CVIndependent

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Last updateFri, 16 Sep 2016 12pm

First, you notice the band’s name … Fartbarf. Enough said about that.

Second, you notice that all three of the members are wearing Neanderthal masks. Enough said there, too.

Third, you notice that the band plays … synth music? Yes—really awesome synth music.

The Los Angeles trio will be bringing a live show to Pappy and Harriet’s on Friday, July 21, sharing the bill with the queen of the high desert, Jesika von Rabbit.

Fartbarf is either one of the funniest names for a band you’ll ever hear, or it’s one of the most disgusting, depending on your sense of humor. But whatever your opinion is on the name, the band’s sound will leave you in awe. It’s as if Daft Punk, Devo and Minor Threat had a threesome, with Fartbarf as the result.

Josh McLeod, one of the band’s two synth players, explained how Fartbarf came into existence.  

“It was kind of a response to what we thought was happening to the record industry in the early 2000s,” McLeod said. “It was pretty much just a play on primitive meets futuristic. Cavemen playing electronic music was kind of what we were going for.”

The name came about, in part, to keep expectations low.

“It was very self-sabotaging,” he said. “We figured if we picked a name that a bunch of 12-year-olds wouldn’t even want as their punk-band name, and this name is just terrible, it would keep us grounded in our idea that we would probably never deal with record labels and do this all on our own. We’d play venues that liked our music and thought we’d fit in their bar well. … More recently, I think it’s been a benefit to us. But it’s a terrible name and one you can’t believe people are actually using as their band name.”

When I saw Fartbarf last year at the Palms Restaurant in Wonder Valley, I was shocked when I saw the synthesizer setups. Moog synthesizers, which are heavy and require a lot of tuning, can be a hassle if you don’t have a road crew ready to work on them when they break down. McLeod conceded that it’s a challenge to tour with them at times.

“It’s actually pretty difficult. The Moogs and the bigger analog synths weigh a ton,” he said. “If we need to fly somewhere, we have to pay extra. It’s normally quite a hassle. We never went into it thinking we’d get as far as we did, but being totally analog synthesizer players is pretty easy these days. Before we started Fartbarf, there wasn’t a big resurgence of these things, so we had to find vintage synths or use what we had at the time. Now, manufacturers are coming out with brand-new versions of this stuff. It makes it a lot easier with portability, because Korg has come out with versions of their MS synthesizers that weigh a lot less and are more accessible and reliable.”

McLeod said audiences sometimes struggle with everything surrounding Fartbarf—the name, the masks, the synths and so on.

“Normally, if we play for an audience that has never heard of us or never seen us before, it is kind of hard to register all this stuff at once,” he said. “Our name sets the standards real low, and with our outfits on top of that, it’s kind of a mass of confusion. If people have an open mind within the first three or four songs, they’re usually dancing at the end of the set.

“We never really thought we’d be doing this almost 10 years later. The latex masks were never taken into consideration when we’d be rocking out onstage, and it’s so hot in the masks that you almost just want to die. It’s really difficult; you can’t see much of what you’re doing, and when we rehearse at our studio, we do it with our eyes closed so we know what it feels like when we’re playing live. I think a lot of the stuff that Fartbarf does, we set these limitations just to see how creative we can become with these limitations.

“We noticed when we first started that there was a lot of electronic music coming out, and none of us really came from an electronic-music background. A lot of the music is interesting, and when you go see some of these people live, it is just a dude hitting play on a laptop and pretending to do something. We really set the limitations so that we would never play live with a computer, and there would be a lot of mistakes. We have a live drummer with real drums, because we don’t want to feel like those shows you go see, and it’s like, ‘Eh, it’s all right, but I can do this in my living room.’ I don’t know if setting limitations is for the greater good of anything, but it’s kind of fun to try to work our way out of the rut we create for ourselves.”

Fartbarf has released one album, Dirty Power.

“We’ve talked to a handful of different record labels over the years, especially when we first introduced our album in 2014,” McLeod said. “We had a lot of interest, because we were playing a ton of shows, especially for a couple of years; we played over 100 shows a year. We’re three guys who have careers on top of this side project. At the end of the day … would major labels really do for us what we could do on our own if we got our hands dirty and put our minds to it?”

Playing with Jesika von Rabbit and at Pappy and Harriet’s is pretty cool for Fartbarf, McLeod said.

“We actually don’t know (Jesika) too well, and that’s the crazy thing: We’re actually really excited right now,” he said. “We’re obviously excited about playing Pappy and Harriet’s, given we’ve been there. We love their chili, and we love the vibe. We’re pumped to play there.

