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.
- Drums Drums
- Striking a Chord Striking a Chord
- Lift a Foot Lift a Foot
- Oh! Oh!
- Drummer and Front Man Drummer and Front Man
- Dancing Dancing
- Will Toledo Will Toledo
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.”
- Happy Fans Happy Fans
- Jagwar Ma Jagwar Ma
- Jagwar Ma Belts It Out Jagwar Ma Belts It Out
- Set List Set List
- Time to Instagram Time to Instagram
- Beat the Drum Beat the Drum
- In the Haze In the Haze
- Dave Bayley Dave Bayley
- Playing! Playing!
- Make the Audience Happy Make the Audience Happy
- Raise Your Hands Raise Your Hands
- Crooner Crooner
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.”
I normally get to Pappy and Harriet’s a couple of hours before the show so I can assure myself a spot next to the stage.
But on Friday, March 10, I discovered I had been beaten to the punch by a dozen or so fans who had been there since about 2 p.m., eagerly waiting to see pop-punk outfit Joyce Manor. Some came from the San Fernando Valley and others from Orange County, but all were hardcore fans—and they wanted to make sure they did not miss the show.
Audacity from Fullerton opened, turning in a well-executed set. This classic-style punk band is obviously influenced by the well-established punk scene in the northern part of Orange County. “Subway Girls” was particularly catchy and fun, nicely warming fans up for the headliner.
The moment the first note from Joyce Manor was heard by the crowd, attendees were catalyzed into a mix of moshing and pushing that lasted the whole set; I was able keep only one hand on the camera while bracing against the speaker monitor, something I endured for about 2 1/2 songs. Big Dave and his security posse tried to enforce the “no moshing” rule— to no avail. Sweaty kids sitting since 2 in afternoon were not going to comply.
The goal by the fans was simple: Plow forward to the front of the stage, only to be pushed back and forth during the frenzied set. “Falling in Love Again” and “Schley,” from 2014’s Never Hungover Again, spurred a non-stop sing-along. Inept crowd surfing was squelched by a low ceiling and a very low concrete beam.
The band’s 20-plus song set was fast and good, only stopping when fans got a little too close. Frontman Barry Johnson was having a blast as security tried to stop the moshing. “Did you know Paul McCartney played here?” he asked, giving fans an understanding of the magical people who had played the same stage.
Otherwise, Johnson was all business, only pausing to acknowledge the love from the fans and to check in when the moshing got rough: “Are you guys all right?”
Joyce Manor ended the set with the catchy “Constant Headache.” The energy from the audience didn’t ebb until the last note was played.
- By the Amp By the Amp
- Barry Johnson Barry Johnson
- The Frontman The Frontman
- Set List on a Plate Set List on a Plate
- Audacity Audacity
- Joyce Manor Joyce Manor
I suffered from knit-cap envy when I was greeted with a smile last Friday, March 3, by Pappy and Harriet’s chief doorologist Beth Fausnacht Clifford: She was wearing a Deap Vally knit cap—the last one from the merch table, she claimed.
A love for Deap Vally runs true in high desert, thanks to many appearances, including an opening gig for Babes in Toyland at that band’s historic reunion at Pappy’s on Feb. 10, 2015.
Phil Pirrone, the genius behind Moon Block Party and JJUUJJUU, brought Desert Daze Caravan—a mini Desert Daze Festival—to Pappy and Harriet’s last Friday. Another sold-out show reminded music fans to plan ahead, since sellouts seem to be becoming the norm.
Phil Pirrone stepped up and commented, “Does this guitar look green to you? It’s a red guitar,” an observation possibly due to the funky lava-lamp-type lighting projected on the stage. Pirrone’s JJUUJJUU kicked things off with a psychedelic jam that hooked you into a nirvana of bliss as you were swept up into the band’s energy. I have seen JJUUJJUU many times, and I know I need to relax and be in the moment to understand the intricacy of these space jams while riding their sonic waves.
Froth followed up, keeping the psychedelic motorcade of rock going by bringing fuzzy reverb fun during a finely executed 45-minute set. Froth’s lead singer, Joo-Joo Ashworth, mentioned: “I am super happy to be here at this cool place.”
