Love Is in the Air, which will showcase their versions of the greatest love songs of all time. The Australian group has sold out the McCallum more than 30 times! Tickets are $50 to $100. At 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 28, five-time Grammy nominee Michael Feinstein is returning to Palm Desert. Experience music from the Great American Songbook with a show that has landed Feinstein many TV specials, and even a White House gig! Tickets are $70 to $130. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs is hosting some premier music entertainers in February. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 1, Mexican treasure and mariachi titan Pedro Fernández is coming to town. With singing, acting, composing and conducting under his hat, the ranchera great is sure to put on a great show! Tickets are $49 to $99. Another Latin group is arriving the following weekend: At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 8, Spanish-rock revivalists Caifanes will take the Fantasy stage. Tickets are $39 to $69. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 22, living legend Sheryl Crow is bringing three decades’ worth of hits to Indio. With more than 35 million albums sold, and nine Grammys won, Crow features singing and songwriting talent that will captivate any audience anywhere. Tickets are $69 to $129. At 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 28, soul duo The Righteous Brothers is bringing the ’60s back to Indio. “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’” is the most-played song in radio history! Tickets are $29 to $59. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente is set to host some great musical entertainers throughout February. On 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 14, the Make It Last Forever Valentine’s Day Show comes to Rancho Mirage. Come get in the loving mood with performances by Keith Sweat, 112, and Next. Tickets are $85 to $115. On Saturday, Feb. 15, at 8 p.m., ’80s soft rockers Air Supply are landing at The Show. Featuring eight Top 10 hits in the early ’80s, Graham Russell and Russell Hitchcock can help you re-live the past. Tickets are $40 to $60. On Saturday, Feb. 29, at 8 p.m., famed singer-songwriter Michael Bolton will perform. Come listen to a selection of his hits arranged for a symphony orchestra. Tickets are $55 to $75. Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa Rancho Mirage, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 is creating all sorts of excuses to party! The Tribute Concert Series continues in February, as you can watch tips o’ the hat to The Eagles, Aretha Franklin, Elvis and Neil Diamond, Fridays at 8 p.m. All the shows are $10, and promise to teleport you back in time to the original artist’s prime! At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 15, beefcake comes to town in the form of Magic Mike XXL. With dance numbers inspired by Magic Mike movies, this male revue show promises to wow audiences with “choreographed routines, stage presence and steamy showmanship.” Tickets are $20 to $30. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s, per usual, has a fantastic slate of music. At 8 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 20, rock-group The Blank Tapes will bring dreamy psychedelic tunes to Pioneertown. It’s a free show, so money is not an excuse for not being there! At 8:30 p.m., Friday, Feb. 21, SASAMI (below; photo by Alice Baxley) will perform. Previously of Cherry Glazerr, SASAMI put out her debut solo record less than a year ago—and it is everything an indie kid’s ears can dream of … if ears could dream, that is. Tickets are $15. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

Toucan's is featuring some great cabaret! At 7:30 p.m., Friday, Feb. 7, American Idol alum Melinda Doolittle will perform The Great American Soul Book. Expect hits from James Brown, Aretha Franklin and more! Tickets are $25 to $35. Continuing the theme of TV-singing-show alums: At 7:30 p.m., Friday, Feb. 14, come listen to Love Songs with Miss Frenchie Davis. Is there a better way to put someone in the Valentine’s Day mood? Tickets are $30 to $40. At 7:30 p.m., Friday, Feb. 21, laugh and get your heart (or liver?) warmed by A Tupperware Party With Dixie Longate. This hilarious show promises to demonstrate uses for Tupperware you never imagined. Tickets are $25 to $35. Toucans Tiki Lounge and Cabaret, 2100 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-416-7584; www.reactionshows.com.

The Purple Room’s February lineup is intriguing! At 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 7, and Saturday, Feb. 8, enjoy Linda Lavin’s Love Notes show. Come for hits from the Great American Songbook, and stay for Lavin’s stories about her acting career. Tickets are $50 to $60. On Saturday, Feb. 15, Chadwick Johnson comes to town. Expect original music from this Las Vegas headliner! Tickets are $30 to $35. Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

The Ace Hotel is determined to make you laugh. The Belly Flop comedy series continues every Wednesday, with Barry Rothbart performing at 9 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 5. Go laugh out loud to Comedy Central and Showtime’s very own talent—and the show is free! Ace Hotel and Swim Club, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-325-9900; www.acehotel.com/palmsprings.

The Date Shed is featuring local ska group Spankshaft at 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 22. Go support local music, and have a SKA-riffic night! Tickets are $10. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St., Indio; 760-775-6699; www.facebook.com/dateshed.

