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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Although August is one of the slowest months for entertainment in the desert—and the second half of this particular August is especially dead—there are still many events, many places to catch a drink, and many bands coming through town.

Interestingly, most of the events this month are either ’90s projects (the kind of artists that will make you say, “Oh I remember them!”) or contemporary underground acts. Whether you like throwback pop or underground alternative rock, there is something for everyone across our vast, eclectic desert community.

Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa Rancho Mirage has the first notable event on the Venue Report this month: At 8 p.m., Friday, Aug. 2, the legendary Chicago band Styx will take The Show stage. Tickets start at $65. Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa Rancho Mirage, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

At 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 3, Spotlight 29 will host the Pop 2000 tour with host Lance Bass and performances by O-Town, Aaron Carter, Ryan Cabrera and La Quinta-native-turned-Hollywood-star Tyler Hilton. Unfortunately for those wanting to hear “Bye Bye Bye” or “It’s Gonna Be Me,” the event details say Lance Bass is only hosting and not performing. I know from experience that hosts don’t usually perform; I once went Wango Tango, crossing my fingers for the host, Britney Spears, to drop a surprise performance. Didn’t happen. Nevertheless, the show will be interesting if you are nostalgic for the third wave of ’90s boy bands. Tickets start at $35. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 31, UB40 will arrive at Spotlight 29 for a performance as part of the British reggae band’s 40th Anniversary Tour. Tickets start at $35. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

On Sunday, Aug. 4, The Alibi, downtown Palm Springs’s coolest new venue (learn more here), will welcome ’90s alt-rock band Imperial Teen; the exact show time has not been announced. The four-piece multi-instrumental band from San Francisco has an alt/grunge, instantly recognizable sound, with alternating male/female vocals. The group’s most-famous song, “Yoo Hoo,” is featured in the cult classic film Jawbreaker, starring Rose McGowan. The video for the song features the Imperial Teen lead singer being tied to a bed and teased by the actress herself. Lucky guy! The event is free for those 21 and older. The Alibi Palm Springs, 369 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-656-1525; www.facebook.com/palmspringsalibi.

Be prepared for a short drive up Interstate 10, because at 8 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 8, Morongo Casino Resort Spa is hosting a show by Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds (below). He’s mostly known for his production talents and for writing songs for many other people, including Madonna, so it’s interesting to see him embarking on a solo tour. Together, Madonna and Babyface released one of my favorite songs, “Take a Bow.” Here’s hoping Babyface plays it, or that Madonna will be there, or that she herself returns to the desert one day (insert cry face emoji). Tickets start at $49. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

At 8 p.m., Friday, Aug. 9, Pappy and Harriet’s will welcome Oh Sees. You can read an interview with the band’s leader, John Dwyer, here, but I’ll add this: The group’s wild, exciting, antic-filled show is guaranteed to be worth the drive. The band puts on an in-your-face, loud performance that’s perfect for the outdoor stage at Pappy and Harriet’s. Want a hot summer night with some exciting, skuzzy, punk-rock sounds? Cold beer? And views? Check. Check. And check. Tickets start at $30—but they were listed as sold out as of our press deadline. You can get them on secondary-sales websites, but you’ll pay a lot more. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

At 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 10, Fantasy Springs Resort Casino will feature a performance from Mary J. Blige. She has many hits, and it promises to be a good throwback night. Tickets start at $79. At 8 p.m., Friday, Aug. 23, Fantasy Springs will host another Grammy Award-winning singer, Boz Scaggs. You most likely have heard the song “Lido Shuffle” at some point in your life, but you somehow haven’t, do your ears a favor, and bless them with the song. Tickets start at $49. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