Deap Vally turned the lights down during the band’s set, mixing old and new songs from this duo. Julie Edwards was tucked in the corner, as Lindsey Troy used up the rest of the space onstage. They wasted no time running through some of their best jams, at one point interrupted by equipment failure, when Troy announced: “One of my amps is fucked,” causing a pause to their short fantastic set. “Walk of Shame” was dedicated to the ladies, Troy said, as it was a perfect anthem for any spectators who may have partied too much or just decided to let loose that night: “Baby I don’t feel no blame. Last night was a nice surprise. I’m still wearing last night’s eyes, goin’ on this walk of shame. Baby I don’t feel no blame.”
Night Beats took the warm-up slot. Danny Lee Blackwell donned a bolero hat, something that has apparently overtaken the ever-popular floppy hat that was once preferred by visitors to the high desert: I counted at least six boleros that night. Night Beats was impressive, mixing blues and rock that contrasted with the psychedelic themes of the night. Blackwell introduced “No Cops” by proclaiming, “Fuck the Police!” and singing in an eerie Dylan style that was very stirring. Night Beats ended their performance with “Puppet on a String.”
Temples, a quartet from Kettering, England, headlined the Desert Daze Caravan. Lead singer James Bagshaw reminded me of a better-looking Ray Davies, with excellent high-pitched vocals keeping one foot in the ’60s, and the other firmly planted in 21st century. The set started with “All Join In,” from new sophomore release Volcano, which had plenty of drum reverb and a perfect melody by Bagshaw. The show also included shoegazey “Keep in the Dark,” which had elements of grunge, as well as the stellar “Shelter Song.”
Temples played hard, and earned admiration from the fans in attendance. Modernizing the echoes of the musical past and formulating a sound uniquely their own, Temples create an exciting path for rock which is definitely buzzworthy.
One random observation from the night: After the third song, photographers like me normally move away from the front of the stage. I moved to the back to watch on the monitor and take notes, when a young man sat next to me wearing an outfit that one could describe as Sgt. Pepper meets Steven Tyler. He grabbed my notebook and wrote me a note: “Come live in my heart and pay no rent.” I then walked away and worked my way toward the front of the soundboard, when I noticed a tall woman in a baby-doll dress shuffling between kissing strangers and watching the shadows of her feet. I made eye contact, and she smiled and said: “Mushrooms, darling.”
Just another night at Pappy and Harriet’s.
- A Fan Waits A Fan Waits
- Danny Lee Blackwell Danny Lee Blackwell
- Froth Froth
- James Bagshaw James Bagshaw
- Julie Edwards Takes a Pic During Hubby Phil Pirrone's Set Julie Edwards Takes a Pic During Hubby Phil Pirrone's Set
- Lava Lights Lava Lights
- Lindsey Troy Lindsey Troy
- Phil Pirrone Phil Pirrone
- Temples Go Purple Temples Go Purple
- Temples Temples
- The Projectionist The Projectionist
Hanni El Khatib surveyed the stage prior to his Friday-night show at Pappy and Harriet’s. He checked his guitar pedals as two fans from Ventura County asked me if a glass jar on the stage was a spittoon. I said no, that it was a tip jar.
El Khatib overheard the exchange, looked at us and pointed toward the jar. “Fill that up!” he said in jest.
El Khatib did his part by selling out the show, in support of his anticipated new record, Savage Times, slated for release in February, and produced by Crystal Antlers’ leader Jonny Bell. This was the second time he had played at Pappy and Harriet’s—but I suspect, based on the audience’s reaction to the show, it will not be his last.
El Khatib opened with “Baby’s OK,” walking straight into the audience and singing most of the song in the middle of the crowd. He followed up with “Gonna Die Alone”; both songs were released earlier this year through Innovative Leisure Records.
There were lots of faces familiar from last year’s show by El Khatib—and people were ready to dance. You can’t blame the crowd for unleashing pent-up energy with songs like “You Rascal You,” a crowd favorite. A young music fan drank Hanni in as she listened intently, never moving from her spot, upfront stage right. Big Dave, the bouncer, kept things calm, ejecting two moshers at the same time, one in each of his arms. But other than a few aggressive dancers, this was a very fun show.