 

Tuesday, 28 January 2020 15:10

Live: 4xFAR, Empire Grand Oasis, Jan. 18-19

The Coachella Valley is home to some of the biggest music festivals in the world—so newcomer 4xFAR had to bring its “A” game to Empire Grand Oasis on Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 18 and 19.

That mission was accomplished.

The first thing that greeted attendees was a big “4x” statue; stickers with every state printed on them were available to place on the statue. Moving past this and into the festival grounds, there were many attractions: One could sit in a brand-new Land Rover and do your own version of Carpool Karaoke; or you could have a video taken of yourself by a drone. There was even a little tent where you could get an insulated drink container with a personal engraving—but they ran out pretty quickly.

While “music” and “adventure” were the festival’s main selling points, the venue itself was also a highlight: The main stage and all of the adventure and activity tents surrounded a huge lake—that even had a waterfall. Much of my time at the festival was spent admiring the view. Empire Grand Oasis is a place that certainly lives up to its name.

But let’s get down to the music.

Mahalia, aka Mahalia Burkmar, brought some R&B and charm to the Saturday early-afternoon crowd. The sun was out, and it was a little hot, but that didn’t stop the 21-year-old—with help of her drum-and-bass-only backing band—as she fired through her set, gaining new fans along the way. “I’m a Brit, we talk a lot,” Burkmar repeated many times as she gave each song’s inception story and entertained the crowd with tales of love and loss. Go check out “I Wish I Missed My Ex.”

Tijuana Panthers were next up—bringing less talking, and more music. The Long Beach natives blasted through a 22-song setlist of bad-ass surf rock, backed by cool ocean visuals on the big screen. Guitarist Chad Wachtel expressed gratitude to the few of us waiting on the barricade for the show to start, yet as soon as the band started playing, only a few thank-yous were muttered. Each member of the Panthers shared vocal duties, with each having a different sound. Their stage presence and jumpy songs were just what the crowd needed as the weather began to cool down. Go check out “Creature.”

Kurt Vile and the Violators performed next as the sun went down. His Neil Young-style vocals and low stage energy were made up for by his guitar prowess and jamming ability. A few people were dancing, but most were relaxing, as Vile provided a chill performance of his hits. Check out “Pretty Pimpin.”

Kaytranada, aka Louis Celestin, got the night-crowd moving with a DJ set featuring many of the songs he produced over the last decade, as well as works from his two solo albums. He didn’t say much, and the stage was dark with minimal visuals, but Celestin provided a set filled with dance-able music leading up to the headliner. Check out “You’re the One.”

As for that headline: Anderson .Paak and the Free Nationals closed Saturday night in a blaze of glory … literally. He brought pyrotechnics to 4xFAR to heat up the crowd. Everyone at the festival was enthralled by the performance—consider that .Paak’s first break in the music to address the audience consisted of loud cheering for a minute straight. The band played a hit-laden list set, and even paid tribute to Nipsey Hussle and Mac Miller. The crowd demanded an encore, but a strict 9 p.m. curfew left many fans hungry for more. Check out “Come Down.”

Music duo Sofi Tukker was the first act I saw on Sunday, on the recommendation of photographer Guillermo Prieto. The stage was adorned with greenery as the two walked out in eye-catching attire. Their brand of EDM, combined with their stage presence, led to a rather fun performance—including a synchronized dance by the crowd, which seemed to baffle the duo. They invited a fan onstage, who happened to be a dance teacher, and he taught the whole crowd a dance number. Check out “Purple Hat.”

I found myself in one of the “hammock stations,” which were located around the festival grounds, for Young the Giant, and I’m beginning to think it was fate: The smooth indie-rock sounds were the perfect accompaniment to the nighttime air and the beautiful landscape. I could hear the crowd’s roar as the band played hit “Cough Syrup.”

A DJ set from Q-Tip and Mark Ronson closed out the weekend in an interesting way. Despite the seemingly unlikely pairing, they managed to play off each other very well. Q-Tip hyped up the crowd with some music from his rap roots, including songs from his very own A Tribe Called Quest, while Mark Ronson played some pop hits in which he had his bands, including songs by Amy Winehouse and Bruno Mars. The set reached a peak when Mark Ronson put on “Uptown Funk” and Q-Tip passed out cups filled with liquor.

While the music was grand, an equally powerful draw was the adventure portion of the festival. 4xFAR was presented by Land Rover, and the one of the main attractions was being able to test-drive the new 2020 Land Rover Defender. While I couldn’t drive—I fall below the 21-year-old age limit—I was able to be a passenger. A multi-terrain driving course put the vehicle’s limits to the test, including dips, turns, rocks and drops.

Ax-throwing, a bicycle course and a horse-racing track were all part of the festival, and even a non-adventurous sort such as I was able to experience some thrills.

I’m excited to see what the future holds for 4xFAR—and I hope the weekend’s success pushes the limits for what other festivals offer.

Scroll down to see photos by Guillermo Prieto/Irockphotos.net.

