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Coachella attendees who braved Saturday’s hot temperatures got some great music to enjoy, including the day’s headliner, Lady Gaga.

I must admit that I am not a big fan of pop divas, but I promised myself I would keep an open mind as I took in Gaga’s performance, rather than doing my usual full embrace of the “music snob” title that some have bestowed upon me.

As for that performance: After Bon Iver’s Main Stage set finished a little before 10 p.m., most of the area was dead, as attendees crammed the Outdoor Stage area to take in DJ Snake’s performance. That let Gaga’s die-hard fans grab spots close to the stage.

Gaga was scheduled for 11:10 p.m., and even though the stage seemed set well before that, she did not take the stage until after 11:30.

I watched parts of last weekend’s Gaga show on the live YouTube stream. While it was an impressive spectacle, some moments fell flat (a sentiment I heard from people who were there, too). The costume changes were over-long, meaning her backing musicians had to play lengthy solos before she would finally reappear.

This week, she tightened things up. Her default costume appeared to be a pair of decorated Spandex shorts over a leotard, with stars next to her eyes and on her temples. While her appearance may have changed a bit, the set list was rather similar. Her banter with the audience at times seemed to fall flat—although she admitted to the audience that she felt a little nervous, in part because her parents were in attendance.

She also told a story about how she arrived in Los Angeles from New York wearing all leather, and was told that it was too hot to wear leather. She added that she still loves leather and that she was bringing leather to the desert. I’m sure the small group of bears I saw earlier in the evening walking around with leather harnesses and aviator sunglasses were in that sea of 100,000 people screaming, “YOU GO GIRL!”

Many of the visuals that accompanied the performance were not included all that much on the live stream last week—and in person, the visuals were indeed stunning and well-done.

Lady Gaga ain’t my cup of tea, but I appreciate the energy that her music puts out, and that she has fans from all walks of life. While the performance was a little rough around the edges for my tastes, her appearance will be remembered fondly by most.

Other Saturday highlights

• Local band the Yip Yops were an early afternoon delight in the Gobi Tent, with many people coming through to check them out. Their evolving and futuristic sound definitely made them stand out. Of course, the Yip Yops were ready for the Coachella stage two years ago.

• Chicano Batman performed to a large and fantastically diverse crowd at the Outdoor Stage on Saturday afternoon. Despite temperatures at almost 100 degrees, the band still played in ruffled shirts and new navy suits. This band is truly on the rise and drew a much larger crowd than they did when they played in 2015.

• The Heineken House was the place to be on Saturday, thanks to the air conditioning and the never-ending flowing of cold, delicious beer. Late in the afternoon, the protopunk band Death, the subject of a documentary titled A Band Called Death, performed in the tent. While it may have annoyed the typical Heineken House audience of people who like house and trap music, the rock crowd that turned out to hear them play—myself included—loved every minute of it. One has to wonder why they were not put in the Sonora Tent instead.

• Bon Iver’s co-headlining Main Stage performance was nothing short of fantastic. The band’s indie-folk sound has evolved in a big way, and the show was nothing like the group’s Coachella 2012 performance. There was a lot of live sampling and layering during the performance, along with some pretty trippy visuals. Also, Bruce Hornsby and Jenny Lewis appeared with front man Justin Vernon at the end of his set. Vernon, wearing a T-shirt that said “PEOPLE” across the front of it, declared toward the end of his set: “If you don’t have close friends, you don’t have shit.”

Photo credits (below): Death, by Brian Blueskye; Bon Iver, by Julian Bajsel/Goldenvoice; Chicano Batman, by Erik Voake/Goldenvoice; Yip Yops, by Quinn Tucker/Goldenvoice

Since the Los Angeles-based band Chicano Batman started in 2008, the group has taken a long and interesting path to success—and after years of independent EPs and album releases, the group recently signed with ATO Records.