At 8 p.m., Monday, Aug. 12, Indio’s Club 5 Bar—along with Ian Townley and Kylie Knight, Indio-based artists and musicians—will host Host Family, Flexing, The Teddys and Carlee Hendrix. Flexing is a touring band from Corvallis, Ore., that has a dark, angular post-punk sound with a female vocalist, reminiscent of Savages, as well as Editors. The group is coming down to Indio to support recent release Modern Discipline. The Teddys is the new project from Indio’s Bryan Garcia, drummer for the recently defunct Town Troubles. Host Family is an up-and-coming indie band that is making big splashes in the desert and beyond, with a sound reminiscent of Beach Fossils or Mac DeMarco—a laid back, original and refreshing sound compared to the punk/metal that is popular in the desert at the moment. Carlee Hendrix is a talented local singer-songwriter from Bermuda Dunes; she hasn’t played a show in a long time, so anyone who attends is in for a real treat, as she has a wide catalog of acoustic and electric indie/pop songs from which to pull. This promises to be a unique night of underground music. Bring $5. Club 5 Bar, 82971 Bliss Ave., Indio; 760-625-1719; www.facebook.com/Club5Bar.

At 7 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 15, local event promoters Queer Cactus Presents will welcome El Paso, Texas-based indie rock band Sleepspent, as well as Palm Springs’ Host Family, Indio’s Blue Sun and Palm Desert’s Plastic Ruby, to play at Coachella’s newest bar, the appropriately-named Coachella Bar. This show promises to be an interesting night of DIY alternative rock bands. Coachella Bar; 85995 Grapefruit Blvd., Coachella; 760-541-9034; www.facebook.com/events/335607437106254.

Published in Previews

You may know the band as Oh Sees, Thee Oh Sees, OCS or one of several other names that have changed along with the lineup over the last two-plus decades.

However, one thing has remained constant: founding-member John Dwyer’s blistering guitar and crunchy vocals. Oh Sees, as we’ll call the band today, puts on one of the best live shows around—meaning that the group’s Friday, Aug. 9, show at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace is not to be missed … that is, if you can get tickets, because it is currently listed as sold out via the venue.

During a recent phone interview, I asked Dwyer—who said proceeds from the show would be donated to an as-yet-undetermined local charity—whether he thought the band’s name was important to its success.

“No. In fact, if anything, now we just change the name to irritate reviewers and journalists, because they took such umbrage to it being moved around a couple of times,” he said. “I started my own label (Castle Face Records) so I could do whatever the fuck I want, because with personnel and tone changes, we’d change the name around a lot. I’d talk to PR people, and they’d ask, ‘How are people going to know it’s the same band?’ I say that if somebody’s enough of an idiot to not know that this is the same band, then I don’t want them watching our band. That being said, our fans are smart enough to follow the lead. I don’t know if it’s been a detriment or not, but honestly, I don’t really care. It’s such a nonstory to me that it became a point of humor for us to slightly change the name to irk Pitchfork.”

OCS was at first Dwyer’s solo project, started while he was in other bands with names such as Pink and Brown, Zeigenbock Kopf and Coachwhips. I was curious whether it was hard to turn his solo project into a full band.

“The very first (OCS) record is really long, almost three LPs into one record, and most of it is just improvisational noise stuff,” Dwyer said. “It wasn’t hard at all to change it into something else, because it was always this amorphous, shifting, protean thing. I don’t know why I kept the name—that would be a better question, because nobody knew who the hell OCS was anyway, but it just sort of fell into place.

“It started when I brought in a guy named Patrick Mullins. He started playing drums for me. … Then he just started writing with me, and that planted the seed that it could be a full band. Twenty years later, it is what it is now, but we just got stuck with the name. People ask me what the name means, and I have no fucking idea. … I grew to like it. It took me 20 years to get there, though.”

Since 2003, Dwyer’s band has released a whopping 22 albums.

“It’s all I do. I don’t have a job anymore, because this is my job, but I really enjoy it,” Dwyer said. “I’m very lucky to have made this happen. We have slowed down, though. People always throw around the word ‘prolific.’ It’s almost a detrimental tag—prolific, as in these guys put out a ton of garbage.

“The thing is that everybody works at different rates. For a long time, though, with more drug consumption, we were working a lot more. Now that I’ve gotten older, we spend a little more time, and there’s more of a cooperative element to the songwriting process. It’s takes a little longer, because I’m not alone writing. I prefer it this way, because it’s more fun, and it makes it more diverse.”