I play in a couple of bands, and whenever I get recognized on the street, it’s a humbling experience. I feel honored that all of the hard work I’ve put into my music is paying off—especially when people tell me they love my band.

But a few of those encounters have started with the person saying: “You’re from Instigator, right?”

I am not—but I take the confusion as a compliment. In only a short few years, the local band has grown from a high school garage band into a full-fledged force. The group’s thrash-metal stylings and shared vocal duties create an electrifying mix, and are available to blow out your speakers anytime via 2018 EP Built to Defy. Listen to tracks like “Power” and “Tied Up” for some heavy vocals, head-banging instruments and piercing guitar-solo sandwiches. The release of the music launched them into local stardom; the band has graced seemingly every valley stage at least once, and has even been catapulted into out-of-town shows.

And, yes, you can count on there being a mosh pit.

Instigator is Mark Wadlund on vocals and guitar; Jaxon Fischer on vocals and guitar; and Garrison Calkins on bass. Original drummer Joe Boomer recently departed; the new drummer is Nick Willman, of Pescaterritory and Silver Sky.

“We all met at school—La Quinta High School,” Wadlund said during a recent sit-down with the band. “A girl had introduced me to Jaxon, saying that he liked metal—and being that I liked metal, I had to say what’s up. We sang the riff to Slayer’s “Chemical Warfare” for five minutes, and then we became best friends.

“We saw Garrison around school wearing (Metallica album) Ride the Lightning shirts and saw that he played bass, so we decided to get together and jam. We then found Joe from the drumline a few months later. This all happened about four years ago.”

At that time, Wadlund and Fischer were sophomores, while Calkins and Boomer were freshmen. Little did they know what they’d become.

The band members talked about the favorite show they’ve played.

“The FACELIFT shows are pretty fun,” said Fischer, referring to the local punk band. “They’re crazy, gnarly backyard shows. It’s a mosh pit going on the whole time, and all the kids are just going wild.”

Added Wadlund: “Yeah, we opened up for Doyle, guitarist of the Misfits, at the Whisky a Go Go in Los Angeles. It was the second time we played there, and we even got to meet Doyle before the show. He’s 7 feet tall, very vegan, and very buff. Garrison and I both could’ve squeezed inside of his body.”

Now that the band members are post-high school adults (sans new addition Willman), they have to face the music … literally.

“There’s less time for practice, because we have to pay rent and go to our (college) classes,” Wadlund said. “Being an adult forces you to be out of the band for a little bit, but we all try our very best to still meet.”

Fischer added: “Our schedules are a little more flexible now, because we don’t have to go to school in the morning, so we can always practice in the morning and still be able to go to work and pay our rent.”

Has the addition of high-schooler Willman thrown a wrench in any plans?

“Nick’s a good kid and has passed all his classes so that during his senior year, which is this year, he gets out at (noon),” Wadlund said. “More often than not, that’s when we are just waking up.”

That is a true fact: I met with the boys for the interview at 1 p.m. at Starbucks, where they had their “morning coffee.”

I was curious when the members realized the true potential of the band.

“Honestly, at our very first show,” Fischer said.

Added Wadlund: “We were playing for over a year just practicing and writing songs, so our first-ever show, at The Date Shed, went really, really well. We were also very nervous, but we pulled through and had an amazing set.”

Fischer said: “We did a cover of ‘The Conjuring’ by Megadeth and ‘Black Magic’ by Slayer. I thought we played a lot of the songs horribly, but everyone thought we were really good, so it made us think, ‘We could do this.’”

Wadlund conceded that their egos may have been a little over-inflated in their early days.

“People think that you’re much better than you really are when you’re younger,” he said. “We started when we were 16 and 17, and had our parents drive us around to all of the shows. Now we’ve grown past that, and we’re good because we practice. Yeah, we were good when we were young, but the real turning point is being older and still being really good and impressing people. When you’re an adult, you get the most authenticity (in terms of feedback). People aren’t authentic with kids.”

A new album is coming soon. The members have returned to Brian “Puke” Parnell of Throw the Goat, who produced their Built to Defy EP.

“Our producer is the busiest guy in the world; he doesn’t have a day where he’s not doing anything,” he said. “We’re on the very last inches of the mastering process. Compared to our first album, this album is going to be unbelievable. This new album is so fucking good that it will blow away what you think anybody in this valley can do. I want this to be something that the Coachella Valley can be proud of. I can’t wait for everybody to hear it.”

When the Independent last featured Instigator, about a year and a half ago, Wadlund said he wanted to instigate a movement within the valley through music. So far, so good.