“When we played at The Palms, we just kept driving and driving and driving, not knowing where in the hell we were going, and that place is out there. … For us, playing in the desert, it’s definitely out of our comfort zone.”

Fartbarf will perform with Jesika von Rabbit at 9 p.m., Friday, July 21, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $15. For tickets or more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit pappyandharriets.com.

Published in Previews

About three weeks ago, I ran into Stiles, the always-cheerful manager at a Arkansas-based big-box store who sports some of the best tattoos in the High Desert. He’s one of my music compasses, always guiding me to great music, and he reminded me of the Black Lips show at Pappy and Harriet’s on June 24. I decided to go, trusting that Stiles would be standing next to me—because at the last Black Lips show I attended, I almost suffered a tib-fib (tibia fibula) fracture.

The Black Lips were in Pioneertown promoting the band’s eighth studio album, Satan’s Graffiti or God’s Art?—but the lineup ran deep, with Starcrawler as the first of two openers.

From stage right, Starcrawler guitarist Henri Cash entered with guitar in hand, letting a riff echo through the early crowd, followed by Arrow de Wilde, wearing a hospital gown, acting like an escapee from sanatorium—imagine a female Iggy Pop.

I was captivated by Starcrawlers’ performance. I was flanked by Joaquin the butcher (literally, he is a butcher), who is a great guy to have in the pit. Stiles was standing to the right of me, in a Ryan Adams shirt, along with his daughter, who happened to be celebrating her birthday and was wearing the mandatory Misfits shirt that young teens at a certain age must own.

De Wilde was true to her name—she was a woman possessed, someone who would give Lon Chaney a run for his money when it came to facial expressions that varied from fright to derangement; at one point, she smeared fake blood on the birthday girl. Starcrawler ended the show with de Wilde running into the audience—never again to be seen, as she left toward the back of the bar.

Timmy’s Organism took the warm-up spot. Timmy polled the crowd for Detroit natives; when a few hands were raised, he said: “We’re Timmy’s Organism from Detroit!” Timmy, aka Tim Lampinen, donned a fuzzy and perhaps-too-warm-for-the-High-Desert outfit.

The muscular, high-energy band pounded hard rock. Toward the end of the set, Timmy shared: “I use to eat garbage; now I eat steak,” dedicating these words to the fans from the Motor City.

The Black Lips walked onstage at a little after 11 p.m. They were at Pappy and Harriet’s three years ago, and the Black Lips have a legendary reputation for being kicked out of venues, so Pappy’s staffed up with security to control the devil dogs, hippies and punkers who were in attendance.

The band sparked anarchy on the dance floor with the words, “We’re down the super highway all alone a shopping bag full of broken bones, sick and tired of hearing telephones,” from the song the “Sea of Blasphemy.” Stiles did his best to stay standing as a avalanche of humans rushed the stage. Time was not on my side as I tried my best to stay upright as well.

“Boys in the Wood,” off of Underneath the Rainbow, calmed the crowd, but by then, the lens hood had been ripped off my camera and partially crushed under the stopping of the crowd—a sure sign from above to bail from the front of the stage, as I heard I these words to the song: “Them boys are wild back in the woods, they got a child who’s misunderstood. When the boys start to drinking, you know it ain’t no good.”

Fans were treated to several new songs off the latest album, including “Rebel Intuition” and “Crystal Night,” the latter a sad love song involving a sweetheart gone missing during the Nazi era: “Do you remember first time I saw you? I look into your eyes and thought that you would be my sugar, not in this life. We never say goodbye, Now you’re sent to die on crystal night. So while I’m living on this planet, if don’t see you, I just wait until the day that could meet in heaven up in the sky, and then we will never cry or have to say goodbye. No more crystal night.” The song is a true pot of gold for the Black Lips—and it led to another memorable moment at Pappy and Harriet’s.

Published in Reviews

With a discography going back to 1969, multiple covers by various artists, and a reputation as a fantastic live band, one has to wonder: Why isn’t NRBQ a bigger name in music?

After almost 50 years, NRBQ is still going with founding member Terry Adams, and the group will be playing at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace on Friday, July 7.

During a recent phone interview, Scott Ligon, who has been working with Terry Adams since 2007, discussed how he discovered NRBQ, which stands for New Rhythm and Blues Quartet.

“I’ve been a fan of the band since I was 18 years old,” Ligon said. “I’m 46 now, and they became my favorite band when I heard about them in 1988. I couldn’t even believe there was a band like that, that existed on the planet. I immediately started buying every single record on cassette and driving around in my car, listening to them. I just had a real instant connection with all of the music. There’s a certain kind of attitude, a feeling and a spirit to this music that is different. It’s kind of hard to explain, but it’s a real spirit of positivity and possibility that I related to right away as a young guy.”

