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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

Teri Gender Bender is one of the great female rock front women—and she continues to kick ass and take names.

Teri Gender Bender—her real name is Teresa Suárez Cosío—recently recorded and toured with the supergroup Crystal Fairy, which also includes At the Drive-In/Mars Volta guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, Melvins guitarist Buzz Osborne, and Melvins drummer Dale Crover. However, she’s best known for fronting Le Butcherettes, which will be performing at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace on Thursday, May 11.

During a recent phone interview, Cosio started off by telling me that she’s always nervous during interviews. I broke the ice by telling her that the recent Crystal Fairy album was amazing, with incredible energy.

“I’m just so grateful that we were even able to make that album,” Cosio said. “I never expected in my entire life—at 27 years old after listening to the Melvins since I was 12—that I’d be collaborating with Dale and Buzz. I’m just happy it even exists. In a spiritual sense, I feel really relieved, and hopefully that opens up the door to hanging out more with those guys, and more collaboration. I’m really thankful for those memories of recording it. The process was a gift within itself.”

Cosio said the group wound up being a cultural-exchange project, of sorts. Cosio was born in Denver to a Mexican mother and a Spanish father, and moved to Mexico later in her childhood.

“It’s pretty surreal, to say the least. Everyone in the band is from different cultures. Omar is from Puerto Rico, and Buzz and Dale are from Northern Washington,” Cosio said. “It’s very interesting to see those different worlds collide. It was like, ‘I didn’t know about that type of food,’ and, ‘My mother will make breakfast for you guys and make you some traditional Mexican food.’ It was great to see everyone exchanging cultures.”

Le Butcherettes, which got its start in Guadalajara, offers a surreal experience as a live band, while the recordings are beautiful artistic expressions—with a blast of garage punk. I asked Cosio what the band means to her.

“For me, it’s my life, but I wouldn’t know how to describe it myself,” she said. “It’s always these different styles and inspirations, from movies to literature. The only thing I really know is that it’s provided me with a passport to tour the world and to be able to experience different artists and different people. I wouldn’t know how to describe it myself, either. I like that it isn’t easy to describe.”

Le Butcherettes have been on the festival circuit and have opened for bands such as the Deftones and At the Drive-In. Cosio said she was pleasantly surprised by the response Le Butcherettes received.

“The Deftones’ crowd was very open to us. At first, I was a little on edge about it, given the rumor was the Deftones crowd was only there to see the Deftones,” she said. “It was the same with At the Drive-In fans. So far, knock on wood, people have been very embracing toward us. The people who showed up early to see us play knew the words to the songs, which I never really expected. I was writing in my room in Guadalajara when I was 12 years old, and I would have never expected to see me opening for these bands, and people showing up early to see us play. It’s given us a career and has opened doors for us.”

While Cosio might be shy, she’s been open about many of the things that happened to her during her childhood, including her father’s fatal heart attack, which prompted her mother to move her and her brother to Guadalajara from their home in Denver. She said music and the arts gave her an outlet to express her pain.

“We lived in a small apartment during most of my childhood, so I wasn’t able to play guitar any time of the day, because the neighbors would hit the walls. Writing was, and still is, a major outlet for me,” she said. “You have the liberty to complain or write whatever you want, and no one is going to judge you, unless you show someone. But me being an introvert, I was going to write about something and be so direct about it, but I always had this fear that my brother might take it and read it out loud—which he did before—and read it to our mom. I had two options: Drown myself in alcohol like my father did—and I loved him a lot, even though he was a frustrated artist and drank a lot—or I could take the other path and try to drug myself up with literature. I know that sounds pretentious, but that’s the only way I can say it.”

Cosio admitted that she is afraid of being underestimated.

“That’s a big challenge, along with not taking it personally—especially if you’re a Latina woman, because you have to get used to stepping over obstacles,” she said. “(You need to) learn how to make that into art and use that as an inspiration. My inner demons have been a constant challenge, like those little voices in your head that say you aren’t good enough and that you’re not a good person. So I work on being a good person, which is a big spectrum—and I want to get to the bright light of the spectrum.”