“My mom used to work at La Quinta High School,” Wadlund said. “She would speak to admins and teachers, who would talk to troubled kids and tell them about Instigator. They’d tell them a story about these kids in high school that started this band to get their frustrations out into music. We played at the high school at a bunch for rallies, and we’ve definitely inspired kids there. … We exposed everyone to this extreme thrash metal that most of them didn’t even know existed. Just having it in front of their face with the double-bass drum kit and the Marshall stacks changed their lives.”

Yeah, Instigator is indeed instigating something in this valley … hence my occasional encounter with someone asking me if I am part of the band.

“It’s so easy for people our age to have this big ego and think that we are the shit, but that’s not the truth behind us and who we are,” Wadlund said. “We are excited to be doing this—not because no one else is, but because it’s something that we want to do, and we know it’s bettering the community. It’s getting people together that would not normally be together at all, for the sake of music and happiness.”

Instigator will perform with Pescaterritory and Israel’s Arcade at 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 25, at The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St, in Indio, Tickets are $10. For more information or tickets, visit www.eventbrite.com/e/pescafest-tickets-82683066277. For more information on Instigator, visit www.facebook.com/instigatorofficial.

Few bands in the history of music have had a huge lasting impact, yet remained out of the spotlight, like the Melvins have.

There’s no denying that the Melvins’ music has influenced many different genres—in part because the band never stuck to one sound. Sludge, metal, grunge, punk and thrash, all combined into one concoction—that’s the Melvins.

After more than 35 years and close to 30 albums, the Melvins are still here, piercing ears, blowing speakers and screaming at the top of their lungs—and the band has no plans to stop anytime soon. They’ll return to Pappy and Harriet’s for a sweaty, loud show on Thursday, Feb. 6.

“We’ve played there a bunch, I think maybe four or five times, inside and outside,” said legendary drummer Dale Crover during a recent interview. “I like inside more. Outside is a bit dusty. Pappy’s is always fun, though. We could easily play it once or twice a year. Every time we’ve played, it’s been sold out. The outdoor show we did was a part of the Stoned and Dusted festival with Fu Manchu and Brant Bjork—all that desert rock.”

The Melvins are one of the hardest-working bands in music. If the 27-album discography on Wikipedia doesn’t express that enough, here’s more: In 2012, the band did 51 shows, in 51 states, in 51 days. (They made a really cool documentary about it, available on Amazon.) I spoke to Crover about the challenge of translating multiple decades of music into setlists across such frequent shows.

“We never really look at our old records and say, ‘Let’s play this one!’ It’s more that we just remember old songs and bring them out,” Crover said. “We always try to have structure to the set: A third of it will be old material; a third will be the middle period, the last 20 years; and a third that’s somewhat new, maybe the last 10 years. Of course, we’ve always played cover songs. It’s just whatever we feel like playing. Sometimes we make setlists too long and have to cut songs. We’re starting fresh this year, so we’ll be concocting a new setlist, and it’ll be fun.”

Crover said that with the Melvins, he’s been able to do many things he never dreamed of doing.

“Once, we got to jam with Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon at the Roxy,” Crover said. “They actually invited us to the show to play with them, because Sean was really in to the record we had out at the time, Stoner Witch. They even had a song that was Melvins-influenced. It was very surreal but very cool at the same time.”

Crover’s “legendary” title is much-deserved simply based on his Melvins work, but it’s important to note his other drumming duties: He has been a part time drummer for Nirvana, OFF! and Redd Kross—and has done two sets a night when the Melvins and Redd Kross toured together.

“Redd Kross is different,” Crover said. “It’s definitely not as complicated as Melvins stuff—not as pounding, Neanderthal-style drumming. They’re almost a punk-rock band influenced by the Beatles. It’s Ringo, Keith Moon, Charlie Watts-style drumming, classic ’60s-type drumming. I’ve always been influenced by that stuff, though, so it’s not a new thing. I’ve been into those drummers for a long time. When I started, it was Peter Criss, because I was really into KISS, but the Beatles and the Monkees were the first bands I really got into. You can blame Ringo and Micky Dolenz.”

The Melvins, unlike most other acclaimed bands, have refused to “sell out.” They have remained humble despite the gigantic footsteps they have left.

“Certainly, if the Melvins hadn’t existed, you wouldn’t have one of the biggest bands that the grunge genre had,” said Crover. “We all came from this super-small, isolated area, and we definitely influenced all of those guys for sure. Soundgarden and a bunch of those other bands will cite us as influences, and it’s really cool. It’s weird to think about, and we try to keep our egos in check about it, but we definitely influenced a whole new genre of music.”

As for the future, Crover promised this will be a great year for Melvins fans.

“Usually, this time of year is when we’re working on recording,” Crover said. “We’re doing a bunch of that, and we have some stuff in the can. We’ve been doing some projects where we have bands we’re friends of, or that we’re fans of, come into the studio, and we’ll record each other’s songs. Not too long ago, we had the band Flipper come in, who were an influence on us for sure. We wrote a new song with them, and we covered some Flipper songs. We just had this band called Helms Alee, from Washington state, come in. We covered one of their songs; they covered one of our songs; we did a new one, and covered a Scorpions song.