The star introduced loads of new material, including the defiant “No Way,” from the forthcoming album. It’s a song about gentrification—families being pushed out of neighborhoods. “We going nowhere even if we are chased, and it’s true. … We got no money, but we sure got our pride, and they can’t take that away from us cuz we’re still alive.”
El Khatib dedicated “Till Your Rose Comes Home,” released earlier this month, to his gay uncle; it’s a very sad, fuzzy, rocky gem with a minimalist approach straight from the heart.
Hanni left the stage and came back for a two-song encore, closing with the fast and furious “Family,” from the Dan Auerbach-produced album Head in the Dirt, which got a biker-looking dude dancing next to a gorgeous Annie Lennox-inspired L.A. transplant.
Last weekend’s annual Desert Daze music festival offered music enthusiasts a supersize meal of indy, alt, psych, punk and crazy tunes at the Institute of Mentalphysics, with music replacing meditation, yoga and UFOs.
Three days in Joshua Tree offered an upgrade from the one-day edition at the Sunset Ranch Oasis. The traffic jam in Mecca was replaced with a good traffic flow. Also gone were the traffic challenges that occurred during a recent Childish Gambino gig, held at the Institute of Mentalphysics by another promoter, that stoked mislaid reservations about Desert Daze.
Safety was a priority, as every car was subjected to a detailed search, including the opening of trunks. According to one of the security staffers I spoke to, they did remove an ax and a sword from a car on the first day.
Yes, promoter Phil Pirrone of JJUUJJUU had the logistics down for this increasingly ambitious festival. Desert Daze was spread out over the 400 acres of the center. The Moon Stage, for example, was easy to find—you just looked for the harvest moon that was dead-center over the stage. But getting lost was part of the fun; that is how I found a shrine to bygone technology hidden in a path behind vendors.
Desert Daze also included local artists, including Sand and Suede, which features handmade creations by owner Jenn Starr. Joshua Tree clothing designer Totally Blown uses a shotgun to design one-of-kind pieces. I later ran into co-founder Sarah Harris, and she was not packing a 12-gauge—just some joy from the music.
The Death Valley Girls made another appearance in the desert featuring fast-paced macabre garage rock. I bumped into the queen of Joshua Tree, Jesika Von Rabbit, near the small Buddha temple; she was quickly joined by Brant Bjork and Sean Wheeler, two desert kings of rock, for a quick photo.
The Sonics played favorites like “Louie, Louie” and “The Witch,” rivaling Television as the longest-tenured performers at Desert Daze; the band was founded in 1960.
Toro y Moi came back to the high desert, bringing some psychedelic funk to the Moon Stage during a windy and dusty night. Fellow Pappy’s alum Deerhunter also played on the Moon Stage, wearing a hoodie while commenting: “I want to dedicate this next song to Hanna. … I just pissed on my fucking leg,” offering Dezert Daze’s foremost TMI moment.
Saturday brought the Los Angeles trio L.A. Witch, which has been moving up in popularity over the last few years; I first saw the group perform at a small gig at the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs.
Saturday’s lineup included another female fronted band—The Coathangers, from Atlanta, who previously opened for the Black Lips in Pioneertown. The Coathangers are a buzz-worthy band; after 10 years of grueling touring, the group has earned respect in the indie scene.
Cherry Glazerr’s animated midafternoon Saturday performance showed off fuzzy and dreamy songs, comparable to those from the defunct band The Like. Thee Oh Sees also played on Saturday; I was happy to have the safety and security of the photo pit barrier, because the last time I saw the band, at my favorite desert roadhouse, I almost broke my ankle trying to get a shot in a mosh pit. Thee Oh Sees bring fun musical proto punk chaos whenever the group appears.
Indie Danish rockers The Raveonettes played on the Block Stage, playing newer songs like “Sisters” and classics like “Love in a Trashcan.” The Raveonettes are releasing a new single every month this year.