Le Butcherettes will perform at 9:30 p.m., Thursday, May 11, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $12 to $15. For tickets or more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit pappyandharriets.com.

Published in Previews

May is here! Congratulations on surviving the uptick in traffic during the festival season—and for dodging all of those confused snowbirds.

Now, it’s time for the heat. Fortunately, there are some great shows coming up to help ease you into summer.

The McCallum Theatre will go dark during the summer months. But before the curtain closes for the season, the theater is hosting several compelling shows. At 7 p.m., Friday, May 5, the Coachella Valley Symphony will join forces with jazz great Diane Schuur for Rhapsody and Blues. Tickets are $27 to $67. At 4 p.m., Sunday, May 7, there will be a performance by the All Coachella Valley High School Honor Band, conducted by Richard Floyd. Tickets are $10 to $12. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has a couple of events going on that are worth your consideration. At 8 p.m., Friday, May 19, Ann Wilson of the band Heart will be performing solo. A level of estrangement between Ann Wilson and her sister, Nancy, appears to have broken up Heart for the time being, after Ann Wilson’s husband reportedly assaulted Nancy Wilson’s children outside of a Heart concert last year. Family issues aside, Ann Wilson is a vocal powerhouse and will most likely rock the place. Tickets are $39 to $69. At 8 p.m., Friday, May 26, Mexican music sensation Larry Hernández will be performing. Hernandez is a star in the Latin-music world and has racked up many hit albums and singles. Tickets are $39 to $69. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 800-827-2946; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has a great schedule as we slide into the summer months. At 9 p.m., Friday, May 12, country star Dustin Lynch (right) will take the stage. He’s one of the newer stars of the country-music genre, with two high-selling albums and four No. 1 singles on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart; Lynch is definitely a rising star. Tickets are $40 to $60. Fans of international music, take note: At 8 p.m., Saturday, May 20, Filipino duo Martin Nievera and Lani Misalucha will perform their Masquerade show. The duo is well-known for performing pop standards and jazz—to opera music. Go and expand your musical palate! Tickets are $38 to $125. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 has some big events on the calendar in May. How big? Really BIG! At 8 p.m., Friday, May 19, guitar icon and Eagles member Joe Walsh will be performing. Although the Eagles broke a promise that they wouldn’t perform after the death of Glenn Frey by agreeing to play at Desert Trip-style festivals in New York and Los Angeles, called “Classic East” and “Classic West,” this is probably the closest thing the Coachella Valley will get to an Eagles show these days. Walsh is a big name on his own, and was cool enough to perform on the Foo Fighters’ most recent album, Sonic Highways. Tickets are $99 to $139. At 8 p.m., Saturday, May 20, comedienne and actress Mo’Nique will be at Spotlight 29. Mo’Nique is funny as hell, and her performance in the movie Precious, although disturbing, was epic. You won’t want to miss this one. Tickets are $45 to $65. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino Resort Spa is rolling into May with a solid schedule through the summer. Get ready to relive the ’80s in a big way with two big acts: At 10 p.m., Friday, May 12, get ready to jump some rope and bulk up, because Survivor will be performing. Yes, “Eye of the Tiger”! Tickets are $20. At 10 p.m., Saturday, May 20, Culture Club front man Boy George will bring the party. I caught the Coachella Valley stop of the recent Culture Club reunion tour, and I can say that Boy George remains very entertaining as a singer and front man. Tickets are $30. Check the Morongo website for details on other interesting shows, including a couple by comedian Ron White. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace is settling down after a slew of Coachella-related shows in April—but there’s plenty to take in at Pappy’s in May. At 8 p.m., Saturday, May 6, modern psychedelic-rock wild child Ty Segall (below) will be performing. Segall is a true-blue, no-bullshit psychedelic musician. He can make some pretty fantastic records—and is one hell of a live performer. You really don’t want to miss this show, especially with it being at Pappy’s. Tickets are $27. At 8 p.m., Saturday, May 27, Dave Catching and the Rancho de la Luna cast of characters including Alain Johannes, Sweethead, The Mutants and the Mojave Lords will be playing on a bill that’s being called “Shared Hallucinations Part 1.” After seeing Alain Johannes perform solo last year, I must say: Make sure you get there in time to check him out. The Mojave Lords are also a lot of fun. Tickets are $30. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