Ligon knew all the songs, so it wasn’t hard for him to learn the material when he joined the group.

“I don’t remember ever sitting down and picking out the chords to these songs, but I knew them all,” he said. “I had them in my spirit. When it came time to be the guitar-player in the band, I already knew them all, but I had to sit down and ask, ‘What’s the chord on that bridge?’ and that kind of thing. Their catalog was in my soul similarly to the Beatles or the Beach Boys. That’s how highly I thought of this music.”

NRBQ is a band crate-diggers and audiophiles have known about for years, but the average music fan has probably never heard of it. I asked Ligon why that is the case—and he struggled to answer the question at first.

“I think that slowly but surely, people who are really music people find out about us,” Ligon said. “There’s just so much to wade through. The thing about NRBQ is the volume of work—there’s so much there. You really have to decide you’re going to do this if you’re going to dig in. There are about 30 to 40 albums. There’s just so much music out there, but I think true music-lovers find their way to it. But isn’t that a great thing when you go, ‘Wow, I can’t believe I’ve never heard this before!’? That’s the way I felt when I was 18 in 1988. I couldn’t believe this band existed.

In the 1980s, NRBQ enjoyed a colorful period during which WWF/WWE wrestler and manager “Captain” Lou Albano managed the band.

“There was something about this band I couldn’t put my finger on when I first started to see them, and I eventually figured out it was this wrestling thing,” Ligon said. “When I was growing up in the ’70s, my older brother would take me to see wrestling. I saw Andre the Giant, The Crusher, and Mad Dog Vachon, and this was a whole subculture onto itself back in the ’70s. It was really entertaining. These guys who ended up doing this, they had huge personalities that couldn’t be contained. There were 200 people at these things—old ladies to see Andre the Giant and people giving Dick the Bruiser the finger. It was crazy! I recognized this wrestling thing in NRBQ, and I had to discover that Lou Albano was their manager for several years. That was a really amazing chapter in the band’s history, and that happened before I became aware of them. But because I had an older brother who took me to see wrestling when I was a kid, that was another connection I had to this band.”

Considering how many live shows NRBQ plays—always without a set list—it seems like fans would often tape bootleg recordings, and that the band would be releasing a lot of live albums itself.

“I’m sure people do (record bootlegs),” Ligon said. “I’m not really an archivist, and as far as releasing another live record goes, that just depends on if we have a night when we really like the sound and feeling of it, and think people would be interested in hearing it. There’s no current plan to do it, but if something comes along that we really like, we’ll do another live record.”

I asked what those who attend an NRBQ show can expect if they’ve never seen the band before.

“I don’t even know what to expect!” Ligon said with a laugh. “Maybe in some weird way, that does answer the question. Nothing is off limits, and the whole catalog is fair game. We never know what song Terry will call next. It could be from the first record, or it could be from the last record. We never really know. Expect to have a good time and be happy when you walk out of there.”

NRBQ will perform at 9 p.m., Friday, July 7, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $20. For tickets or more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit pappyandharriets.com.

Published in Previews

We’re in the depths of summer. Some venues, like the Purple Room (as of July 2), are on summer break. However, there are still hot events taking place in the Coachella Valley—in locations where you can stay cool.

