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Wed11222017

Last updateWed, 27 Sep 2017 1pm

The three-day party that it is Splash House returned for the second and final time this summer, running Aug. 11-13.

The Friday night pre-party, at the Palm Springs Air Museum, featured the best performances of the entire weekend, in my book—but I must admit I’m biased toward performers who use instruments.

Klatch, hailing from the West Coast dance scene, kicked things off on Friday with a traditional DJ set, igniting the early evening crowd. Edlerbrook took things in a different direction with smoldering vocals merging with ambient digitized electronic sampling. The track “Difficult to Love” is an agreeable tune about how we see early experiences optimistically, compared to the actual eventual reality of the experience: “I’m difficult to love at the best of times; oh, at the best of times, I’m high again (high, high, high); and maybe that was mistake (my mistake, my mistake, uhm); you said I waste time, and I never get why you’re in love with me.”

Elderbrook wowed fans with the song “How Many Times,” ending with the tune and saying, “Peace,” before walking off the stage. After his performance, a happy devotee grabbed me by the shoulder and proclaimed, “That’s Elderbrook. He is going to be big; write it down.”

I just want to say I completely fell in love with Sofi Tukker, a New York-based duo featuring Sophie Hawley-Weld and Tucker Halpern. The cheerful Halpern mentioned, “The last time we were out here was for Coachella.” Sofi Tukker’s music was very danceable, with electronic beats and strong guitar riffs from Hawley-Weld, and lots running around the stage. The song “Greed” took on POTUS directly with full electronic goodness: “Your ego, your crashing, your greed, keeping you up all night.”

Bob Moses ended the night with a fantastic song, “Like It or Not,” with some words of wisdom: “It’s gotta mean something; it’s gotta mean something to you; it’s gotta keep pushing; you gotta keep pushing through.”

The Saguaro, the Riviera, and the Renaissance accommodated crowds once again on Saturday and Sunday. I started Saturday off at the Saguaro, the most intimate of the three venues, where the balconies were covered up more than the attendees. As I walked in, a guy stopped me, seeing my camera gear, and had his friends clear a path in front of the DJ so he could do a summersault … just because. The atmosphere at the Saguaro is all about being there and having fun; most of the crowd was away from the DJ booth, instead enjoying the pool and/or looking for a future mate.

Over at the Riviera on Saturday, the pool was packed and overflowing; there always seem to be pools of water on the sides, caused by the crowded conditions. Manila Killa spun pure joy, enthralling listeners with indie-pop electronica.

On Saturday, Gigamesh, aka Matthew Thomas Masurka, performed on the Renaissance stage. His set was slated to be an hour long, but his time onstage was cut short due to his equipment heating up; the west-facing stage unfortunately lacked protection from the heat.

Splash House ran like a Swiss watch when it came to set times, but security was very strict, even checking wallets for contraband. It was hot as heck, which may have explained the more-subdued crowd on the between-venue shuttles, as compared to the June Splash House: I did not witness any dancing or singing this time around.

Hoping for another great time at the Air Museum, I headed back on Saturday night for former LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy’s DJ set, which was competent but lacked the punch of the performances the night before. Only the diehards could dance in the sweltering heat that night, and the VIP lounge was packed with seated guests observing instead of engaging in the music.

On Sunday at the Renaissance, Sango sampled some amazing tracks, including Young Thug’s rap verse which doubles as sage advice from a gunslinger: “Don’t try to take it; I got guns; I’m talkin’ guns, not pellets.” Sango kept the thumping loud, with plenty of hooks that excited the evening admirers.

Closing out Splash House at the Renaissance was Kaytranada. Unfortunately, the scorching set by Sango may have heated things up too much, because technical difficulties hampered the beginning of his show. He took the problems with a smile: “My shit is not set up yet. I am going to play whatever! ... This is a god damn disaster,” he said as a large skipping sound flowed through the massive speakers. Later, the sampling of Suede’s “NxWorries” was the perfect way for him to express frustration for this minor glitch in his headlining gig: “If I call you a bitch, it’s ’cause you’re my bitch, and as long as no one else call you a bitch, then there won’t be no problems. Now, If I call you a trick, it’s ’cause you paid the rent.” We can only speculate whether this track was dropped to express frustration with the production staff. At the end, Kaytranada had everyone dancing, with smiles on the faces of the die-hard partygoers.