On the heels of new album Freedom Is Free, which dropped March 3, the group will be making its second appearance at Coachella on Saturday, April 15 and 22.

During a recent phone interview with guitarist Carlos Arévalo, he discussed the recording of Freedom Is Free.

“The album was recorded in January 2016 over the span of two weeks,” Arévalo said. “The album was recorded at the Diamond Mine studio in Long Island City, N.Y., with the producer, Leon Michels. Leon Michels is a former member of the Dap-Kings and played with Sharon Jones when he was 16 years old. He’s appeared on numerous recordings, and he was a member of the Black Keys. … We had been writing for (the album) since the summer of 2015.”

The recording process with Michels was different for the band, Arévalo said.

“There was a bit more of a direction involved,” he said. “Before, we would just record with songs we had, and we would record them the way we’d play them live. For better or worse, that’s what you hear. This time, we had a producer, and we would bounce a lot of ideas off of him. He acted as a fifth voice. Often times (before), it’d just be the four of us going democratically. So if there’s something not happening, and there are two saying, ‘Go this way,’ and two going another way, we kind of go nowhere. But it was nice having Leon say, ‘No, it should go this way.’ We respect his résumé and his musical abilities, so that made it really easy to move forward in finishing the arrangements in some of the songs. There are also backup singers; there’s flute and a lot of instrumentation on it, and we said we’d figure that out for a live setting later. We also tightened up our songwriting. We wrote more concise songs and said what we needed to say.”

The support of ATO Records is obviously beneficial, Arévalo said, but he added that he and his fellow band members are thankful to those who helped them in the past.

“Everything we’ve done up until we started working with ATO was pure self-release and completely independent,” he said. “We had the help of managers and booking agents … and all of those people before who helped us get to where we are now with a label. The label is very supportive and gives us our creative freedom, and they are going to put our music on a platform that we couldn’t put it on ourselves financially, or without those networks being in the music industry.”

Chicano Batman has played numerous times in the Coachella Valley, most recently last year in October at The Hood Bar and Pizza. There has never been a gig too big or too small for Chicano Batman over the years as the group built its fan base.

“We’re older guys. We’re not 21-year-olds who get in the van and tour the country for three months straight,” Arévalo said. “We have wives and families, and we were really mindful of how we’ve toured. We would do touring in two-week spurts. We’d hit up markets that we knew we’d do well in and places we knew there was a fan base. We’d play San Francisco in a 500-capacity room, but we’d go to Atlanta and play to a 250-capacity room, because we hadn’t put in the work yet out there. Also, we’ve been asked to play big festivals and open for big bands. Right now, the way things are looking, we’re going toward the bigger rooms. We’ve been selling out nice-size rooms along the West Coast.”

In this age of Donald Trump, Arévalo sees Chicano Batman’s multicultural fan base as a beautiful thing and hopes that it inspires people.

“The goal has always been to reach people through art and have a positive message,” he said. “That’s always been our reality and where we’re from. I think being in the music industry and coming up in it, you see that not all stages represent people who look like us. We try to change that and be the best we can be musically, and as people promoting diversity through our music. It’s beautiful that we can bring people of all cultures together. If you ever come to a Chicano Batman show, it’s a beautiful sight. There are people from all cultures and ethnicities being represented as we grow in popularity. That’s a special thing to cherish in these divisive times and people drawing lines in the sand.”

The band last year took part in an ad campaign for which it recorded a cover of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land.”

“During the summer of last year, Johnnie Walker approached us about being part of their ad campaign called ‘Keep Walking America,’” Arévalo said. “The idea was to promote and celebrate diversity, which has always been the M.O. of this group, obviously. They approached us, and we thought the message was a strong one, and they were the ones who suggested we record Woody Guthrie’s ‘This Land Is Your Land.’ This happened when Trump was running for president. We were really starting to see the ugliness of people identifying other people by race and trying to differentiate themselves from other people. We thought it was a good message, and the song is a protest song, so it speaks to those ideals about this country, and we felt like it’s a big statement for us to be part of something like that. People who look like us aren’t really represented in commercials and movies, and we thought it would be an important campaign to take part in.”