Another high desert alum, The Black Angels, played the entire album Passover, a 2006 release; it was a true treat. I first saw Black Angels vocalist Alex Maas in 2013, playing a soldout set at Pappy and Harriet’s.
Primus headlined on Saturday, and Les Claypool’s six-string bass was magical during “My Name Is Mud.” Drummer Julie Edwards of Deap Vally was in the pit during the beginning of the set with her 10-month old baby, Mira, who was wearing giant ear protectors; the toddler got really excited during heavy drum beats, suggesting that Mira received Momma’s drumming genes.
Claypool got partisan by offering a tongue-and-cheek comment poking fun at Donald Trump’s claim “that he can grab a woman’s vagina,” adding, “I say ‘vagina’ because I’m a gentleman.” I presume Mr. Claypool was unable to borrow Roger Waters’ floating pig that featured anti-Trump comments at Desert Trip.
On Sunday, Warpaint’s Jenny Lee took her dog, Ludo, onstage as she performed songs from her 2015 solo record Right On! I love the way Jenny Lee drops the bass lines; she was very impressive as a solo act, dominating the stage as she marched to her interpretation of true rock. She was one of the highlights of Sunday.
La Luz had an early set on Sunday; the group has been building a fan base by opening for bands like the Entrance Band and playing at the taste-making Echo Park Rising fest. La Luz is the only doo-wop surf band whose fans like to mosh—a true mystery.
Deap Vally was a highlight of Sunday’s afternoon, featuring Julie Edwards, the co-organizer of Desert Daze and the spouse of promoter Phil Pirrone. Deap Vally starred the howling vocals of lead singer Lindsey Troy, and the set featured “Gonnawanna” from September release Femejism.
METZ’s heavy punk sound was mosh-pit worthy, as the noise-rock group plays traditional punk that sparked a small circle pit in front of the otherwise mellow Block Stage.
On Sunday night, I hurried to catch Foxygen at the Block Stage set for a 7:30 p.m. scheduled start; attendees could see the stage crew trying to identify an unknown sound issue that finally resolved for a start time around 8.
Television headlined the Moon Stage. An apology came from Tom Verlaine, as he explained the band was asked to start a half-hour late. Verlaine asked for the spinning lights to be turned off, stating, “We’re going to have seizures if you keep those twirling discs on.” The lighting person complied, making it darker on stage. Fans in the front row sang along to “Prove It,” a detective story-themed tune from the 1977 release Marquee Moon.
I have followed Desert Daze since it began at Dillon’s Roadhouse in North Palm Springs. Little by little, this festival has grown to the point where music fans now have an opportunity to hear a lot of progressive music in a setting that’s not too large. Desert Daze is a place to hear great music—not a place just to be seen. Hopefully, the community embraces this DIY festival that has just one purpose: to rock.
- Alex Maas Alex Maas
- Art in Action Art in Action
- Clementine Creevy of Cherry Glazerr Clementine Creevy of Cherry Glazerr
- Cover Your Face Cover Your Face
- Dance Dance
- Death Valley Girls Death Valley Girls
- Deerhunter Deerhunter
- Diaper Dandies Diaper Dandies
- Flags Flags
- Foxygen Foxygen
- Hear This Hear This
- Jenny Lee Dog Ludo Jenny Lee Dog Ludo
- Jenny Lee of Warpaint Jenny Lee of Warpaint
- John Dwyer of Thee Oh See John Dwyer of Thee Oh See
- Julie Edwards of Deap Vally with Mira Julie Edwards of Deap Vally with Mira
- L.A. Witch L.A. Witch
- La Luz La Luz
- Les Claypool Les Claypool
- Lindsey Troy of Deap Vally Lindsey Troy of Deap Vally
- METZ METZ
- Moving Lights Moving Lights
- Phil Pirrone Phil Pirrone
- Rock the Bandana Rock the Bandana
- Salute Salute
- Sand and Suede Sand and Suede
- Sarah Harris of Totally Blown Sarah Harris of Totally Blown
- Sharin Foo of the Raveonettes Sharin Foo of the Raveonettes
- Stephanie Luke of The Coathangers Stephanie Luke of The Coathangers
- Television Television
- The Movable Boutique The Movable Boutique
- The Sonics The Sonics
- Toro y Moi Toro y Moi
- Traffic Flows Traffic Flows
- Watching TV Watching TV
- Wheeler, Von Rabbit, Bjork Wheeler, Von Rabbit, Bjork
- Will Work for Dog Food Will Work for Dog Food
- desert daze
- institute of mentalphysics
- phil pirrone
- totally blown
- jesika von rabbit
- sand and suede
- the sonics
- death valley girls
- toro y moi
- la witch
- the coathangers
- cherry glazerr
- the raveonettes
- the black angels
- les claypool
- julie edwardspirrone
- jenny lee
- la luz
- alex maas
- lindsey troy
Goldenvoice's first-ever Desert Trip, from Friday, Oct. 7, through Sunday, Oct. 9, drew tens of thousands of fans from around the world to see Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, Neil Young, Sir Paul McCartney, The Who and Roger Waters—and they're doing it all over again this coming weekend.