Splash House once again was a joyful event. Everyone chills out and gets along, no matter their background, ethnicity or sexual orientation. If we could infuse the inclusiveness of this event into the rest of the country, we would all be better for it.

Published in Reviews

Many of the Coachella Valley’s larger art galleries tend to hibernate during the summer heat. The (relative) exodus of tourists provides time for them to prepare new exhibitions for the fall.

But the need to experience art doesn’t go on vacation—and this time of year provides art-lovers with a great opportunity to shift focus and find art in public settings and smaller venues that promote local talent.

In Palm Springs, the “Lucy Ricardo” sculpture by Emmanuil Snitkovsky sits on a bench near the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf at 211 S. Palm Canyon Drive, while the “Rainmaker” sculpture by David Morris inspires in Frances Stevens Park at 500 N. Palm Canyon Drive. There are also impressive works called “Monsieur Pompadour” and “Mademoiselle Coco” by Karen and Tony Barone greeting people at the Palm Springs Animal Shelter, 4575 E. Mesquite Ave.

In Palm Desert, you can stroll through four acres of the Faye Sarkowsky Sculpture Garden at the Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Desert (72567 Highway 111), while the Rancho Mirage Public Library often features exhibitions by local artists and photographers. The “Coachella Walls” mural resides on the side of a downtown building in Coachella and is accompanied by other murals on buildings opposite Dateland Park.

La Quinta has numerous works of art surrounding the Civic Center Campus. In Indio, you can find the “History of Water in the Coachella Valley,” a massive painting by Don Gray, on the south wall of the Indio Performing Arts Center, 45175 Fargo St. Each of these cities has maps that will guide you to the various works of art throughout their communities on their websites.

You can pop in and find original art in various hotel lobbies, like the knotted macramé rope curtain, woven from 1.5 miles of cotton rope by Michael Schmidt, at the Ace Hotel Palm Springs. “A Day in the Life at Saguaro,” by local artist Sarah Scheideman, features dioramas of Barbie dolls at The Saguaro.

Back in Palm Springs, retail favorite Just Fabulous, at 515 N. Palm Canyon Drive, has works by numerous artists displayed on the walls. Smaller galleries like Gallery500, located inside The Five Hundred building, 500 S. Palm Canyon Drive, provide a showcase for emerging artists like Christopher Williams.

“I got into Gallery500 through the Desert AIDS Project. They have a program that helps to find venues and create opportunities,” Williams said. “Responses to my art have been good—a lot of positive feedback. Because of showing at Gallery500, I feel more positive about my work, and I even sold a couple of pieces there.”

The point: Art is everywhere in the Coachella Valley, and it often doesn’t require an admission ticket.

Not all of the big galleries and museums close their doors during the summer. The Palm Springs Art Museum offers free admission every Thursday throughout the summer from noon to 8 p.m. The museum’s Annenberg Theater will show a free film, Paris, Texas, at 6 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 17. Seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Published in Visual Arts

The three-day party known as Splash House returned to Palm Springs last weekend for the first of two stints this summer, opening Friday night with a celebration at the Palm Springs Air Museum.

“Yo, Splash House, right now, this is LondonBridge,” said one of the opening-night DJs. “You are all going to kiss someone you’ve never kissed before,” he predicted as he laid down the beats that got the early birds dancing.

Some in attendance partied a little too much, too early, as I ran into some first-year osteopathic medical-school students who created a technicolor yawn near the picnic area that needed to be mopped up. However, not all in attendance were bound to be doctors, as I overheard a bleached-blond surfer dude make a profound statement: “I think that’s an airport.” His companion, a human version of a Barbie doll, replied: “Yeah I think it is.”

Malaa, a rumored Frenchman, who loves heavy bass lines, drew the crowd close; perhaps attendees were trying to peek under the mask. Malaa was a delight when the track “When a Fire Starts to Burn” pounded through the massive speakers—a great start to the first night of Splash House.