After its 2015 Coachella debut, Chicano Batman is hoping to make a bigger impact this year.

“We’re hoping we get a better time slot this time,” Arévalo said. “Last time, we played at 1 in the afternoon, and we were hung over. Aside from that, we’re really excited to bring this new production to fruition. We’re also touring with backup singers to sing on many of the new album tracks.”

Arévalo added that the band is forever thankful to the Coachella Valley for support.

“We have a lot of love for the Coachella Valley. We always make it a point to go out there and play whenever we can,” he said. “The Coachella Valley is one of those places that gave us chances when other places weren’t giving us chances. We’re not going to forget the places that gave us chances when we’re playing the Fillmore. People always come up to us and tell us how meaningful it is that we played there, and we’re always humbled by that.”

Published in Previews

Slipping Into Darkness is known for its wild reputation—but the popular local band wants you to know it has a mature side, too.

The group is currently working on a follow-up to 2014’s Shurpadelic. See what the members have been up to at The Hood Bar and Pizza on Friday, Oct. 21, when the band performs with Chicano Batman.

Nigel Dettelbach explained where the band stands in the recording process.

“It’s currently in the works,” Dettelbach said. “We were contemplating different studios to go into, and different offers and ways to go about it. With Adrian (Carreño) living out of the country, it’s harder for us to get together. We have about three or four songs recorded, and we have another six to record. Then it’s off to mixing and mastering. This album is Slipping Into Darkness, but a lot more mature.”

Dettelbach said the Desert Hot Springs band has learned a lot over the last several years.

“We’ve definitely matured,” he said. “I think we’ve realized that we’ve gotten older; we’ve learned what we want and what we don’t want, and we want to make the deals we want to make.”

Dettelbach said Slipping Into Darkness’ sound basically remains the same. The band members always like to throw in different genres, however, and the upcoming album steps that up a notch.

“It’s a bunch of different things. It’s doo-wop; it’s rock ’n’ roll; it’s punk rock. There’s some Latin in it, but this one has a lot of different elements. It’s more musically mature, too, which you’ll hear when it comes out.”

Slipping Into Darkness has gotten around. The group played Coachella in 2013, and has toured, performed at festivals in Mexico, and opened for a lot of bands that have come through Southern California. In fact, the group will soon be opening for another legendary band.

“We were talking to a booking agency that books in Mexico City, where we’re planning to go to do some touring,” Dettelbach said. “So that’s the one thing we want to do, but we’ve been focused on trying to release the record first. But we’ve been invited by The Adicts to open up for them for their Halloween show at the Observatory (in Santa Ana), which is a really big deal for us, because it’s a cool place, and we’ve always wanted to play there. They handpicked us.”

Regarding Chicano Batman, Slipping Into Darkness has performed at shows with the band before, and Dettelbach explained the relationship between the two groups.

“They’re definitely one of our favorite bands. We’re one of their favorite bands as well,” he said. “We both have a strong love for each other, and we’ve gotten to go on tour with them. They’ve hit the big time and have been down to help us release our record. They’re one of the most professional bands I’ve ever seen. As we were waking up in Vegas to go to Phoenix, they were already (in Phoenix) doing the soundcheck. It just goes to show their level of professionalism. We have a lot of respect for those guys.”

As for the new album, Dettelbach said he hopes the record is out by early 2017.

“I’d say within the next 6 months. That’s just giving us some time to get it finished,” he said. “The songs are coming along. They’re kicking ass, and I can’t wait for everyone to hear it.”

When Shurpadelic was released in 2014, the cover featured an old photo of a small child smoking a joint. Frontman Michael Durazo said the photo was of a relative of his, taken in the ’70s. The picture made many music fans laugh—although one person wrote to the Independent to complain.

