Guillermo Prieto/
OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder. Credit: Guillermo Prieto/

Pappy and Harriet’s pulls off the biggest shows in the desert region—outside of the big festivals in Indio, that is. You probably know about the day Paul McCartney came to town a few years ago to play an intimate indoor show—and there was that time Robert Plant performed at the open mic.

But on Nov. 15, Pappy and Harriet’s hosted perhaps the biggest concert, production-wise, ever held behind those storied adobe walls. The set build started the day before, with work by a production crew of about 12 or so, as well large forklifts, tractor-trailers and those fancy trailers you see on movie sets.

Enterprise Rent-a-Car sponsored this endeavor at Pappy and Harriet’s for its “Share the Code. Hit the Road” promotion with OneRepublic. Music fans went to a website and shared a good deed done by someone they knew; OneRepublic’s nonprofit then selected people from the website and then gave them an access code for free tickets. The selectees would be given additional access codes, and so on—paying it forward to others who also gave to their community.

The interior of Pappy and Harriet’s was altered: The indoor stage became a designated self-portrait hub, with 19th-century Western wear at the ready for anyone who wanted to channel their inner cowboy or cowgirl. Big-screen TVs were placed around Pappy’s, so if you wanted to stay warm inside, you could watch a live feed of the show happening a few yards away. A special VIP entrance and a viewing area were created, as was a massive temporary stage and light system above the permanent outdoor stage. Prior to the show, the big screen broadcast a slide show, of sorts, sharing the names and deeds of those who were paying it forward.

The lights went dim, and the sound system pumped Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy” to get the crowd ready. An English cowboy by the name of Jamie N. Commons moseyed onto the stage, wearing the traditional singing-cowboy uniform once worn by the movie-singing cowboys that founded Pioneertown town nearly 80 years ago. He introduced himself: “My name is Jamie N. Commons. It’s a pleasure to be here. … You guys are so kind; thank so much. Are you excited for OneRepublic later? I’m from Bristol, England.”

Commons was entertaining, and he warmed the audience with “Is Your Love Still Strong,” a cover of Elvis’ “Can’t Help Falling in Love” and Commons’ very popular song “Lead Me Home,” which appeared on the AMC megahit series The Walking Dead.

When OneRepublic lead singer Ryan Tedder set foot onstage, the crowd shouted. The band started off strong with “Stop and Stare,” and following up with “Secrets” and “Kids.” Tedder was in good spirits: “Thank you! Welcome to the desert. … Seriously: Coming to this venue, this place is storied. … Our goal is to do weird shit. I am going to do some songs from other people.” Tedder delivered on that promise, doing a song co-written by him and Adele, “Rumour Has It.”

Tedder was talkative, saying: “Raise your hand if you are not from Palm Springs. Where?” An audience member responded, “Yucca Valley,” which may have stumped Tedder, based on the look on his face. Ryan then asked if there were any Beyoncé fans as he got behind the piano for a cover of “Halo,” which was co-written by Tedder, Beyoncé and E. Kidd Bogart.

Tedder commented on the cold conditions: “This is actually a perfect temperature if you are performing. You guys must be freezing.” OneRepublic followed up with ”Wanted.”

Ryan mentioned: “This is a small crowd, but it works. … We scared off the rattlesnakes and the tarantulas.” Feeling comfortable with the thousand or so in attendance, he shared, “I love tattoos. I am going to give an intimate detail. Raise your hand if you have tattooed both soles of your feet.” Pointing to a bandmate: “This guy in Dresden, Germany, got tattooed by a Hell’s Angel. He tattooed, ‘Party Time,’ but as your skin sheds, it reads ‘Part Time.’ My part-time job is writing songs for other people.” This proved to be an introduction for a cover of “Sucker” by the Jonas Brothers, on which Tedder has a co-writing credit.

About 75 minutes into the show, one could tell things were wrapping up. Tedder expressed his gratitude: “Thank you to all you people. What is unique about this show is how you get tickets to the show. … How you come in here, you have to have good karma.”

OneRepublic closed out the night with the impeccable “Apologize” and fan-favorite “Counting Stars.” Ryan Tedder left by saying, “Thank you for hanging out with us.” Tedder also announced that OneRepublic will be releasing a new record, Human, this month, and touring extensively in 2020.

Guillermo Prieto

Guillermo Prieto is a graduate of the University of California, Irvine. That also happens to be the location of his first concert—which cemented his love of live music. A desert dweller for a quarter-century,...