“We’re also working on putting together a podcast; hopefully that’ll be out very soon. I’m touring with Red Kross soon, and Buzz (Osborne) has a new acoustic record coming out soon, with Trevor Dunn of Mr. Bungle on upright bass.”

Melvins will perform with Hepa.Titus and Cunts at 8 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 6, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. The show is currently listed as sold out. For more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit www.pappyandharriets.com.

Local music fans should be no stranger to Throw the Goat.

The semi-local band—it’s based in Idyllwild—has been a dominant force in the music scene since 2011. Its brand of punk and thrash melds well with quirky lyrics on standout tracks like “Havin’ a Beer” and “Beef,” while more-political lyrics on “Melt Away” blend with pounding punk to create a sense of anger.

The band went through a major lineup change last year, with the addition of Derek Timmons—of Sleazy Cortez and Death Pretty Wrapping—on bass, and the departure of lead vocalist/bassist Mike Schnalzer. Brian “Puke” Parnell remains the guitarist, and is now taking on lead-vocal duties, while Troy Whitford remains the drummer.

The band has now performed a handful of shows with the new lineup, and I recently sat down with the Goat bros right before one of their practice sessions, which I was intrigued to learn are actually rather busy sessions—that sometimes result in recordings.

“We’re working on a new album right now, so we’ve been writing and also going through the old Throw the Goat repertoire that Derek still has to learn,” Parnell said. “It’s been a combination of learning old songs, learning new songs and rehearsing what we already know and play.”

Whitford added: “Puke’s been bringing songs in that we’ll work on and start to feel comfortable with. Then when we go up to Idyllwild, at Puke’s studio, if we feel good enough about the song, we’ll spend the whole practice tracking it.”

Clarified Parnell: “We have three new songs recorded, plus a cover so far.”

Posts on the band’s social media have hinted that a new record is coming—with the hashtag #votegoat2020 used on every post. Parnell explained what’s going on.

“We’re planning on doing our own political-ad campaign,” he said. “It’s especially good that Facebook came out and said that they’re not going to touch or censor any political ads—so we’re going to take advantage of that and make the most-fallacious ads we possibly can. We’re just trying to make fun of how ridiculous it all is.”

I was curious to ask how Timmons is adjusting to the group.

“It’s been a pretty natural adjustment,” Timmons said. “I haven’t played really punky stuff in a while, and it’s been real fun. I had to work on my right-hand speed a little bit, and it’s a more-aggressive vocal style then I’ve done before, but it’s been easy—and real fucking fun! I liked these guys before, so when they asked me to play bass for them, it was impossible to say no.”

Added Whitford with a laugh: “That’s the correct answer.”

Of course, with Parnell taking on the vocals, I had to know how he was adjusting to the more-demanding role.

“I was just doing backup vocals before, so it’s been an interesting transition,” Parnell said. “I wasn’t going to do an impersonation of how the vocals (used to) sound, so I’ve just been going with what seems right and feels comfortable. I’ve been working on improving my stamina, because I did not have very much vocal stamina in the beginning—I got very tomato-faced and squeaky-voiced quickly. But it’s been working out pretty well, and the feedback I get, albeit biased, has been good.”

As for playing and singing at the same time, Parnell admitted there have been a few bumps in the road.

“That’s been a little bit more of a challenge, because I tend to write very intricate guitar parts, so trying to remember the words, spit out the vocal lines and keep the right speed and notes going has been a little tricky,” he said. “But it’s worked out really well.”

During the time I spent with the guys, I noticed how well they all play off each other, and how much fun they seemed to be having. They shared some highlights of their run together so far.

“With this lineup, I think our best show was our Idyllwild show in early November,” Parnell said. “It had really great energy. We played for two sets, which we had never done before, with a lot of improv thrown in. I broke a string, so I had to change it while these guys were playing some jazzy number.”

Added Timmons: “Another strong contender was our Halloween show, where we dressed up as (local metal band) House of Broken Promises. It was suggested as a joke, but we thought it was too good of an idea to be a joke. It was our first show (with the new lineup) in the desert, and we were dressed up as another band.”

The guys shared some of the new recordings with me, and all I’m legally allowed to say is: They rock. If you think some of the songs mentioned in this article sound heavy, just you wait: Throw the Goat is planning big things in 2020.

“We’re thinking about doing releases throughout the year—putting out some new songs, videos, tours, etc.,” Parnell said. “Then, (we’ll do) more stuff toward election time so we can capitalize on all the weird political shit going on. For the tour, we’re negotiating for one- to two-week jaunts in the Midwest, along the coast, and more!