“I’ve never had a negative response, other than the one you mentioned to me,” Dettelbach said. “I’ve always had heard people tell us, ‘That’s really bad ass!’ and, ‘That’s really cool!’ But when they hear what it represents and who that kid is, it’s a deeper thing—and not just a kid smoking or a random image pulled off Google. It’s a real photo.”

Slipping Into Darkness will perform with Chicano Batman at 6 p.m., Friday, Oct. 21, at The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. Tickets are $15. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit chicanomovement.eventbrite.com.

Published in Previews

The holiday season is upon us, which means things hectic, and you may feel the need to escape—or find something to that doesn’t involve shopping. Fortunately, there are plenty of great events going on in December (especially in the first two-thirds of the month) for people looking to escape, as well as people looking to celebrate the holidays.

The McCallum Theatre has an awesome December schedule. If you missed Merle Haggard at Stagecoach back in April, you’ll be happy to know the Okie from Muskogee will be coming back at 8 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 2. Haggard, one of the creators of the Bakersfield sound, has written an astonishing number of great country songs throughout his long career. Tickets are $77 to $97. At 7 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 15, there will be a performance of The Nutcracker performed by the Los Angeles Ballet. Tickets are $27 to $87. At 3 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 20, country star LeAnn Rimes perform a Christmas-themed concert. Back in the ’90s, Rimes captured the admiration and support of people everywhere as a star at the age of 13. She’s since carved out a fine career, with two Grammy Awards, a Country Music Association Award, 12 Billboard music awards and an American Music Award to her credit. Tickets are $37 to $87. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has some great holiday events on the schedule. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 5, you’ll know it’s time for Christmas when Mannheim Steamroller returns. This is the 31st year that Mannheim Steamroller has taken its rock and electric-synth style Christmas show on the road; the concert includes dazzling multimedia effects, too. The group has sold 28 million copies of Christmas albums! Tickets are $39 to $69. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 19, it will be time to boogie for the holidays when The Brian Setzer Orchestra takes the stage. Setzer’s swing/rockabilly holiday shows have become a Christmas tradition; if you haven’t had the pleasure, check it out. Tickets are $39 to $69. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

The Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has a light schedule, but there are two great events you should to know about. At 9 p.m., Friday, Dec. 4, Mama, the star of Mama’s Family, and comedienne Vicki Lawrence will be performing her “Two Woman Show.” Tickets are $20 to $40. If you don’t have plans for New Year’s Eve, you’ll be happy to know that at 10:30 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 31, former Runaways member Joan Jett and the Blackhearts (right) will be rocking into 2016. Forget attending those expensive parties where you stand in line all night to buy expensive drinks, and create fond New Year’s Eve memories with a legend! Tickets are $60 to $80. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace has a great list of December shows. At 7 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 17, Brant Bjork and the Low-Desert Punk Band will take the stage. Bjork, a founder and former drummer of desert rock gods Kyuss, performed at Coachella back in April. If you call yourself a fan of desert rock, you need to get your ass to this show—because Bjork delivers live. Tickets are $15. At 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 26, you can celebrate the day after Christmas with The Evangenitals. If you had a good Christmas, the Evangenitals will make it even better! If you had a bad Christmas, the Evangenitals will have you laughing, therefore lifting you out of your holiday blues. It’s become a tradition at Pappy’s to have the Evangenitals perform after Christmas, so go partake! Admission is free. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Date Shed has some nice things happening in December. At 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 4, things are going to get festive thanks to EeVaan Tre and the “Holiday Show.” EeVaan and the boys have quite an impressive R&B act, so you know their holiday show is going to be something you don’t want to miss. Admission is free. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 5, the vibe will be quite different, because rapper Paul Wall will be performing. The Houston-based rapper has been going since 1998 and has had songs on the charts. Tickets are $20 to $23. If you were concerned the Date Shed’s schedule was initially missing some performers who come back year after year … relax: Ghostface Killah is indeed returning to the venue, at 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 19. Ghostface, a member of the Wu-Tang Clan, performed a hop, skip and a jump from the Date Shed at Coachella back in April with fellow Wu-Tang member Raekwon. Tickets are $28 to $38. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St., Indio; 760-775-6699; www.dateshedmusic.com.