Get your dancing shoes ready for two events at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino. At 8 p.m., Saturday, July 15, CHIC featuring Nile Rodgers will be performing. At one point, Nile Rodgers claimed that he and CHIC would be appearing at Coachella in 2017—yet they weren’t part of the lineup. If you found that disappointing, here’s a great opportunity to see them. Nile Rodgers has been on the rise again thanks to his work with Daft Punk on the Random Access Memories album. Tickets are $39 to $69. If that isn’t enough … do you like dancing on the ceiling? At 8 p.m., Friday, July 28, the legendary Lionel Richie will take the stage. I remember when I was a small child in the 1980s hearing Lionel Richie on my mom’s car radio, and seeing his videos on MTV—when MTV was still a new thing. Don’t miss this one. Tickets are $89 to $159. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa is hosting some smaller events worth noting. At 8 p.m., Saturday, July 1, Imparables will be appearing. Imparables features two of Mexico’s funniest comedians, Adrian Uribe and Omar Chaparro, who will definitely leave you laughing. What more could you ask for? Tickets are $55 to $85. At 7 p.m., Monday, July 3, you will be in heaven if you grew up in the ’80s and ’90s, thanks to The Boy Band Night, featuring a variety of top-notch entertainers paying tribute to the boy bands you know and love. Another reason you’ll be in heaven: Admission is free! The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 will have a fairly low-key July, but at 8 p.m., Saturday, July 8, the Old School Freestyle Festival will be happening, featuring acts such as Sir Mix-a-Lot (read my interview with him on coming up at CVIndependent.com next week), Taylor Dayne, Stevie B, the Ying Yang Twins and others. Tickets are $39 to $59. At 8 p.m., Saturday, July 15, Elton John impersonator Kenny Metcalf (right) will be returning to Spotlight 29. His shows are always an impressive tribute to the legend. Tickets are $20. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s has a lot going on; here are just a few events. At 9 p.m., Saturday, July 15, Shooter Jennings will be appearing. The son of Waylon Jennings, Shooter has made a name for himself with his own brand of country music, as well as some very strange rock music on his 2009 album, Black Ribbons. Tickets are $25. At 9 p.m., Friday, July 21, the Queen of Joshua Tree herself, Jesika von Rabbit, will be performing. She recently released her version of the Culture Club single “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?” which caught the attention of Boy George himself, who praised von Rabbit via Twitter. Also on the bill: Fartbarf (below), one of the most underrated acts to come out of Los Angeles in recent years. Imagine if Devo and Minor Threat had a baby … and then named it Fartbarf. Tickets are $15. At 9:30 p.m., Saturday, July 22, Terry Reid will be come to Pioneertown. Reid, a UK native who lives in the Coachella Valley, toured with the Rolling Stones and was almost a member of Led Zeppelin. He has a lot of stories, and he’ll gladly tell them to you. One of the funniest stories he told me involved Chuck Berry stealing his guitar amp. Tickets are $15 to $18. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

Copa Palm Springs has an intriguing entertainer returning to the reigning Best Nightclub, as picked in the Best of Coachella Valley by Independent readers: At 8 p.m., Saturday, July 1, through, Monday, July 3, everyone’s favorite small-in-stature comedian, Leslie Jordan, will take the stage. Famous for roles in Will and Grace (will he be in the revival?), American Horror Story and Ugly Betty, Jordan is no stranger to the Copa. Tickets are $25 to $45. Copa, 244 E. Amado Road, Palm Springs; 760-866-0021; www.copapalmsprings.com.

Published in Previews

Last fall, Nick Waterhouse released his latest album, Never Twice. It arguably marked a career high point: The album was a critical success, as Waterhouse’s retro ‘60s rock/R&B sound continued to evolve.

The Pappy and Harriet’s regular will return to Pioneertown for a show at 9 p.m., Friday, June 23.

During a recent phone interview, Waterhouse discussed the challenges, mishaps and frustrations in making Never Twice, an album that features a lot of new territory and different styles for him. In fact, Waterhouse said he almost abandoned the project altogether.

“This album marked the conclusion of five years of doing what I had been doing,” Waterhouse said. “The first record (Time’s All Gone, from 2012) was a live set with the gang who couldn’t shoot straight backing me. The second record (Holly, from 2014) was when I was trying to figure out my place in the recording world. The studio where I recorded my first record—that I thought I’d have forever—closed between the first and second records. Suddenly, I had all these tools at my disposal on the second record, and it was done in a cinematic kind of way.”

After Holly, Waterhouse wanted to find a studio similar to the one that had closed—something that was not easy. The process inspired Never Twice, and included bringing back Michael McHugh as his recording engineer.

“This record was a militant response to that (process) and going off the grid,” Waterhouse said. “I re-employed my mentor and engineer who taught me everything I knew, who I made my first record with. We worked together on this—and this was the first job he had gotten after getting out of jail after a few years. He’s somebody who is a practitioner of what has been made into an arcane art form. … There was a time when (a recording engineer’s) skills were prized and supported financially. … That stuff isn’t appealing to labels and distributors anymore, because it doesn’t offer them a huge net profit at the end of the day.”

The recording process of Never Twice was chaotic, to say the least. Things caught on fire. McHugh crashed Waterhouse’s van. And that’s just for starters.

“It was very complicated, and to be honest, on my end, a harebrained scheme that blew up in my face—and I made it out with singed hair and no eyebrows,” Waterhouse said. “I really assembled a dream team. I wrote out a list of people I wanted to work with to make the best-sounding record, and from the beginning, there was so much behind the scenes. The keys player I had rehearsed all these songs with, for months before we started to record, got offered a very big gig and is now in the band Dawes. … It forced me to create a new dynamic and bring in an organ player every day.