“VOTE GOAT 2020!”

Throw the Goat will perform with Mega Sun and Captain Ghost at 6 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 25, at La Quinta Brewing, 77917 Wildcat Drive, in Palm Desert. Admission to the all-ages show is free. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/throwthegoat.

Avenida Music is one of the hardest-working music groups around. The band has multiple residencies; our readers selected Avenida as the Best Local Band in 2018 in our Best of Coachella Valley readers’ poll; and we recently covered the group’s brand-new Little Street Studio performance/teaching space in Indio. You can catch them performing at Spotlight 29 at 9 p.m., Friday, Jan. 17; Saturday, Feb. 1; Friday, Feb. 7; and Saturday, Feb. 22. The brothers Gonzalez (plus Sean Poe of the Hive Minds) take the music you love and put an exciting twist on it, reinventing hits from any decade. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/littlestreetmusic. The lead vocalist and—depending on when see the band—the possible bassist, guitarist or drummer is Samuel Gonzalez. Here are his answers to The Lucky 13.

What was the first concert you attended?

When I was in middle school, my brothers and I went to see this Christian hardcore band called Seventh Day Slumber play at this little church. We were super into Christian rock bands at that age.

What was the first album you owned?

When I was a kid, my dad would bring me these EPs that he got at these ministry conferences from bands no one has ever heard of—good stuff, by the way—but when I was in high school, I saved up enough to buy Sound of Melodies, a Christian-rock album from my favorite band (Leeland) at the time. I played it on my brother’s Walkman 24/7 until it stopped working.

What bands are you listening to right now?

I recently have been riding on a Vulfpeck train! I’m super-obsessed with the band right now, but I’m also really stuck on Albert Hammond Jr., Bad Suns, Catfish and the Bottlemen, Colony House—and I’m forever stuck on Kings of Leon.

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

I’ve never been a fan of lazy music. Whatever genre it is, you can tell when a song was made lazily, or as a cash grab—and it usually does go viral if it’s catchy enough. I just ain’t about lazy music. Put some thought into your art.

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

Again, I’m on a Vulfpeck train right now. I just recently watched their Madison Square Garden performance on YouTube! It’s so freaking amazing how they run around the stage and change instruments, and just have the time of their lives on up there. I’d love to see a show this year!

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

Definitely One Direction. I actually think their later music is solid, and they definitely have a good writing and production team. I even saw their documentary in theaters. In fact, I think I mentioned them in an Avenida podcast episode on guilty pleasures.

What’s your favorite music venue?

Little Street Studios … just kidding. I really like the Wiltern and the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles!

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

“I know that there’s a meaning to it all, a little resurrection every time I fall. You’ve got your babies; I’ve got my hearses. Every blessing comes with a set of curses. I’ve got my vices; I’ve got my vices versus. I’ve got my vice versus,” Vice Verses, Switchfoot.

What band or artist changed your life? How?

That’s an easy one: Switchfoot—some of the greatest performers and songwriters of our time, in my opinion. People sleep on them because they were a Christian “one-hit wonder” in the public eye, but their music has always spoken to me. They sing about hope and light, in a world that seems so dark, especially for people in the music industry. They may not be at the top of the charts, but they have been together, writing and touring consistently, for more than 20 years and aren’t slowing down—even starting their own label so they could have creative control. They have built a cult following (myself included) that truly feels like a family. Each live show is an experience; you have to be there to feel it. They are the essence of who I strive to be as a musician: dedicated to my craft, and honest in my music.

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

“Wanna jam?,” to the next Musician I run into. My real musical “idols” are all people I know personally, and I’m always looking to jam.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

“I’ll Fly Away.” It’s a classic gospel song they’ve played at all my family’s funerals. I grew up in a charismatic gospel church, and it’s a huge part of who I am as a musician. My roots will always be in gospel choir music. My faith has kept me grounded all my life, and it’ll be there when they put me in the ground.

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

I’m tempted to go for the classics, like Led Zeppelin or Are You Experienced (by the Jimi Hendrix Experience), but again, it goes back to my roots. The Nu Nation Project by Kirk Franklin was one of the only albums we had in the car growing up, and we pretty much memorized all 17 tracks. It’s truly a masterpiece in my mind and a huge part of the bond my three brothers and me share.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

“Back Pocket” by Vulfpeck. Just do it! Now! Go Listen! You won’t be sorry! (Scroll down to hear it!)

It’s sometimes hard to keep track of all the new acts emerging onto the music scene—but in the past year, I’ve had the pleasure of sharing shows with and attending performances by a new band called Milhan. Milhan, pronounced Milan, has performed at frequent backyard shows, bringing a unique brand of dreamy indie music to every performance. They will be playing at Little Street Studio in Indio on Thursday, Feb. 20; find out more on Instagram @milhan.music. At the helm of the group is Hannah Mills, whose vocal delivery and reverb-soaked guitar create a dreamscape of a show.