Dwyer said he rarely encounters writer’s block; instead, he distances himself from projects when he begins to struggle. He cited a solo project under yet another name, Damaged Bug, as an example.

“I’ve been working on a new Damaged Bug record for about two years now, which is pretty unusual for me, but it’s not so much writer’s block,” he said. “I’ve written 30 to 40 songs, but they’re just not done, so I’ve taken a break and switched gears onto a different project. It’s important to take breaks. Our band takes breaks from each other for vacations or for other side projects, and then we come back.”

Dwyer said he’s constantly on the lookout for bands to add to Castle Face Records.

“I always try to watch every band I play with,” he said. “Before I had the label, I always watched for bands to play with, write with or just meet. I have the easy job at the label. There’s a guy named Matt Jones who’s my partner at the label, a 50-50 kind of deal, and he does a lot of the heavy lifting with the bureaucracy of it—all the bullshit that I don’t want to deal with. I have the job of going around the world, playing shows and meeting bands. People send me shit all time, and we go through demos. I listen to everything people send us.”

One of the bigger names on the label is Ty Segall, who just performed at Coachella.

“Me and Ty are very good friends, but I don’t see any collaborations happening in the future,” Dwyer said. “If anything, I would provoke him to play further out into black space. … That dude is on his own trip—heavily. I do love his collaboration with Tim Presley, though.”

Oh Sees will perform with Earth Girl Helen Brown and DYNASTY HANDBAG at 8 p.m., Friday, Aug. 9, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $30-$35, but are currently listed as sold out. For more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit pappyandharriets.com.

Published in Previews

The biggest music month of the year—April, of course—is approaching. That’s the month when Coachella, Stagecoach and the return of hot weather (as if it ever left) occur. But we’re not there yet—and March is no slouch, with a whole lot of great music events taking place.