“During the sessions, Michael (McHugh) showed some early warning signs of what he was later diagnosed with, which was paranoid schizophrenia. That was quite insane—literally. We were in a room with a lot of equipment held together with chewing gum and paper clips, and it was chaotic and a circus-like atmosphere, and it all got done. But toward the end, it felt like I was going into ‘lost album’ territory, where I knew I had captured all these recordings and couldn’t finish the mixing. It felt like it was cursed.”

Nick Waterhouse is signed with Innovative Leisure Records, which puts him among some rather interesting acts, such as BADBADNOTGOOD, Hanni El Khatib, Bass Drum of Death and Classixx.

“I signed with them the first week they were established as a company, so I feel like I helped build the foundation for their brand,” Waterhouse said. “They were telling me their vision, and the two artists they had were me and Hanni. They were proprietors of this new Southern California eclecticism. I thought that made more sense to me than going with a heritage or retro-leaning label.”

I own some of Waterhouse’s recordings on both CD and vinyl—and I notice a definite difference in the music on each format. He explained why.

“A lot of contemporary vinyl is cut from the same digital files CDs are made with,” he said. “Now, I make my records on analog tape, and analog tape is a match to the final format of vinyl. I’m cutting my records with someone who I trust and deeply respect who cuts a lacquer straight from the tapes. The sound never goes through a computer. Mastering for a CD or digital-audio file is radically different than mastering for vinyl, and that might be the difference you hear between the two. I decided when I made my records that I was going to make my records as I saw them, and gear them toward format. So I sat with a different engineer for the vinyl, and another for the compact disc.”

Waterhouse has been in the business since 2010, when he released his first single, “Some Place.” He said he now feels as if he’s established himself and has shaken off the “nostalgia act” classification.

“Going on tour no longer feels like the sole goal of the trip is to try to make a good first impression on people,” he said. “Now it’s more … engaging the people who have wanted to be part of my world and have returned for at least two shows. Fans know what they’re getting when they come to see me. For the first year or two, I suffered from this in-the-box syndrome and being classified as ‘for fans of Amy Winehouse and Sharon Jones.’ Now I think it’s more people who know me as having a body of work. They’re the ones who are singing along, and it’s really rewarding and helps me feed off the fans and welcome others in.”

Nick Waterhouse will perform with SadGirl at 9 p.m., Friday, June 23, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $15. For tickets or more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit pappyandharriets.com.

Published in Previews

Summer is upon us—officially, even, as of the night of June 20. Why don’t you beat the heat and enjoy a great show or two?

Agua Caliente Casino Report Spa’s June schedule is a little light, but there are a couple of things worth mentioning (beyond a sold-out Moody Blues show on Saturday, June 3). At 7 p.m., Saturday, June 17, you’ll need to get your shout-outs to your “shorty in lockdown” ready, because the Art LaBoe Summer Love Jam will return. All joking aside, there’s some great music on the lineup this year. Funk legend ZAPP is one of the acts worth going to see, as the group has been sampled by several hip-hop artists, including Dr. Dre. Tickets are $45 to $65. If you never got to see Pink Floyd play a live show, you missed out, since the members have stated there will be no reunion—ever. But at 9 p.m., Friday, June 30, you can experience Pink Floyd’s music set to lasers at Paramount’s Laser Spectacular. Some of these laser shows with Pink Floyd’s music can be pretty cool—plus it beats sitting at home watching Netflix. Tickets are $20 to $30. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has just one big show in June—but it’s huge. At 8 p.m., Friday, June 9, get ready for some serious laughs, because Chris Rock will be stopping by. Chris Rock has been incredible to watch over the years, given how well he always reflects the times in his stand-up routine. I still love the bit he did about Lil’ Jon and rap music, which has become one of his best-known standup moments. Tickets are $89 to $149. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Spotlight 29’s entertainment slate for June is also a little light, but there is one thing you won’t want to miss (aside from the Ziggy Marley show, which you can read about on Friday, June 2, here at CVIndependent.com): At 8 p.m., Saturday, June 24, Los Chicos del 512 will be performing a tribute to Selena. The group will perform all of Selena’s music that you know and love. Tickets are $20. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino Resort and Spa has several great events on the calendar. At 9 p.m., Friday, June 2, Marlon Wayans will bring the funny; tickets are $23 to $29. Be sure to check out my interview with him here. That same night, at 10 p.m., Friday, June 2, power-pop band The Romantics (upper right) will perform. This is a show you should see if you’re a true rock ’n’ roll fan. The Romantics had a couple of big hit songs: “What I Like About You” and “Talking In Your Sleep.” The band’s lineup once included Blondie drummer Clem Burke; he’s no longer with the band, but three original members are! Tickets are $20. Keeping with the ’80s theme, at 10 p.m., Friday, June 16, new-wave band The Motels will be appearing. The Motels had one or two hits in the ’80s and then faded away, before re-forming in 1998. Martha Davis still fronts the band—and still believes in the music. Tickets are $20. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace will be the place to go this summer for great live music—and the venue’s June calendar is packed. Read my interview with the Tijuana Panthers here; the band will perform at 9 p.m., Friday, June 2, and tickets are $15. At 8 p.m., Friday, June 9, Mick Rhodes and the Hard Eight will take the stage. Rhodes was once the front man of the Los Angeles punk band Human Therapy, and now performs in this spectacular alt-country band. If you can’t make it to the show, at least check out the band on the streaming services. I can almost guarantee you’ll like it. Admission is free. At 9 p.m., Saturday, June 10, New Orleans R&B/country band The Deslondes will be returning to Pappy and Harriet’s. The band’s New Orleans sound is timeless; The Deslondes really do have something going for themselves. After seeing the group perform at Stagecoach, I can tell you it’s a fun band to watch. Tickets are $15. At 9 p.m., Saturday, June 24, psychedelic rock band The Black Lips will be returning. The band’s shows are often pretty insane. While they’ve behaved themselves at Pappy and Harriet’s the last couple of times, they’ve been known to get naked, vomit, set things on fire and so on. War Drum front man Jack Kohler once told me a story about how when he worked for the Ace Hotel and Swim Club in Palm Springs, he was told to deliver shaving cream to the band’s hotel room—and found the band shaving a group of women from head to toe. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Purple Room has some familiar names returning in June. At 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday, June 2 and 3, America’s favorite dragapella group, The Kinsey Sicks, will be performing the Things You Shouldn’t Say show. Tickets are $30 to $45. At 8 p.m., Saturday, June 17, The Buddy Holly Review will do its thing. As a fan of Buddy Holly, I’ve been interested in this show; I’ve heard it’s a lot of fun. Tickets are $25 to $35. At 8 p.m., Friday, June 30, there will be a benefit for the American Cancer Society featuring Debby Holiday (below). Debby Holiday is a star on the rise with two hit singles, “Never Give Up” and “Key to Your Soul.” Tickets are $25 to $35. Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

