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Fri12062019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Every spring for the past three decades, the White Party has come to Palm Springs—bringing with it a lot of business for local hotels, bars and restaurants. Such was again the case for White Party 30, which took place April 26-28.

The event actually kicked off, unofficially, on Thursday, April 25, when Jeffrey Sanker shook hands with the mayor at a Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce ribbon-cutting in front of Lulu, where Sanker's entry on the Walk of Stars has been for the last five years, since White Party 25.

The festivities officially began with the pool party on Friday at the White Party's new, smaller venue: the Palm Springs Hilton. For years, the White Party called the nearby Renaissance home for all pool parties and nighttime dances, save the White Party itself. The move meant a smaller pool—with no seating or shade, unless one forked out big bucks for a cabana—and that meant a packed pool on Saturday.

The dances on Friday and Sunday nights moved from the Renaissance to the Palm Springs Convention Center, while the White Party itself moved from the eastern portion of the convention center to the western portion. This meant attendees arrived at the party through the grand main entrance, and had access to the nice lobby—even if the space for the dance itself was much smaller than in years past.

Events concluded on Sunday with another pool party and the final nighttime dance party—with the popular outdoor tea dance in between. The tea dance performance by Deborah Cox was followed by the usual impressive fireworks display,

What does the future hold for the scaling-down White Party? Stay tuned.

Scroll down for a selection of photos from the White Party 30 weekend.

Published in Snapshot

Falcons is one of new DJs that’s changing the game by creating different sounds and techniques. Influenced by Southern hip-hop and a hard-work ethic, he’s played at clubs and festivals around the world.

After playing at Coachella in 2015, Falcons is returning to play at the Coachella-affiliated Day Club, on Friday, April 15, at the Hilton Palm Springs with Mr. Carmack, Tokimonsta and others.

Falcons (aka Michael Graham) grew up in Texas and Oklahoma, and has said many times that the music of the South gave him a lot of inspiration.

“I feel like growing up with that stuff has given me more of an emphasis on soul music, and songwriting is really different there,” Falcons said. “My family is quite musical, and … blues music, soul music and things like that sneak into my sound palette naturally. I think growing up with the radio down there inspired me a lot, too.”

Falcons also cites Southern hip-hop as a big influence—and it’s evident when you listen to his remixes and production work.

“I think the South, in general, musically, is all about the Americana sound,” he said. “That’s where the real roots of American music developed from, especially in R&B and hip-hop. I like that a lot. I was really into U2K, OutKast and a lot of people from Texas and Atlanta. At the time when I was in high school, it was all about Mike Jones and Paul Wall. All that stuff was really influential to me when I started making music.”

Originally, Falcons was focused on producing; DJing was something he never thought he would be doing.

“I started first with producing, so I was making music before I even knew how to DJ,” he said. “I didn’t plan on it and was just into it for fun. I ended up getting offers to do things, and I thought about how to make live shows more interesting. It was a bit of a learning curve at the beginning, but it was a lot of fun.”

A fair number of artists have found success in both DJing and producing records or songs for others.

“Nowadays, you can be a producer and be in the forefront—headlining Coachella or festivals around the world—or you can be in the studio, making music for somebody, and you don’t even need to have your name attached to it, but you’re still getting credit and getting paid for it. A lot of people do both, and I think if you’re going to be in the spotlight, you have to be able to be yourself and make something that’s authentic and cool. I think the trick with anything in art is being yourself and not trying to emulate other people. … The trick to being a background producer is being versatile and doing stuff quick and on the fly.”

Falcons explained that it’s almost a necessity for modern DJs to be writing their own music, or at least have some knowledge of production work.

“It’s really hard to just be a DJ these days, and you have to have something like a trick to make it,” he said.

Falcons, who now lives in Los Angeles, said he’s not generally a fan of the big-club atmosphere.

“My favorite place to play is in warehouse parties and in the underground scene,” he said. “… Los Angeles can be very Hollywood at times, and can be very high-production and high-budget. But I just love the stuff that’s underground in warehouses. I think most people in Los Angeles would say (they love performing at) something like Avalon or some places like that. I love to play those places too, but what sums me up the best are those underground spaces. They’re a lot more DIY.”

Falcons continues to stay busy, he said.

“Right now, I’m just putting out as much music as I can,” he said. “I’ve got some international tours coming up: I’m going back to Asia, and I’m going back to Europe at the end of the summer. I’m mostly just releasing music, and I have an EP coming out with two of my friends.”

Falcons will perform with Mr. Carmack and Tokimonsta on Friday, April 15, during Day Club Palm Springs. Doors open at noon, and the party goes until 6 p.m., at the Hilton Palm Springs. 400 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way. Tickets are $20 for one day, or $50 for a three-day weekend pass. For tickets or more information, visit www.dayclub.ps.