The Hood Bar and Pizza has released a list of nice events for the month. At 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 4 rock/reggae band Fayuca will be stopping by; Machin’ and DJ Alf Alpha will also perform. Admission is free. At 9 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 10, you’ll be happy to know that Chicano Batman (below) will be coming back to perform at The Hood—and, of course, their compadres Slipping Into Darkness are also on the bill. Yay! Admission is free. The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-636-5220; www.facebook.com/thehoodbar.

Tryst Bar and Lounge continues to diversify downtown Palm Springs’ music offerings, with free shows at 10 p.m. virtually every Tuesday and Saturday. The month’s highlights include Derek Jordan Gregg on Tuesday, Dec. 1; and local metal-punk favorites Gutter Candy on Tuesday, Dec. 22. Tryst Bar and Lounge, 188 S. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-832-6046; www.facebook.com/trystpalmsprings.

Published in Previews

Coachella 2015 is now in the history books. There were a few moans and groans when the lineup came out months ago, but all and all, the festival’s performances were a success—including some fantastic shows on Day 3.

One of the most anticipated performances of the late-morning/early-afternoon was Chicano Batman. The group's psychedelic Latin sound was most definitely appropriate for Coachella, and a lot of local fans who had already seen the band’s local shows were present.

Coachella Valley's own Alf Alpha performed in the Sahara Tent shortly after noon and started off his DJ set with a lot of energy. He hopped up on a table and demanded that people raise their hands up—with the incentive of free Alf Alpha t-shirts.

The Mojave Stage became the de facto punk-rock venue early in the day. Touché Amoré offered a brutal hardcore set that was scheduled earlier than one would expect, but a lot of punk-rock devotees were present and ready to slam-dance. The energy was incredible during one of the hardest-rocking sets of the day.

OFF! was set up and ready to go when Keith Morris quietly said into his microphone at the 1:55 p.m. set time: "Should we wait another five minutes for 15 more people to show up?" The crowd had thinned after Touché Amoré, but OFF! wound up with a decent sized-crowd. Morris worked himself into a frenzy while screaming lyrics; guitarist Dimitri Coats was active and looked exhausted as they finished their set. A few minutes of tech issues aside, Morris and Coats rocked hard from beginning to end, when Morris thanked the founders of Goldenvoice individually for "making it happen."

Stagecoach is this coming weekend, but Coachella attendees were treated to a preview, of sorts, thanks to Sturgill Simpson in the Gobi tent. He has a sound similar to that of Waylon Jennings. While his music reminded of vintage country, Simpson garnered an appreciative crowd that offered a loud ovation at the end of his set. There’s one thing you can't deny about Coachella: The crowd is open-minded and eager to hear new and unexpected things.

Former child actress Jenny Lewis said she was performing at her seventh Coachella while on the Outdoor Stage. She noted the vibe was much more "low-key" than it was during Weekend 1—and that she liked it that way. Her relaxed, calm show made for a nice set to lay on the grass and take in.

Ryan Adams followed Lewis, and brought with him stage props that included oversized Fender amps, two actual working Atari arcade machines (Asteroids!) and a Dr. Pepper machine. It created interesting ambiance for a guy who has been known to perform punk, metal and country. He mostly played his alt-country material, which included some of his ballads. He pointed out that Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead was standing at the soundboard; some people thought he was joking, but Weir really was at the soundboard.