The Hood Bar and Pizza has a couple of events, starring local bands, that are worth your consideration. At 9 p.m., Friday, June 2, there will be a metal show with Drop Mob, Perishment, Instigator and In the Name of the Dead. Considering how long as Drop Mob has been around, it’s good to see the band finally being noticed. Admission is free. At 9 p.m., Thursday, June 8, Courtney Chambers, Caxton, and 5th Town will take the stage. This should be a fun show; all of the bands are female-fronted—and rather talented. Admission is free. The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-636-5220; www.facebook.com/thehoodbar.

Published in Previews

With a band name like the Tijuana Panthers, there has to be a great story behind it … right?

The Long Beach garage-punk trio will be hitting the stage at Pappy and Harriet’s on Friday, June 2.

During a recent phone interview, guitarist Chad Wachtel told me the story behind that infamous name.

“The album we did a long time ago, called Max Baker, is actually named after someone with that name,” Wachtel said. “He used to own a liquor store. He lived across the street from Phil (Shaheen), and Phil grew up with this guy. He was pretty rough; he smoked a lot of cigarettes and drank mostly hard stuff. He unfortunately passed away a few years ago, but he used to take trips to Mexico, and one time, he got a porcelain panther in Tijuana and ended up in a knife fight. He came out of it and got home. Phil sees him, and he said, ‘Hey, Max!’ waving at him, and Max was like, ‘Here, have this!’ and gives him the panther and walks away—so that’s where it comes from. True story and actual story! Jamie, Phil’s wife, said to us, ‘You guys should be the Tijuana Panthers!’”

The Tijuana Panthers met each other in a church camp while they were growing up and later decided to form a band. At first, Wachtel was hesitant, given he didn’t enjoy performing in front of audiences.

“We didn’t form at the camp, but it is sort of an unlikely story, isn’t it?” Wachtel said. “That’s where I met the other guys in the band, Dan (Michicoff) and Phil (Shaheen). I grew up in the church my whole life. My parents served in the youth department, and my dad drove the buses for the youth department. They dedicated their lives to serving in the church. We didn’t form a band until we were out of high school, and it was during college. It was just me and Phil at first, and he and Dan had been in a band called the Fancy Lads. That band broke up, and Phil wanted to play music. He asked me to jam, and I was reluctant to do that, but Phil said, ‘Let’s make solidified songs, and let’s play a show.’ Phil got me up there, and here we are.”

When Wachtel tells the story of the Panthers’ Semi-Sweet, released in 2013, it seems amazing the album was ever released at all, even though the album is now considered an underground gem by music-lovers.