Published in Previews

To understand Splash House, look to the great Scottish band Belle and Sebastian, which declares: “Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance.”

This formula for success brings to Palm Springs the younger set, which was virtually banned from Palm Springs in the ’80s and ’90s. However, gone are the rabble-rousers popping wheelies with bikini-clad girls holding on for dear life; instead, this is a smaller house-music festival with a more-intimate feel, thanks to approximately 4,000 in attendance.

This was the second Splash House celebration this summer, this time taking over three venues: Saguaro, the Hilton and Hard Rock. The Saguaro’s pool was packed to capacity, requiring security to use a hand-held counter to determine how many people could get in the pool. You could, at times, walk from one end of the pool to the other—if you dared to balance yourself on the armada of floaties.

Fans dealt with the scorching heat by shuttling back and forth in free buses stocked with ice-cold water. The shuttle bus itself was part of the show, with excited music fans dancing to music being pumped in from the speakers—a tradition borrowed from Coachella itself.

By the festival’s second day, everyone appeared to be acquainted. People offered me recommendations on which performers to see. My only quibble: There was no shuttle stop at the Hilton, meaning attendees had to make the short-but-in-blistering-heat walk to the Hard Rock. However, the lack of a shuttle stop allowed me to have a great conversation with Katya Bachrouche, a Lebanese-American international swimmer who shares my love for Lebanese pickled turnips. These random social interactions illustrate how Splash House is more than a music festival; it’s a shared experience between people who want to have fun.

Here are photos from the August Splash House.

Published in Reviews

When you’re at Splash House, you have a choice: Should you focus your attention on the world-class DJs and EDM artists, or should you watch what’s going on in the pools?

The answer, if possible, is to do both. All three participating venues this past weekend—the Hilton Palm Springs, the Hacienda Cantina and Beach Club, and the Saguaro—featured both crowds and music that were quite entertaining.

As for the crowds: Splash House attendees go all out when it comes to wild choices regarding pool floaties. I saw them in the shape of everything from slices of pizza, to an ice cream sandwich, to a pig—an even an alpaca. The body paint, swimsuits and T-shirts worn by attendees are also often quite creative, and the dancing ranges from silly to downright mesmerizing.

When the DJs demanded attention, the crowd was there to give it to them—if attendees were into it, of course. There were moments at all three venues when the crowd was not feeling what was being played, meaning the DJs were ignored—or attendees hopped on a shuttle to go to another venue.

On Saturday at noon at the Hacienda, Aaron C, was the first of the local DJs to kick things off. Meanwhile, Lee K’s 1 p.m. set at the Saguaro was … repetitive. She essentially looped the same beat for an hour, and unsurprisingly, many attendees didn’t appear to be interested.

Following Lee K. was former Hacienda resident DJ Colour Vision. It wasn’t long before people were coming out of the Saguaro pool and making their way to the dancing area. His tropical house tracks got people moving—and kept them dancing until the end.

At the Hilton in the late afternoon, Anna Lunoe turned in a lively set for a large crowd that had gathered for her performance. She didn’t stick to a specific sound, instead playing a variety with heavy bass sounds and interesting rhythms. Close to the end of her set, she declared into a microphone: “I ALWAYS DELIVER!” This earned her a loud ovation.

18-year-old Justin Jay closed out the day at the Hacienda, from 5 to 6 p.m. He is reportedly a piano prodigy who found a love for DJing, and his set consisted of retro feel-good music that went all the way back to the soul era. He wasn’t afraid to include some amusing tracks such as the 69 Boyz’ “Tootsee Roll,” which was a big deal if you grew up in the ‘90s. Another amusing pick: Quad City DJs’ “Space Jam,” from a 1996 movie with the same title featuring Michael Jordan and the Looney Tunes.

During Viceroy’s 6 p.m. set at the Saguaro, it highly evident that the Saguaro was definitely the place to be: The entire pool was full of people to see this big name in the DJ world.

Over at the Hilton, house music DJ and Grammy Award-winning producer Gigamesh was the second-to-last performer for the night. His set consisted of many of his own remixed tracks, such as Donna Summer’s “Bad Girls,” and Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop ’Til You Get Enough.” Gigamesh put on a delightful set, and people were grooving all over the place. At the end of his set, he thanked the crowd and closed with his remix of Radiohead’s “Everything in Its Right Place” as the legendary RAC began transitioning over to his set.

Speaking of RAC (Remix Artist Collective): It was just André Allen Anjos. The collective, which used to include four additional members, has been known for creating remixes that go beyond the typical remix norm. Their takes on various songs made the collective quite popular. Anjos’ set was a lot of fun and was a great way to close out the first day of Splash House.

On Sunday at noon at the Hacienda, Independent resident DJ Alex Harrington started things off, and was followed by Luca Lush, who appeared to have technical problems: The Pioneer CDJs didn’t seem to be working correctly and threw off the beat of the tracks he was playing; the sound began to skip and repeat itself.