It appears the Date Shed is going to go dark over the summer once again. If so, these are some of the events that will close out the Date Shed’s season. At 8 p.m., Saturday, May 6, reggae singer HIRIE will be performing. HIRIE sure had an interesting childhood: She was born in the Philippines; her father worked for the United Nations; and she had exposure to a lot of different cultures, including Hawaii, which influenced much of her music. Tickets are $15 to $20. At 8 p.m., Saturday, May 20, local bands Wild Sons, EeVaan Tre and Kanvaz will take the stage. EeVaan Tre is one of the Coachella Valley’s best talents; here’s hoping he will finally release some recordings sometime soon. Tickets are $8 to $12. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St., Indio; 760-775-6699; www.dateshedmusic.com.

Published in Previews

Pappy and Harriet’s, per usual, was the place to be for people who wanted to catch Coachella 2017 acts without having to battle large crowds and traffic.

Last Thursday, Pappy’s hosted a Coachella act doubleheader, and staffers had their hands full ushering the outdoor Future Islands fans out of Pappy’s while clearing the indoor saloon to get ready for the Crash Seat Headrest show, which started a few minutes after midnight (technically making it a Friday show). Lead Singer Will Toledo was short on chitchat; instead, he let his music talk for him.

“Vincent” stirred the initial of many riotous sing-alongs, and was the first of three consecutive Teens of Denial tracks, including “Fill in the Blank” and “1937 State Park.”

The concert also included "(Joe Gets Kicked Out of School for Using) Drugs With Friends (But Says This Isn't a Problem)" and “Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales.” The tunes inspired many attendees, apparently high on life, to take part in a new form of moshing that was polite and featured arm movements that mimicked mating swans.

Car Seat Headrest was top-notch, shredding through intense indie hymns, like the distraught bounce of “Maud Gone,” a tune that tries to understand the emotional feelings of a confused lover: “And when I’m in bed, I’m dead, no one to check my pulse, and so instead, my head, begs not to be so full, and when I fall asleep, which part of me writes the dream and which part falls asleep? Who’s running the machine?”

The show closed with “Beast Monster Thing.”

Car Seat Headrest is concentrated self-absorption mixed with helplessness, liberation and happiness—making it one of the finest indie bands around.

Published in Reviews

The Glass Animals played through the pain to turn in a wonderful in-between-Coachella-weekends show at Pappy and Harriet’s on Wednesday, April 19.

Jagwar Ma warmed things up with a well-received set, highlighted by the song “Come Save Me.” Jagwar Ma is a blended swirl of delight, mixing EDM with live instruments, resulting in a sound that pleases purists like myself with fab and far-out tracks.

A non-clinical observation: There appeared to be plenty of attendees with mushroom eyes from the hallucinating fungus that is all the rage with the younglings, as hazy clouds of smoke floated above.

Glass Animals took the stage with front man Dave Bayley walking up to the microphone and saying, “This place is beautiful.” Early on, he felt the need to set the appropriate expectation level among the crowd: “So about a week and a half ago, I broke my ankle.” Wearing an orthopedic boot on his right leg, Bayley might be be slowed by this Velcro and plastic cage, so I thought—but he had no challenges spinning and dancing like a mad man, only using the stool occasionally to rest.

The band kicked things off with “Life Itself,” off sophomore release How to Be a Human Being, sparking joy among the fans who alternated between screaming and capturing photos for their Instagram accounts.