For the uninitiated: Splash House is a pool party hosted at three hotels, this time The Saguaro, the Riviera, and the Renaissance, all in Palm Springs. On Saturday, I started things off at the Saguaro with a lot of people showing their body confidence. The layout at the Saguaro allows all balcony guests to have a great view of the happenings below. Kudos to the Holy Ship! Flag-draped balcony—that rocked! Josh Vela, known as MSCLS, had an early slot on Saturday, and he brought a fun underground club set, pumping the crowd up with a question: “Splash House, how are you feeling?” which got a happy cheer back from the fans.

Splash House is a well-run event—including strict ID checks at every venue, and a timely shuttle that transports attendees between each hotel while providing free bottled water to keep people hydrated. The bus drivers are very tolerant of enthusiastic behavior; a young man on one of my shuttle trips scaled the ceiling of the bus, providing bonus entertainment as I was on my way to the Riviera to see Brasstracks, the Brooklyn-based duo that pumps blissful horns mixed with electronic goodness. I have a soft spot for actual instruments, and Brasstracks blew me away the new track “Good Love,” off the EP of the same name.

Thomas Jack was back at Splash House after headlining in 2015, bringing tropical and dark house music to the Renaissance on Saturday; it moved the happy and friendly attendees into a blissful place.

The party must go on, so I headed to the Air Museum on Saturday night on a very cool and windy evening to watch the nonstop party. However, I cut things short in order to pace myself for Sunday—which turned out to be my highlight of the festival, at the Renaissance.

Nora En Pure, a former model, combined tribal thumping with piano melodies, crafting a sensual feel. She concentrated on the turntables in front of her, at one point sampling Tears for Fears’ “Shout.” I highly recommend you listen to her new EP, Conquer Yosemite.

Sam Feldt is best known for his rendering of the party tune “Show Me Love,” and the Dutchman brought lots of effervescent tracks to a large audience. His set included a brass section, which brought a bonus layer of complexity.

Bonobo, who performed at Coachella this year, closed out Splash House with a DJ set. His great music was the catalyst for the celebratory and, at times, hedonic happenings that surrounded me as fans were losing their minds.

The laid-back vibe of Splash House is unique to the desert; gone are the attitudes of music fans behind a velvet rope in L.A., giving Splash House an edge for fun-seekers who skip fake tans in favor of some real desert sun.

Published in Reviews

Seattle is best-known in the music world for indie-rock and grunge—but the latest big thing to come out of the city is an electronic-music duo.

Odesza will be headlining the June edition of Splash House, a pool party and EDM event taking place Friday through Sunday, June 10-12, at the Riviera and the Saguaro in Palm Springs. Nighttime parties will take place at the Palm Springs Air Museum.

Odesza—named after a sunken vessel that belonged to Harrison Mills’ uncle—popped up in 2012 after Mills met Clayton Knight while in college at Western Washington University. The duo started releasing material via SoundCloud—and it wasn’t long before they achieved 1 million plays. Odesza earned a 2016 Grammy nomination, for Best Remixed Recording, for “Say My Name (RAC Mix)” featuring Zyra.

During a recent phone interview, Harrison Mills (aka Catacombkid), discussed what has influenced Odesza.

“(Clayton Knight, aka BeachesBeaches) and I grew up with a lot of different influences,” Mills said. “To be honest, it was a melting pot of a bunch of different genres and styles of music. We ask ourselves, ‘How can we make things that shouldn’t work actually work together and in harmony?’ We try to find exotic sounds and try to make them familiar. That kind of stuff catches our ear a lot. We really go in and dive into moments in music and emphasize little pieces of it. I think that’s the culture we came from and where we started. But it’s hard, because there’s a large palette of different tastes.”

In electronic music, there is a lot of collaboration between bands/singers and electronic-music producers—and Mills said that can lead to challenges.

“I think the hardest part can be when you think of an idea and set a tone for someone’s voice, and that person decides to take a completely different route, and you try to explain, ‘Well, this is what I was thinking,’” he said. “Sometimes, though, it can really work out in a way where they create something you never expected, and (you) rework your version of the song to match what they did in a better way.”

Like all music genres, electronic music is evolving—but in some ways, electronic music is changing faster than other forms of music have in the past.