Throughout the day at the Hilton, it was quieter than it had been on Saturday. During Vanilla Ace’s late-afternoon set, not many people were in the pool or dancing in front of the stage. Turns out many of the attendees were over at Saguaro, taking in sets by Hippie Sabotage and an encore performance by Justin Jay—or they were at Hacienda getting ready for a closing set by Bakermat.

During Bakermat’s set, his sexy version of house music had a good-sized crowd dancing; he even brought out a saxophonist who played with one of his tracks.

Over at the Saguaro, things were quite chaotic as Thomas Jack transitioned over from a set by SNBRN. While I thought the Saguaro’s pull area was full on Saturday, it was even more crowded on Sunday, with wet bodies fresh out of the pool standing shoulder to shoulder—and so many people in the pool that you could barely see the color of the water, which was just plain disgusting at that point.

During some of the late afternoon/evening acts at the Hilton, trap music and DJs that played with heavier bass and drum-style sounds ruled the day. Wave Racer and Cashmere Cat were both into the heavy bass sound, and when Cashmere Cat closed out the Hilton, the first track he played sounded like an engine going faster and then slowing down.

The atmosphere at Splash House is quite fun; it feels like you’re at one of those wild house parties from a comedy film. Splash House offers a more relaxed and “chill” atmosphere as an electronic music festival—and the charm of Palm Springs makes it work.

Published in Reviews

Vanilla Ace was once a model and presenter on a show called The Mag. However, it appears he’s now found his true calling: The London-based producer and DJ is coming to the United States for a summer tour for the second year in a row—and just like last year, he’ll be making a stop at Splash House.

During a recent Skype chat from London, he talked about his entry into the music business.

“It started a long time ago, when I was 14,” Vanilla Ace said. “My brother said one day, ‘We’re going to buy turntables for Christmas.’ I was like, ‘Um, why?’ and he said, ‘We could buy records that we like,’ and all this other stuff. At the time, I didn’t believe him, and a lot of the music I liked at the time, you could only buy on 12-inch promo vinyl from the USA. I started building up a little record collection.”

Vanilla Ace originally had a lot of hip-hop and R&B influences, he said. “I also liked drum and bass and rave music like the Ratpack. In the late ’90s, I really got into house music when I was in my college years, and I really started to get into that sound.”

He’s well-known as a house DJ, but he’s also known for nu-disco, which is inspired by the original artists of the ’70s and ’80s.

“Nu-disco isn’t really a new thing, and it’s been around for a while now,” he said. “It’s a cool genre of music, and it’s always evolving. Daft Punk, Nile Rodgers and all these guys are making disco music that is massive globally; it doesn’t hurt the genre at all. … A lot of the stuff I made in the early part of my career was nu-disco. But the more I DJ’d out at clubs and festivals, I realized nu-disco is a bit too laid back for a party, club and festival vibe.”

Vanilla Ace said he doesn’t see a lot of current differences between the European and American electronic-music scenes.

“I just came back from Los Angeles, and I played at the Exchange in downtown Los Angeles,” he said. “The United States is becoming similar to playing in London: They like the heavy bass, deep house and tech house, and you can play different sounds as long as it flows, which is cool.”

A recent prominent article posited that many DJs lack production skills. Vanilla Ace said he feels that’s backward: He thinks too many producers lack DJ skills.

“You’ll find guys who have been producing in their bedroom or studio for years, and someday they get big, and they think, ‘Oh shit, I have to learn to DJ,’” he said. “Then you go and hear them, and it’s like a car crash, because they’ve never played to a crowd before. Or they are using Ableton or some other crappy program to do it all for them. There are a lot of young guys making garage house music where the production value is pretty bad, and they’re just making it because it’s a fad, and they think, ‘I’m going to jump on that bandwagon.’”

When I brought up trap music, Vanilla Ace said he sees the positive aspects of it.

“When you think about trap, it’s crossed over massively. Looking at Beyonce’s ‘Drunk in Love’ and Rhianna’s latest music, a lot of their latest hits came from trap music. It’s a lot like when dubstep crossed over, and people infused that in their pop music. Trap music has gone commercial, if you know what I mean.”

Vanilla Ace said he’s now more prepared for Splash House than he was last year.

“It was incredibly hot,” he said. “That was like proper desert heat, but it was fun. It’s just a crazy pool party … but it’s a lot of fun. I know what to expect now.”

Splash House’s June edition takes place Saturday and Sunday, June 13 and 14, at the Hacienda Cantina and Beach Club, The Saguaro and the Hilton Palm Springs. Tickets start at $115. For tickets or more information, visit splashhouse.com.

Published in Previews

It’s that time of the year again: Coachella and Stagecoach are here, and things are crazy before the season begins to wind down. Consider April to be last call before the summer heat comes.