Independent assistant editor Brian Blueskye and photography contributor Guillermo Prieto (Irockphotos.net) were fortunate enough to take in the inaugural Desert Trip—also known by some snarkier folks as Oldchella and Agecoach—from the grandstands.
For a recap of day one, click here.
For a recap of day two, click here.
For a recap of the final day, click here.
Here are some images from the grandstands and from around the festival grounds, all by Prieto.
- Pictures of Art Pictures of Art
- Drums Drums
- Keith Keith
- The Stones The Stones
- Tongue Tongue
- I'm on the Screen! I'm on the Screen!
- Grounds Grounds
- Metal Detectors Metal Detectors
- Lounging Lounging
- In Line for Experiences In Line for Experiences
- Food Time Food Time
- Peace Peace
- The Crowd The Crowd
- McCartney McCartney
- Hooray Hooray
- Two Legends Two Legends
- Neil Young Neil Young
- Pic of Paul Pic of Paul
- Culinary Experience Culinary Experience
- Here for the Show Here for the Show
- In Front of Dylan In Front of Dylan
- Cam Cam
- A Legend Feels It A Legend Feels It
- Big Screens Big Screens
- Clocks Clocks
- Watching Watching
- Smoke Stacks Smoke Stacks
- Divided We Fall Divided We Fall
Campout 12, the annual party and music festival arranged by Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven, returned to Pappy and Harriet’s for three days, Thursday, Aug. 25, through Saturday, Aug. 27, filling Pioneertown, Yucca Valley and Joshua Tree with “no vacancy” signs thanks to the temporary resettlement of music fans.
This festival has ingrained itself into the high-desert community. One example: I was seeing discount offers on social media specifically for fans of the event. ArtFx and Furnishings offered a 10 percent discount if you mentioned the Campout, and 2 Guys Pies Brick Oven Pizza did the same if someone used the code word “Crumb,” the moniker of Cracker fans.
Skylar Gudasz, hailing from Durham, N.C., opened Thursday night, keeping with the tradition of having great new talent appear at Campout. “Oh my God, this place is gorgeous!” she said, quickly understanding the unique vibe of Pappy and Harriet’s. She hooked the audience with “I’ll Be Your Man”; the song’s video was directed by her brother, filmmaker Jason Gudasz.
Custom dictates that a Cracker duo set takes place on Night One—but this was not to be: David Lowery was absent, as he had a class to teach. Thus, Johnny Hickman took charge, performing double duty by offering a solo warm-up, and then playing with the Hickman-Dalton Gang. “Mick could not be here, but you got Keith,” Hickman joked. A highlight of Thursday night was a stripped-down version of “San Bernardino Boy.”
Johnny Hickman’s fans can get a little crazy—in a fun way. Odd overheard comments, like “My favorite word is labia,” caused those on the stage to pause temporarily. Still, the comfort level at the Campout is high, since everyone here loves the music, and the fans love each other.
Last year, fans wore pink to remember Karen Pratt-Mills. In her honor, Chris LeRoy, of the Dangers, with Johnny Hickman sang a song written for Karen by LeRoy. Some tried yet failed to maintain their composure during this sweet song about a special Crumb who passed to soon last year after a battle with cancer.