Florence Welch (Florence and the Machine) made news last week by jumping off the Coachella stage and breaking her foot. Even with the broken foot (although she didn't appear to be wearing a cast), she returned to perform what was supposed to be a half-hour set on the Coachella Stage. Seated at the front of the stage, she managed to put on a spectacular show, and her singing voice was beautiful. Toward the end of the show, she looked over to the edge of the stage and said it was a long way down—no wonder she was injured. Props to Florence Welch for putting on what turned out to be a great 45-minute show and not disappointing her fans.

As Drake took the stage, the Coachella grounds were lit up by the art installations. The caterpillar and the butterfly were both in the Coachella Stage area, as were two of the Balloon Chains. Despite being several minutes late, Drake seemed to have the largest crowd—not bad for someone with some of the weakest credentials for any Coachella headliner in recent history.

Until next year …

Scroll down to see a photo gallery from Guillermo Prieto of the Day 3 action. 

Published in Reviews

It’s becoming an age-old tradition to gripe about the Coachella headliners. However, if you look past the big names on the poster, you’ll find a lot of great acts. Here are some to consider including in your Coachella schedule.


Friday, April 10 and 17

The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger

I’m amazed that this band is listed so low on Friday’s lineup. The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger consists of American fashion model Charlotte Kemp Muhl and Sean Lennon (yes, John Lennon’s son). After meeting each other and falling in love at Coachella in the mid-2000s, Lennon realized Muhl had talent as a singer. In 2010, they released their first album, Acoustic Sessions, which was warmly received. This band definitely belongs at Coachella.

Brant Bjork and the Low Desert Punk Band

Sadly, this is another small-print booking. Locals should recognize this name—and if you don’t, you have some learnin’ to do. Brant Bjork was one of the founding members of the legendary desert-rock group Kyuss, with John Garcia and Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme. You definitely don’t want to miss Bjork’s performance at Coachella, given he’s one of the people who put the Coachella Valley on the map, music wise. Check out our interview with Bjork at the start of the music section.

Trippy Turtle

Last summer during one of Splash House parties, Independent contributor Guillermo Prieto and I were mystified by this young DJ who wore a green hoodie with a turtle on it. His DJ set was upbeat and fun—and you’ll hear a clip of that YouTube video of the little boy saying “I like turtles” several times throughout his set. (See a photo from Prieto at the top right.)

Steely Dan

This was the one listing on the lineup that had me saying “WTF?” when I first saw it. Steely Dan is a delight for true music-lovers, even though many of the people who will be at Coachella did not yet exist (myself included) back in 1972 when they first formed. Donald Fagen and Walter Becker are musical geniuses, and while their blend of jazz and rock is considered “soft rock,” Steely Dan shouldn’t be lumped into the same genre as the Eagles and Michael Bolton. This is a strange booking for Coachella—but it will probably still be awesome.


Saturday, April 11 and 18

Parquet Courts

This New York City post-punk/garage band has managed to drum up momentum from the DIY, indie and mainstream scenes since it seemingly came out of nowhere in 2010. I’ve seen them once before, and I can say that if you like an edgier and dirtier (in a good way) sound, Parquet Courts are for you.

Royal Blood

A gentleman I talked to not too long ago at Pappy and Harriet’s suggested this band to me after we talked about the White Stripes and the Black Keys. This duo from the United Kingdom has an impressive sound, and the self-titled debut album is balls-to-the-wall rock ’n’ roll from beginning to end. I can’t wait to see Royal Blood’s live show.

War on Drugs

While the name is amusing, War on Drugs is no joke: Front man Adam Granduciel has exemplary skills as a singer-songwriter. War on Drugs, which once included Kurt Vile, has a sound similar to that of Destroyer, The New Pornographers, and Real Estate. Make sure you check this band out. (Photo below.)

The Weeknd

In 2010, this guy became the talk of the underground-music scene, and his debut album, released a year later, was highly anticipated. The Weeknd has an interesting genre listing: PBR&B, in reference to the hipster culture’s love of Pabst Blue Ribbon and R&B, or hipster-based R&B. Whatever. The bottom line: The Weeknd makes great R&B that is soulful and dark at the same time—and the fact that he’s on the reclusive side adds a little mystery.