I will be throwing my third NestEggg Food Bank Benefit Show, this time at the Coachella Valley Art Scene, at 8 p.m., Saturday, April 4. On the bill: John Robbins, The Rebel Noise, Alchemy and CIVX. There will also be a closing DJ set by Pedro Le Bass. The Rebel Noise and CIVX have recently had to reshape after changes to their lineups—but both bands are back and sound great. There will also be raffle items. Admission is $10, and all proceeds go to the NestEggg Food Bank. Coachella Valley Art Scene, 68571 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Cathedral City; www.thecoachellavalleyartscene.com.

The McCallum Theatre is concluding its season with a couple of great locally focused events. At 8 p.m., Saturday, April 11, the McCallum will host a special anniversary gala for the The Desert Symphony. The gala will be hosted by Jason Alexander of Seinfeld fame. Tickets are $65 to $125. At 6 p.m., Wednesday, April 22, Jewish Family Service of the Desert will be presenting Michael Childers’ production of One Night Only, which features music from the ’60s. Tickets are $75 to $195. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino will host Marie Osmond at 8 p.m., Saturday, April 4. She performed with her brother Donny under the name “Donny and Marie”; that led to a variety show during the late ’70s. She’s recorded 35-plus albums and has appeared on Broadway. Tickets are $39 to $79. At 8 p.m., Saturday, April 25, Earth, Wind and Fire (first below) will be performing. One of those disco groups that defied “Death to Disco,” EW&F has been inducted into the Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame, earned eight Grammy awards and sold 90 million albums worldwide. Tickets are $49 to $79. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

The Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa only has one big music event scheduled in April, but it’s a good one: At 8 p.m., Saturday, April 4, it’ll be time to boogie with Kool and the Gang. Since 1964, the band has sold 70 million albums worldwide. Tickets are $45 to $65. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 has a couple of events worth mentioning in April. At 8 p.m., Friday, April 3, you can enjoy a personal evening with Barbara Eden (above right), of I Dream of Jeannie fame. The actress has had an acting career for six decades—and she has a lot of stories to tell. Tickets are $25. At 8 p.m., Saturday, April 18, R&B singer Keith Sweat will be stopping by. With several hit singles in the late ’80s and early ’90s, Sweat became a household name. Tickets are $30 to $45. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino Resort Spa is the place to be in April. At 9 p.m., Friday, April 3, Lily Tomlin will be performing. She’s as busy as ever, with rumors of a possible 9 to 5 sequel and various television appearances. This is a great time to see her live. Tickets are $49 to $59. You’ll be happy to know Margaret Cho will be returning to the area at 9 p.m., Friday, April 24. The Korean comedienne includes anecdotes from her family and personal issues in her comedy. Just a warning: She can get raunchy. Tickets are $35 to $45. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace looks ready to open the outdoor stage for the spring/summer season, so there are probably some great outdoor shows coming. At 7 p.m., Saturday, April 11, The Evangenitals will be returning to Pappy’s for a free show. If you missed them back in December, don’t miss them again. I can guarantee there will be plenty of laughs. At 7 p.m., Tuesday, April 14, Jenny Lewis will be performing in between Coachella performances. Tickets are $25. At 7 p.m., Thursday, April 16, Jamie xx from The xx will be performing. Tickets are $35 to $45. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The LED Day Club will be featuring performances during both weekends of Coachella at the Hilton Palm Springs. On Thursday, April 9, Chromeo will be doing a DJ set; on Friday, April 10, Panda Funk will be appearing; on Saturday, April 11, Odesza will be doing a DJ set; on Sunday, April 12, Flosstradamus will be appearing. On Thursday, April 16, CHVRCHES will be doing a DJ set; on Friday, April 17, Porter Robinson will be doing a DJ set; on Saturday, April 18, Skrillex and “friends” will be appearing (that guy has friends?); and on Sunday, April 19, DJ Snake will perform. A four-day pass to the event is $125 per weekend (which is really not bad); day passes vary. Hilton Palm Springs, 400 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way, Palm Springs; leddayclub.frontgatetickets.com.

The Hood Bar and Pizza has a couple of notable events taking place in April. At 6 p.m., Thursday, April 9, Fishbone will be performing at an outdoor show. The Pedestrians, which now features Machin’s David Macias on guitar, will be opening. Tickets are $25 pre-sale and $35 at the door. My suggestion: Get your tickets now! Remember McLovin from Superbad? Or “The Motherfucker” in Kick-Ass? Well, Christopher Mintz-Plasse will be bringing his band Bear on Fire (second below) to The Hood at 9 p.m., Saturday, April 18. Local bands Caxton and War Drum will also be on the bill, and admission is free. The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-636-5220; www.facebook.com/thehoodbar.

Published in Previews