The Kolars, a husband-and-wife duo, were a treat, after being featured band at Echo Park Rising in L.A. a few weeks ago. Rob Kolar sings and plays guitar, as Lauren Brown becomes an instrument herself, by using her feet on top of a bass drum while playing a full drum kit. The Kolars mesmerized the audience. They are slated to return to desert for the Joshua Tree Music Festival on Oct. 6.
Friday night brought Skylar Gudasz back for another indoor set. On the outdoor stage, Jonathan Segel of Camper Van Beethoven showed off his guitar and violin talents while bandmate Victor Krummenacher supported Segel on the bass.
Jesika Von Rabbit also brought her show to Pappy and Harriet’s. Focusing on her solo material like “You Drive Me Ape”—including the banana cannibalization by one of her ever-present Grundle sidekicks, which also included a leather-clad gorilla-faced Grundle. A new fan favorite, “Dog at a Human Party,” brought a four-legged friend to the front of the stage. Todd Rutherford Johnson from Gram Rabbit joined Jesika onstage, pleasing Gram Rabbit fans by closing with “Dirty Horse.”
Camper Van Beethoven headlined on Friday, with lead vocalist David Lowery present and wearing all-white, forgoing the “Pajama Party” theme of the night. Campout participant Douglas Avery of Arizona wore his best bathrobe and turned in a fine impersonation of the “Dude” for the pajama party.
Lowery sang the hits, including “Eye of Fatima (Part 1)” and “White Riot.” Camper Van Beethoven also played “Northern California Girls,” a 2013 release from the album La Costa Perdida. Pajama-clad fans sang and danced with joy.
Saturday featured the Dangers, a staple of the Campout, along with the Whiskey Gentry duo. Los Rios Rock School, a music academy in Orange County, offered students an opportunity to play a rock show.
Ike Reilly, a singer song writer from Libertyville, Ill., performed solo, warming up the audience for Cracker. He just released his seventh studio album, Born on Fire (Rock Ridge Music/Firebrand). Reilly is a fabulous storyteller, a fact best demonstrated by the title track “Born on Fire,” a song about his middle child: “Don’t let nobody try to dampen your flame, try to cool you down, try to make you change, try to steal your heat, or mock your desire. Take your flames to the street cause you were born on fire.” Johnny Hickman joined Reilly onstage, and a request for a female backing singer resulted in an onstage female invasion.
It is safe to say that Cracker drew the biggest crowd on Saturday. I ran into one of my blog followers, Rocio, who was attending her first Campout. She is a music fan who seemingly appears at every must-see concert, meaning her presence is a true litmus test on what is good and hip in music. She’s also a former Marine who turned in several tours during the War on Terror. I suggested that she shout out a request for “Yalla Yalla,” a song about the Persian Gulf conflict, since the song is seldom heard at the Campout. Alas, she did not feel comfortable screaming out a request.
Lowery wore his vintage “The Inland Empire: We will kick your ass” shirt, a slogan I first heard about when Lowery penned an op-ed after the San Bernardino shooting. Cracker performed well with hits including “Teenage Angst,” “The World Is Mine” and “Low.”
After the show, I ran into Rocio. She smiled and told me Cracker played her favorite song “Almond Grove” from their latest release, Berkeley to Bakersfield. I did not ask her if she knew someone who could relate to this somber song, including the lyrics, “See my big brother Jack? He went to Kandahar, but he never came back.”
Sometimes, people ask me: Why go to the Campout, with the same two headliners and the same lead singer, year after year? The answer is simple. Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker have cultivated a catalog of songs making the bands as relevant now as they were two decades ago. Attendee Jessica Auck said it best: “It’s the only place in the universe where I love the audience as much as I love the band.”
- Johnny Hickman Johnny Hickman
- Pajama Party Pajama Party
- Fans! Fans!