“I think you have to change a lot if the whole foundation of the music you’re making started because of a trend,” he said. “I think you (need to) start very genuine in what you make, and build a fan base that’s open to hearing your sound evolve and naturally grow. That’s what we shoot for—not diverting from what makes us stand out and what makes us unique, but just evolving with what feels like mature steps in the right direction.”

Before making it big in the electronic-music world, Odesza faced a challenge all new artists face: getting people to collaborate. Sometimes, scheduling can be a challenge, too, as was the case with Odesza’s “All We Need,” featuring Shy Girls.

“People we’ve reached out to over the years are people we knew we could actually work with. We never really tried to hit above the belt,” Mills said. “It was really hard for us to get Shy Girls, because he was touring at the time, and we ended up waiting a year to get him on the phone, because we really felt he was a fit for that track.”

Odesza owes much of its fame to SoundCloud. The platform rose to popularity as an outlet for independent electronic-music figures to release remixes and music. However, copyright concerns finally caught up with SoundCloud—and the platform is now dying a slow death.

“I think it’s a tough transitional period. I feel like there’s always something that will pop up in its place after everyone uses something, and it’s gone,” Mills said. “I’m not really worried about it. It’s a tough spot to have this great platform where people could just upload something, and a bunch of people would listen to it. … I think it might be a little bit before we get there, but I’m sure there’s something else coming.”

Since the release of studio album In Return in 2014, Odesza has been busy touring—until recently, when Mills and Knight finally had a period to rest and come up with new ideas for the next album.

“In general, it’s been really good,” Mills said about the touring. “We’ve been really lucky with audiences we’ve been getting. Sometimes it can be kind of rough coming from a foreign place and adjusting to all the changes. We just came back from Australia. It took me, like, four days of shows to be back in it, dealing with being (17 hours) forward there. We keep a close team around us and people we really believe in, and that helps keep us grounded.”

Splash House’s June edition takes place Friday, June 10, through Sunday, June 12. General admission passes are $120. For more information, visit www.splashhouse.com.

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.

View a photo gallery here.

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

Tinto at the Saguaro Downsizes a Bit

Tinto, the Basque-style restaurant owned by Iron Chef Jose Garces that calls the Saguaro Palm Springs home, will reopen Wednesday, Dec. 3, after a lengthy closure during much of the summer and fall.

When Tinto reopens, it will be just a fraction of its former self, size-wise: The restaurant will occupy what had previously been the Tinto bar—and that’s it. The rest of the former Tinto space, including the lovely patio, has been converted into what’s called the Palmetto Room and the Santa Rosa patio. Those spaces will be available for special events like weddings and holiday parties.

The Saguaro hosted an event for VIPs and media at the old-new space on Wednesday, Nov. 19, and here’s the spin Tinto/Saguaro reps were putting on things: The Tinto downsizing will allow the restaurant to return to the small, intimate tapas-bar roots of the original Tinto in Philadelphia; meanwhile, the Palmetto Room and Santa Rosa Patio will help the Saguaro keep up with a demand for more special-events spaces.

Make what you will of that spin. All I know is that I hope the downsized Tinto can succeed; although I’ve experienced inconsistent service and food during previous visits to Tinto, I’ve also experienced some of the best bites I’ve had in the Coachella Valley.

Get more details at garcesgroup.com/restaurants/tinto.

PS Underground Takes Up a Semi-Permanent Residency With Light

Over the last two years or so, Michael Fietsam and David Horgen have wowed local foodies with PS Underground, a series of intimate, details-secret-until-the-day-of themed dinners held at a variety of valley locations.

While PS Underground lives on—in fact, the next event, called “Wanderland,” takes place on Wednesday, Dec. 10 (more details at www.psunderground.com)—Fietsam and Horgen have also set down roots, of sorts, for a new experience called Light.

Fietsam told me that like the usual PS Underground events, the details of Light’s dinners—including the menu and the dining location—remain secret to diners until the day of the event. However, unlike PS Underground events, the Light experience will be accessible throughout the season—until May 2, to be exact.

Why did the duo add Light to the PS Underground menu of offerings? Fietsam explained that he and Horgen wanted to share the PS Underground experience with a wider variety of people; it was a logical expansion of the hobby-turned-business.

“We haven’t been able to tap into the market of tourists and (out-of-town) friends of people who live in the desert” thanks to the inconsistency of the PS Underground schedule, he said.