What was the first concert you attended?

I went to a lot of concerts as a child, because my mom is a musician, and I grew up around a lot of music, but the first concert I remember being really stoked about and begging my mom to take me to was Panic! at the Disco. I had the biggest crush on Brendon Urie, and still do, if I’m honest.

What was the first album you owned?

An album released in 2002 by Joy Williams of Civil Wars. I was raised in the church, and she was a big Christian artist back in the day.

What bands are you listening to right now?

Oh my god, this is such a hard question, because the list is so long, so I’m going to break this up into genres. French electronic: La Femme, Paradis, and Agar Agar. World music: Altın Gün, Tinariwen, and Vaudou Game. Throwbacks: Depeche Mode, The Smiths, Tangerine Dream, Aphex Twin, and Oingo Boingo. New discoveries: George Clanton, Venetian Snares, The Rebels of Tijuana, A.G. Cook, and Caroline Polachek. Solid go-to’s: Tame Impala, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Wild Nothing, Toro Y Moi, Washed Out, and HOMESHAKE.

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

Soundcloud rappers. Sorry, not sorry.

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

Danny Elfman, who just so happens to be playing Coachella this year, so I’m pretty pumped about that! I’m really hoping he plays some Oingo Boingo tunes.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

Not (feeling) very guilty about this, though some may think I should be: I’m a huge fan of The 1975. I have been since they first released their Facedown EP in 2012. I had the unique experience of seeing them perform in a grimy little underground club in L.A. with a good friend back in 2013.

What’s your favorite music venue?

I love the Teragram Ballroom in L.A. I just have a lot of fond memories of seeing some great bands perform there, and it’s pretty intimate, so that’s my go-to. My cousin and I call it our rat hole.

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

This question triggers me. My dad has this song that he sings specifically when he wants to piss me off: “Ain’t Got No Home,” originally performed by Clarence “Frogman” Henry, made popular by The Band (prior to Bob Dylan). It’s kind of become a running joke between my dad and me, because all he has to do is sing that taunting little "doo doo do do do do do doo doo," and it’s stuck in my head for at least a week to follow. I’ve been humming that melody in my head the whole time I’ve been answering these questions.

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Honestly, Tame Impala has played a huge part in my development as an artist. It’s just really inspiring to me that Kevin Parker is able to create such good songs and unique tones with his guitar and drums, and he does everything himself, from start to finish. I’m a big fan. Also, as generic as it sounds, The Beatles have also played a big role for me as well.

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

I’d love to talk to George Harrison about the book Be Here Now by Ram Dass. I feel like we could have some good meaty conversation on that.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

“River of Happiness” by Dolly Parton.

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

I guess if I had to pick one, it would be Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd; it may seem like a generic answer, but come on—that album can really take you on one hell of a journey. Tell me I’m wrong!

What song should everyone listen to right now?

“People” by The 1975! Better yet, watch the music video. Trust me: It’s not what you’re expecting. (Scroll down to watch it!)

We truly do live in the land of music festivals.

As the 2000s have progressed, the Coachella Valley has become a hotspot for music festivals, with up to 125,000 attendees flooding the streets from Palm Springs all the way to Indio and beyond for one weekend event alone. Whether it be for the extremely hip Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival (best known as simply Coachella), the country-tinged of Stagecoach, or any of the one-offs like the headbanging Big 4 or the classic-rockin’ Desert Trip, there is no doubt: The Coachella Valley is one of the world’s most popular places for music festivals.

The year 2020 brings yet another festival to the fold: On Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 18 and 19, 4xFAR, presented by Land Rover, will bring a new kind of festival experience to the valley—specifically, Empire Grand Oasis in Thermal.

Some of today’s top artists are set to perform, with a little something for everyone. Saturday headliner Anderson .Paak and the Free Nationals’ beautiful combination of funk and hip hop is sure to get any music fan bobbing their head. (.Paak plays the drums and raps at the same time; it’s truly a sight to see.)

Sunday’s headliner is a DJ set by acclaimed producer Mark Ronson, and A Tribe Called Quest alum Q-Tip. Both have producer credits scattered across the past 30 years, so this set should be as interesting as it will be dance-able.

Other notable acts include folk-rockers Kurt Vile and the Violators, whose music will remind attendees of some Neil Young and Tom Petty tunes; and indie group Young the Giant, which makes music that just makes you feel good.

But music isn’t the only thing 4xFAR will have to offer. It will feature an “Adventure” section alongside the musical lineup. Land Rover is bringing its brand-new 2020 Defender to Thermal for festival-goers to test-drive on a 15-acre course. Other activities include mountain-biking, rock-climbing, ax-throwing and even fly-fishing.