- Johnny Hickman's Wry Smile Johnny Hickman's Wry Smile
- Johnny Hickman and Ike Reill Johnny Hickman and Ike Reill
- David Lowery David Lowery
- The IE: We Will Kick Your Ass The IE: We Will Kick Your Ass
- Dog at a Human Party Dog at a Human Party
- The Dude Abides The Dude Abides
- Impromptu Female Backups Impromptu Female Backups
- A Monkey Grundle A Monkey Grundle
- Johnny Hickman and Chris LeRoy Johnny Hickman and Chris LeRoy
- Ike Reilly Ike Reilly
- Jesika Von Rabbit: You Drive Me Ape Jesika Von Rabbit: You Drive Me Ape
- Jonathan Segel Jonathan Segel
- The Kolars The Kolars
- The Kolars The Kolars
- Student From Los Rios Rock School Student From Los Rios Rock School
- Skylar Gusasz Skylar Gusasz
- Gram Rabbit's Todd Johnson Gram Rabbit's Todd Johnson
- The Whiskey Gentry The Whiskey Gentry
Deserted at the Palms came to Wonder Valley on Saturday, May 21, and the mini-festival represented the best of the indie, punk and dream-pop bands who spend much of their time earning their keep in the clubs up and down the Sunset Strip.
The Palms is a small restaurant and bar owned by the Sibleys, located on Amboy Road; it’s one of the last buildings you see before you drive north on the well-known Palms Springs short cut to Las Vegas.
Of course, many super music fans were present, like Echo Park native Patti Castillo, aka “Cave Girl,” who received this moniker during the Charles Bradley show at Pappy’s, for using a found rock to pound her tent stakes into the ground. Since camping was encouraged and free for this event, it was no surprise to run into Stewart as she pitched her tent with the help of a fellow camper and her dog, Cool. The fanciful festival brought people together to enjoy music under windy, primitive conditions.
The first band I saw was Rudy De Anda, who played both the opening set and a second set later, because another band had gotten stuck in the sand, according to Daiana Feuer, who co-produced the festival. De Anda’s macabre lyrics—“Voy a usar tu sangre para escribir” (“I am going to use your blood to write”)—was in contrast to the Dead Ships, which brought a more commercial sound to the outdoor stage. The Dead Ships returned to the area, riding high after a Coachella 2016 appearance.
Bloody Death Skull, fronted by Daiana Feuer, was fantastic, with witty tunes and commentary from Feuer, including the statement that a “boob is a good place to rest, but not for a ukulele.”
The Sex Stains, fronted by Allison Wolfe, showed up late, but the group always puts on a high-energy show.
Kim and the Created is generating lots of buzz after playing last year in Mecca at Desert Daze. It’s hard to place Kim and the Created into a category—but punk is a good place to start. A metal frame along the stage offered a perfect place to hang upside down and sing. Kim and the Created never disappoint.
Haunted Summer’s dream pop stood out above the rest. The soulful and howling vocals on “Retrograde” were mind-blowing. Lead vocalist Bridgette Seasons is like a wonderful mish-mash of Grimes and Björk. Haunted Summer expects a new record release in the fall.
The members of Fartbarf wore Neanderthal masks with cowboy shirt; they came recommended by aforementioned superfan Patti Castillo.
Pearl Charles melted hearts with her exquisite voice. She’s another desert veteran who has performed in Pioneertown with band the Blank Tapes.
Death Valley Girls were pure fun with their catchy lo-fi distortion. The Garden delighted fans with the song ”Jester’s Game,” off the 2013 release HaHa.
Closing out the fun in this weirdly wonderful place was Mild High Club. The group’s music soothed, winding down a breathtaking if windy night in Wonder Valley.
- Allison Wolfe Allison Wolfe
- Bridgette Seasons of Haunted Summer Bridgette Seasons of Haunted Summer
- Clown Clown
- Daiana Feuer Daiana Feuer
- The Dead Ships The Dead Ships
- Death Valley Girls Death Valley Girls
- Fartbarf Fartbarf
- Kim and the Created Kim and the Created
- Mild High Club Mild High Club
- Pearl Charles Pearl Charles
- Pitch a Tent Pitch a Tent
- Rudy De Anda Rudy De Anda
- Superfan Patti Castillo Superfan Patti Castillo
- Tent Dog Tent Dog