The McCallum Theatre has a packed month in March. At 8 p.m., Thursday, March 1, folk singer-songwriter Judy Collins will be performing. In the turbulent ’60s, Collins was one of the era’s great folk singers, helping to inspire political change. She’s among the last of the great folk icons remaining from that era—a great reason to go see her. Tickets are $27 to $77. If you were hoping to catch one of the two Beach Boys shows on Sunday, March 4, we have bad news ... the shows are sold out. Tickets were $77. Get thee to secondary ticket-sales outlets if you really want to go. At 8 p.m., Tuesday, March 13, jazz vocalist Steve Tyrell will take the stage. He’s an icon of vocal jazz; his voice has won him a Grammy Award, and he’s put out nine albums. He’s been performing at the McCallum for 15 years; go check him out. Tickets are $47 to $87. Check the McCallum website for other great events. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has a full slate of great events; here are just a few to consider. At 8 p.m., Friday, March 2, you can enjoy a double bill of Starship and Eddie Money. You might remember Starship as a continuation of the ’60s psychedelic-rock band Jefferson Airplane; it surfaced in the ’80s with a new wave sound—as in “We Built This City” and “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now.” You probably remember Eddie Money as a late ’70s and early ’80s pop-radio staple, known for songs such as “Take Me Home Tonight” and “Two Tickets to Paradise.” Tickets are $39 to $59. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 24, female-blues powerhouse Bonnie Raitt will be performing. I saw Raitt when she performed the last time at Fantasy Springs—and I truly enjoyed the show. She has a set of great songs and a fantastic backing band. Tickets are $49 to $89. At 8 p.m., Friday, March 30, Trump supporter and comedian/singer Rodney Carrington will be performing. Remember that time in the ’90s when you opened your AOL account, and one of your friends had sent you that long, 30-minute download (via dial up) of that stupid song “Dear Penis?” Well, Carrington wrote that. You’re welcome. Tickets are $39 to $59. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has several fine events coming in March, and there’s at least one you won’t want to miss: At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 24, Mexican romantic-music group Los Temerarios (above right; photo by Carlos Perez) will be performing. Founding brothers Adolfo and Gustavo Angel have been going since 1978, recording 20 albums and winning multiple awards. Tickets are $45 to $85. Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 is going to be a fun place to be in March. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 3, jazz guitarist George Benson will be performing. Jazz guitar is a tough subgenre to appreciate, but Benson is talented enough to win almost anybody over. Tickets are $55 to $75. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 24, comedian Carrot Top will bring the funny. If you like rather stupid prop comedy, Carrot Top is your man. He and his suitcase full of props were popular in the ’90s. He’s well aware of the scorn he’s gotten from people who don’t like him—but he’s made fun of his critics in an amusing way that sells tickets. Also … his muscular physique and red hair, in combination, are quite scary. Tickets are $25 to $45. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 31, R&B/funk superstars Kool and the Gang will return to the valley. I love Kool and the Gang; they made so many great songs from the ’70s and ’80s that were the soundtrack of my childhood. Fun fact: Eagles of Death Metal sometimes use “Ladies Night” as an entrance theme. Tickets are $45 to $65. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino Resort Spa has a special St. Patrick’s Day-themed event planned. At 8 p.m., Friday, March 16, Irish punk band Flogging Molly (below) will be performing. There was a time when it seemed like Irish punk was trending, with Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly packing venues across the country. Flogging Molly has more of a traditional Celtic sound; while the band calls Los Angeles home, frontman Dave King is originally from Ireland. Tickets are $49 to $105. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace has some big sold-out shows, and is starting to make announcements about the outdoor season—but let’s not get ahead of ourselves: March has some great events with space still available. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 10, the best Johnny Cash tribute you’ll ever see, Cash’d Out, will be performing. This band is legendary—and goes well beyond a standard tribute act. In fact, Johnny Cash’s drummer, W.S. Holland, has sat in with this band before. Cindy Cash, Johnny Cash’s daughter, gave the band a glass locket that belonged to the Man in Black himself that supposedly holds some of his hair. This is Columbia Records-era Johnny Cash in a way you’ve never heard before. Tickets are $15. At 10 p.m., Friday, March 16, FYF presents OH SEES and Pretty Eyes. OH SEES is a great psychedelic rock band; this show is definitely going to be noteworthy. Tickets are $26. At 9 p.m., Friday, March 23, singer-songwriter Pearl Charles will be performing. I’ll let this description from her press kit explain it all: “Pearl Charles lives in the moment, seeking excitement whether it leads her down a dark, dusty road or into the arms of a trouble-making lover.” Sounds great to me! Tickets are $15. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Purple Room Palm Springs has a couple of events you’ll love if you enjoy dinner and a show. At 8 p.m., Friday, March 16, enjoy a tribute to Palm Springs with Palm Springs Jump! The show is a high-energy tribute to stars such as Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Elvis Presley and many others. Tickets are $25 to $30. At 8 p.m., Friday, March 23, if you’re an Elvis fan, you’ll love Scot Bruce’s Elvis: The Early Years. Elvis’ early years are the years that I prefer, when Elvis rocked and captured the imagination of the youth of America. Tickets are $25 to $30. Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

The Date Shed seems to be doing one show, more or less, per month, and in the month of March, it happens at 8 p.m., Saturday, March 17, when So-Cal reggae band Fortunate Youth will be performing. Fortunate Youth is a regular at The Date Shed, and the shows are always popular. Tickets are $20 in advance. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St., Indio; 760-775-6699; www.facebook.com/dateshed.

The Copa Room Palm Springs has a couple of fun March events. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 3, a tribute to Bette Midler titled The Divine Miss Bette, featuring Catherine Alcorn, will most likely be well-attended. The previews of this show look spectacular—it’s a must-see for any Bette Midler fan. Tickets are $25 to $45. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 24, actress and singer Mary Bridget Davies will take the stage. She’s performed in many blues-tribute bands, and supposedly did a fantastic job playing Janis Joplin in the Broadway show A Night With Janis Joplin. Tickets are $25 to $35. Copa Palm Springs, 244 E. Amado Road, Palm Springs; 760-866-0021; www.coparoomtickets.com.

Published in Previews