The festival will take place at the Empire Grand Oasis, which is one of the most beautiful locations in the valley. It includes 35 acres including date-palm groves, a freshwater lake and a waterfall!

A standard one-day ticket costs $95, with a weekend pass sitting at $185. There’s a VIP option for $349, which allows earlier entry into the festival, as well as access to a VIP-only lounge with elevated seating and premium food and beverage. Or, one can go all out and purchase the Private Palapa ticket for $3,000, which will provides a party of six with a private hangout spot for the festival, complete with a service staff and two VIP parking passes.

Garth Trinidad, a DJ and host on KCRW, is the festival’s music curator. “4XFAR is set to be the first experience of its kind in lifestyle focused entertainment—an intimate, celebratory adventure where guests can taste the cross pollinated nectar of music, art, adventure and culture in a gorgeous oasis under the desert sky,” he said, in the type of quote that could only come from a press release. “I'm elated to be in the mix as music curator!”

The 4xFar festival takes place Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 18 and 19. For tickets or more information, visit 4xFAR.com.

Country rock has an undeniable feel-good vibe. When you encounter it in the right situation—driving home from a long trip as the sun is setting, or simply sitting on your porch and watching life go by—it can help one appreciate the little things in life.

This brings us to Ted Z and the Wranglers. I’ve been stomping along to their brand of “outlaw country-charged rock”—and the Americana lyrics, backed by acoustic rhythms and the occasional minimalistic-yet-oh-so-great guitar solos, have made me an instant fan. Check out their Jam in the Van performance of “Rambler” to see exactly what I mean—or see the group in person on Friday, Jan. 24, at Pappy and Harriet’s.

The Wranglers are Collin Mclean on bass; Jackson Leverone playing lead/slide guitar and providing background vocals; and Jordan Lipp on drums, with Ted Z being the leader, on acoustic guitar and vocals. I got to talk to Ted Z, aka Ted Zakka, about his upbringing and the history of the Wranglers.

“When I was a kid, my mom and dad used to spin a lot of cool stuff at the house,” Zakka said. “I grew up listening to Elvis and The Beatles. It just all started as a child, listening to these iconic musicians that I still really love today.”

It’s easy to hear some of these influences in his songs. Take “Ball and Chain” for example, as Zakka’s screaming and stuttering vocal lines rival Elvis’ “Heartbreak Hotel” phrasing, while the instruments provide a dance-y sound in a style that reminds of early Beatles tracks like “I Saw Her Standing There.”

Zakka talked about how his love for music turned into a love for playing music.

“I picked up a guitar at 16, and started playing in bands,” Zakka said. “When I first started, I was figuring out a lot of punk-rock stuff, just things that were easy to play. I actually started off playing bass for those first few bands. Then I transferred over to the acoustic guitar, and started writing songs about 12 years ago.”

Another distinguishing thing about the group is just how gosh-darn cool the name is.

“The Wranglers have come and gone since the group was started,” Zakka said. “Jackson is the one who’s been around the longest, but none of the guys in the band now were in the original lineup. The name kind of started as a joke. I wasn’t sure what to call anything, and I thought that ‘Ted Z and the Wranglers’ was kind of funny, and kind of cool. And it stuck!”

The Wranglers have been releasing music now for nearly seven years.

“The first thing we ever put out was called My Blood’s Still Red, in 2013,” he said. “After that, we did an EP called Afraid of Dying, then we did Ghost Train in 2015, but that's the first thing we have on Spotify. We have the older two on sites like ReverbNation and BandCamp.”

Listening to Ted Z and the Wranglers improve with each album—becoming more confident and popular—is a wonderful experience. The most recent album is Southland, released last October.

“The new one is awesome,” Zakka said about Southland. “It turned out spectacular, and sounds really clean and big. We recorded this one in our home studio in Costa Mesa, rather than going back to Texas where we recorded Ghost Train. It came out the way we wanted it to; we self-produced it and made our own decisions on the sound. We had a lot more fun on this record.”

Some of the Wranglers’ best online videos were recorded during Jam in the Van performances. Jam in the Van is pretty self-explanatory: It’s an entity that invites bands to come and, well, jam in a van. Jam in the Van records high-quality video and audio, and releases it on YouTube to more than 312,000 subscribers.

“That was really fun. It was so cool to play live and have it be recorded so well,” Zakka said. “They do a pretty good job of capturing the realness of the songs. I had been wanting to do that for so long, and it was cool to finally make it happen.”

Ted Z and the Wranglers’ venture into Pioneertown is one of only a handful of shows the band currently has scheduled—but that shall soon change.

“We’re doing some work as a unit, and trying to tighten up and get three hours of original stuff to go out and tour,” he said. “… And then I’m gonna start booking us more and more!”

Ted Z and the Wranglers will perform at 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 24, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Admission is free. For more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit pappyandharriets.com.