While Light’s venue will remain the same through May 2, chef Horgen’s menu, or at least portions of it, changes on a weekly basis, Fietsam said.

Light takes place at 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday, through the season. The experience costs $150. Make reservations and get more details at www.lightps.net.

LuLu’s Rhine Joins Forces With Photog John Paschal for Eight4Nine

Willie Rhine has become a community icon as the general manager (and one of the public faces of) Barbara and Jerry Keller’s LuLu California Bistro, in downtown Palm Springs.

He’s so strongly associated with LuLu that his mid-November announcement that he was starting his own restaurant shocked many in the restaurant world.

Rhine is joining forces with John Paschal, of Snapshot Palm Springs Studios, to open a new-American cuisine restaurant called Eight4Nine Restaurant and Lounge, at 849 N. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. The new restaurant is slated to open sometime next summer.

After the initial announcement, Rhine took to Facebook to clarify his status with LuLu.

“I have the love and support of LuLu California Bistro owners, Barbara and Jerry Keller, who are excited about my new opportunity and equally thrilled and happy that I am staying on to continue the success of LuLu, where I remain both vested and the general manager, in charge of the day-to-day operations,” Rhine wrote. “I will continue to oversee our catering events with our amazing management team, including Lucy Kent and Francisco Plascencia.”

Congrats to Willie Rhine and John Paschal!

Follow the progress at www.facebook.com/eight4ninerestaurant.

In Brief

Figue Mediterranean Restaurant—the gorgeous La Quinta spot that was a solo effort by Lee Morcus, of the Kaiser Restaurant Group—is apparently no more. While no official announcement that we know of has been made, the closed restaurant’s Facebook page and website have not been updated in many months. ... The Villa Royale Inn and Europa Restaurant will hold a masquerade-themed dinner to benefit Angel View at 5:30 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 11. Europa is located at 1620 S. Indian Trail, in Palm Springs; call 760-327-2314 for reservations or more info. … The former Crave, the dessert joint and bar on the second floor at 301 N. Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs, is now known as Plate | Glass. Larry Abel and Raymond McCallister are the owners; they formerly owned Crave with Davy Aker, who is not part of Plate | Glass. Find more details by calling 760-322-2322, or visit plate-glass.com.

Published in Restaurant & Food News

The first Splash House, in 2013, proved that Tyler and Kelly McLean’s theory was correct: Summer events can be quite successful in Palm Springs.

The second Splash House, held in June of this year, was also a rousing success—so much so that Splash House No. 3 is taking place just two months later, Friday through Sunday, Aug. 8-10.

The pool party/EDM festival will return to the Hard Rock Palm Springs, The Saguaro and the Hacienda Cantina and Beach Club with a lineup including A-Trak, Chromeo, Cut/Copy, Viceroy and many others.

“The first one was a lot of learning lessons,” said Tyler McLean, who dreamed up the concept with his sister, Kelly. “It was our first foray into this concept of a pool festival. The details that go into hosting an event through three different venues and transporting people to each venue—it was an interesting project, for sure. I think we learned a lot; above all, our goal going into the first one was to bring people out during the summertime to Palm Springs, and to have people leave saying that they had a good time and that they want to come back to Palm Springs.”

So what if it’s hot—very hot—’round these parts in the summer?

“Not one single person complained about the heat,” Tyler McLean said.

The first Splash House gained 1,500 attendees to The Saguaro, Caliente Tropics and The Curve Palm Springs. The reviews were generally positive and paved the way for the Hard Rock and the Hacienda, both of which have opened since the inaugural Splash House, to sign on in 2014 and accommodate larger crowds.

Splash House has been able to expand quickly for another reason: Promoters Goldenvoice and LED joined forces with the McLeans.

“Having Goldenvoice and LED come on board really gave us the opportunity to grow in a way we haven’t been able to on our own,” Tyler McLean said. “It’s a big venture to take on your own company. There’s a lot of risk and a lot invested. Having Goldenvoice on board gave us the opportunity and the tools we needed.”

Although event promoters don’t get much bigger than Goldenvoice—the AEG subsidiary puts on Coachella and Stagecoach, after all—Tyler McLean insisted that Splash House remains close to the original vision he and his sister had.

