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Reviews

22 Feb 2015
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Child actress and singer/songwriter Bethany Cosentino started Best Coast with guitarist Bobb Bruno in 2009—and they immediately became the talk of the Los Angeles music scene. On Friday night, Best Coast played a sold-out show at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace—and made it clear there’s nowhere for them to go but upward. Best Coast’s sound mixes lo-fi, garage rock and surf pop—and I even hear some country-Western as well. Best Coast attracts a typical indie Los Angeles music crowd—as well as a lot teenage girls. Such was indeed the case at Pappy’s Friday night. Opening band Lovely Bad Things put on a loud performance with a deep bass sound. The punk-pop group was a hit with the audience. The band’s legit pop-punk sound has earned the group slots on tours with acts such as Dinosaur Jr., King Tuff and The Cribs. Best Coast’s intro track was the Metallica’s “Battery.” Kudos…
16 Feb 2015
You may have been first introduced to Dengue Fever on HBO’s True Blood during a 2008 episode in which Bill was driving Sookie home from the vampire bar. They were listening to the car radio and she asked, “Can we turn this down? What language are they speaking, anyhow?” Well, Sookie, that language is Khmer. Dengue Fever brought pop-psychedelic Cambodian grooves to a capacity crowd at Pappy and Harriet’s on Valentine’s Day. The band was playing its 10th show in 10 days in support of the group's new record, The Deepest Lake, on Tuk Tuk Records. There was not chance in hell that you were getting into the show without a ticket. Pappy’s had security chief Rick, a Viking of a man, sitting outside, ready to break the bad news to the holiday hipster migration that did not plan ahead. Also present: Willie Garson, of Sex in the City fame,…
12 Feb 2015
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Babes in Toyland disbanded in 2001, and since then, each of the three members have endured some truly hard times. Perhaps these challenges played a role in the band announcing its reunion last summer; who knows? What is known is this: Kat Bjelland, Lori Barbero and Maureen Herman selected Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace as the venue for their first show together in almost two decades—and Babes in Toyland is back with a vengeance. The sold-out crowd slowly trickled into Pappy’s throughout the evening. Los Angeles female duo Deap Vally—featuring guitarist/vocalist Lindsey Troy and drummer Julie Edwards—was the perfect opening act for Babes in Toyland: Deap Vally’s heavy rock riffs, power drumming and screeching vocals pleased the crowd. Troy took the time to say that she and Edwards were “fucking proud to be opening for Babes in Toyland.” After a quick equipment-setup break, Babes in Toyland took the stage. Bjelland…
31 Jan 2015
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Although he’s 88 years old, Tony Bennett is still the consummate showman—a fact he proved at Fantasy Springs on Friday night, Jan. 30. Before Tony Bennett came out, his daughter, Antonia Bennett, performed for about 20 minutes, singing standards such as “Teach Me Tonight,” “Taking a Chance on Love” and “Always on My Mind.” She dedicated her performance of “Thank Your Lucky Stars” to her father before introducing him. A vintage audio clip of Frank Sinatra introducing Tony Bennett played before he walked across the stage, waving and smiling. He began with “Watch What Happens,” and then followed with “They All Laughed,” a song that mentions great scientists and inventors who were laughed at before their moments of triumph. During the song, Bennett even offered a bit of a dance move. Bennett’s voice isn’t as powerful as it once was, although his power and range are still strong enough, as…
21 Jan 2015
Hanni El Khatib opened his Pappy and Harriet’s show on Friday, Jan. 16, with “Melt Me,” from his new release Moonlight. It was a great way to start the show: The song got the Pappy and Harriet’s audience dancing to the beat while doppelgangers of Jesus Christ and Macaulay Culkin tried to ram through to the front of the stage, breaking the strict no-mosh rule. As a result, they made friends with no one: Everyone else just wanted to party to the reverberating Gibson held confidently in the hands of El Khatib. El Khatib followed up with “Build. Destroy. Rebuild.” a strong tune with great emotive complexity from his debut 2011 release, Will the Guns Come Out. A hot admirer, wearing her best vampire look, looked on as her companion—wearing comic-book spaghetti-Western wear—absorbed every moment of the show. The packed floor got wild as “You Rascal You” required everyone to…
27 Nov 2014
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It was on a gorgeous night last September at the Los Angeles County Arboretum that I first heard Patti Austin sing live. A friend had invited my partner and me to the Pasadena Pops’ summer-season closer, and she was one of conductor Michael Feinstein’s guest vocalists. Although I had heard of Patti Austin before, I didn’t know a thing about her or her music. Well, on that lovely night, we learned one thing about Ms. Austin: Man, can she sing. After she knocked our figurative socks off that night, we wanted to see more of Patti Austin, so we made a point to check out her show at the McCallum Theatre last Saturday night. We expected a night of great vocals—and we certainly got just that. The 64-year-old R&B/pop/jazz singer was simply stunning as she took the too-sparse audience on a journey through the life of Ella Fitzgerald, backed by…
17 Nov 2014
I have a confession to make: I am a big fan of “girl bands.” The show at Pappy and Harriet’s on Saturday, Nov. 15, was not my first Dum Dum Girls gig. I arrived early at Pappy and Harriet’s and sat down at my table. The Dum Dum Girls were wrapping up their sound check, refining their sound for this acoustically unique venue. A few diners had perplexed looks on their faces; they obviously did not catch the Dum Dum Girls at Coachella earlier this year, and were actually present just to have dinner. Fans trickled in and started staking claims on front-and-center spaces three hours before the show started. The bolero hat count was low, offset by trucker caps and the practical knit beanie, which was prevalent on this chilly desert evening. I was standing next to a neatly dressed, gray-haired gentleman who came from North Hollywood to see…
23 Oct 2014
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Ray LaMontagne is often referred to as a folk-rock artist, but on Tuesday night at the McCallum Theatre, he brought a psychedelic element to his live show, playing edgier material from his new album, Supernova. The opening band, the Belle Brigade—a four-piece led by Barbara Gruska (drums, vocals) and her little brother, Ethan Gruska (guitar, vocals)—put on a fantastic performance, displaying an indie-rock-meets-country sound. The siblings sang incredible harmonies, and Barbara’s drumming was excellent. At one point, Barbara was telling a story about how they were staying in a hotel on Frank Sinatra Boulevard. Someone interrupted by screaming: “DRIVE!” She chuckled as she corrected herself and then mentioned that Frank Sinatra was kind of “sketchy”—just like the song they were about to play. After a 40-minute set, the Belle Brigade received a standing ovation. When Ray LaMontagne took the stage shortly after 9 p.m., Barbara Gruska and Ethan Gruska joined…