Sunday, April 12 and 19

The Orwells

This Chicago outfit has been on the rise since 2009. After they toured with the Arctic Monkeys, played at Lollapalooza and recently appeared on Late Show With David Letterman, it makes sense to see The Orwells playing at Coachella in 2015. I suggest listening to the band’s most recent album, Disgraceland, before the festival; you won’t be disappointed.

Chicano Batman

I have had a number of opportunities to see this band—and thanks to bad luck, I’ve missed them every time. These guys are not only one of the best DIY indie-bands in the Southwest U.S.; they also have a unique sound that combines Latin music with soul and psychedelic rock. Check out The Lucky 13 on Page 38 for more info.

Jenny Lewis

When I was a third-grader, I was a Nintendo-playing kid who was fascinated with the movie The Wizard, which Jenny Lewis, then a child actress, appeared in with Fred Savage. Lewis is now all grown up and playing music—and she’s pretty awesome. Her Americana-meets-pop sound is a lot of fun; she was even a part of Bright Eyes at one time. For giggles, look up the Christmas-themed comedy skit she took part in with Megadeth back in 2013 on Jimmy Kimmel Live.

Marina and the Diamonds

Marina and the Diamonds were beloved by some of my co-workers at Borders Books and Music (R.I.P.) back in 2010 after she dropped her debut album, The Family Jewels—and Marina Diamandis has been pushing the envelope ever since. She has a new album out, and Marina and the Diamonds should be a highlight of the festival.

Published in Previews

Indie band Chicano Batman has won over audiences with a blend of various forms of Latin music—combined with American soul music. Now, Goldenvoice has taken notice: Chicano Batman earned a slot at Coachella, and will be playing on Sunday, April 12 and 19. Learn more at chicanobatman.com. Bassist Eduardo Arenas was kind enough to take some time out of the band’s busy touring schedule to answer the Lucky 13.

What was the first concert you attended?

Metallica, 1996, at The Forum in Los Angeles, on the Poor Touring Me Tour, in support of the Load album.

What was the first album you owned?

Ice Cube’s single of “It Was a Good Day.”

What bands are you listening to right now?

Nick Drake, Johnny Ventura y su Combo, King Diamond, Señor Loop, Cortijo y su Combo, Slumgum, Lo Borges, Los Beachers de Bocas del Toro, Richie Ray y Bobby Cruz, and Opeth.

What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone love, but you don’t get?

Morrissey and The Smiths. I can’t stand them.

What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live?

D’Angelo, big time! Preferably with Pino Palladino on bass, and Chris Dave on drums. Oh man!

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

Human Clay by Creed! I know; it’s embarrassing! But take out “Higher” and “With Arms Wide Open,” and you have yourself a great album with dope songs, crazy tunings and crafty riffs. I know. I said Creed.

What’s your favorite music venue?

La Cita in downtown Los Angeles.

What’s the one song lyric you can’t get out of your head?

“Red, Red, Wiiiiiiiiiine!!!” from UB40. Next up is “Paaaaaaaaanama!” from Van Halen.

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Candiria, a hardcore/jazz/grindcore band out of Brooklyn, N.Y. I really got into them back in 2002, right about the same time I was getting into Frank Zappa and Miles Davis’ electric years. Candiria had these two albums that blew my mind, The Process of Self-Development and 300 Percent Density. My friend Adan and I were on a road trip from L.A. to Boston that coincided with Candiria’s tour, so we saw them nine times on the road. They were even tighter live. Their songs don't have choruses or verses. It’s almost like they are on a rhythmic stream of consciousness, hitting breakdowns left and right. You could feel the street and the intensity through their synchronicity. They don’t repeat their riffs; they just keep traveling. Hearing the jazz influence and sophisticated arrangements coming out of this “metal” band made me (at 19 years old) realize how much the world is open to interpretation—how much we can make our own rules and rebel against formulas and status quo.