“When we made those recordings, we had no idea what we were doing in the studio,” he said. “Orlando, the guy who recorded it, he had gone to recording school and was just starting out with his own home studio. He wasn’t into anything surf-rock-inspired. He recorded a few bands, and no one like ours at all. He’d be like, ‘So, what do you guys want?’ and we’d be like, ‘Uhhh, we don’t know. Just plug the guitar in, and some drums.’ We were all pretty green, and that was the main challenge—trying to get that sound we wanted. That album is really not the sound that we wanted. It’s not Orlando’s fault; it was us not knowing how to record. People still love those recordings.”

In 2015, the band released Poster.

“The recordings on that are really dialed in,” Wachtel said. “That album has a nice balance. Richard Swift recorded that album with us, and he said, ‘I want to do something more high-fi.’ The previous album we did, Wayne Interest, was super lo-fi. It was straight analog and super-blown-out.”

The term “surf rock” is being applied to a lot of garage bands today—even though the elements of true surf rock are not present in the music. While Tijuana Panthers are certainly a great rock ’n’ roll band, they aren’t necessarily a surf-rock band, even though Wachtel said the genre is present in their influences.

“I was inspired a lot by surf music, including pop stuff by the Beach Boys,” he said. “If people said, ‘Hey, you sound like the Beach Boys,’ I’d be like, ‘Oh, cool.’ … Sometimes the general population doesn’t hear our non-surf influences, and I’m not too offended by that. I don’t expect them to pick up on little subtleties here or there. I think that’s one of the fundamental elements of what we do, but I don’t consider us a ‘surf-band,’ and I’d be real self-conscious if we found ourselves on a bill with a traditional surf band and thought, ‘I hope these guys don’t think we’re traditional surf.’”

Wachtel told me an amusing story about the first time the band played at Pappy and Harriet’s.

“We went and stayed at this hotel that was down the hill. I don’t remember what it was called, but it had this really cool vintage sign out front,” he said. “The place was kind of creepy. We found what we thought was blood on the sheets, which was kind of a bummer, and we decided we weren’t going to stay there again. This guy named Roger was the manager, and he was really friendly, and he was like, ‘Oh, you guys are a band?’ We tried to talk him into coming to the show. The night was cool, though, and there was a lightning storm, and I remember going out of the venue before we played and watching the lightning off in the desert.”

The Tijuana Panthers will perform with Matt Lamkin at 9 p.m., Friday, June 2, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $15. For tickets or more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit pappyandharriets.com.

Published in Previews

As I waited for Le Butcherettes to take the stage at Pappy and Harriet’s, I had a flashback to the 2014 show at the Observatory where I first laid eyes and ears on Le Butcherettes.

Le Butcherettes are on the road with At the Drive-In; this was a side gig in between supporting dates.

Teri Gender Bender, aka Teresa Suarez Cosio, never disappoints—but I was a little worried, because this Mexican dynamo has surplus energy that potentially meant I would be squeezed like a grape against the stage as she drenched her powerful spirit on the crowd.

I again thought of that 2014 show. A pit barrier then kept my camera and me free of slamming admirers. But this show at Pappy’s was not sold out, so I was not too concerned about flying bodies.

I ran into to Michael Reiter, a music super-fan who is always a few steps ahead of the flock when it comes to emerging acts. The show started promptly at 9:30 p.m. with no opening band—and the band was bathed in red light. Teresa was wearing a tight-fitting olive jumpsuit more suited for the local Marine base than a rock show, but she was here to let her music speak for itself. I heard a female voice from the audience screaming, “I love you.”

A switch went on as we heard the first note of the baking-hot “Burn the Scab” from Cry Is for the Flies. Her face went from a happy smile to a demon possessed by music that would scare the villain driver in “Hitch Hiker,” one of my favorite tunes—which, unfortunately, was not on the set list.

To my relief, the crowd was very mellow, with no mosh pit and no pushing and shoving, which has been the norm as fans try to get close to Le Butcherettes. Teri Gender Bender did not climb the walls or columns, nor did she walk on the bar. Is this a sign of a more-subdued Bender? Not really: Her body and limbs glitched like a robot zombie who was about to fail mechanically, only to be jolted by a bolt of energy as Teri Gender Bender swapped between keyboard and guitar. Halfway through show, she escapeed the confinement of the jumpsuit—dramatically emerging like a butterfly from its cocoon, wearing a red dress.

Le Butcherettes sprinted through their 12-song set which included “Boulders Love Over Layers of Rock” and “Witchless C Spot.” With the show nearly over, Teri said: “Muchas gracias para esta noche te creemos mucho, mucho.”