Bayley later shared: “We actually filmed a lot of music videos here,” apparently referring to the High Desert. The members of the Glass Animals clearly were having a great time.

The show featured the well-received “Gooey,” “Black Mambo” and “Hazey.” Glass Animals intertwined new material and old material from debut release Zaba.

As Bayley sang “Season 2 Episode 3,” my girl eats mayonnaise from a jar when she’s getting blazed, I witnessed a collision between a tall blonde—in 4-inch wedge heels with periwinkle toenails, awkwardly walking in the sand—and a dancing blonde, who apparently preferred dancing instead of mayonnaise when having herbal fun.

Glass Animals closed out the show with an encore featuring fan favorites “Pork Soda” and “Pools.”

Published in Reviews

Tradition, tradition, my sweet Lorde—a Pappy and Harriet’s tradition continued with a surprise show after midnight on Friday/Saturday at the storied adobe bar in Pioneertown.

Lorde, aka Ella Yelich-O’Connor, continued the tradition of secret, last-minute shows at Pappy’s, disclosing her first full-length performance since December 2014 with a simple tweet earlier in the day. She followed in the footsteps of Bon Iver playing a secret pre-Coachella warm-up under the nom de guerre of Mouthoil in 2013; the Pixies celebrating a return to Coachella in 2014; and Sir Paul McCartney’s Oldchella mini-gig last October that created the biggest traffic jam ever in Pioneertown.

Lorde’s shocker of a show had me scrambling, but I was able to make it for the hour-long warm-up gig, during which she introduced three new songs and played plenty of material from 2013’s Pure Heroine. Unfortunately, I was not allowed to bring in a pro camera, so I was only able to get some snapshots of the venue; the photo above is from her 2014 Coachella performance.

The show was slated to start at midnight, and security had all ticketholders line up in the outdoor stage area, since Wanda Jackson performed a 9 p.m. show inside. There was more security than usual—and lots of people running around with a sense of urgency, with VIPs, mostly family, entering first.

I waited in line with a group of fans from Long Beach who were able to obtain six of the $20 tickets before they sold out. The door’s opening led to a quick security check and a mad scramble toward the stage. I spied Nancy Hunt, owner of the boutique Brat, in Santa Monica, who seems to be at every sold-out show at Pappy’s, but for the most part, the crowd was new to Pappy’s, based on the informal survey I took while in line.

The show started about 12:20 a.m. with an intro tease of new single “Green Light,” as many fans did their best Statute of Liberty impressions with cell phones rising high in the sky for most of the show. Lorde was very comfortable and chatty, saying, “This is what I like about a small place,” before she was interrupted by fans stating where they drove from: “Oh, you came from L.A.? You from Nashville, today?” It felt like she was playing for close friends—something you rarely see from a pop star with fans only feet and inches away, and something that won’t happen at Coachella on Sunday.

Lorde teed up the crowd: “So I wanna try something that no one knows about yet. I wanna play you something from the new record. It’s kind of like one of my favorite things I think I’ve done. It’s a two-part song, but they’re very different. They’re what the core of this album is about.” A fan finished her sentence by yelling, “Sober!” which is a song from her upcoming second album, Melodrama. She replied: “Fuck, you guessed it! I really need you with me for this,” and a request was made to turn down the blue, cavern-like lighting. Lorde drove spectators wild as she sang, “My hips have missed your hips … what will we do when we’re sober?” partially hanging from the stage right “punk pole” used by many to just hold on during more raucous shows.

Lorde expressed how happy she was to play a live show again: “Thank you so much, wow, cool, I miss you so much.” Then came more news: “This song is a little ghost. I felt like a little ghost when I wrote this one. I walked until I could not walk anymore and I called a cab. … When I was writing, I felt like was in high school. Oh, I see my sister in standing in the back. It’s called ‘Liability.’”  