You have one question to ask one musician. What’s the question, and who are you asking?

Prince, two-part question: At what moment in your career do u stop criticizing your own work/talent and just let it flow in the direction it needs to? And, what is your pancake recipe?

What song would you like played at your funeral?

“Camaron Pelao” by Los Polifaceticos.

Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time?

Caetano Veloso, Transa.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

“Wednesday Morning” by Chicano Batman! (Scroll down to hear it.)

Published in The Lucky 13

If you want proof that an indie band can make it increasingly big in today’s music world, look no further than Chicano Batman, the Los Angeles outfit that will be playing at Schmidy’s Tavern on Monday, Oct. 20.

Chicano Batman originally came together as a trio, put together by Bardo Martinez (guitar, vocals and keyboard), Eduardo Arenas (bass, guitar) and Gabriel Villa (drums) in 2008, The band fused Latin music styles, as well as space-psychedelia, American soul and even electric-jazz instrumentals. The group gained attention first in Los Angeles, and later in other markets throughout the Southwest.

In 2011, the band became a four-piece, adding Carlos Arévalo (guitar).

“I’ve known Bardo (Martinez) since I was 20 years old,” Arévalo said during a recent phone interview. “He had been a fan of a band that I was in, and we always talked about playing music together. What prevented us from doing that was I was living in the Inland Empire at the time, and he was living in West Los Angeles and going to UCLA. The group as a three-piece cut a record, and it was well received. Shortly after that, I moved closer to Los Angeles, and Bardo called me up and said that he wanted to play more of the organ, and he wanted me to play guitar. I joined in 2011.”

When it comes to Chicano Batman’s sound, there’s something for everyone.

“We’re just big fans of music in general,” Arévalo said. “A lot of the references you hear are because we’re fans of that music. For example, we love the music of David Axelrod, who is a composer, but he scored film music, and (his music) would be pretty funny, psychedelic and something like a hip-hop producer would sample. We really like that kind of sound—those funky instrumentals.

“The group is into Brazilian music and Cumbia music, and we’re also fans of soul music in general—American soul and Latin American soul. It has great bass lines and great breakbeats. We draw a lot of inspiration from that.”

Chicano Batman has built a huge fan base through exposure gained by touring. The members have also managed to build a following through self-promotion of their music, as well as word of mouth. They’ve appeared in festivals put together by major promoters, including the Viva Pomona! event back in July.

In other words, Chicano Batman is very good at marketing.

“We get emails from a lot of fans, and they want us to come through their city,” Arévalo said. “We know where there’s demand, and we sell a lot of our music online. We’re independent, so we see where a lot of our records are being sold. Obviously, we have a huge fan base in the Southwest. … We also played in New York this past July as part of an East Coast tour. … We also played in Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., and the fan base was (made up of people from) all different kinds of backgrounds and ethnicities. We also toured in Japan last November; we did the whole island and played about seven shows.

“People feel that we’re doing something genuine, and that it’s from our soul, and they appreciate it.”

When the group plays at Schmidy’s, Desert Hot Springs’ Slipping Into Darkness will joining them for the show. It won’t be the first time the two bands have shared the same stage.

“We love them, and we think they’re an amazing band,” Arévalo said. “Every time we have the opportunity to pass through the desert, we always ask them, ‘Can we play a show together?’ They’re just such a great group, and they’re all amazing musicians. It’s all about the songwriting—and they have great songwriting. It’s just a sound I feel that you can only get out there in the desert, and I’m not talking Queens of the Stone Age. I feel they’re carrying that tradition of really original music that can only be made in that area.”

Chicano Batman will perform with Slipping Into Darkness and Fever Dog at 8:30 p.m., Monday, Oct. 20, at Schmidy’s Tavern, 72286 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. Admission is $7. For more information, call 760-837-3800, or check out the event’s Facebook page.

Published in Previews