By then, the crowd was in full Le Butcherette love mode, as Bender teased with the first few guitar notes from “Henry Don’t Got Love,” which got a pitch-perfect a capella response to the next few notes from a male audience member. She retorted with a few more notes—and unleashed one of the band’s most popular songs. Drenched in sweat from 50-minute set, the band walked off the stage to cheers.

A chant of, “Otra, otra!” came from this bicultural crowd but there would be no encore for this brilliant show.

Published in Reviews

I go to a lot of music shows—and I still can’t predict an audience’s arrival time.

Saturday, May 6, was an unseasonably cold and windy night in Pioneertown—definite sweater weather, but not even a sweater was enough to keep a person warm. Ty Segall’s outdoor show was sold out—yet fans merely trickled in, taking shelter by the new patio area.

Except for a few die-hard fans, everyone missed a great opening performance by the punk band Audacity, out of Fullerton. The band was also the opener for Joyce Manor at Pappy’s recently; it is good to see promoters are booking real punk rock instead of the bubblegum pop-punk offerings that are so common these days.

Ty Segall let it be known that it was OK to wear white before Memorial Day, which made me feel a little bit under-dressed for the show. He thrilled the audience with genres ranging from heavy rock to garage, with some glam punk thrown in to boot.

Being tucked into the corner stage right due to the weather limited Segall from roaming the stage, but he would definitely get kudos from the likes of James Brown and David Bowie from Rock and Roll Heaven for his rock-star moves. His solid set included “Finger,” “Orange Color Queen,” “The Crawler,” “Papers,” “I Am With You,” “Candy Sam” and “Sleeper.”

Segall’s fans responded with cheers and some fantastic crowd-surfing—but all good things must come to an end. “Thank you very much; have a good night,” he said as he walked off stage.

Published in Reviews

Opening for Mac DeMarco’s Cinco de Mayo show at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace was a band called Drugdealer. One could describe the group as quirky and fun … but a little strange.

“My name is Mike, and I write songs with my friends the Drugdealers,” said front man Mike Collins, before quipping: “Joshua Tree, the entrance to heaven.”

Drugdealer offers ’70s-style pop, performed by guys who are riding high via a cannabis-fueled airline. Introducing the single “End of Comedy” off of the band’s debut album by the same name, Collins said: “This time, the band rehearsed twice!” Drugdealer did a great job of setting the mood for the rest of the night.

Mac DeMarco came to Pappy and Harriet’s to celebrate the release of his new album, This Old Dog, via Captured Tracks. Once known for larks onstage—which have even gotten him arrested—this old dog has learned new tricks, with DeMarco bringing a calmer and fantastic performance to Pioneertown. What has not changed: his gorgeously composed narratives with quirky lyrics that are simply delightful. The night was cold, which may explain the bottle of Jameson that was always nearby, keeping the singer warm in the high desert air. The audience was probably the youngest I’ve seen at Pappy’s this year—but the crowd was nonetheless dedicated, lining up a few hours before the opening of the gate.

DeMarco walked on and said, “Hello my name is Mac,” before starting the set with “Salad Days,” which got fans jumping. Reaction was also quite positive to the upbeat tune “The Stars Keep on Calling My Name.” Feeding off the crowd, Mac validated their love by saying, “We’ll try to play as long as we can.”

“A Wolf Who Wears Sheep’s Clothes,” another high-tempo tune off the new record, was a highlight of the night.

Someone in the audience at one point yelled, “Yeah! Yeah!” which was met with Mac saying: “Shut the fuck up!” Things were starting to wind down, but the mood was still happy when DeMarco uttered, “Viceroy early in the morning just trying to let the sun in and open my eyes,” from “Ode to Viceroy,” a sappy yet heartfelt song which required a puff from his cigarette and a swig from the emptying bottle of Jameson at his feet. Mac then said, “Thank you guys,” a clue the end of the show was near. A person in the crowd yelled, “I want to bum a smoke,” to which DeMarco responded only with his eyes, saying something to the effect of, “Dude, buy your own pack.”

“Chamber of Reflection” was dedicated to a family he met in the parking lot—this happens at Pappy’s, as there is no backstage area. The young child from that family was brought onstage and allowed to sit on an amp for the rest of the show—on occasion helping with chimes. 

At one point, I bumped into a fan named Georgia who was beyond excited. She told me she missed a Mac show at Red Rocks in Colorado, because she got arrested a few days before; I did not ask for details.

By then, the crowd was in a frenzy. I spied Mac crowd-surfing while on his side—with a cigarette in his mouth.

What a night.

Published in Reviews

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