Lucky ticket-holders were treated to an “old” Lorde hit, “Royals,” which had a few Pappy’s staffers behind the bar singing along with the chorus.

Lorde shouted out to the crowd, “Thank you very much. How you doing out there? What do you want to know?” A fan asked, “What have you been doing?” She responded: “I bought a house in New Zealand, and I don’t garden yet, but I’ve been going to the beach.”

She hinted that the end of the night was near: “It’s a great one tonight. I want to get pretty down for the last two songs. I want you to dance like you’re alone in your bedroom, and you don’t give a fuck. Are you in?” Lorde then ended with “Team” and “Green Light,” the latter off her highly anticipated sophomore release.

As she knelt on a corner sub-woofer, Lorde said her goodbye: “Thank you so much Pappy and Harriet’s.”

Published in Reviews

Many music fans know about Australian psych-rock band Tame Impala—but they probably don’t know about Pond, even though the band has featured and continues to feature various members of Tame Impala.

Here’s the current breakdown: Pond’s frontman is former Tame Impala touring member Nick Allbrook, and the band includes Tame Impala member Jay “Gumby” Watson. Other Pond members are Shiny Joe Ryan, Jamie Terry and Ginole.

In between performances at Coachella on Sunday, April 16 and 23, Pond will be playing at Pappy and Harriet’s on Monday, April 17.

During a recent phone interview from Australia, Jay Watson told me why so many bands from Australia have made a splash in the United States over the last decade.

“If you think about it proportionately, (the number of bands to find success) is probably the same as it is in the United States,” Watson said. “There are, like, 23 million people here. I know it’s kind of easy and fun to think of it as this obscure place.”

Both Tame Impala and Pond are known for melding psychedelic music and rock. Watson said it’s not really a challenge to mix the two together.

“We just try to make stuff that has melodies we like,” he said. “… I guess we like stuff that sounds weird. That’s why it sounds psychedelic, or whatever word you want to use. We always try to make it sound weirder and have stronger songwriting at the same time.

“I guess we haven’t thought about making something sound psychedelic. … We just listen to a bunch of stuff and then squish it all together. If you’ve been listening to a lot of old Brian Eno and a lot of the new Rhianna album, (our music) is probably going to come out somewhere in between,” he said with a laugh. “I think it’s a really transparent process to where we’re digging on things, and it finds its way into the music.”

A new Pond album, The Weather, will be released on May 5.

“It might be a bit more conceited,” Watson said about the new album. “… We didn’t just throw in every idea that we had, which Pond has been known for in the past. I think (the new album) covers a lot of ground. There’s rock ’n’ roll stuff on there; there are samples from old records, and even hip-hop stuff, and electronic stuff, and it’s really freaky noise. I think it jumps around a lot in 40 minutes. It feels like longer.”

Considering Pond’s recorded music includes all of those aforementioned elements, the band members must find ways improvise during live shows.

“It’s kind of like covering your own songs,” Watson said about performing live. “When we record our albums, two or three of us record all the instruments. On some of the songs, I might be the only person on the song. On some of the songs, it might be Joe as the only person on the songs. As a five-piece (performing live), we kind of delegate parts of the songs. We even have electronics on tracks, like the horns, saxophones and trombones.”

Watson said he enjoys touring in the United States.

“I find it interesting that you go through the middle of the country,” he said. “In Australia, you wouldn’t go through the middle. That’s always intriguing. But there are a lot of nice older venues in America. I like the theaters, and they are some of the nicest theaters in the world. It’s kind of like Australia in that (the U.S.) has a wide range of landscapes. You don’t have tropical, but you have the desert, and you have the Pacific Northwest. Over a month, you get to see a bunch of different landscapes, which is interesting.”

In addition to performing on Sundays at Coachella, Pond will perform with Nicolas Jaar and Floating Points at 8 p.m., Monday, April 17, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are currently listed as sold out. For more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit pappyandharriets.com.

Published in Previews

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