“There was definitely the thought of expanding our marketing and taking the lineup up a notch. All of those things put us into a different realm, but we still provide the same atmosphere and experience,” Tyler McLean said. “We had 2,000 people attend the event each day in June, and … people loved the experience. Even with all of those things that go into planning a big event, you still accomplish what made your event special to begin with, and I think that’s what happened. The experience itself is unique, and it is something that people enjoyed and will come back for again and again.”

LED, known for its club-based events, has also proven to be beneficial to the Splash House festival.

“For a first time promoter, some of the artists (we’ve had), like Moby and Cut/Copy, you kind of have to work your way into getting their trust,” Tyler McLean said. “Goldenvoice and LED have certainly given us the resources to go for the big fish and book the artists who are going to bring a lot of people here to Palm Springs.”

The McLeans make a point to include local artists in each Splash House lineup. Local DJs Aaron C, Colour Vision, Alf Alpha and All Night Shoes all played at the June festival.

“Having locals is a win/win. They get a chance to play in a lineup that has Moby and Cut/Copy,” Tyler McLean said. “These local DJs are the ones playing every weekend in front of the crowds and are really entrenched in what the local music scene is. For us, it gives us some trust of the locals, because we’re not just some outside promoter coming in and throwing a party for outsiders. We really wanted to be engrained and allow locals to come. That’s why we book local DJs and offer local discounts.”

Splash House has obviously moved beyond being just an annual event. Tyler McLean explained why Splash House is holding its second festival this summer.

“We can’t really grow the event into a major music event like Coachella or Lollapalooza,” McLean said. “… I think the vision for us is growing as a series versus an annual event. Every summer, there will be this party that happens once every month or every other month at these venues with a different lineup each time.”

Splash House will take place Friday, Aug. 8, through Sunday, Aug. 10. Pre-sale tickets cost $60 to $99. For tickets or more information, visit www.splashhouse.com.

Published in Previews

What: The gazpacho

Where: Tinto, inside the Saguaro, 1800 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs

How much: $11

Contact: 760-322-1900; www.jdvhotels.com/restaurants/california/riverside-dining/tinto

Why: The smoothness.

A friend recently told me that she has thus far avoided Tinto—the Iron Chef-owned “Basque wine bar” restaurant inside the Saguaro Palm Springs—because she finds the menu “a tad scary.”

I am blessed (or perhaps cursed, if you consider my waistline’s perspective) with the ability to eat and enjoy almost anything (as long as it’s … y’know … good). However, I do understand that not everyone is like me, and a menu featuring all sorts of unfamiliar words that seem loaded with unnecessary x’s (like “pintxos” and “gatxuxa”) may be a tad scary to some.

However, to this friend and any others who may be intimidated by Tinto’s menu, I say this: You have nothing to worry about, because one of the best things on said menu has a name that we’ve all heard before—gazpacho.

There may be no better time and place on Earth to enjoy chilled soup than Palm Springs in August, so I highly recommend this glass of deliciousness. Other than a bit of bread (for consistency and flavor) and spices, this gazpacho is vegetable heaven, with tomato, peppers and a bit of fresh avocado leading the way. It’s so tasty and refreshing that you may find yourself engaging in a Pavlovian bit of drooling when driving by the multicolored former Holiday Inn that is the Saguaro.

I’ll now give you a home-cooking tip: When we were trying to re-create the gazpacho ourselves at the Independent test kitchen (i.e., our apartment), we stumbled across a video on The Desert Sun’s website of Tinto owner/chef Jose Garces making the gazpacho.

In the video, Garces doesn’t share the exact proportions he uses, and gazpacho he makes is not the exact version on the current Tinto menu. Nonetheless, the video was helpful enough to lead us to gazpacho joy. In fact, by tweaking the gazpacho to our own preferences, our home version tastes even better than Tinto’s version, at least to us.

But one thing we haven’t been able to replicate successfully is the smoothness (even though we have a serious blender at home). The gazpacho at Tinto is creamy, silky, yummy.

So, friends, don’t be afraid. Tinto’s gazpacho is there to cool you and comfort you. Go.

Published in The Indy Endorsement